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Recently, I received an email from someone who asked – “Do you have a crash course in electrical estimating?”

And I said to myself, no that course can be found in the average electrical contractors offered at no fee, but there is a cost

If you want a “crash course” in electrical estimating, do the following:

  1. Find someone to work as an estimator for the least amount of money you can. This is the real way to save on overhead expenses.
  2. Find someone who can read blueprints, if they can read blueprints, surely, they can estimate. It is only a matter of counting symbols and measuring circuits.
  3. Find electricians who are computer literate and bring them in the office to estimate.  If they are good electricians, surely will make good estimators.  Just like all great football players make great football coaches.
  4. Bid all projects regardless of size, location, and schedule.  After all, it is very prestigious when your contracting buddies see your company’s name on very bidders list, especially the BIG projects.
  5. Never provide estimator or software training.  Observation is the way to learn. This is the way my heart surgeon was trained.
  6. Don’t use software as the costs and fees are too expensive.
  7. Overload estimators with lots of projects to bid, this way you will get more bang for your buck in salaries.
  8. Scream at untrained estimators for making fundamental mistakes.  Intimidation works great.  Let them know how smart you (the chief estimator) are and dumb they are.  Works every time.
  9. Let estimators estimate however they wish – never give them any non-negotiable guidelines. Any way is a good way, after all, it is only an estimate. You just must be “close.”
  10. Never have an estimator’s meeting.  This way, no one communicates and knows what is going on within the company.  Keep everyone in the dark.
  11. Never have a project turn-over meeting.  These are too time consuming and costly.  Just dump the estimate, specs and drawings on the foreman and project manager and tell them we should have been on site 3 weeks ago.  This way, they will get a lot done in a short amount of time because of the pressure they are under.
  12. Never have a post project meeting to identify estimating mistakes.
  13. Never have an annual review of an estimator’s performance for the year to determine any merit raise or bonus.  Wait till another contractor offers him more money, then you can match the offer. Or better yet, the greedy estimator can go work for your competitors. After all, highly skilled electrical estimators are a dime a dozen.

Follow these guidelines and you are sure to make you and your company CRASH!!!


Surely no one with any reasonable sense thinks that learning to be a highly skilled electrical estimator can be learned in two days or less.
Remember, estimating is expensive, poor estimating is costly, but quality estimating is profitable.