This article has been reviewed by Billy Stevens for accuracy.
For electrical businesses, it’s rare for two jobs to come with the same estimate. While costs for labor and equipment may be standard, the complexity of the work, the number of electricians needed, and the duration of the project among other aspects all contribute to the overall price.
As a result, many residential electrical contractors rely on estimating solutions to offer more accurate quotes and streamline invoicing. Sera offers field service management software built on four pillars designed to help home service businesses like electrical contractors experience greater efficiency. Our software solutions incorporate cost estimating and we outline the top features of estimating software every residential electrical company needs.
What Is Estimator Software?
As the name suggests, estimating software is a cloud-based resource that helps contractors with job costing. Contractors can break jobs down by factors like labor, materials, and difficulty, to supply customers with the most accurate estimates. Most vendors also provide related functions with estimating software, such as quote-building and material pricing.
Electrician estimating software is often included as part of all-in-one field service management software, such as the software solutions provided by Sera. FSM software considers the various inefficiencies contractors face across all operations, including scheduling, dispatching, and customer booking as well as estimating. Opting for FSM software is often the best option for increasing productivity and profitability.
Features of the Best Electrical Estimating Software
Several construction estimating software platforms are available for general contractors, and electrical contractors can find some of the features they need in them. However, electrical businesses also require specific functions to fully optimize their estimating system. Key features of electrician estimating software include:
1) Estimating and Bidding
The goal of estimating software shouldn’t be just to create estimates but also to simplify estimating processes. For example, some software allows estimators to categorize job blueprints to determine the types and quantities of materials needed. Other features that make for more effective bid management and estimating include job filtering functions, intuitive dashboards, and high-visibility project lists.
2) Labor Cost Estimation
To calculate labor costs, estimators must consider those directly involved in providing services (electricians) and those providing support (office staff) for electrical projects. They must also factor in subcontractors or specialty contractors brought on to help with more involved projects. Estimating software should enable estimators to evaluate all the information necessary to accurately determine labor costs.
3) Quote Generation
A primary benefit of electrician estimator software is helping contractors offer better customer service. Under a manual electrical estimating system, electricians would need to contact admin staff to get the right information before providing homeowners with estimates. This could significantly impede service. Today, estimating software typically features a mobile app, allowing electricians to generate quotes within minutes at the job site.
Quote generation allows for detailed estimates, which is especially advantageous for membership building. Estimators can input information highlighting the cost savings of members versus non-members, and techs can reveal these differences to homeowners when providing quotes. This feature can help contractors boost memberships for year-round work.
4) Material Database
Electrical contractors need a system for managing the equipment used for projects to calculate material costs. An item and cost database is an essential feature of estimating software as it delivers access to real-time prices for matching material costs across partnering distributors. The result is better bids and proposals for increasing job volume.
5) Quantity Takeoff
The main culprit behind struggling electrical takeoff is a lack of data management. Estimating software should offer features that enhance digital takeoff. For example, symbol recognition automatically matches a symbol for digital plans with one that correlates to database items. Similar functions include color-coded measurements, calculating algorithms, and drafting of takeoff reports. In addition to accelerating quantity takeoff, these features increase accuracy and help avoid errors.
6) Pre-Built Assemblies
Low voltage estimators appreciate the pre-built assemblies of electrical estimating software. The best option offers thousands of assemblies to correspond to the thousands of items in a database. It also allows users to customize assemblies according to their needs.
7) Built-in NEC Tables
As it is with construction projects, safety should be a top priority for electrical contractors. The best estimating software builds in National Electrical Code (NEC) tables that automatically adjust following a change order to ensure compliance with requirements and the safe installation of equipment and wiring.
8) Software Integrations
Contractors may utilize a range of software solutions to achieve efficiency. Instead of operating each platform separately, they can search for estimating software that enables integrations. Usually, contractors need all-inclusive FSM software for such a feature. Software to integrate includes but isn’t limited to:
- Pricing services (Tra-Ser, EPIC, NetPricer)
- Accounting software (QuickBooks, AutoCount, Procore/Esticom)
- On-screen takeoff software (PlanSwift)
9) Scheduling Automation
Even if the main goal of attaining FSM software is to improve cost estimating, contractors should also consider job scheduling features. FSM software typically offers automated scheduling that empowers workflow optimization and ensures the right electricians are assigned to the right jobs, boosting customer service.
10) KPI Reporting
Contractors want to know if estimating software is worth the investment. The best software gives them the tools to evaluate how much productivity, customer service, revenue, and similar aspects have improved since implementation. Estimators find dashboards and other visualizations that make analyzing data and disseminating findings to all employees easier.
Discover the Benefits of FSM Software from Sera
From making bids more competitive to developing accurate bids in less time to growing revenue, there are many reasons for residential electrical contractors to utilize estimating software. For the ideal solution with all the features they need, contractors can turn to Sera for FSM software created specifically for small and medium-sized home service businesses. Beyond enhancing estimating, our software aids with other essential elements of project management, like scheduling, dispatching, and profit margin management.