It would seem like fairly obvious advice to get a few specific quotes when investing significant funds. Most people do when looking for a new provider. However, this isn’t always the case when businesses place an order through an existing provider.
This was highlighted when I was told by a client that they £10k to make their eCommerce website mobile responsive. If they had just double checked with other web developers in the area they would have found that this quote was much more than what they should have paid.
It’s admirable in a way that they were loyal to their existing provider but this has ultimately led to wasted funds. Most small businesses would love to have £8k extra to spend on online advertising and marketing. Every time I come across stories of extortionate charges, it’s always when the customer hasn’t obtained competitive quotes.
At first you might think I would prefer for our clients to do the same and continually take a leap of faith with us and not look elsewhere. I’d be lying if that didn’t give me some comfort when our clients were loyal, however after giving it more thought I would be happy if they did look elsewhere, why? Because if a customer has looked at all the options and still chosen you, your working relationship will be stronger and more equal.
Here are some simple tips when looking for quotes. My experience is within the online marketing industry but I’m pretty sure these will be relevant to most;
- Ask for recommendations
Rather than searching google and finding the websites with the best SEO, why don’t you ask friends, clients, suppliers? They will be the last people to give you a bad referral.
- Creating a brief
This process can take half of the time and effort but don’t feel you should be the one coming up with the brief on your own. You aren’t the expert, otherwise, you’d be doing it yourself, so why should you be creating the entire brief without getting the advice of the expert first?
Go to a select number of agencies with a good understanding of what it is that you do, who for, why you’re different and all the goals you want to achieve. From this, the agencies can then suggest various ways to achieve your goals and from the advice you receive, you can then create a very specific brief.
This will mean, your first couple of meetings will be fact-finding rather than decision making.
Here’s a link that will help when putting a brief together.
- Compare apples with apples
A lot of this will be down to the brief you provide. If it’s vague then you will get various solutions thrown back at you at varying costs. Once you have the quotes, go back to the providers and ask why other quotes have a different price or timescale. It may be that they have very good reasons that you may have failed to see, leading to a proposal that’s cheaper but unsuitable.
- Payment and contract terms
If someone is asking for more than 35% up front, be wary.
Regarding the length of a contract make sure you aren’t tied in for an unnecessarily long period. With most services, you shouldn’t need to be tied in for more than 3-6 months. At least 3 months is required for services due to the upfront time it takes to get a campaign started. If the contract is a higher value (thousands per month) you may be expected to sign up for 6 months. This is due to additional resources having to be taken on to service the contract.
- Don’t be tied in by technology
Make sure that whatever the solution is, you will be able to move away seamlessly in future. Nobody wants to jump ship and move suppliers but for many different reasons, this may occur. Too many times we have had to create new websites from scratch because the original site was created using bespoke-coding/programming. Due to a method of creation, the website could not be moved. There are various open-source platforms such as WordPress and Magento that can be utilised further by plenty of other developers.
- Case studies
Ask to see previous work of a similar ilk and if you can get a testimonial from the client. People can say they can do a lot of things, but the proof is in the pudding. Do bear in mind that skills and knowledge can be transferred from one industry to another. For example, an agency with good results in Finance could also do a similar job in Insurance.
The moral of the story is to invest a few hours finding the right solution and getting quotes. As this is far better than spending more time and money at a later stage.