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Who is doing the estimating?

The life blood of the electrical contractor is securing profitable work.   Contractors should not be in business to win bids.  Rather, the main objective should be profitability.

A successful company consists of successful employees.  Only estimators should be allowed to estimate.  Just because a foreman or electrician is skilled in the field, it does not mean that he or she will be skilled at performing estimates.

Sometimes there are more projects to bid than you can assign to your estimators.  Some contractors use independent estimating services, some bring in an electrician or a foreman to estimate while others will use project managers from their office.

The best estimating software will not turn your employee into an estimator.  The smartest computer geek combined with the best estimating software will not produce quality estimates.  Those who estimate for you must understand sound estimating principles.  Estimating is more than counting, measuring, and highlighting.

If you are going to change the way someone works, you must change the way they think.  Poor thinking leads to poor work habits.  Improper thinking leads to improper work.

Why do contractors allow employees to estimate who not do have the skill or ability to perform the most important responsibility in the company’s success?  No one should want to take an airplane flight with a pilot lacking the knowledge or experience to get them to their destination safely.  A contractor should not allow an employee who lacks knowledge to estimate.

A contractor must submit successful bids to stay in business and be profitable.  The successful price must be a bid produced by solid estimating principles.

Here are some actions that contractors will do well to rethink:

  1. Bidding too many projects
  2. Using employees who only can read blueprints to estimate
  3. Relying on the estimating software to give you the winning bid
  4. Chasing a low number just to get the project
  5. Thinking that your estimate is wrong if another contractor has a lower price

Here are some philosophies that a wise contractor should live by:

  1. Learn to say “NO” to a project that is too risky.
  2. Properly trained estimators will produce solid estimates.
  3. Do not ask someone to estimate that has no desire in mastering the trade
  4. Realize that estimating time is valuable – use it wisely.
  5. Provide proper training for your estimators who have the greatest potential to become a highly skilled estimator.

Success doesn’t just happen by accident.  You must have a plan and you must work your plan.