Sheldan Camden, Lunnon & Tilbury

Position: Owner

Company: Lunnon & Tilbury,

Type of Work: Renovations, extensions, loft conversions

Location: Oxfordshire 

Products Used:

  • Estimating Service for builders

Sheldan Camden has been commissioning the HBXL Estimating Service to produce his estimates since 2014.

He’s been in the building trade for over 30 years, and the company he has run for some years now, was founded over 60 years ago. The business undertakes mainly extensions and loft conversions.

Here’s a recent chat Sally Pitt from the HBXL Group had with Sheldan about the HBXL Estimating Service and the first class estimating service he receives.

Why did you decide to outsource your estimating?

“When the now 76 year old, founder of the business passed it on to me he said, ‘Just remember, don’t do what I do and sit there hour after hour spending each evening working out stuff for customers, leave your work at work, come home to home. Switch yourself off.’

“That was never going to happen while the amount of work I had coming in had to be estimated. So I took that notice on board and came to HBXL.

“I’ve never had any issues since.”

Do you ever put together quotes yourself?

On jobs less than £50,000 I tend to do myself.

So jobs over £50,000 you give to the HBXL Estimating Service?

“What I can’t do, because I’ve never taught myself, I can’t produce a package like you do. I can’t detail it and breakdown and make it look like that.

“For instance, a £250,000 job you quoted for me a while back is being worked on now. You broke it down into stage payments, which I gave to the customer. So each time I invoice, they look at the stage payment information, and can see that I never charge any more than I need to.”

With these larger projects what is your win rate?

I’m going to say, since using HBXL, taking an average, 75%, I may be even winning 80%.

And are you achieving the profit you should be?

“The Estimating Service has helped me to examine the business and when we lose money I can understand where we must be losing it.

“Last year I sat down with the guys and said, ‘My prices are done by an estimating service, they are given labour rates, they know my mark up.

Bottom line, if I’m not making any money, you haven’t been pulling your finger out, it’s as simple as that.’

So it allowed me to get rid of the dead wood, and build the right team. This year the projects are much larger and the costs have to be right. I’ve got to be careful.”

So you quote to the customer what the Estimating Service recommends?

“I’m not going to deny when the estimate comes back, sometimes I think, wow, as much as that? Then I do a quick square footage calculation, and do you know what, it’s right. Then usually within a week, I’ve heard back, and they’d like to speak to me again, and I know that I’m alright.”

How much detail do you show the customer?

“I don’t show them very much. If a customer is not sure about the cost, I may give them the pie chart showing the cost by build phase that you supply. And they’re quite surprised by how labour intensive some things can be. That’s as much I show. I may also look at the estimate again to see if there are any alternative products that could help reduce the cost for the customer without impacting my profit margin.”

And those margins are going to matter, we don’t know what’s around the corner.

“Absolutely. At the minute we’re incredibly busy, but that could change overnight. People can pull out of jobs. All of a sudden you can lose two jobs and game over.”

And do they turn around our estimates fast enough?

“Ian’s doing one at the moment and I’ll have it back in a week or so. I’m not your only customer. I don’t want it rushed through. I don’t want them to knock out an estimate as quick as they can, that’s when mistakes are made. I always manage the customers’ expectations at the outset.”

So you’re happy with the service?

“Absolutely 100%. Ian my account manager, the estimators, first class. You couldn’t ask for more.”

Not been tempted to shop around?

“Why would I? How could I? They go beyond.”

And Sheldan’s not the only person benefitting from the HBXL Estimating Service. You can find more feedback here. Why not give Ian a call on 0117 916 7894 to have a chat, or email him at ian.clark@hbxl.co.uk – or have a look round the website.