Guys, I need your help ! Having been injured on the job a couple of years ago, I'm trying to get back into the workforce. I have always worked as a Foreman or Superintendant for the last 20 or so years. Now the boss wants me to start estimating also. One of my fears is that I am too detail oriented and will overprice everything I look at or get bogged down in details. I feel that is a great opportunity and neccessary step towards running my own business in the future (as I am also a Master Electrician) What are some of the trials and tribulations that you all have had to face while learning to estimate and still get enough jobs to keep food on the table ? How many of you use estimating software and does it win you bids or headaches? My boss is from the old school and still does his estimating the ole pencil and paper way. Not the most efficient way of estimating the larger projects.
First got an XT clone and Lotus 123 in 1987, and they became indispensable. In the mid-seventies, I would have probably thought Excel was from Mars.
It is trivial to modify and improve your earlier spreadsheets. Spreadsheet macros are the most common form of “programming language.” Never forget that you can potentially make wholesale mistakes with any software package.
The next step is something like Access, and is more complex—but more appropriate—when you have to communicate numeric/list-based information to others. [I don’t have any allegiance to Microsoft, but they make reasonably decent software. Flames to email@example.com] One major telecomm operation will only accept vendor/contractor proposals/quotes in PowerPoint format(!)
Try Electrical Bid Manager from Vision Infosoft. I use it and have really good success with it. It takes a bit to get used to but once you do you will be bidding faster and more accurate than with paper and pen. They offer a trial version.
the more detailed you are, the better. when i first started estimating, i was way off base. looking at what my boss did and doing time studies to see exactly how long it took to do specific jobs allowed me to get better +/- 5%.
i have moved on to bigger & better things and still do estinating. create a worksheet with common practice items, then assign the associated costs and labors for that item. next create wiring lengths and costs.
compare that to jobs already done. find out where you missed is and why. then fine tune it and compare to other jobs. after several trys you will get pretty close. repeat the process for all the jobs and see hoe it turns out.