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Electrical Estimating, Bid More to Win More

March 29, 2018

Here are a few basic steps to take in order to bid more and win more!

Know your overhead

Overhead is the total of all the other expenses that are not directly billed during a project. It can include your insurance, the mortgage and utilities for your office or shop, labor for a bookkeeper or administrative assistant, taxes and many other expenses that must be paid to keep your business operating smoothly. Failing to include overhead in your estimate can make a profitable job nothing but a money pit.

Is a good fit for your business?

Does your crew have experience in this type of work? How many jobs of this type have you completed in the past? Are there new technologies or fixtures in the specs that you haven’t worked with before? Is it in an unusual location that will require a range of specialty fixtures, supplies and techniques? Make sure your crew can comfortably complete the job without damage to the equipment or themselves.

Study the specs, noting any issues.

This can’t be said enough. If the specs have anything in them that is not standard or if you notice any problems, this is the time to deal with them, not once the job has been completed and something is not right.

Review whether the plans are complete for your purposes.

Are there smoke detectors or HVAC mechanicals that don’t appear in your set of the plans because the plans are sectioned? If so, you may want to look at the master plans to determine whether any areas have been overlooked that would be expected in the final proposal.

Complete your takeoff counts, making notes as you go when possible.

Make sure you are meticulous in listing these and are using the right type of format for the job you’re undertaking. Whatever methodology you use while completing quotes, make sure you go back over them to ensure they are accurate.

Research specialty fixtures.

Do the plans require dimmers, timers, photovoltaic panels or similar technology with which you may not be familiar? Are the specs calling for aluminum wire instead of copper, requiring upgrades to wire and conduit size? If so, make sure you can readily order the items needed and that you have the knowledge needed to both price and install the technology.

Calculate your labor costs.

How much work will it take to complete installation of the electrical system? Is your shop union or non-union? Have you included the labor escalation rate that raises the cost of installation by 1-2% for every floor above the fourth in taller buildings? You’ll still need to pay your laborers for their time spent going up to the job site.

Double-check your figures and remember to include your supplier’s quotes.

Have you heard back from all your suppliers? Are your takeoffs accurate? What about your labor estimate? Mentally walk your way through the project to check whether you’ve forgotten any tasks or missed any material that will be needed to get the job done right. Some estimating software compares your total to industry averages.

Look at the financials.

Are you carrying money for the project manager? Have you included the cost of carrying the foreman or foremen for the project? What about the labor superintendent or steward if the project is union? Don’t forget to add in some measure of profit, because you’re in business to make money, not just scrape by.

Prepare your estimate paperwork.

The proposal or scope letter should include a list of everything that is included in the job. If there are tasks that are often included but that you’re separating out, it’s vital to list them properly so the client can’t say that it was assumed that they were included as well due to local custom. Take the time to check it for proper spelling grammar, as it represents your company to the client.

Submit and follow up on your estimate.

Once you’ve finished your paperwork, it’s just time to turn it in. You can often attend public bidding sessions, which allow you to directly address any concerns that are being brought up while the session is ongoing. Doing so also presents you in a favorable light, because the client then trusts that you’ll be available when there’s a problem on the job site.

Charter Estimating is here to make sure you address these tasks. We do more than just estimate; we help you win. Call or email us today with your plans and get a free quote.