Electrical, Technician Tips, Business Tips, Pro Features

8 Top Electrical Estimating Apps and How to Choose the Best Tool for You

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Clock IconJune 10th, 2022
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If using spreadsheets, pen and paper, and texts and emails to create and issue electrical estimates isn’t cutting it for you anymore (or if you’re just tired of the time and aggravation that method involves), there are two main estimating solutions on the market:

  • Electrical estimating and takeoff software: Apps created specifically for estimating (and that may include integration with invoicing or accounting). 

  • Electrical contractor software: Comprehensive electrical business software, such as ServiceTitan, not only helps you create and manage estimates, but that also includes a slew of features that integrate with and help run the rest of your business.

Switching to an electrical estimating software might seem like a straightforward, affordable solution to your estimating problems. But, while it will improve the estimating process, this type of software has some limitations: It’s designed to perform one specific task. When the application is disconnected from the rest of your project management functions, it might not be your best choice in the long run.

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To help you better decide which solution is best for you, we’re going to discuss the tradeoffs of using an estimating app versus fully integrated electrical contractor software. 

Then, we’ll walk through ServiceTitan’s estimating features and show you how they connect and work with a host of other features that can streamline your entire business operation (while also increasing your profit margin). 

Finally, we’ll wrap up with a list of 7 other electrical estimating apps you can consider.

We’ll cover the following options:

Want to see how ServiceTitan works to streamline your electrical business operations? Schedule a call to get a free, live, one-on-one walk through of the features we describe throughout this article.

Electrical Estimating Apps vs. Electrical Contractor Software

Esticom, Trimble, McCormick, and TurboBid are just a few of the companies that have developed solid takeoff and estimating software for HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractors. 

These products help automate the bid management process, but when you consider your business operation holistically, they fall short in several areas.

So, let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of electrical estimating apps versus a comprehensive electrical software that includes electrical estimating among its many valuable features.

Advantages of Electrical Estimating and Takeoff Software

Electrical estimating and takeoff software are definitely an improvement over Excel spreadsheets, pen/paper notes, and manual computations. Functionality and options differ by product, but this type of software generally improves construction estimating speed and accuracy by allowing you to:

  • Upload digital plans

  • Perform quantity take off

  • Adjust quantities, prices, and labor units

  • Create and track change orders

  • Manage documents and reports

  • Collaborate with the project management team during the bidding process

  • Create professional looking estimates and bid packages

At face-value, these solutions appear to be more affordable when compared to more comprehensive electrical software, but you have to take into account that they’re designed to do only one thing: handle estimating and takeoff. While this is a feature you’re looking for, there are some cons associated with this specificity.

Disadvantages of Electrical Estimating and Takeoff Software

Even the best electrical estimating app is largely disconnected from the rest of your business operations. If you go with one, think about how you’re going to integrate the data you use to generate the estimate with everything else you need to do, such as:

Will you need additional apps to handle those operations? Or, if you’re already using apps for some of these key functions, how well will an estimating app integrate with them? If the apps don’t communicate and share information with one another, you’ll have to continue to manually reenter the same information in multiple platforms — an inefficient, error-prone process. 

Takeoff software and estimating apps often lack features such as the ability to instantly upload project photos and videos (useful throughout the project workflow), and their interfaces often aren’t user-friendly — thus decreasing their efficiency.

Also, keep in mind that most electrical estimating apps aren’t tailored to presenting estimates to residential customers. If you’re an electrical business that services both commercial and residential customers, this might present some problems. 

So, while an electrical estimating app might seem like a more affordable solution in the short term, it’s not going to be as efficient as a full-service electrical contractor software like ServiceTitan. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electrical Contractor Software 

At first glance, the disadvantage of choosing a holistic electrical software over an estimating specific solution is the increased cost. But, ServiceTitan’s value more than pays for itself in improved operational efficiency and increased revenue in the long-run. 

ServiceTitan serves both commercial and residential electrical service businesses, so it’ll work for you no matter the size or scope of your operation.

It’s designed to cover all aspects of project management — from the initial estimate through job completion. For example, from the foundation of an initial estimate in ServiceTitan, you can easily:

  • Create detailed workflows

  • Requisition materials directly from the estimate

  • Seamlessly generate and communicate purchase and change orders

  • Upload photos to the project to share with your team and your customer

  • Track and document labor using our timesheets feature

  • Generate applications for payment and invoices

  • Sync with your accounting system 

The information you enter in the software integrates with the relevant aspects of the rest of the program, which means ServiceTitan keeps everything up to date and accessible in real-time for everyone who needs access. 

Not having to enter the same information multiple times in various platforms and formats means efficiency increases while the opportunities for error decrease. 

In the next section, we’ll show you how to easily create an accurate estimate in ServiceTitan. We’ll also focus on a few of the other features connected to the estimate that can help streamline the processes involved in project management.

How ServiceTitan’s Electrical Estimating Software Works

ServiceTitan software goes beyond the estimating process. It’s designed to efficiently and intuitively meet the needs of an electrical contracting business throughout the entire job management process — no matter how big or small the electrical project.

