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A potential client requested an estimate for an pretty large e-commerce website with ~20 pages pages, item customization plugin, live chat, newsletter, slideshow, automated e-mails, payment processor and lots of different functionality that will require 430+ hours of work. We will be doing everything from setting up the database, servers, design, etc.

The entire estimate came close to $30,000. The client owns a very large company and can afford it and has many potential projects in the future (so he said). He did not complain about the price; he simply said he'll compare all the estimates and let me know.

Was my estimate reasonable? How much would 'professional' web development studio / company charge for such a project? I would hate to lose this client, I am not sure how to proceed, what would be a good way to respond to him wanting to 'compare estimates' in a way that slightly persuades him towards picking me?

I appreciate any suggestions, thanks in advance!

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    The client is merely using a negotiating tactic. And apparently it's working. – Scott Jan 27 '18 at 17:34
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...that will require 430+ hours of work... I would hate to lose this client...

The only thing you can do is to lower your hourly rate. You may lower it to your minimum hourly but not below. And you must also know that with large clients, even with the lowest rates, the quality must be superb.

The golden rule in business is that no matter how hard you push, you can never win some projects. We once bid a $20k project and thought we were expensive, the client said he will think about it, and then he chose a company who charged him $50k+.

So with large clients, it's never about money. The want top-notch quality and the widest range of services. What does this mean? It means that the estimation must be such that it replies to any side question he may have. For example, did you offer retainer agreement or did you mention support or 24/7 hot line, etc. The other company will have all this on paper and on paper the other company will look better, even thou they will charge him $40k.

  • Thanks for the reply Peter. There is always going to be a someone that has a lower rate, you know? ... I am not that guy, I am not cheap because the work I produce is not cheap, having a hard time explaining this to clients. – AnchovyLegend Feb 4 '14 at 19:38
  • There's another old saying as well ... "If you win every bid, you're priced too low." :) – Scott Jan 31 '18 at 19:35
  • "The only thing you can do is to lower your hourly rate": nothing has ever been so untrue. There are milion other things to do, such as to modify the content of the offer. Especially in a way that will make the offer impossible to compare to others. – Harry Cover Feb 6 '18 at 13:48
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I wouldn't lower your rate. For a long time I always under sold myself. It's easy to do when you really want to make sure you get a contract. But if it's a really big project and your portfolio speaks for itself, then charge 30k with confidence! Don't undercharge and get locked into a lower rate than you are worth.

We sometimes throw in a "we will give you 10% off for repeat business", might not be a bad idea for you too, assuming you can take 10% off and still be making enough for your work!

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If the guy isn't complaining about the price, stick to it. If you change it, you send a message that you might have been (unintentionally or not) ripping him off/unnecessirily over charging, and it also says your estimates are out of line.

Present the case that your estimates are reasonable. However since he is not complaining about the price, I wouldn't worry. If you want to easy some guilt/anxiety, you can tell the client that you are fully dedicated to doing the work, will work to ensure it is what he wants, and as someone else suggested, suggest giving him a 10% discount next time he wants some changes in the future.

Is your estimate reasonable? I would say so. I always undersell myself because if I go too high, clients think you're ripping them off even when you're not, and say nevermind. So I just go by what I think they will be more comfortable paying, which loses me money in the long run. You need to support yourself, after all, and you're saving him a lot of trouble by setting up everything he needs to even get you started (databases etc). I would stick to it.

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If somebody has such a large Project, it is good business practice to get different quotes on the table. This does not necessarily mean you have to be the cheapest, at the and the overall package decides. The Client has to feel confident that you are up to the job and have a realistic view of the work involved also.

If there is a big mismatch in perception about how much the project is worth, there is either a communication error in the specs or somebody is offering serious dumping prices - anyways, be glad that you did not get that project, it will probably not go well.

If you are spot on with your pricing, you can only hope you have made a good enough Impression that the client trusts you with the project. Sometimes you can´t even win as a one-man-show and will just be used to negotiate with the bigger players.

Right now you can only offer to explain your services and your estimation further if he has any troubles with his comparison, thank him for the opportunity and express that you are looking forward to work with him.

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