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Plumbing Estimating Apps: 7 Options to Weigh and Key Considerations Before You Buy

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Clock IconJune 8th, 2022
Glasses Icon14 Min Read
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Picking the right plumbing estimating app can seem like a fairly straightforward task. However, there’s one key decision that plumbing business owners and contractors need to make, which is choosing between the two basic categories of estimating software:  

  1. Holistic Plumbing Contractor Software (FSM): Platforms that incorporate estimating functionality into a one-stop-shop approach to managing a service business, incorporating features like scheduling, dispatching, payroll, accounting, and more.

  2. Estimating and Takeoff Software: Software designed for estimating and takeoff alone.

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

To help readers make an educated decision about which of these tools make the most sense for their business, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each. 

Later, we’ll explain how our plumbing software, ServiceTitan, offers a more comprehensive solution for plumbing contractors to facilitate estimates in addition to the other key functions required to run their business. And finally, we’ll wrap up with a list of other plumbing estimating apps you can consider.

In total, we’ll cover the following plumbing estimating apps:

  • ServiceTitan

  • Simpro

  • Procore

  • FastPIPE

  • Jobber

  • Service Fusion

  • FieldEdge

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

Field Service Management Software (FSM) vs. Estimating and Takeoff-Only Solutions

Companies including Simpro, Procore, FastPIPE, and Esticom offer standalone estimating software solutions for plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and other trade service businesses. 

For plumbers who know they want an estimating-only product, point solutions can be viable. But there are pros and cons in this decision to consider. 

First, let’s look at the upside. 

Pros of Estimating and Takeoff Software

Software solutions that target estimating and plumbing takeoff alone can often do things like:

  • Generate PDF bids to send customers via email

  • Organize quotes as a function of the due date or plumbing bid manager

  • Calculate pricing for materials, labor, and profit margins

  • Provide access to materials databases

  • Perform quantity takeoffs, upload plans, and apply digital markups

Cons of Estimating and Takeoff Software

Much of the appeal of a software solution that addresses plumbing estimating and takeoff alone is that such products tend to appear to be very straightforward, uncomplicated to use, and inexpensive compared to a more holistic FSM or plumbing software.   

However, as their name suggests, standalone estimating solutions are disconnected from the other tools that plumbing contractors need to manage their companies.    

For example, after plumbers create a bid, they then have to transfer that information into a host of other modules: dispatch and scheduling software, accounting software, spreadsheets, and more. 

That’s a lot of time spent inputting the same information over and over. And every time a business owner or employee copies data from one place to another, an opportunity for error is introduced. 

In this way, job costing can go haywire and techs can end up with the wrong addresses in their dispatching apps. Needless to say, what begins as a tiny mistake can thus quickly become extremely costly, leading to loss of revenue and damaged customer relationships.  

Point solutions for plumbing estimating software also commonly have somewhat old-fashioned interfaces — designs that aren’t particularly user friendly or intuitive, and which lack modern mobile apps and API. 

The absence of features like customer relationship management (CRM) tools and upgrades to estimate-adjacent functionality, like dispatching and invoicing, dramatically reduce business owners’ ROI. In effect, it makes standalone estimating solutions more expensive than they might appear at surface level, a key consideration in determining the best plumbing estimating software for your company. 

In contrast, holistic plumbing software like ServiceTitan centralizes all of a service business’s core functionality — including estimating — on a single platform. By seamlessly integrating the majority of key business functions, FSMs allow contractors to save time and eliminate the kinds of mistakes and inefficiencies that can significantly decrease revenue and make growth impossible. 

In the next section, we’ll demonstrate how ServiceTitan’s plumbing estimating features work, including how our software frictionlessly integrates estimating with dispatching, job costing, and more, for both residential and commercial plumbing work. 

How ServiceTitan’s Plumbing Software Connects Estimates to the Rest of Your Business

ServiceTitan’s comprehensive approach to field service management includes features designed for residential plumbers, as well as for plumbing contractors who focus on commercial and/or subcontracting work on larger construction projects. Many shops, of course, do a combination of residential and commercial or commercial and construction

With ServiceTitan, users have access to tools that are custom built for each of these business segments, so hybrid shops can leverage the functionality that best suits the job(s) they’re working on.

To make things easy, in this part of the article, we’ve divided our plumbing estimating program into sections for commercial and subcontracting work, and for residential service.   

Plumbing Estimate Tools to Facilitate Commercial and Subcontracting Work

Our software now has a comprehensive suite of job management tools for plumbing companies that have business units for commercial and construction work. 

Our workflow begins with creating a detailed estimate that automatically informs and connects to the rest of the key functions involved in project management, such as requisitioning equipment and materials, job costing, generating applications for payment and invoices, and more.

