Planning Your Estimate for the Unexpected

In this day and age it is easy to give a price, make a out a work order, get started by removing the cover, and then find that extra work is needed that you haven't included in the price. Now what do you do? Will the client think that you are just trying to rip them off and get more money? Should you just do it anyway and not charge for it? Should you just ignore it and pretend everything is OK and not do the repairs?

One of the keys to good client relations is to keep the customer informed on everything you are doing.

How do you protect yourself from doing extra work that you didn't price into the job. Once you get the cover off the furniture you may find that the frame, springs, or padding needs much repair. Now what? You've given the price and this  wasn't included!

It's been said before: "Begin with the end in mind". Here, we are talking about several ends:

  • The end of the job
  • getting paid
  • Developing a good reputation
  • Improving your client and business skills
  • Improving the quality of your workmanship


If possible, personally inspect the furniture before you give the estimate. However, many of our estimates are given by email and we may never see the furniture until after the Work Order is written, the fabric as been ordered, and the furniture is brought into the shop. In this case we do several things.

  1. Before you give an estimate ask the client some specific questions about the condition of the furniture.
  2. On your estimate form give several prices, (a base price assuming everything is OK, a price including some possibilities, and a price for everything (which you list out).) Having several prices on the estimate will help you assess your client's mindset and her budget.
  3. On both the estimate and the Work Order use words to explain that the price is based upon the frame, springs, and padding being in good shape. In fact, make up an Estimate and Work Order  forms that have these type of words in the template, which will automatically appear on every estimate. The way you won't have to remember to put it on the forms because it will already be there.
  4. Explain to the client that:
    1. No extra charge will be made without their consent
    2. If there is extra work needed you will contact them
  5. If you have not seen the furniture before the Work Order was written up, inspect the furniture as soon as you see the furniture, while the client is still present. Clearly show them what the problem(s) is/are.
  6. Take Pictures of your work, especially of the areas that need extra work. If the client can't come in to see the problems, pictures will document the situation and the problem(s).
  7. Make up a Price List of your labor price, and that also includes the extra charges. Here is an example of our price list. You will notice that I give price ranges, followed by the words "& up".

Preparing for the unexpected


Sometimes you have to just eat it. Irregardless of whether the client pays for the repairs it is to YOUR best advantange to do the job right. You are improving the quality of your workmanship, you are building your good name and your reputation with clients.


Read All of these articles:

The Pre-Estimate Inspection

Giving Estimates  .

Writing Detailed Estimates

Work Order Phrases

Work Orders in Quickbooks

Take Pictures of your work