Electrical, Productivity, Management, Business Tips

How to Leverage Electrical Estimate Templates to Present and Close Like a Pro

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Clock IconMarch 31st, 2021
Glasses Icon10 Min Read
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To be successful, electrical contractors need a well-defined system for calculating and creating job estimates. 

They need a system that ensures every work order’s myriad of details are taken into account, and that each bid is accurate — so that more work actually translates to more profit.

Having a top-notch electrical estimate form is a good start, which is why we’ve developed our free, downloadable PDF for you to use. 

A solid template can help guide techs while they’re out in the field, providing a structure to ensure they collect the essential information related to each job.

But it’s also only the first step. While it provides a consistent format and structure, it doesn’t do much to solve the process-related challenges involved with estimating.

For example:

  • Costly errors in miscalculating estimates that eat into profits.

  • Wasted time spent drawing up manual estimates instead of doing more jobs.

  • Misplaced carbon copies of their quotes to prospective customers.

  • Not having an efficient way to follow up on unsold estimates.

These common challenges can add up to have significant adverse effects on your electrical business

As a result, an increasing number of electrical service contractors are adopting electrical estimate software to improve the accuracy and efficiency of their estimating process.

» Want to grow your electrical business? Click here to get a demo.

In this article, we’ll cover:   

Our electrical software helps businesses streamline and improve estimating processes for increased profits. Want to see ServiceTitan in action? Schedule a call for a free product tour.

How to Download and Use Our Free Electrical Estimate Template

If you’d like to download and use our electrical estimate template (shown below), you can click here to download it for free.

Our estimate template includes a section for documenting all the essential information of an estimate:

  • Your company information

  • Job site information

  • Job description and details

In addition, there’s a second page for collecting payment information:

Having a blank electrical estimating template like this is a great first step to improving the estimate process — but as we noted, it’s also just that: a first step. 

In our experience, electrical contractors who add a new template to their existing, manual system for estimating often end up dealing with the same issues they had before the template. 

In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at why.  

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The Remaining Challenges to Overcome in the Estimating Process

For electrical contractors, process-related issues that arise during estimating tend to fall into one (or more) of four categories: 

1. Organization

Electrical work is detail-intensive. There are hundreds of tiny moving parts, hidden behind walls and underground — an array of wires, screws, couplings, wall mounts, and more. 

Whether it be for a moderately complex residential service job or full-on construction project, an estimator without a field service software to rely on is at a real disadvantage. 

If they’re using a manual estimating process, no matter how experienced, well-trained, and intelligent they are, that tech can easily overlook a detail or two, if not more. As a result, essential parts go unordered, jobs get delayed, and the wrong equipment gets installed — all of which cuts mightily into the bottom line.  

Many techs nowadays will take photos to refer to later. But even that’s an iffy solution. A tech who handles five to ten calls a day could easily end up with a couple dozen photos by quitting time — a hundred or more images per week, which end up adding to, rather than reducing the confusion.    

Of course, paper records are easily misplaced. Situations like these can leave contractors with no clear record of what price their tech proposed, what costs were included in that price, or what materials and equipment seemed to be required for the job. 

Lastly, paper invoices have to be stored somewhere, meaning that office employees and techs need to maintain an ever-multiplying set of file folders, which are often tracked in an equally hard-to-manage Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, Microsoft Word doc, Google Doc, or Google Sheet.

2. Timing

Manual estimates take a lot of time to draw up. Each proposal necessitates a series of repetitious, burdensome steps: longhand arithmetic; cross referencing forms, catalogues, and spreadsheets; filling out templates. 

Techs often end up spending hours every week trading phone calls with their home office: verifying prices, double checking the availability of parts, getting approvals. 

All of the time employees devote to these tasks is less time spent more profitably: handling additional calls, generating more business — and actually performing electrical work.     

3. Presentation

Electrical shops that have their techs create pen-and-paper estimates on-site arguably have an advantage over those that put their proposals together back at the office and provide them to their customers later. The approach cuts out lag time during which their customers might hire someone else to do the work.  

But for a tech, drawing up a professional proposal in the same truck that they drive around in all day — where they eat lunch, drink coffee, and store tools and equipment — is frequently a tall order. 

In practice, estimates they produce tend to be on the messy side, scribbled with hard-to-read handwriting. A proposal that looks thrown together can give the homeowner a sense that the contractor they’re dealing with isn’t as well organized as they actually are — that they aren’t looking at a clean, well-made plan — and be hesitant about hiring them.     

In such cases, it’s not unusual for a competitor with a sleeker appearance to get the job, especially when it comes to construction estimating on bigger jobs.

4. Miscalculation

By the time a tech gets around to presenting their pen-and-paper estimate, of course, it’s not unlikely that things have already gone awry in one way or another. 

Maybe they missed something during their home inspection or mismeasured something in a way that will mar their estimating. 

