To itemize, or not to itemize: that is the question.
We get asked all the time if we can itemize our proposals to include a list of each product’s individual price. We’ve collectively been in business for more than 26 years now, and have never found a situation where an itemized list of equipment and pricing has provided useful information. When comparing our proposal against a competitors’, an itemized list is only helpful if every single item in each proposal is the exact same make and model. And even then, the overall price would still be the determining factor, not how each vendor breaks up that price per line item.
We often relate it to buying a car or building a house. When you buy a car, do you ask how much each tire is, or the hub caps, or each door and mirror? No. When you build a house, you get the total quote from a qualified contractor. You don’t ask how much each screw or shingle will cost. And when you compare the price of one car to another, or the quote from one contractor to another, you’re looking at the overall price for the entire item or project.
Another example is when you go to the dentist or doctor. Nobody asks how much each tongue depressor or stitch costs individually. You enter into your appointment with the utmost trust that your physician is providing you with the proper care and the solution for your needs. If you don’t trust your doctor, you find a new one or get a second opinion. But even then, you’re looking at the new doctor’s overall care plan and not an itemized list of costs.
There are many ways for untrustworthy contractors to skew their numbers, which often misleads end-users into a false sense of stewardship. The lowest price is not always (actually rarely) the lowest cost. Itemized proposals remove the relational aspect of the project, and, instead, make it just a transaction of goods. You have to look at the full picture, including experience levels, how well the solution will be implemented, and how the finished product will look and perform. This is where the true value comes from, not simply how much XYZ Company charges for each particular item.
After working in the industry for so many years, we’re very passionate about this issue and the negative impact it can have on businesses like ours. We feel that itemized proposals diminish our solution-based efforts as experienced professionals. Our goal is not to offend or dismiss your needs. We know that sometimes there are specific questions you need answered or plans you need to make. We’d rather work with you to find a better solution to those needs and keeping your budget a priority.
If you have any questions about any aspect of our process, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to talk to you about your next project.