every year. There are some common factors in the successful jobs accomplished and the jobs I have won and or been chosen for. Almost all fit in those categories. The basic factors are having a good channel for communication and a level of trust.
I find that doing estimates is more or less like having a job interview. Every estimate I do is
essentially a job I am applying for. In essence the customer is the boss. In the estimation process many things occur and are established, most essentially, a good channel of communication. Which to expound is that the customer can communicate details, worries, and visions about the job. The customer can ask questions and get them answered.
After I hear the initial request for any specific job, I will ask questions until I am satisfied that I understand what the boss/customer is looking for. Then I respond with my knowledge about the job. I try to arm the customer with every option I know of or can I find about the details of any job so they can make the best informed choice. It is this process that I hold as a pillar of integrity in the transaction and one that builds the beginning of a good working relationship. This is the foundation of a successful job: All details on the table and a solid understanding of what is to be done,
how it is to be done, and a good idea of when it is to be done. If any of these factors are in question it is known by all parties and understood to be for some reason necessary.
Everyone has a different level of understanding, communication and trust. My best work and my best jobs have traditionally come from the customer that trusts me implicitly and allows for creative control. It is a rare thing but can produce excellent results. This being said, it still ends up being a creative collaboration between the customer and myself.
I find it easiest to come up with ideas within design constraints and material options. Some jobs take longer when I design them, yet, the customers are astounded and the results are a unique creation.
Most of my customers know or have some idea what they are looking for, at least a direction. These jobs are the most fluid after a solid plan has been put down.
A third scenario is when the customer has only a vague idea of what they are looking for. Depending on the situation, I find that they either need more time to develop what they are looking for or I may have some ideas that clarify what they might like to have built. This is can be tricky and challenging. However, I find it is best to wait until a person is 100% sure and confident in what they want or confident that I will produce it. In masonry any change during the job usually costs more.
The relationship forged in the estimation and meeting process sets the stage for how the job will go. Most of the things that I speak of are communicated in the manner in which a person acts, and the unasked questions a contractor answers. Variables of communication that we are not typically aware of but are relayed through confidence and reactions are those qualities coming from speaking and acting in alignment, like a pathway well tread and easily walked.