Why we don’t give quotes over the phone – guest blog

Another guest blog from one of our registered businesses, this time CNCROi.com, who are located in Ontario, Canada. Coincidently, they just mentioned they are the first business in Canada to have one of our Premium Global Partner Trotec Laser  Speedy 400 Flexx machine. I’m sure Jon Cantin will have hours of entertainment with his new toy!

On a serious note, here is a relevant article from the CNCROi.com which pertains to accuracy in quoting and how important it is. Enjoy the read. Reproduced with approval from CNCROi.com. The original article can be found here. Feel free to join the conversation over at the blog.

Why We Don’t Give Quotes Over the Phone

I get asked quite often why I don’t give quotes over the phone, a customer might have a project in mind but without a budget and wants a ballpark figure – fair enough – but we aren’t baking cookies here at CNCROi.com.

There are so many variables involved with CNC marking, etching, cutting, annealing and engraving on an endless array of materials that I’d honestly have a better chance of guessing the winning lottery numbers than giving you a proper quote I could stand by for your estimates much less a sound business decision.

Here are some of the variables that we have to take into considerations with each project.


You might think plastic is plastic, but it isn’t, there are millions of different kinds of plastic out there, each with their own material properties (melting points, texture, structure), same goes with wood… no two oak trees are the same, we need to do material testing FIRST to give you an accurate quote. I’m always surprised myself by the number of grades that existin Stainless Steel, it seems endless! Telling me over the phone the material properties doesn’t provide a shortcut to actual, physical, material testing. Some materials work best with a fiber source while others CO2… this is unknown until the CNC machine is booted-up and testing is done.

Just yesterday I met an architect who wanted to have some concrete engraved – I came over, grabbed a sample and the results were as expected but there is no way I could have gotten these settings by talking over the phone.

concrete block

Material testing of often a destructive process, that’s why we always ask for scraps or off-cuts as part of the quoting process even if we’ve done that material before. CNCs have a nasty habit of finding hidden production inconsistencies in materials and making them apparent to the visible eye.


I appreciate you want things done tomorrow, I’d love to have my breakfast waiting for me in the morning when I wake-up on my Caribbean yacht but we all know that wishing doesn’t make it reality. There are customers who are getting things made, each with their own timelines in various steps towards completion. Although we do offer an express service, customers who have paid their keep always go first. We might have a massive job from a regular client that will take a few days to complete – we aren’t going to kick that project off to engrave your winning golf ball unless there is a really good reason to do so like Bill Gates wanting 100 solid gold golf balls annealed for a big fundraiser 10 hours from now in downtown Toronto.

Setting-up jobs on the machines, creating jigs, managing the queue of projects to go to all run like a well oiled machine takes time and planning. Introducing kinks that may cause issues in the production area just isn’t going to happen as it slows EVERYTHING down and introduces stress and worse, room for errors to occur. I don’t feel like talking to an aerospace manufacturer on the phone asking why all his custom titanium rudder shields have “Thanks for supporting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation” on them rather than the proper serial number and date.

Project files

I appreciate your file is “easy” and “won’t take much time to do” but has that awesome logo you have been optimized for our CNC equipment – no way around that – it isn’t about complexity but until we can evaluate it ourselves, easy in your world may not equate to easy in ours. Yeah, your 316 Stainless Steel sheet has 400 cut lines, not a problem, but we can’t give an accurate quote until our job software measures each ones and spits out an estimate (which, is material dependent hence requiring physical testing).

Wrong material for wrong application

Another part of the evaluation process is material relative to application, sometimes things are rather straight forward, a manufacturer wants specific sized plates made out of X grade powder coated material in X pantone color in quantities of 500 per week but sometimes what works for A won’t work for B.

Is the plastic you want to give us for your sign UV stable and made for exterior applications? Might want to check by calling the manufacturer before you give it to us and wonder why a few months later it’s fading and falling apart. How about that Stainless Steel you want us to cut and anneal to form your new plane’s control panel? Is it the right grade, thickness and finish for this application?

The Bottom Line

I hope this gives a bit of clarity regarding the behind-the-scenes decision making we put into our client requests, more often than not, assumptions are proven to be factual but I’d really hate to give you a quote over the phone and then get a call a few months down the track about problems that could have been avoided. We are in the solutions business, not the headache inducing one.