Ask The Right Questions, Win the Bid

Just because your bid might be more expensive doesn’t mean that you will lose the job. This is especially true if you can justify and explain the price and demonstrate your overwhelming expertise.
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I recently had an encounter similar to that which Todd Anthony Puma described in his “Do Your Homework” blog that I thought I would share, to further illustrate the fact that just because your bid might be more expensive doesn’t mean that you will lose the job. This is especially true if you can justify and explain the price and demonstrate your overwhelming expertise.

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I answered the phone last week and the person on the other end was clearly flustered.

“I just hung up on [another installation company] because they couldn’t help me. Do you people mount TVs?”

I explained that we did indeed mount TVs and he asked how much it would cost. I explained that we charge time and materials for a TV installation because the price can vary greatly depending on what is involved in the installation process.

“May I ask you a few questions so I can get a better idea of what will be involved?”


“Is it a standard sheetrock wall?”


This tells me it will likely be a fairly straight forward install.
“Is it an interior wall or an exterior wall?”


This tells me that we likely won’t have to deal with any purlins or fireblocks in the wall.
“Is there any cabling or power located at where you want the TV mounted?”


This tells me that we’ll have to supply a power kit in the wall that meets the NEC. (We typically use PowerBridge.) “How big is the TV?”

“It is a 46-inch Samsung that is about two years old.”

This tells me what size mount I need and that I only need to send one technician.
“And what are we connecting to the TV? What components do you own?”

“I have a cable box, a Blu-ray, and a Wii.”

This gives me an idea on how many cables that I’ll need to budget.
“Great. And where is that equipment located in relation to the TV?”

“It is sitting in a cabinet right below where I want the TV to be mounted. The TV is sitting on top of the cabinet right now. I just want to get it off the cabinet and onto the wall. Oh, and I also have a Pioneer receiver and a soundbar.”

“OK. It’s really unusual to have a receiver and a soundbar. There are exceptions, but generally you have one or the other. Do you happen to know the make and model of the soundbar?”

“Yes. It’s a Klipsch R25C.”

“Give me just a moment to look that item up. (Google “Klipsch R25C.”) OK, that is actually a center channel and not a soundbar. Do you not have any other speakers?”

“I have a subwoofer.”

“OK. But no front left and right speakers?”

“No. I was told that this Klipsch was a soundbar and the only thing that I needed.”

“Well, unfortunately, whoever told you that was mistaken. At a bare minimum you have to have a front left and right speakers to go with a receiver. If we just install the center speaker you’ll be missing a lot of the audio signal and it won’t sound right.”

“I wonder why the person that sold it to me said it would work….”

“I can’t answer that, but I can assure you that it won’t. Now, if you had three of those we could use them as left, center, right speakers. But we just can’t use that on its own.”

“Well, I can get some other speakers then.”

“OK, where will those speakers go in relation to the receiver? Will they mount on the wall or go in cabinetry?”

“They will just sit on top of the cabinet.”

“OK. And the electronics are all inside the cabinet.”


“Does the cabinet have doors on it?”


“That’s not a problem, but if you want to be able to control the components with the doors closed then you’ll need some kind of control system. Either an infrared repeater which works with any remote controls or a radio frequency remote. The radio remote is a much better solution, but it is more expensive.”

“Well, I do have a smart remote control. It’s called a Universal Remote Control MX-350.”

“OK. So we’ll need to program that for you. But that remote doesn’t actually work through doors. For that you need a separate radio frequency base station.”

“The MRF-350?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“I’ve got that too.”

“OK, great. I think I know what you need for your install. But before I give you a price, would you mind taking a picture with your phone and emailing it to me so I can make sure there isn’t anything else I might have missed?”


After I got the picture I worked up a proposal and called him back. I went over all the parts that I thought we’d need and how much time I estimated for the install. Then I gave him the number.

“Oh my gosh! That is literally twice as much as [the other company] quoted me!”

“Well, we’ve been in business for more than 20 years and I can tell based on the work that you’ve described that we need to do that is how much time and materials it will take. Also, I’m going to guess that the person from (the other company) didn’t ask you any of the questions I did.”

“No. She could barely answer the phone.”

“And my guess is that when they showed up and saw the full scope of work they would likely tell you that it was going to cost more or they wouldn’t do everything you wanted.”

“You’re damn right that’s what they would do!”

So we not only got the job, but sold him a pair of on-wall speakers to mount next to his TV. And as an added bit of serendipity, the night after the call, my business partner happened to be out to dinner at a local restaurant where they sit groups of people at large communal tables. And guess who happened to be at his table? Our new customer talking loudly about how the other guys were a bunch of idiots that didn’t know what they were doing but how he went with the real pros and was going to get his system installed right. #MissionAccomplished