Perhaps they neglected to elicit information from the homeowner that would have significantly changed the parameters of their proposal so as to skew their cost estimating. 

They might have failed to account for all of the parts the job requires — leading to a lowball cost estimate that will result in their employer losing money — or overlooked customer preferences. 

These are just a few possibilities. And whatever the case, the potential consequences are serious: 

  • Business lost to competitors with a more professional presentation.

  • Revenue lost due to errors in pricing contractor estimates.

  • Increased construction costs associated with faulty installation.

  • Work delays from excess time spent drafting estimates.

How ServiceTitan Electrical Estimating Software Works to Solve These Issues

To avoid these, and other potential forms of fallout, many electricians are shifting away from pen-and-paper estimates in favor of proposals powered by field service management software (FSM). 

In this section, we’ll zoom in on just how our solution, ServiceTitan, gets the job done. 

With ServiceTitan, you can think of estimates as the individual menu items you offer to customers, and proposals as a full menu of options to present them with. 

Customizable templates can be created for both estimates and proposals, so that proposals can be built easily on the fly (whether you’re in the office or in the field).

The first step is to create estimate templates, where you can add materials or service options by typing them into the search bar (shown above)

Our new dynamic estimate setting ensures that the prices in your estimate templates are automatically updated to correspond with your pricebook (including any time you change prices to materials or services).

Then, when you want to create a proposal template, you can select a format that corresponds with how you like to present options to customers. 

Many of our electrical subscribers use a three-tiered approach: Good, Better, Best; Silver, Gold, Platinum; Premium, Premium Plus, Platinum. 

These, too, are fully customizable — contractors can give their packages whatever names they like. Some contractors prefer to offer five options rather than three. Many make use of our color-coding option displayed in the screenshot above.

Once you’ve created a proposal, you can easily add estimates (individual menu items) from your estimate template library:

To build your proposal, you can simply drag and drop estimate templates into the sections you’ve designated for the various options you present to customers. 

In the screenshot above, you can see an example of a Good Better Best format.

Each tier contains a total estimate for one or more tasks, including the price of equipment, parts, and hourly rates for labor. Contractors can choose a progressive model, wherein the second tier builds on the services enumerated in the first, and so on. Alternatively, they can elect an additive model, which allows customers to add or subtract tasks to suit their needs.

While they’re out in the field, techs can pull up the proposal template(s) relevant to the work at hand using an iPad, Android, iPhone, or other iOS device. 

By clicking on a proposal template, they can review exactly what it contains to be sure that a given proposal delivers what their customer needs, and add or subtract from it as the work requires. 

Once the tech has reviewed their proposal, they’re ready to present. ServiceTitan gives electrical contractors a sleek, professional customer-facing interface — a huge improvement over the paper catalogues and handwritten proposals of yesteryear. 

Contractors can elect to show the prices attached to each option, or to hide them. Many of our users choose a middle road, presenting customers with a total cost for each option, while hiding the line items for parts, equipment, and labor that go into overall project cost.

Once a customer has decided on a package, ServiceTitan’s financing partner options make arranging real-time financing a snap. 

With the touch of a button, customers can fill out a loan application almost instantaneously, all but guaranteeing that the work agreed upon will be paid for promptly, and in full. 

Homeowners can e-sign proposals, either via their tech’s iOS device or on their own phone or computer; ServiceTitan documents are also printable.

In addition to drastically improving the aesthetics of the proposal process, ServiceTitan ensures that techs follow their employer’s best practices for sales during electrical jobs. 

Step-by-step, they’re prompted to show homeowners multiple, packaged options at a range of prices, rather than settling for the (cheapest) path of least resistance. 

Our software makes the proposal process easy for techs to execute — and vastly more profitable for owners of small businesses and large businesses alike. 

Across the board, the contractors we work with have found that ServiceTitan significantly improves their average ticket price.

Conclusion

For electrical contractors, having a well-designed quote template like the one provided in this post is a good way to start improving their business. 

Unfortunately, simply adding a new template — even a very good one — to a process that runs on pen and paper, or which relies on a less-than-stellar FSM, still leaves a lot of room for things to go wrong with:

  • Disorganization 

  • Inefficient workflows

  • Unprofessional presentation

  • Miscalculations

All of these issues can cause an electrical contractor to go into the red, even if they’re doing tons of business. 

On the other hand, a top-notch field service management platform like ServiceTitan solves all of these problems and then some. 

By integrating the proposal process into overall operations — automatically connecting it to core business features like an accurate and automated pricebook, inventory management, equipment and materials management, invoicing, and more — our software helps contractors to maximize their bottom line by ensuring that their revenue grows steadily along with new business.

Are you ready to streamline your electrical estimates and close more business? Schedule a call for a free product tour and see ServiceTitan in action.            

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