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Subcontractor Estimate Template: How to Win the Work and Streamline Project Management

category-iconSubcontractor

Our team of industry professionals at ServiceTitan has designed a free estimate template for subcontractors to create attractive, customer-facing quotes for prospective clients. Below we’ll be walking through what it includes and how you can download and use it in your business.

But first, let’s take a moment to look at the subcontractor estimating process, some of the challenges involved in estimate creation, and the reality that a basic contractor estimate template is just a tiny piece of a much larger puzzle that is winning and executing the work. 

The Challenges of Subcontractor Estimating That a Template Won’t Solve

Consider the work that goes into creating a finalized cost estimate that's sent to a prospective customer. 

A technician or project manager needs to go to the job site and evaluate the work to be done. They need to take copious notes and pictures and get them back to the office to draft up the estimate. 

Very often, the person drafting the estimate isn’t the person who evaluated the job site, and a game of telephone ensues. Passing off notes and photos between team members is rarely air tight. Notes are messy. Fine details get missed. Pictures get lost in the camera roll. 

The process of organizing and sharing all the details of the job — which are essential to creating an accurate estimate — is both time consuming and error prone.

Occasional small inaccuracies on quotes may not be detrimental to business. But this process simply leaves too much room for larger errors to occur. Errors which can have significant effects on profitability, client relationships, and a contractor’s ability to get work done on time. 

By adding a basic template to your workflow for creating estimates, you save yourself the trouble of creating a template on your own. But the template isn’t going to solve the challenges we’ve described here — which are what make estimating difficult in the first place. 

It also won’t solve the challenges involved in project management when you actually win the work:

  • Creating and tracking purchase orders and change orders.

  • Job costing for profitability.

  • Creating continuation sheets and applications for payment.

  • Generating accurate invoices.

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Below, we’re going to walk through the features of our subcontractor management software that we’ve built to solve these operational challenges. But before we get to that, let’s look at the free contractor estimate template we’ve made available to download.

Want to learn more about how we can help streamline your subcontracting business operations? Schedule a call to get a live, one on one walk through of the features we describe throughout this article.

How to Download and Use Our Free Construction Estimate Template for Subcontractors

The estimate form we’ve designed for you is modeled after the PDF estimates that are generated in ServiceTitan when users have finalized their estimate details and are ready to send it off to their client. 

It includes the following key fields:

  • Estimate number and date

  • Client or company name

  • Billing and mailing address

  • Line items, prices, and quantities

  • Total estimated project cost

To use this printable project estimate in your business, simply click here to make a copy

Then, save it as your master template, and make copies for each new estimate sheet you want to create. You can customize them for each client, and send them in PDF format to your prospects.

But as we mentioned above, relying on this template alone will do little to solve the core challenges involved in subcontractor estimating. So let’s look at some of the tools we’ve developed that do solve those challenges. 

Transforming Subcontractor Estimating and Project Management with ServiceTitan

ServiceTitan has recently developed an entire suite of tools that cover all of the necessary elements of subcontractor project management: Creating estimates and purchase orders, job costing throughout the course of long term construction projects, generating applications for payment and invoices, applying payments to accounts receivable, and more. 

Essentially, we’ve taken all of the functions that subcontractors have traditionally managed with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (or Google Sheets, Google Docs, etc.) — and we’ve developed a system to integrate each job function together, saving contractors a ton of time and effort from manual data entry, and ensuring far greater efficiency and accuracy in their work.

Here’s an overview of how it all works.

The Project Overview Page

The first step to building an estimate is to create a new project which will generate a project overview page (like the one pictured here). 

This page allows you to: 

  1. Enter in all of the basic project information (project name, contact information, customer phone number, etc.).

  2. View at-a-glance project job costing and expense details that update automatically throughout the course of a project.

  3. Initiate key project actions such as generating a new purchase order, application for payment, invoice, and more.

The data displayed in the project summary and expense tables are all based on the estimate you create at the beginning of the job. So let’s look at how that works first, and come back to this project overview page in a minute.

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Create and Send Accurate Estimates

Once a project is created, your tech or project manager can use our mobile app to collect all of the information about the job via their phone or tablet in the field. 