For plumbing contractors getting started on a fresh estimate, the first step is to generate a new plumbing project, which automatically creates a Project Overview page:

Subcontractor project tracking in ServiceTitan

As shown in the screenshot above, the Project Overview page provides a quick, easy, and highly detailed point of reference for the job at hand:

  • Basic information like project name, contact information, and customer phone number

  • Job costing and expense data, which will auto-update over the lifespan of the project based on work that’s completed and billed for

Project Overview is also where plumbing contractors execute essential functions such as creating applications for payment, purchase orders, and invoices. All of these documents are based on the initial estimate.

Now, let’s take some time to zoom in and examine how ServiceTitanstreamlines the process of creating and sending plumbing estimates for commercial and subcontracting jobs.  

In order to gather the information necessary to fill in all of the essentials about a newly created project, a tech or project manager can use the ServiceTitanmobile app on site. Gated workflows ensure that employees get every job detail and specification they need via a customizable evaluation process, while custom form features allow them to add notes and annotations.   

ServiceTitan users can also attach photos and videos — a useful tool for purposes of both reference and documentation. In keeping with ServiceTitan’s holistic approach to operating service businesses, all of these elements are centrally stored, instantaneously accessible through the cloud.  

Estimate Template

Back at the office, staffers can use the information their colleagues in the field are uploading in real-time to get a jump on creating a cost estimate for the job at hand, adding the materials, equipment, and individual tasks that will go into the project. 

On the Estimate Page, shown above, all of these items can be labeled with color coded tags to better organize project details.

ServiceTitan comes preloaded with a range of flexible, customizable job estimate templates, but users are also free to create their own. 

Tasks, Project Labels, and Description of Work in ServiceTitan

Like virtually all documents created with our software, completed estimates are printable. But they can also be converted to PDF for delivery to clients and general contractors via email. 

All of the details, specifications, quantities, and costs captured in a sold estimate are transferred by an automated process into the overall workflow of the project. Doing things like requisition of equipment and materials can be done directly from within that same estimate.   

Subcontractor project tracking in ServiceTitan: Chargeable Materials

By simply clicking Initiate Requisition in the upper right-hand corner, users can select line items to be ordered, and are then led through a workflow for purchase order creation. There they can choose preferred vendors and shipping locations, as well as send purchase orders to vendors right from within the platform.

Every time purchase orders are sent and payments are processed, the job summary and expense tables on the Project Overview page are updated to reflect those, making job costing easier to track and manage. And those same updates are also easy to transfer over onto things like continuation sheets and applications for payment, or entered into accounts receivable via our QuickBooks and Intaact integrations.

And remember, what’s covered here is only our estimating and project management features. As we mentioned above, our platform also facilitates other key operational functions that are essential for execution: scheduling, dispatching, payroll, and more. This holistic approach is where the value comes in, and for many trade businesses, it’s a better solution than estimating-only or takeoff software.

Want to get a live walkthrough of these features? Schedule a free demo today. 

Plumbing Estimating App Features for Residential Jobs

Easily create an Estimate Template in ServiceTitan

Plumbing companies that serve residential customer segments have different needs when it comes to estimating. In particular, the ability to build customer-facing, accurate estimates quickly and on-site via mobile devices is essential. And many shops also need the ability to present options to customers in the form of Good Better Best proposals

ServiceTitan has built features to accommodate both of these needs with a user-friendly interface that technicians love.

Via desktop, at the office, or mobile — iPhone, Android, iPad, and other iOS devices — contractors and their employees can tap into accurate, up-to-the-moment information to generate sleek estimate presentations for homeowners, all in about five minutes.    

In addition to helping techs, business owners, and managers build and organize their estimates, ServiceTitan estimate templates, like the one shown in the screenshot above, function as an intake form for vital job and customer data. 

Once it’s entered, that information becomes instantaneously available to everyone else at the company, stored in a central repository that is easily accessible at any moment.   

Among the many core service business features that are seamlessly integrated on the ServiceTitan platform are fully customizable pricebooks. 

And with our Pricebook Pro feature, these can be linked to preferred equipment vendor catalogs that help to automate pricing updates, eliminating the need for constant manual updates.

ServiceTitan pricebooks are likewise linked to our software’s plumbing estimating features. When contractors are building a proposal, they can add parts, pricing, fixtures, and item groups using the actual items and current costs that will go into the job in question.

Since all of these elements are interconnected, accomplishing these tasks with confidence and precision is a matter of just a few clicks — no need to refer to external reference materials, manually input prices, or triple-check for accuracy.   

ServiceTitan's Create Estimate Template: Example

Product and service descriptions, which many ServiceTitan users like to augment with photos and videos, help homeowners understand the scope of work, as well as what their options are for repair and/or replacement. 

