The commercial electrical estimating process is a great example of the complex project management required to run an electrical business. To generate timely and accurate estimates, commercial electrical contractors are required to:
Schedule visits to the job site.
Assess and calculate the time and materials required.
Communicate back and forth between the field and the office.
Thoroughly document every job (often including dozens of images).
Process change orders and communicate back and forth with customers.
Create professionally designed bids that impress customers.
Send, track, and follow up on open bids.
Handling this many moving pieces with text messages, emails, Excel spreadsheets, and paper documents is challenging (to put it lightly).
Many electrical businesses are looking to commercial electrical estimating software to make managing this process easier and more efficient.
There are two main categories of estimating software:
Commercial electrical software: Holistic field service management software that includes estimating features, but also offers features for managing other areas of the business such as scheduling and dispatching, payroll, accounting, and more.
Estimating and takeoff software: Software that is built for estimating and takeoff only.
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In this article, we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of these different types of estimating software, so you can make an informed decision about which would be best for your business.
Then, we’ll walk through how ServiceTitan’s commercial electrical software helps contractors, subcontractors, and service businesses transform and streamline their estimating systems.
ServiceTitan’s commercial electrical software helps improve efficiency and increase your profits by improving bid processes and information sharing across your operations. Want to see how you can use it for your business? Schedule a call for a free product tour.
Commercial Electrical Software vs Estimating and Takeoff Software Solutions
From companies like ConEst, Accubid, and McCormick Systems, to solutions such as Vision InfoSoft, TurboBid, PlanSwift, and Esticom, many different software options have been developed specifically and solely for electrical, HVAC, and other trade businesses to facilitate estimating and bid management.
These point solutions can certainly be a valuable tool for electricians and office staff to build and manage commercial bids, but they come with pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Estimating and Takeoff Software
Strengths of solutions designed specifically for estimating and electrical takeoff include functionality to:
Upload digital plans, leverage on-screen markup tools, and perform quantity takeoffs using auto-count.
Access low voltage materials databases.
Adjust and calculate material pricing, labor units, and profit margins.
Create PDF quotes to send to customers.
Facilitate bid management (e.g. organize bids by due date or assigned electrical bid manager).
Cons of Estimating and Takeoff Software
The overarching problem with software that’s only designed to help with electrical estimating is that a company’s estimating system will be disconnected from the rest of the tools they use to run their business.
Once a bid is created, that information has to then be entered into other programs such as dispatch software, accounting software, and the other tools businesses use throughout execution and job management.
The implications of this are wasted time reentering the same information into different tools as well as introducing more opportunities for human error. For example, office staff can easily make errors in entering material costs or job site details into dispatch software, causing a field tech to show up to the job with the wrong materials or missing crucial job information. So in addition to wasted time, this can lead to unnecessarily lost revenue or damaged customer relationships.
And these inefficiencies aren’t the only downsides of relying on estimating and takeoff point solutions. Software options like the ones we mentioned above also tend to have outdated interfaces that aren’t user friendly, lack sophisticated mobile apps, and lack convenient features such as the ability to upload photos and videos for job documentation.
These things may seem small on the surface, but in practice they aren’t small at all. They significantly enhance the utility of — and ROI from investing in — estimating software.
To avoid these issues and centralize operations into a single platform, many electrical businesses are choosing to use holistic commercial electrical software instead. These solutions integrate the estimating process with the other areas of your business.
In the next section, we’ll demonstrate how ServiceTitan’s commercial electrical software works, including how it streamlines estimating as well as dispatching, job execution, and more.
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How ServiceTitan Commercial Electrical Software Streamlines Estimates (And Integrates Estimating with the Rest of Your Business)
Seamless Communication Between Field and Office Staff
In commercial electrical, the need for seamless communication between field and office staff is essential for generating fast and accurate estimates.
When a call comes in, ServiceTitan makes it easy for office staff to capture and organize customer information via our desktop interface. It’s similar to the functionality of a customer relationship management system (CRM), but specifically designed for the trades.
