Tuesday, January 20, 2009


About a month ago someone asked me here about estimating and I wanted to try and answer her questions:
How do you present your estimates?
Do you present the photography bids to the client or compile into your own? Do you show each line item? Do you pad anything on your own?

It really depends on the company I'm working for and how they format their estimates and terms and conditions. Normal practice is the photographer/producer estimates are worked into a separate estimate dictated by the company or the program the company is using. Not all line items are shown unless the client specifically requests it. I usually break the costs into photography fee (creative + usage fees) and then into production expenses (which include everything from crew, talent, and equipment to travel expenses and meals).

To be quite frank I usually will pad an estimate and most art buyers do depending on the project. If there is a strict bottom line we won't go above the number dictated by the client however I usually pad numbers because inevitably additional costs are incurred and if not, well then the costs come in lower. Although I should note I never pad the estimate by an incredible amount and usually will add sales tax (My state is 5%) to the bottom line. The thing about padding is that it is not an exact science and sometimes I won't even pad an estimate. It really depends on the project at hand.

In the event of a competitive bid I will do my own estimate formatting in excel to provide an "apples to apples" comparison of the photographer's bidding and where their line items are comparing. I will provide this if asked but also like to have it in my own files and available to the account executives so that they can answer any questions the client might have regarding the estimate (and use their own discretion to provide it to the client if they choose to).
It looks a little like this:

I also can't take credit for this design.. a friend and fellow art buyer showed me this several years ago and it has remained a great asset to my bidding process ever since.

The main thing to remember when presenting estimates is how do you normally put them together and present them and how/what does your client expect? If you morph the two make sure you have backup that details your break down of costs and then the breakdown of the estimate that goes to the client.
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