How to: Compose an Estimate

For all my entrepreneur/florist friends out there, I wanted to share my version of how to compose an estimate. This is obviously a very important part of booking clients, and also sending them a beautifully branded piece of your business. When done professionally, thoughtfully & thoroughly, you will have an easy template to follow. By remaining consistent with your pricing, your clients and customers know what to expect & your professionalism will shine! 

The best way to begin is so gather information from your client. I usually get inquiries from my website with clients asking for my availability for an event on a certain date. They usually don't give a lot of specifics, so before I can help them, I send back a series of questions to gather what I need. Whether that is a form on a hidden page of your site that you can redirect them to, or a simple PDF questionnaire, make sure to ask for all of the details. I feel like eliminating the back and forth is key in not overwhelming your client or looking unprofessional. For example, I typically ask the following questions :

1. What is the date/time of your event?  (Make sure you are available on that date, so as not to waste your time or theirs) 

2. Where is your event? (Location/address/ business hours) 

3. Do you have an event coordinator? (Who is the best point of contact that way if you need more specifics you can get in touch directly with the coordinator so as not to overwhelm the client) 

4.  What type of event is this? (influencer dinner, birthday party, store opening) 

5. How many guests are you expecting?

6. Is the event seated? If so what type of tables will you be using? 

7. Please list all of the areas in which you feel florals will be a compliment. (this would be extras like a bar, restroom, perhaps a backdrop or for cocktail tables or a napkin sprig) 

8. What is the theme or do you have any inspiration or a mood board for the event? (this is always helpful to see the direction and design of the event. I usually take their inspiration and then create my own branded floral pitch or mood board to present with the final invoice -- more on that in another post!)

9. Do you have a set budget for the florals for your event at this time? (it's helpful to know what you're working with when creating a proposal and also to see whether or not what the client wants is comparable with your rates before doing a lot of work) 

After the client responds to the questions is when I can start my work with my estimate. I try to respond to all event inquiries within the hour and have these questions ready to send off because chances are the clients are shopping around for a good price/fit and they have no idea how much flowers and labor cost, not to mention trucking, prep and processing time and all of the other expenses you incur to deliver a final product.  That doesn't mean they will necessarily book the cheapest bid which is important to keep in mind! Never undervalue your work, but try to be realistic with your abilities and experience. If you're still new, charge a bit less! It's more important for you to gain new relationships with clients than to gauge someone and then not be able to deliver or have them disappointed by your work. It's a fine line, but I knew when my abilities increased that my prices needed to as well. 

 

I've included what the answers would look like from a client (these are made up for this post ;)

1. What is the date/time of your event?  

8/15/18 from 6-10PM

2. Where is your event?

Chateau Marmont Hotel Patio

3. Do you have an event coordinator? 

Chateau Marmont is assisting day of but otherwise you can contact me for any information.

4.  What type of event is this? 

Influencer dinner for a new skincare line. 

5. How many guests are you expecting?

 20 Guests

6. Is the event seated? If so what type of tables will you be using? 

The hotel provides (3) 6ft tables which will seat 20 exactly, the ends of the tables will be capped. 

7. Please list all of the areas in which you feel florals will be a compliment. 

We need centerpieces for the tables in varying heights down the center (we want it to feel full!) and a floral sprig for each place setting. 

8. What is the theme or do you have any inspiration or a mood board for the event? 

Simple white with green, we are open to design but the packaging is modern, clean and simple. 

9. Do you have a set budget for the florals for your event at this time? 

Yes, our budget is $2,000.

 

With all of this information, I can now begin my design and pricing process. 

I like to move all of this information over into Quickbooks Estimates, since my pricing is built in already and it saves me the trouble of having to do a lot of math or calculations on tax and labor. I can also play around with pricing to see what I can do within the budget. If you don't have accounting software, keep your price sheet handy and refer to it when working on your estimate. 

I like to come in no more than $100 over or under budget. I also occasionally change my usual  pricing to simplify (lower budget) or add on (higher budget) within each line item. For example our Medium Seasonal Arrangement is usually $150, but in this case, they have a large budget and I know that I would be able to buy either more expensive flowers, super high end flowers, or make the arrangements quite a bit fuller than usual. I also know that I will be hiring an assistant to help for likely 2 half days of work for prep, buying, cleaning and prepping glassware and more, so I included that in the budget here. For a small event as such, without a lot of heavy installation (Where I don't need to physically be present on site to get the job completed) I don't charge a day rate for myself. My business earns from the markup of the flowers which is typically somewhere around 30-40% depending on market price. For this job, the business would make around $575, an assistant $300 and my delivery driver $75. Earlier on in my career, I definitely was not making this much on events. When you think about it, there is so much time that goes into the process of booking a client and that computer and design time needs to be accounted for. 

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A few tips for designing a template to use for your estimates. 

  • Use your LOGO at the top of the page.
  • Include your business address & phone on the top left (I omitted mine above for privacy) .
  • Include the clients Name, Address, Phone, Your point of contact and their email. 
  • Include the date of the event. 
  • Include an estimate number and the date you created the estimate. 
  • Include the item name, a description, the qty, the rate and the total amount. (the rate is how much each item is, and the amount is how much it is for all of that line item)
  • Include the subtotal. This is the amount before tax. 
  • Include the tax- check your industry to see what is taxable. In the floral industry ALL line items are taxable including labor and delivery. Also check the sales tax rate - LA is 9.5% 
  • Include the total all in. 
  • Create a line for the client to sign if the estimate is accepted. 
  • Create a line for the client to date. 
  • Put general terms at the bottom of your invoices and estimates so the client is aware of your policies. We sometimes require that the glassware be returned back to the studio if we are loaning out expensive pieces. Make sure the client knows that the flowers can't be taken off site or that you will be picking it up at 10pm when the event is over. We usually allow the clients to take them home but in certain cases make sure the terms are spelled out clearly for your client so they know they're responsible if an expensive vase goes missing. 

I truly hope this has been helpful! I know that when I was starting out, creating estimates and knowing how much to charge was daunting. Keep an eye out here on the rest of the creative process like creating a mood board, booking the client and how to get them to commit, taking payment and more! XO