Pricebook updates — a new price or part number for a particular faucet, say — display automatically in bids and proposals. And once a plumbing estimate template is saved on ServiceTitan, team members can pull it up with the click of a button and populate it with the selections that correspond to the job at hand.    

From there, all that’s left to do is finalize the estimate for the customer-facing presentation. 

Add proposal type in ServiceTitan: Progressive or Additive

As we’ve written previously, the contractors — plumbing or otherwise — who tend to boast the highest close rates and average ticket prices usually have a “Good Better Best” sales model. With this approach, business owners present at least three options to customers, across a range of prices.

Our software is designed to streamline and optimize this process. And in ServiceTitan, we like to think of each of each option as an “estimate.” We refer to the full Good Better Best menu of options as the “proposal.”  

Once estimate templates have been created, building out a proposal is just a matter of dragging and dropping the options that best fit the job. It takes just moments to do, and proposals can be designed to include as many estimates as a given customer — or business owner — would like. 

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

Staff can create proposals at the office, which can be emailed to customers or used by techs while they’re out in the field. 

Proposals can be generated in real-time using our mobile app and shared right away with homeowners while techs are still at the job site. (Like virtually all documents in ServiceTitan, plumbing proposals are fully printable.) 

Presentation Mode - Good Better Best

In a customer-facing presentation like the one in the screenshot above, home or property owners can review the specs of each estimate: details about equipment, terms, scope of work, and more. 

ServiceTitan makes financing with one of our several financing partners just a click away, and customers can also e-sign in real time and schedule their job without delay.   

Opportunities in ServiceTitan

 Of course, many jobs don’t get booked on that first call, no matter how convincing, aesthetically pleasing, and well-executed the sales presentation. 

As a result, ServiceTitan users get a lot of mileage out of our follow-up functionality. Plumbers can set up alerts to remind their team to check in with homeowners on unsold proposals. With our MarketingPro suite, contractors can also send tailored emails to any customer with an outstanding estimate; they can even target highly specific customer demographics: homeowners with unsold HVAC replacement proposals, for example, or those with outstanding proposals two weeks old or less.  

With tools such as these, plumbing contractors can dramatically increase their close rates to ensure that they’re not leaving big money on the table. 

Note: To browse a broader list of plumbing apps, check out our article on 15 essential plumbing apps for contractors.

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Which Solution Is Best for Your Business?

In some cases, for plumbers who are willing to only invest in a standalone estimating tool, a point solution might be worth considering. But as we noted early in this article, the problem with standalone solutions is that they sever the estimating process from all of the other tools and workflows that plumbing contractors and subcontractors need to successfully manage their companies. 

Comprehensive FSMs like ServiceTitan, on the other hand, consolidate all of a plumbing contractor’s essential business functions — including estimating — on a modern, organized platform. 

Whether you’re a residential-only plumber, the owner of a hybrid shop, or a commercial and construction subcontractor, ServiceTitan can help your business implement radical efficiencies that come with streamlined workflows and optimized business processes to stay ahead of the competition, spend less time putting out fires, and devote more energy to growing revenue.    

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

Other Plumbing Estimating Apps

Simpro

Simpro homepage: End-to-end field service management software

Simpro describes their product as an “End-to-End Field Service Management Software.” 

Like ServiceTitan, they offer a wide range of features for field service businesses such as estimating and quoting, scheduling and dispatching, and more. 

Procore

Procore homepage: Make it easier to manage construction.

Procore describes their product as a construction management software. They offer a suite of features for plumbers who’s businesses are primarily or solely construction-focused, including tools for: pre-construction, project management, training management, resource management, financial management, and analytics. 

If you’re a hybrid shop or have any focus outside of construction, this likely is not the right solution for you. But if you’re solely construction-focused, it may be worth looking into. 

FastPIPE

FastPIPE homepage: Mechanical Estimating Software

FastPIPE is a mechanical estimating software product for plumbing, mechanical, HVAC, and industrial HVAC piping. It’s one of several products created by the estimating and takeoff software company FastEST, which also has FastDUCT — an estimating solution for HVAC and ductwork. This is an estimating-only solution with very specific uses. 

Per our discussion above about holistic plumbing software vs. estimating-only software, this type of solution is limited in its utility and likely won’t connect to the other tools you use to run your business. However, if you're looking for an estimating-only solution, you can learn more about FastPIPE:

<a href='https://fastest-inc.com/FastPIPE" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">here</a>

<h3><a href="https://fieldedge.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">FieldEdge</a></h3>

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 Plumbing Software

ServiceTitan is a comprehensive plumbing 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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