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How Not To Die Slowly (But Surely)

Sewing Items 2ID: 44649 © Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Is it possible to bypass the ‘3-Quotes’ requirement?

Tom is a young student who takes pride in wearing tailor-made shirts, suits and coats especially as the price was affordable for a student’s pocket. Like any person pleased with a new service, Tom recommended the tailor to his friends. He particularly liked being able to personalise his outfit by choosing the material used, the colour of the stitching, the buttons, positioning of pockets and the like. And the tailor was fast – that is, until his last order for a winter coat and a new suit.

His coat was delayed by 4 months and his suit? Well, the accompanying note said the material chosen was no longer available. Tom began hearing similar stories of delayed or cancelled orders. Tom was not the only customer the tailor lost.

In Tom’s case, his tailoring service had allowed itself to slip into a war on prices to compete for its customers. At the beginning, all went well but the tailor could not keep his price and still stay in business. Inevitably, the quality of service dropped and delivery was either delayed or cancelled.

‘I don’t make the rules!’

It’s normal company policy to stipulate a requirement of three quotes when purchasing equipment, products or services. As a freelance teacher, when you are requested to give a quote, you know already the cheapest quote is going to be chosen. How do you compete against your colleagues in the field without starting a war on prices?

What do companies need?

How can a freelancer define and help a company’s administration choose their teaching service over others?

When a freelance teacher understands how a company makes its purchasing decisions, there is a better chance to be chosen even when the price is higher.

Remember, it’s a carefully prepared and projected professional image that will often turn the tables in your favour should your teaching service be compared to cheaper services.

So what can a freelancer do to bypass their restrictions?

Who is the decision maker?  

Elicit the decision-maker and contact them. Is it the student himself or his department head? Or is it the HR department or the purchasing department responsible? If at all possible, try to arrange a face to face meeting.

Any decision-maker must feel convinced the more expensive freelancer can do the job before he ‘breaks the rules’.

Berlin Airport demonstrates how a project that is not thoroughly researched and that is staffed with not qualified enough personnel leads to shambles, high costs and lost reputations. Which company wants to relive a similar debacle?

Put yourself into their shoes and you will realise the corporate world needs qualified references (testimonies), as well as performance and quality checks provided. The decision-maker also wants to know how the more expensive freelancer is definitely going to solve his problems.

Yes, it’s not easy to get at a company’s or other people’s money! Especially if they have to defend or keep within a budget.

Routines involved in company purchasing decisions

  1. Purchasing decisions are made either internally, or by using an external service (global sourcing). An indication is when a freelancer is asked to send a quote without giving specifics. Before freelancers spend a lot of time preparing a written reply, they should pick up the telephone and aim to arrange a meeting.
  2. How do they control? (The accuracy test!)
    The student and his department head reviews the learning experience of their own employees and colleagues as well as from information provided from external sources. They come in the form of testimonies, references and referrals. These are acquired from two sources: the Internet and the written and verbal (telephone numbers) testimonies provided by the freelancer.
  3. When a company requires a teacher or instructor for the first time:
    When the company uses an external service for their purchasing requirements, i.e. global sourcing, there is a real risk freelancers are chosen only by price. However, when the company has never hired a teacher before and the decision-maker works within the company, a freelancer may have a better chance to provide pertinent and tailor-made information to prove he is a problem solver for the company as well as demonstrating at first hand his professional teaching qualities.

Is it possible to bypass the ‘3 Quotes’ requirement?


Freelance teachers should remember how a decision-maker has to defend decisions by quality controls:

  1. The reviews of students and of department heads at the end of previous courses
  2. The testimonies and telephone number references – just as you would have to provide them in a CV. (The difference being that this is going to be easier than for CVs because nobody is sawing each other’s chair legs.) Smiley_Whistle
  3. Professionalism is also your visible sign of respect for the other person and the company: make sure all communicative means whether it’s written on paper or electronically (e-mail, website) reflect professionalism. The same applies to your appearance. The minimum rule is to be as well dressed as the company hiring you – never worse.


Starting a price war (as Tom’s tailor did) is the wrong road to follow because there will always be somebody hungrier.

However, the truth is there is no easy or simple solution when the 3-quote requirement is stipulated. A chance of success remains when freelancers are able to elicit the decision-maker, contact them, and use their knowledge of how companies work and how they make purchasing decisions. It is certainly easier to educate and demonstrate your professionalism to potential students and companies in person.

Provide the decision-maker with the information he needs. Carefully prepared testimonials, telephone references and projected professional image will often turn the tables in your favour should your teaching service be compared to cheaper services.


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