It’s almost 2018 and customers are as demanding as ever and rightfully so. Contractors who have embraced technology and have clear processes in place offer excellent customer service from the first phone call all the way to sending an invoice. These contractors are the ones setting the bar, and the best of these make sure to have estimates that are clear, detailed, and easy to understand. Having an organized materials list makes generating detailed quotes a snap. Getting your material list in order will not only make your customers happy, it will save you hours every single week.

How to Put Together a Winning Materials List

Do it your way. No one can tell you how to organize your material and item lists. You have to do what makes sense to you and your customers. Depending on your business it might make sense to organize your material list by services or scope of work. Some examples might be:

  • Insulation
  • Clean Deck
  • Shrub Removal
  • Toilet Installation
  • Warranty

Item Lists include description details. Every single item on your list includes a description text that can include the length, size, brand, color, model or scope of work.

  • Keep the description generic enough that if it’s something you do often you can reuse it in other estimates.
  • Only do special item or item descriptions when needed so they don’t “junk up” your material list.
  • Easy to search items and item descriptions make quoting fast and simple, so take the time to do it right because it will save you time in the long run.

Based on the Item List examples listed earlier, here are some accompanying examples of some descriptions that would apply for detailed descriptions that are used in the estimate.

  • Install R-19 Insulation Faced Batts On New Construction – formaldehyde free
  • Roofing Removal To Decking And Disposal Per Square
  • Shrub Removal And Disposal
  • Kohler Toilet Installation – Includes Seals, Wax Ring, Fittings and Bowl Mechanisms
  • 10-Year Labor With Lifetime-Limited Manufacturer’s Warranty On Materials

Add quantity and pricing to each item when possible. Remember you have the option to show pricing for each item or to only show the package pricing with each estimate. So build the estimate based on your customer’s expectation. If the customer just needs an overall scope of work then you can build a Header Category called “Install New Plumbing For Bathroom.” and use a general item that include a work scope for the service.  If you are an Electrician where each circuit breaker can add significate costs to the project or that customer requires a detailed list of materials in the scope then you can build your quote with these details. Either way, learn how to group individual material and labor costs whenever you can.   Yes, you want to make sure you make money but if you are a residential contractor your customer typically does not need to know all every detail and you don’t want to have line items that are too specific and give them a chance to nickel and dime you to death on taking or removing things from the quote.  As we mentioned in our previous post on materials lists for plumbers:

A quote to a customer is not just a materials and labor list, it’s a description for the client so they can understand what you are doing in the installation and it should also help you sell the job. This is called the scope of work. Unless you want to build an estimate based on price alone our advice is not to provide a quote to your customer based on time and materials unless it is a service repair or warranty claim.  If I use (5) less fittings for $1.58 each but it takes me 15 minutes longer than I thought to install the job, does it really matter? Most contractors are not in the business of ripping off their customers—it’s bad for repeat work and referrals.

Just Getting Started? Let JobFLEX Help You Out

If you’ve never tried putting together a detailed materials list, or you’re just launching your contracting business this task can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, at JobFLEX we know this is a major hurdle for many contractors so we’ve taken some steps to kickstart your efforts.

  • Get started faster with industry specific downloadable pricing. We have sample item lists for some of the more common industries and you can download our example industry material and item lists here.
  • Of course, nobody knows your exact labor rate or cost of materials except you but our quick start pricing will get you in the ballpark and help get you started or give you some ideas on how to start your own material and items lists for your quotes.
Automate the Estimating Process Using JobFLEX to Import Your Item Lists

jobflex login

Paid JobFLEX users can sign in to the website using the login button at the top of the screen. Once signed in go to Settings > Item List, from there you can manage your items from a web browser.

  • You can import one or more of the sample material lists in the link above, simply open it in excel, make any modifications and then save it as a .csv (Comma Separated Values) file. Once saved, you can upload it on the items list screen, choosing to either add it to your existing items or replace the existing items.
  • If you plan on editing your current materials list and you have a number of items to modify then export your full materials list as a CSV in excel, make all the changes necessary and re-load the list to replace all the old data.

The value of an organized material list is nice, but having all of your items and descriptions at your fingertips to create a quote while you’re on the potential job site will save you tons of time and impress your potential customers. So why wait? Try JobFLEX today by following the link below.

Get it JobFLEX free on Google Play!

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