If you're a fiber optics engineer, network manager, or installer, you might be wondering if you're using the right method for determining what to charge clients. Every fiber optics job is unique, so it's wise to give estimates based on all the facts about that particular job and its requirements. Don't assume that just because a new job sounds similar to a previous job, it will cost you the same. This could result in lost profits and time for you.
Estimate with Knowledge
When estimating the costs of a fiber optics job, do all necessary calculations before giving an estimate. Calculate materials, testing and termination instruments, cleaning supplies, cables, fibers, and other tools that will be needed to create the network. Also, calculate how much time it will take to complete each procedure. Consider additional time for errors, repeat testing when things go wrong, and termination times.
Never take the manufacturer’s word for it when it comes to termination and testing. Always try out the connectors in your office before visiting the job site.
Visit the Fiber Optics Job Site
Before giving an estimated price, visit the actual job site where you will be creating the fiber optics network. Walk the area where you will be installing cables and make a note of other nearby cables, any obstructive objects, excessive temperatures, potential moisture problems, etc. Also, bring a camera along if you're allowed to take photos. Check to be sure there's enough space for your equipment and supplies while working.
Communicate with Your Client
Lack of communication between you and your potential client is a disaster in the making. You can't adequately give a quote for the job if you're not sure of exactly what the client needs. Create a detailed interview sheet to carry with you when visiting the job site. Ask lots of questions about what the client needs. An interview sheet will provide you with the questions so you won't have to pull them from memory.
Document Every Planned Detail of the Job
Your client may be concerned with the cost of a fiber optics network, but they are most likely more concerned with whether or not you can do the job properly within a reasonable amount of time. This is where documentation comes in. Document everything you plan to do while setting up their fiber optic network. Write down where the cables, connectors, splices, etc. will be placed. If possible, draw a map of the network's path. This helps the client to visualize what your finished product will look like.
The primary reason for documenting every detail is to ensure the client you know what you're doing and you already have a definite plan of action when you arrive on the scene. No second guessing! This also enables you to bid higher than your competitors in some cases. Clients expect to pay more when they feel the quality of work will be worth it.
Documentation doesn't make you better than the competitor, but the client might perceive you to be the best and most organized fiber optic specialist.
If you're still uncertain about the estimation and bidding process for fiber optics jobs, there is software available that will calculate the costs and create an estimate for you. This can be useful if you have several jobs going at once.
With fiber optics networks, you can never be too careful with estimations and bids. It's better to over-estimate from the start and surprise your client with a lower price later than to under-estimate and lose money in the long run.