As an electrical contractor you’ve probably come to the realization that the tools you use to run your business are critical to your success. Technology has revolutionized the way the business process is handled including estimating. Even if you’re doing relatively small jobs, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy in the estimating process by using the right electrical estimating software.
The right software will streamline business processes, promote efficiency and accuracy while providing the essential details your customers need to make a decision and move forward on a project. Choosing the wrong software, on the other hand, could become costly, not just because of the cost but because it can make your business even less efficient. Fortunately, there are steps that contractors and businesses can follow when looking for the best electrical estimating software.
The Selection Process
While the process of estimation may differ from one business to another the underlying principles are the same. Every software should cover the necessities of what you include in every quote. It should fit into your workflow and make estimates, quicker, easier, more accurate, and more professional looking than your existing manual or software-based quoting processes.
To make the selection process easier, it is essential that you evaluate the individual features of each software that you’re considering. While it can be easy to fall in love with the tool that has the most bells and whistles, that may not be the best fit for your business. If you can get a free trial, it’s worth kicking the tires on a few different options so you can do an apples to apples comparison of the features and workflow. If there’s no option for a free trial, you should at least be able to have a sales rep walk you through a demo of the product so you can get a chance to see the software in action.
Another key to making a good decision is bringing in other members of your team who will be using the software. If you’ve got other people in your business out doing estimates for electrical work, you’ll want to get their feedback from any product trials or demos so they are comfortable with the choice as well, and so they can bring up any questions or concerns they have about the various options. If someone other than yourself does the bookkeeping, you may want to include them as well so they can see how the products integrate with any existing accounting software they may be using.
The Four Key Factors to Consider When Choosing an Estimating software
When you boil it all down there are four key considerations when evaluating electrical estimating software. Take note of each of these items as you evaluate your options and make sure the one you choose gets a passing grade for each one.
Ease of Use
This should be on top of your list when looking for an estimating software. While you and your team might be adept at installing 220-volt outlets, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re tech savvy. Even if your team is handy with software and electronics, it’s counterproductive to have them spending a lot of time learning how to use software that has a complicated or confusing interface. The estimating software you want to use should be easy to use and easy to integrate into your existing processes.
One of the clear indications of the usability of the estimating software is implementation time. The more time it takes for it to be integrated with other business processes, the higher the risk of adoption. You should probably think twice about the software if you need a third party to set it up or get you up and running. You should try to get answers to the questions below for each software you’re considering, so you can have some specific metrics to compare the ease of use from one software to another.
- How long will it take to set up the estimating software?
- How long will take to train employees on the use of the software?
- Do you need additional IT support for the software to be operational?
- What are the options for long term technical support on the software?
The purpose of any software is to increase efficiency, and your estimating software needs to make your quoting process more efficient. Any software you choose should be able to increase your efficiency by:
- Increasing accessibility of quotes and information among your team
- Using a centralized pricing database and material list
- Improving document storage
- Offering mobile estimates
- Work offline or online, in the office or on the jobsite
The estimating software is meant to remove a bottleneck in the organization. If you run a small electrical business, it’s very likely you wear every hat necessary to run your business. That means you don’t have a ton of time to be doing paperwork between selling and completing jobs. With increased efficiency comes increased revenues, but the right software will do more than that. The right estimating software should offer the following abilities to help boost your revenue:
- Increase customer satisfaction
- Differentiate your business and make a good first impression
- Allow you to complete a greater number of quotes more quickly
- Offer reporting on open quotes so you can follow up
How can a piece of estimating software do these things? First, it can allow you to generate on the spot quotes. Customers don’t like waiting unnecessarily, so what could be better than generating a quote one the spot? The right quoting software should also offer easily customizable templates to make your quotes look consistently professional no matter which member of your team is using it. The right software will also offer easy reporting which you can review periodically or schedule notifications to make sure no potential job falls through the cracks.
No matter how perfect a software may seem, the price will always be a big part of the conversation. Businesses small and large have different budget parameters. Outside of the initial price point of the software, you’ll want to look at any ongoing or long-term costs to make sure you have an accurate long-term view of the cost of each software you review. A couple of key questions on the cost include:
- Is there an ongoing cost for support?
- What is the expected downtime (if any) during implementation or training on the new software?
With a full picture of the price you can then look at the expected ROI. If you pay a little more for a piece of software that drastically improves your team’s efficiencies – including the ability to generate more quotes and more sales, a higher cost option may be worth it.
Is There an Electrical Estimating Software That Checks All These Boxes?
Reading through this post might make it seem impossible that one tool could possibly do everything you want a piece of estimating software to do. But you might be surprised at what a tool like JobFLEX, an Android based estimating app can do at an incredibly reasonable price. Here’s a quick rundown on how JobFLEX stacks up in the four key factors listed above.
JobFLEX is remarkably easy to use, you can install a free trial from the Google Play store in a matter of minutes. You can upload your logo and start putting together quotes almost immediately. You can also upload price lists in Excel format to include a complete item list with pricing and descriptions for each item. JobFLEX makes it so easy they even offer a pre-built electrical pricing list you can download and edit to get you started.
Not only is JobFLEX easy to use, it will make your team much more efficient. Anyone with an Android device can generate a quote from anywhere, whether online or not. No more waiting to get back to the office to send a quote, simply add the items as you walk the jobsite and email a PDF before you even head to the next jobsite.
Not only will your customers receive quotes faster, they’ll also look consistently more professional than your competitors. Customize your template with your company logo, and all your information while also having the option to take and add photos while you’re on the job site to really personalize your estimate.
Whether you’re running a small electrical contracting business or a large one, JobFLEX isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg. JobFLEX offers a basic package at just $56 per year for one user or a pro package at only $90 per year for multiple users with group and individual reporting.
Sound too good to be true? What if we told you that JobFLEX was also a top notch invoicing app, too? With so much to offer, why not download a free trial of JobFLEX today and see if it’s the right estimating solution for your business?