Many estimators in today’s market attempt to bid any and all projects regardless of the type of work. The company’s need to secure work can cause some estimators to lose sight of one of the primary goals of an educated bid—understanding the true cost of a project as it relates to their company.
Competitive bidding in today’s electrical construction market is one of the most frustrating and challenging tasks the electrical estimator faces. Fewer projects to bid coupled with more competitors makes preparing a profitable bid price seem impossible at times.
There’s a lot to learn from stories. In our industry, there are many stories being told: crazy, scary stories about bids and deadlines, addendums and job walks. Stories like, “One time I forgot to enter the feeder conduits for the fourth-floor electrical room. We won the bid by pennies!
This article is for all you junior and associate estimators who are trying to decide what you want to be and do for the next 30-plus years of your lives. I’ll begin with a simple but very serious question: Do you want to be a career estimator?
Six years ago, I wrote, “[estimating] software technology is not going to dramatically change” (“Smart Buys,” Electrical Contractor, September 2005). Wow, was I ever wrong about that. It has changed quite dramatically.
I only have 1,200 words to tell you as much as I can about some of the best estimating software programs available on the market, so I’m not going to waste any of them chitchatting. Let’s get started in alphabetical order … YEE HA!
I recently spent a lot of time with a family member in a hospital. Not to worry. Everyone is fine, but while waiting for doctors and nurses to tell me what was going on, I couldn’t help but check out all the electrical installations that I’ve estimated so many times. I know. I’m sick.
Congratulations! Your client just called to inform you that you are one of the low bidders, and they would like you to come in for an interview. It looks like all your long, stress-filled days, late nights and working weekends paid off with a possible winner.
I recently heard a colleague say: “Don’t worry about winning a bunch of jobs with really low bids. You’ll make up the losses in volume!” Of course, he was kidding. Because you won’t; you’ll just lose a bunch of money—in volume.
With this last article on paperless estimating, I want to touch on a few of the greater benefits and potential issues you may face. I’m hoping some of you have already purchased and are now using “in-screen” takeoff (IST) software, after reading parts one and two of this series.
I’ve waited to write about paperless estimating until now. I’ve been estimating with digital drawings and estimating software for many years, but I didn’t want to write this until I was 100 percent paperless and working entirely “in-screen,” as one software company calls it.
Years ago, I was assisting a client on a $60-plus million electrical bid. There were more than 35 electrical bid form items, each one with three or four subcontractor or vendor quotations. The mayhem this created can’t be described.
As the construction industry is starting to breathe again, I’m getting calls from small contractors asking if I think they should hire a full-time estimator. It’s a great question, and I’m glad they are thinking ahead, but there is no simple answer.
Although I never recommend it, estimators are often forced to work on more than one project at a time. This is especially true in today’s highly competitive and light-on-opportunities market. It is also very common with prebid estimates, which sometimes share the same bid date.