ServiceTitan is equally well-suited for short residential and/or service jobs and for longer-term residential or commercial construction projects. The workflows and features that will benefit you most, however, depend on the complexity and duration of the project.  

To demonstrate, we’ll walk you through how ServiceTitan can help you create estimates and manage workflow for longer-term, more complex projects and for shorter-term construction, service, and repair jobs.

Generating Estimates for Longer-Term Projects

When your project spans a few months (or even a year or more), you need the ability to track costs and progress, requisition materials and permits, create and issue applications for payment, and more.

The first step is to create a new project in ServiceTitan. Our customizable format makes it easy to populate necessary fields, such as: 

  • Client/company name, address, and other essential contact and job-site information

  • Estimate number and date

  • Start date, etc.

Subcontractor project tracking in ServiceTitan

This becomes the project overview page where you will later easily monitor job costs and progress, and also initiate actions such as change orders, purchase orders, invoicing, etc.

Once you’ve created a project in ServiceTitan, you’re ready to start working on the estimate. You can use ready-made electrician templates for this, or you can create your own custom forms to suit your needs.

Estimate Template

Before building the estimate, project managers or technicians can use the mobile app on their tablet or phone (iOS or android) at the job site, or another location, to input all information and notes specific to the job, such as: 

  • Measurements

  • Materials and equipment needed

  • Permits to be pulled

  • Details about the work to be done

They can even upload photos and videos from the job site to reference work that needs to be done (or to document work progress later on in the project). 

This feature also comes in handy if questions arise about a problem. Because photos and videos are instantly accessible on the cloud, techs can consult with an expert to get questions answered on the spot, saving valuable time over what used to require a lot of back-and-forth or even unplanned visits to the site.

Our integrated pricebooks and inventory management features allow you to instantly verify material pricing and availability, which is crucial to creating an accurate estimate.

Because the information is available simultaneously to anyone with access, your team back at the office can also supply information or get started on their end whenever they’re ready.

Tasks, Project Labels, and Description of Work in ServiceTitan

You can customize tasks and work descriptions and even color code project labels for easier visualization and organization with our Project Settings feature.

Once all the information has been gathered and your estimate has been built, you can export it as a PDF to send to your customer via email, or you can print to deliver or mail it. 

Connecting Estimates to the Rest of the Project Management Workflow

This is where ServiceTitan’s project management software provides value far beyond what an estimating app can do. The data from the estimate is just the starting point for managing all the processes of the construction management workflow. Once the information is entered, ServiceTitan applies it throughout the job so you can seamlessly perform other necessary functions.

For example, once you’ve won the job, you can order materials right from the estimate you created. Simply click on Initiate Requisition. Select the material and equipment you want to order at that time. 

Subcontractor project tracking in ServiceTitan: Chargeable Materials

When you’re all set, click on Initiate Fulfillment. This will initiate a workflow process where you can create purchase orders.

Estimate Template

Choose your procurement source and indicate the delivery location from dropdown menus. 

Requisition Improvements and Line Items in ServiceTitan: 1 Purchase Order will be created

Once you confirm it, you can navigate to the purchase order itself, where you have the option to send it to your vendor in your preferred format. 

These features are just the start. ServiceTitan also allows you to:

  • Track the project’s progress with real-time information on the project overview summary page (e.g., current expenses, retainage, invoice amounts, and accounts receivable), with the ability to dive deeper into the details with just a click.

  • Monitor job costing metrics, including labor, materials, etc., and view budgeted versus actual tables.

  • Integrate approved change orders.

  • Create applications for payment along with corresponding continuation sheets for general contractors.

  • Generate invoices.

  • Create payments and apply them to accounts receivable.

  • Update accounts receivable through the ability to integrate with common accounting software.

Trying to manage all these tasks (and keep them updated) using disconnected spreadsheets, documents, and other task-specific apps is a massive drain on productivity fraught with many opportunities for error.

Instead, ServiceTitan streamlines the entire process. Every change or action automatically integrates within the corresponding areas of the platform so that you don’t have to manually enter and update a multitude of sheets and documents. 

Electrical Bidding for Short-Term Service and Repair

Estimating shorter-term jobs like those common to residential service and repair work requires a different feature set than larger commercial or construction projects.

For example, you or your tech may need to build an estimate that contains several options and present it to the customer on the spot. Or, you may need to rely on a technician’s notes and photos (which are easily misplaced, confused, or even inaccurate) to try to build an estimate later. 

An estimating system that relies on disjointed pen and paper notes, spreadsheets, and documents is a recipe for inefficiency, and often leads to lost income opportunities.

You need to be sure you’ve covered all the details and have access to current inventory and pricing to maximize efficiency and profit.

ServiceTitan provides you with a consistent way to quickly create accurate, professional-looking estimates that also maximize profitability. 

But, because it’s a comprehensive field service management software, it provides so much more.

Generating a Residential Electrical Estimate

ServiceTitan offers customizable estimates and customer-facing proposal templates. This allows you to set up common estimate items, such as materials or equipment, that are linked to your pricebook

ServiceTitan offers bulk editing and other features that make it easy to keep pricebooks up to date with current inventory and prices. You then pull from this material database to populate specific proposals — a huge time (and potentially financial) savings. 