When a field technician gets to a job, they can easily access all preliminary job details through our mobile app. Then, as they assess the job site and the time and materials it will require to complete, they can add in all of the relevant details to the same job file that was created in the office.
They also have the ability to upload photos and videos of the job site via their tablet or phone. These photos can be referenced throughout the job lifecycle, easily stored and accessed in real-time from anyone in the company, and be shared with general contractors or end customers to demonstrate proof of work, before and after photos, or request change orders needed to complete the job.
Our customers have remarked that the ability to upload, organize, and easily access photos and videos is game changing — especially for large jobs like construction projects that can require 100+ photos. And especially in commercial contexts, where property managers and contractors are often not present on site when estimates are made and work is completed.
Building and Sending Beautifully Designed, Timely, and Accurate Estimates
Once a tech has recorded and uploaded all relevant details from the job site, office staff can immediately access that information back at the office. This significantly reduces the time lag in information sharing, and improves workflow efficiency for building and sending out bids.
In addition, office staff can leverage customizable estimate templates to make generating estimates easier. Instead of building one from scratch for each new bid, they can simply enter job-specific details into a pre-built template, and customize it as necessary.
Finally, they can send professional looking estimates and proposals that stand out to customers, right from within ServiceTitan.
Tracking and Following Up on Open Bids
Once bids have been sent out, ServiceTitan makes it easy to track progress on them and follow up on open bids. Our Follow Ups feature provides lists of sold and unsold bids, leads, recurring service events, and more.
By pulling up your Unsold Estimates, for example, you can see all your open estimates, filtered by business unit, job type, or technician. For each one, you can see dates for when the estimate was sent, whether it was opened, what date it needs to be followed up on, and more.
You can also set reminders to alert your staff when bids need follow up, ensuring revenue opportunities don’t needlessly slip through the cracks.
Connecting Estimates to the Rest of Your Business
In addition to documenting jobs and customer information, creating estimates, and tracking and following up on open bids, ServiceTitan has an entire suite of features built to help you facilitate the entirety of a job lifecycle from a single platform.
Once an estimate has been approved by a contractor or end customer, office staff can seamlessly turn that into a work order, and begin the process of scheduling to get the work done.
Our scheduling software allows your staff to easily coordinate which jobs will be handled by which technicians, and when — in the same system the estimate was created.
As your technicians are out completing jobs, our timesheet features allow you to track drive time, vendor runs, and wrench time, as well as OT, ensuring that you have an accurate view of labor hours for all jobs and techs.
On the office side, your staff can clock in and out right in ServiceTitan, helping to ease payroll management. And because our timesheets are synced with our dispatch board, your team always knows who’s available for the next job.
When a job is completed, office staff can once again leverage the job and estimate details they originally entered to generate an accurate and timely invoice. There’s no need to continue transferring the same job information from one platform to another, because everything is stored and managed in one place.
Finally, our payment features and accounting integrations make it easy to get paid and maintain accurate accounting records, providing everything you need to complete the job lifecycle from end to end.
What’s the Best Electrical Estimating Software for You?
As we’ve discussed throughout this post, estimating and takeoff software provide valuable features for electrical contractors to improve their entire estimating process. They allow you to centralize and digitize your estimating and bid creation.
The downside of using an estimating-only software is that you need to use other software tools for running the other parts of your business, and often the tools don’t integrate with each other. This can lead to workflow inefficiencies and opens up room for human error to enter the process.
The alternative is to use a commercial electrical software like ServiceTitan to streamline your estimating, but also integrate your estimating process with the rest of your business operations.
We’ve had commercial electrical customers report revenue increases of 40% as a result of using our commercial electrical software. If our holistic solution sounds like the right fit for you, schedule a call for a free product tour.
ServiceTitan Electrical Software
ServiceTitan is a comprehensive electrical business software solution built specifically to help service companies streamline their operations, boost revenue, and achieve growth. Our award-winning, cloud-based platform is trusted by more than 100,000+ contractors across the country.