Estimating a job – Where does the time go? Part II

This next component to bid accuracy, especially if done manually, rears its ugly head; errors of omission, errors due to inattention, errors due to time constraints!

Manual estimating is fraught with error. Transpose the number of items or the cost when writing it down. Transpose the numbers when entering them into the calculator for totaling. Tally up the costs of a list of materials and find that your second and third time through the list the totals don’t equal the 1st or 2nd totals. The Totals are erroneous and You’ve wasted time in the process and just say, “The heck with it.” and go with the number you feel good about.

If you’ve been bidding manually, the above items impact your time to get the bids out, quickly, efficiently, accurately. But have you also considered the time manual estimating takes upon your own time, your personal time, your personal space. After all we aren’t working for the sake of working we’re estimating jobs to stay employed to provide for our families to enjoy time with them.

How has manual estimating impacted your personal time?

If you are bidding and estimating manually after a day on the job, you walk in the house kiss the wife, pat the kids on the head and proceed to your office to work on a bid. To only come out of the office when everyone is asleep and you hit the bed only to go through it again tomorrow. What about the kids soccer games or the anniversary dinner. Manual estimating impinges on personal time. Everyone needs the balance of family, friend and work time. Manual estimating takes too much time away from life.

Finally, when all is said and done, there just isn’t enough time in every day or in every week to complete the bids we have to prepare, let alone the ones we want to bid but aren’t able to because of the time limitations. Remember time is unlimited but it is also finite. You may think you have all the time in the world to bid every job, but in reality you don’t. There just isn’t enough time to bid the work you want to bid.

How has manual estimating affected opportunities to bid more jobs?

Do you have a “Wish I coulda basket”? This is the basket, bin, table, in the corner of every contractors office that has plans and opportunities you “wish you coulda” had time to bid. You either lost the chance to bid them or lacked the available time to bid them. You just wish you had that “round toit” everyone talks about. Wish I had time to get a ‘round to bidding it’.

If you’re facing these constraints when bidding, consider automating the process, start with an excel spreadsheet, this will reduce some of your time as well as your errors. 100 feet of pipe at .56 a ft will always extend to $56 dollars, like wise 200 ft @ .56 will always equal $112 in your spreadsheet. The totals will be accurate, they will be quick and your bidding process more efficient. But you are bidding item by item (unless you design and elaborate spreadsheet with assemblies) and still needing to extend to a final bid price.

Using estimating software will result in major improvements in bidding time, consistency, completeness and accuracy. Many contractors once acclimated to an estimating solution experience 40-70% reductions in estimating time.

Which will let you enjoy the kids soccer game or a movie and dinner with your special someone. That’s why you really got into this.