You (or your techs) have the option to build estimates on the spot using a tablet, Android, iPhone, or other iOS device. 

Start by creating an estimate template with options. This is where you select materials and services that are common to jobs.

ServiceTitan's Create Estimate Template: Example

Next, create the proposal template that you’ll present to your customers. 

Add proposal type in ServiceTitan: Progressive or Additive

This template is fully customizable to suit your personal style and business preferences. 

You can present a line-item quote, a flat-rate quote, or you can choose to present packages with options like, “Good, Better, Best” or “Silver, Gold, Platinum.” 

When it’s time to build an estimate for a specific job, add estimates to the proposal from your library of menu items. 

Easily Build Your Proposal in ServiceTitan: Good, Better, Best

The template also contains the option to add photos, a summary of the estimate, and/or notes about specific findings.  

Another option to add to the proposal is the financing feature. Customers who choose to do so can quickly and easily apply for financing through the app, increasing the chances that you’ll win the work (and get paid on time).

ServiceTitan's electrical estimating app features: Select a Plan

The result is a professional-looking estimate that you can immediately present to the customer. 

When it comes to presenting the estimate to the customer, you continue to have options. You can: 

  • Show them the estimate on your mobile device (with the option for them to accept and sign on the spot).

  • Send it to their cell phone (helpful for those who are concerned about social distancing).

  • Print it.

  • Send it via an email link.

If you send the estimate by email, you can configure it so that you receive an alert when the customer clicks on the link to open it. The customer can even accept the proposal and pay from the link.

Sometimes customers want time to think about your proposal and/or are getting quotes from other contractors. Our follow-ups feature prompts you to follow up on estimates that didn’t close within a designated period of time. Without a prompt like this, opportunities often fall through the cracks.

Note: To browse a broader list of electrical apps, check out our article on 13 Essential Electrician Apps for Technicians in 2022.

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Estimating App or Full-Service Software? 

Whether you’re a large commercial electrical contractor or an electrician running a small business, streamlining the estimating process is essential to increasing productivity and your profit margin along with it.

An estimating app is a software solution that can help you with that. But you need to take into account that an electrical estimating app won’t integrate with your entire business operation, so it won’t help you with all the other disconnected processes that span the entire life of a project. 

A comprehensive electrical software like ServiceTitan, on the other hand, does all that, and more.

Want to see how ServiceTitan works to streamline your electrical business operations? Schedule a call to get a free, live, one-on-one walk through of the features we describe throughout this article.

Other Electrical Estimating Apps

Esticom

Esticom homepage: Cloud-Based Takeoff & Electrical Estimating Software

Esticom is a cloud-based takeoff and electrical estimating software, purpose built for electrical contractors. They offer a suite of features including auto count, linear measurements, design and plan markup tools, and more. However, since they’re an estimating-specific software, they don’t offer tools that allow you to seamlessly connect estimating with the rest of project management.

TurboBid

TurboBid Assembly Database Example

TurboBid is a construction estimating software point solution offering a wide array of tools specific to estimating. The software offers features for functions such as document management, material items and assemblies, material take-off, labor unit adjustments, and more. Like Esticom, they do not offer capabilities to seamlessly connect to other parts of your business.

Trimble

Trimble MEP homepage: Estimating and Takeoff Solutions for Projects of Any Size

Trimble offers an estimating and takeoff software specifically designed for electrical, mechanical and sheet metal estimating and takeoff. They offer features for streamlining quantification, measurements, and count items. Like the two solutions mentioned above, they do not offer the ability to integrate with the other tools you use to run your business.

McCormick

McCormick homepage: Estimating and Digital Takeoff Software for Contractors

McCormick Systems is a digital estimating and takeoff solution for electrical, plumbing and mechanical, and select other industries. They offer features including simple to use digital takeoff, customization options to meet unique needs, and detailed databases. 

Jobber

Jobber homepage: You can count on Jobber to keep your business organized

Jobber is a field service scheduling software that also offers a wide range of other features for running a field service business. Like ServiceTitan, they offer functionality for estimating, quotes, scheduling, invoicing, and more. 

We’ve written a detailed comparison of our two products, which you can find here: Jobber vs. ServiceTitan.

Service Fusion

Service Fusion homepage: All-In-One Field Service Management Software

Service Fusion describes itself as an “All-In-One Field Service Management Software.” Like ServiceTitan, they offer a wide range of features including estimates, customer management, scheduling and dispatching, and more. 

We’ve written a detailed comparison of our two products, which you can find here: Service Fusion vs. ServiceTitan.

FieldEdge

FieldEdge homepage: Complete more jobs faster, streamline operations, increase profitability

FieldEdge is a field service management software and field service app for service businesses. They offer a wide range of features like ServiceTitan, including functionality for things like quotes and invoicing, scheduling and dispatching, service agreements, and more. 

We’ve written a detailed comparison of our two products which you can find here: FieldEdge vs. ServiceTitan

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.

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