They can use our custom forms feature to add notes and follow specific evaluation workflows that ensure they capture every necessary detail about a given job. They can also upload photos for documentation and referencing during the estimate creation process. All of these details are organized, preserved in our platform, and immediately accessible via the cloud. 

If someone back at the office is ready to begin creating the estimate, they can get started right away, reducing the time it takes between collecting the job information and delivering the estimate. 

Once all the necessary information has been collected, users can click “Build Estimate” from the project overview page to begin this process.

The estimate page allows you to begin adding all of the specific tasks, equipment, and materials that will be needed to do the work. Users have the option to draw from pre-built job estimate templates or build estimates from scratch. 

So, for example, if you have a standardized quote template for a commercial plumbing installation, you can use that as a base and then adjust the fine details accordingly to save you some time during estimate creation.

Tasks, materials, and equipment can all be tagged with color coded project labels to organize the project details and make everything easy to visualize. 

Once an estimate is complete, it can be printed, emailed, or exported in PDF format and sent off to the client. 

Initiate Requisition and Purchase Orders Right from within Your Estimate

When the estimate is sold, all of the details you’ve set up in the estimate are automatically integrated into the rest of the project management workflow. For example, you can initiate a requisition of equipment and materials right from within your sold estimate.

You simply click “Initiate Requisition” in the top right corner of your estimate, and then select the equipment and materials you want to order. 

For example, at the beginning of a project, let’s say you want to start the process of ordering your permits and materials for your plumbing work, you can select those items right from your estimate, and click “Initiate Fulfillment” which will lead you through a workflow to create the purchase orders you’ll need. 

In the purchase order workflow, the line items are automatically populated from your estimate. And you can simply select your vendors and shipping locations for each material to complete your order details. 

Then, you can save that order to create a transaction, and send those purchase orders off to your vendors — all from within the platform. 

Now let’s jump back to the project tracking overview page.

Project Tracking and Job Costing

As you move throughout the course of a job — creating purchase orders, logging labor hours, completing tasks, and receiving progress payments — your project summary and expense tables make automatic calculations that take all of your project’s progress into account.

So, instead of constantly needing to update a series of spreadsheets every time labor costs and material costs are incurred — which again, is incredibly time consuming and error prone — this is done automatically for you in real time based on work that’s completed and entered into the system from other workflows. 

If we continue with our example from above and you’ve made your initial purchase order of permits and plumbing materials, your project summary table is updated to reflect those expenses:

And just below that, you can view a more detailed break out of your actual costs versus your budgeted construction costs:

This will automatically update as you accumulate expenses from materials, equipment, and labor hours. And it will display your margins in dollar and percent form to help you track your job costing and profitability throughout the course of your project. 

Below your budget versus actual table, you’ll see yet another table breaking down your expenses in further detail:

From this table, you can click into any line item and see the exact source of where that expense came from (e.g. which technician logged those hours, or which purchase orders and vendors a given set of materials came from). This allows you to easily check your numbers and feel confident in the sources of your data.

When it comes time for sending applications for payment and invoices at each stage of progress billing, this can also be easily accomplished from the project tracking page menu:

Creating Applications for Payment and Invoices

The initial estimate you created also informs and populates your continuation sheet in your application for payment:

No more reinventing the wheel for every asset that needs to be created throughout your project. When you want to send a payment application, you can easily generate one by selecting the billing period and the percent of each line item you want to bill for:

Then, you can generate a PDF payment application with the details automatically filled out, and send it off to your client for review. The detail of the continuation sheet makes for a defensible bill that’s much easier to defend in the event of pushback from construction companies or general contractors. As a result, subcontractors are able to get paid faster and avoid cash flow issues.

When applications are accepted, it’s just as easy to generate and invoice for that progress payment:

And when payments come in, you can update your accounts receivable through our QuickBooks or Intacct accounting integrations. 

Want to see these features in action?

If you’ve been experiencing the estimating and project management challenges that we’ve discussed throughout this post, and you’re interested in exploring the option of using a subcontractor management software to solve them, schedule a free call with us to see a personalized demo of these features.

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