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Why should I hire a freelance Electrical Estimator? After all, I have always been my own estimator, and I win projects constantly.  I know most of the contractors and we have a good working relationship.

I'm pretty sure these are the questions you ask yourself if you're an Electrical Contractor, whether you're a sole proprietor or an LLC. 
Well, in this blog, there will be a short answer and a long answer. Simply put, the short answer is, software!  

Estimating firms usually have more than one estimating program. We spend thousands every year just on our estimating software and, no matter how good you think you are at making a material list, you will miss stuff, especially when it comes to a hundred thousand dollar job or more.

Just like the mechanic you bring your car to, the software goes off a pre-determined hourly rate found in the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) labor book. We quote labor off of a predetermined hourly estimate that can be found in that book. 

The NECA book is the electrical estimator's bible when it comes to estimating labor. It is compiled with years and years of field data, and it gives you multiple options when quoting the labor on a project. If you're one of these people that "eyeball" everything, it's just a matter of time before that will cost you. 

That brings me to the long answer - growing your company!

In order to win a job, you have to be the lower number. Yea? Well...kind of! Maybe that's not the name of the game. Another question is - How can I grow my company when I'm constantly being low-balled?

That is my job, that's why you hire an estimator. It's a lie that you have to be the lower number. In reality, you have to be the right number.  When you turn in the right number, you WILL win the project. If you wound up NOT being the low number, then someone just bought them a project, and you don't want to buy a project. 

Again, that's why you hire me, an estimator. We will eventually pay for ourselves. The software we use allows us to get down to the penny, or the very percentage of what can be used or can't, what can be cut and what can't. 

If you estimate a job 100% correctly, there is a huge chance you will never land that project, especially if you're bidding against 3 or 4 other established companies.  Someone is going to make a mistake and that will land them the job, and guess what, they will still make money on it. 
In other words - usually, the person that wins the job accidentally left out a few receptacles, or a few switches, or lights, or labor. Nine times out of ten, they don't recognize the mistakes because of the change orders. 

Ahha! Change Orders! This would require a whole other blog, but why would you hire an estimator for change orders when you could do them? Well, I guess you don't like money? An estimator can make you more money by turning in the right number. Not a low number, not a high number but the right number. We look at the job and say "where can we cut costs to be competitive" instead of making mistakes or relying on change orders. One tactic we use is laying off journeymen mid-way through the project. If all you got left is 200 receptacles to put in, you don't need 3 journeymen and 5 apprentices and we can quote the job that way, but you have to lay them guys off when you get to that point or your losing money, "hypothetically speaking".

If you don't like laying journeymen off halfway through the project, then hire an estimating firm to land you more jobs to send them to. It's cheaper than a full-time estimator, that's a given.

Lastly, I'll tell you this story - 

We had a client that told us not to bid jobs at the normal percentage rate that we were bidding his jobs at. He knew his company and he said he needed to be at a certain percentage rate in order to make money.  The problem is, he was wrong. Of course, it's his company and he knows what he needs to make. 

But why do I say he's wrong? For the same reason you need to use an estimating firm!
We bid jobs for multiple companies and we know the market. We know what percentage your competition is bidding at because we do follow-ups and pile data and analytics like nerds. Do you?
When you raise the percentage on your overhead you have to cut costs somewhere else, otherwise, you're throwing money out the window paying us to quote projects.  If you think every job you quote you have to be at a 20% mark-up in order to make money, you're wrong.  We don't set the percentage rates, the market does. We keep up with the market, another reason you should hire an estimator.
Needless to say, I raised the percentage and he never won a project. Later at the end of the year, we got an email saying that our client was not the lower number on a particular project, but because of the relationship we maintain for you, while you're in the field, the GC's asked if we could drop $3000.00 off our number. If we could do that then our client would be awarded the project. Just so happens, this particular project had our percentages on it, not his. 

Imagine that!
He never followed up with it. We can lead a horse to water but...well you know the rest. 

In short -

You need the right number, and we have the training, software, and relationships to make that happen. Not the low number, the right number. Besides it being a write-off - that's why you should hire an estimating firm. 

Our Second Blog Entry

Our First Blog Entry

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