As a contractor, one of the keys to turning a profit is to properly estimate the jobs that you bid on. If you estimate the cost of the project too high, you may lose out on it altogether. At the same time, however, if you bid too low, you may wind up spending a lot more money than you anticipated, which can cut into your profits and minimize your earnings.
One of the best ways to ensure that your estimates are accurate is by using estimating software. There are a variety of different software programs on the market that are designed to make the process of coming up with a cost estimate for construction projects much faster and easier. Best of all, these programs are designed with accuracy in mind. That means that you can get a highly accurate quote in very little time, enabling you to get your bid in quickly for a project.
When choosing Ensign estimating software for your business, there are a few key features that you should look for. Here are some of the most important components that any software program you buy should have:
1. Regional cost data. Software programs come up with their estimates by pulling cost data from a large database. For instance, if the project you are bidding on requires a specific type of door, the estimating software will pull the cost of the door from its database, adding it into the total for the project.
Although this seems like it would be a good system, it is only as accurate as the information that the software program has in its database. Unfortunately, some software companies rely on databases that include costs for building materials that are calculated by using the national average. Although this will give you a rough idea of the cost, it doesn’t take into account price fluctuations that occur regionally.
The best way to avoid this problem is by choosing a software program that includes regional cost data rather than relying on national averages. It should use recent pricing from your local area when determining how much money to add for each item that is included in the project. This will help you get the most accurate estimate possible. Additionally, the cost data should be regularly updated so that it is always current. Ideally, these updates should occur automatically behind-the-scenes so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time updating the database yourself.
2. High-quality templates. Instead of having to create every type of project from scratch, the software should incorporate templates for some of the most common types of building projects. For instance, it should have templates for kitchen renovations, garages, bathrooms, and home additions. That way, you can pull up the template that you need and get started on your estimate right away without having to compile the data for every project from the ground up.
3. Cloud-based data access. Storing your estimates in the cloud is a convenient way to ensure that you always have access to your data. By choosing estimating software that uses secure cloud-based storage for your estimates, you can log in from any computer to view the estimates. This can make it easy to access the information that you need regardless of where you are. As long as you have online access and an Internet-enabled device, you should be able to view or edit your estimates.
4. A simple interface. You shouldn’t need a degree in computer science to use the program. Instead, the interface where you enter data should be easy and intuitive to use. You should be able to quickly get a feel for how the software works so that you can start using it right away. The last thing that you want is to have to spend months learning how to use a program. Instead, you should be able to install it, familiarize yourself with the interface, and start coming up with estimates right away.
If you are like most people, you probably don’t have a lot of time to waste learning a new program. That is why it is so important to choose a program that is as easy to use as possible.
5. Excellent customer service. The company that created the program should be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have or to provide support if you need it. Anytime you start working with a new software program, there is always a chance that you will have questions. It is important to know that you can reach someone who can help without having to wait on hold forever.
You can generally get a sense of how good a company’s customer service is before you even buy their products. Check out their website to make sure that there is contact information displayed clearly on the site. Make sure that they have a phone number along with an email address. That way, you can call and talk to a real person if you need to.
You may even want to try submitting a question before you order the software to see how quickly they reply. This can give you a good indication of how long it might take to get answers if you find yourself facing a problem after you own the program. If they take too long to reply, you may want to keep looking until you find a company that is more responsive.
6. Affordable pricing. Although cost shouldn’t be the only factor that you consider when buying estimating software, you probably do have a budget that you need to stick to. You should look for a software program that fits within that budget. In some cases, it may be beneficial to choose a program that offers a monthly subscription rather than buying the program outright. This can be an affordable way to get access to high-quality software without having to spend a lot of money right out of the gate.
Knowing what to look for when choosing estimating software can help ensure that you buy a program that more than meets your needs. Keep these tips in mind when comparing programs to find high-quality software that will do everything that you need it to.