The Proven Estimating System that Allows You to Estimate Quickly, Track Costs Easily and Make Money Consistently
If you’re one of the thousands of contractors that struggles with estimating jobs AND making money, this is information that could change your life.
What many contractors, maybe you are one of them, think that estimating a project is the beginning and end of the process. Unfortunately, it’s about more than that. In fact, it’s kind of a “chicken and egg” situation. In order for you to estimate accurately, you need to also track your job costs.
Driving Down the Road
Think about this. You’re driving on a straight road that goes for miles. What would happen to you, and your vehicle, if you didn’t look at the road for a minute or 2 or 3? You’d undoubtedly wind up in the ditch or hitting another vehicle. It wouldn’t be pretty.
Normally, when you’re driving down the road you’re making corrections and adjustments to your path. It’s seldom, if ever straight at the same speed.
Estimating is similar to driving and too many contractors are not watching the road. In this case, watching the road is tracking your job costs. The primary purpose of job cost is to give you feedback to your estimating. That’s it!
Let’s say you did a job that you figured was going to cost you $100 in materials and it wound up costing $150. You’re going to have to adjust your estimating so that next time you’ll figure the cost at $150.
Your Long Term Survival as a Contractor
If you want to survive and thrive as a contractor you MUST do job cost and use the results to feedback to, and adjust your estimating.
Guesstimating or Estimating or “But Wait, There’s More”
Your estimating must be done in what I call “measurable units”. A measurable unit is something that you can measure and record, like linear feet, square feet, cubic yards, etc. If you’re outside the United States you’re measuring in meters.
If you’re estimating a wall structure, you need to take off in linear feet and track your costs against the same measure. So, if you have a 20 foot wall and your price per foot for materials is, for example, $3.00 them you cost for the wall will be $60 (that’s before markup and profit). After you purchase the materials for the wall divide the total cost by 20 to get your actual cost per foot.
Let’s say your materials cost $75. The next time you estimate a wall you want to use the new cost 75/20 = $3.75 per linear foot of wall.
What Does All This Mean?
You get an estimating program – LiteningFast™ Estimating – as well as the benefits of a job cost system using QuickBooks® in The Contractor’s Profit System.
Here’s what you need to know about the job cost side of the equation. QuickBooks is an easy to use bookkeeping system that thousands of contractors use daily. We create what I call “simplified budgets” that are integrated into QuickBooks so you can pay your bills and your employees quickly and easily and at the same time track your job cost.
You have to pay your bills and your employees anyway, so it’s no more effort on your part to do job cost than paying everyone.
I will say that you will want to spend a few minutes each week reviewing your costs against budget to make sure you aren’t driving into a ditch.
Over 4,000 contractors since 1994 are using LiteningFast Estimating. You’ll find that no matter if you a general contractor or a specialty contractor, LiteningFast will work for you.
Everything is broken down into sections. Some people call them tasks or classes. They are groups of items, like Foundations, Framing, Roofing, HVAC, Electrical and so on.
What this means to you is 3 things:
- You will estimate faster because when you are looking for an item for an estimate, like 2×4 wall framing, you look in the Framing section where you will only find framing items. That’s instead of going through a huge list of items that may or may not be organized in the way you think
- You’ll estimate more accurately as well. If your estimate is in sections it’s easy to review each section for duplicated or missing items. There’s only a few in each section. Without sections you have a huge list of items that will be difficult to locate duplicate or missing item
- Your clients will appreciate seeing how the costs are broken out rather than just a lump sum total. My clients have commented that they got jobs even though they had a higher bid because of the way the bid was presented
If you do similar types of jobs, like kitchen remodel or bathroom remodel, you can create a template for that type of work.
What this means to you is 2 things:
- You can create a new estimate very quickly. Copy the template into your new estimate, enter appropriate quantities, delete unneeded items and you’re done
- Your estimate will be accurate because you’ve already set up all the item normally used in the type of job you’re doing
Assemblies allow you to group together into 1 takeoff item all items that are used together. For example, a wall assembly will have studs, top and bottom plate, drywall, insulation, tyvek, and so on.
This means that you get 2 things with assemblies:
- Your takeoffs are faster because instead of taking off each individual item you get the whole group at one time
- Your estimates are accurate because 1 entry takes off all the materials and labor for an assemble, rather than taking off a dozen items and maybe entering an incorrect quantity
Browse n’ Build Catalog
You get the Browse n’ Build catalog with LiteningFast Estimating. It’s a catalog of over 20,000 prices for materials and labor production rates. You get to pick and choose the items from the catalog that you normally use and they are added to your Item List Database. You probably don’t use 20,000 items and that’s why we let you choose the items you want and forget the rest of them.
You get detail estimates that can be sent to Microsoft Word or Excel if you want to format differently than the system provides. Your clients will love the estimate they receive.
Detail Estimates mean that you:
- Look like the professional you are
- Show your clients exactly what you are going to do for them
- Are able to charge for any changes to the project because if it’s not in the estimate it’s not included in the cost
- Get “thank you” from your prospects
- Win jobs over less expensive lump sum bids