Whether you’re just starting out or have been in the business for decades, you know that having a successful field service company means winning bids. Not all estimates will look the same, but they should be consistent and error free. That’s why so many businesses have turned to plumbing estimating software; it offers the most accuracy with the least amount of work.
If you’re wondering if it’s the right fit for your business, we’ve put together this guide on everything you’ll need to know. From the ins and outs of plumbing estimating software to how it can increase your conversion rates, we’ve got you covered!
1. What is plumbing estimating software?
Estimating software should help you create estimates, that’s a given. But the software itself is a bit more complex.
Normally, a plumbing estimating software will have hard-coded formulas and data structures built into it. This means it will automatically do calculations for you—like how much you should markup parts. It also allows you to store information in the system, meaning if you do the same types of jobs often, the data can easily be pulled and added to the estimate.
For example, plumbing estimating software lets you send price requests to vendors. Once your vendor sends the information back, the software will automatically save the pricing for future jobs. This enables plumbing companies to be confident they have up-to-date and accurate prices while eliminating the back and forth.
Essentially, plumbing estimating software reduces the majority of manual work involved in creating an estimate.
2. The benefits of using it over manual methods
Change can be difficult, that’s a given. And it’s not uncommon for field service businesses to be hesitant about implementing new tools, as it can require training and take time to get used to. However, the long-term benefits of using a plumbing estimating software will far outweigh those early reservations.
To show how, we’ve broken down where estimating software will have the biggest impact on your business.
Manually creating an estimate–whether that’s with Excel sheets or pen and paper–is no easy task. As the saying goes, time is money. So if you can get back hours in your busy day, it’s important to jump on the opportunity to make the most of your time.
The manual effort can require a lot of back and forth, and you may have to consult multiple resources and people to get the task finished. Not to mention if a price sheet gets misplaced or an estimate template gets deleted, you’d need to spend hours hunting those files down, or even resort to completely remaking them. The joys of paper-based admin, right?
Instead, with plumbing estimating software, the majority of this work can be automated for you. It will pull accurate prices for parts, calculate labor rates, and many will even let you edit and customize ready-made templates. We’ve heard from plumbing companies that using software has significantly reduced the amount of time it takes them to make an estimate and get it to a customer, which in turn has…
Increased customer satisfaction
In our world dominated by giants like Amazon, people have come to want things quickly. Sending an estimate to a customer three days after they requested it just won’t cut it anymore. And more than likely, if your turnaround is longer than a day, you’re going to lose that job to the competition.
This is especially true if you do emergency work. If a customer calls because a pipe burst and water is flooding their basement, they’ll need your estimate ASAP. If you leave them hanging for days, it can leave a bitter taste in their mouth. They might even take to the web and leave you a bad review, telling everyone how unresponsive you were in their time of need.
And if writing emails for your estimates is one of the reasons they’re getting delayed–don’t stress! We have a free, downloadable template for you above that’s proven to increase conversions.
On the other hand, if you can get them their estimate within hours–or even create it while onsite–they’re far more likely to be pleased. And that’s where plumbing estimating software comes in.
If you choose a cloud based option, your team can simply create the estimate while on the job and even have the customer sign off on it there and then. It eliminates any need to run back to the office to consult all your documents and you don’t have to worry about calling your vendors to check for pricing.
In turn, you’ve also got the job. Great! Of course, once you start winning more bids, you can begin to benefit from…
Never underestimate the power of reporting. One of the best ways to increase the amount of bids you win is by analyzing which estimates are the most successful and which are the least.
Manual methods make this a challenging task–especially if you’re using pen and paper. It can be difficult to work out what went well, even from an Excel sheet. Was it the margins? Are the prices from vendors accurate? Did you include a discount on the estimate? All in all, it’s time consuming to generate these insights. That’s why most field service companies don’t do much reporting at all.
With plumbing estimating software, though, it’s not nearly so difficult. Many of these programs either integrate with or are a part of an all-in-one software solution. Meaning data can automatically be pulled from estimates for you and your team to learn from.
This is valuable because from this information you can learn how to create the ultimate estimate–and even automate it. Not only will it make your business more successful, but it will also enable you to save time to work on even more bids.
3. How to use plumbing estimating software to win more bids
So, how exactly can you use estimating software to your advantage? A big part of it will be leveraging the automation features.
To start, we recommend creating a master template for your estimates, that way the main document is always ready to go and all you’ll need to do is make minor adjustments to it. Of course, if you provide residential and commercial services, you may want to create two different templates.
A typical estimate will consist of about seven parts:
Terms and conditions
Then, it’s important to make sure all of your vendor information is up-to-date. Request pricing on commonly used parts to ensure your numbers are correct. It’s also a great idea to request quotes from multiple vendors to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Once you’re confident everything is accurate, you can start pulling the information into your template (if it’s not already there!). Encourage your team to do this in the field as well, that way they can start building estimates right onsite.
And to increase conversions, make sure your plumbing estimating software enables you to send the estimate directly to the customer with a payment portal link. Granted, not everyone will accept right there and then. However, there are customers who will be ready to pull the trigger. By not delaying the process (think back to that emergency situation!) you are much more likely to win their business.
By presenting your customers with professional, comprehensive, and convenient estimates, you’re sure to increase the amount of business you convert.
Digitizing and automating your estimating process is a great way to regain time in your day while also increasing your profitability. The software is built to do all the hard work for you–meaning less time on calculations and more time on creating great customer experiences.
Manually building your estimates is likely to result in more errors, delays, and opportunity losses. While there might be a bit of a learning curve getting started, plumbing estimating software will ensure your bids are both accurate and successful. One company that’s figured it out is A&S Kingdon, a growing, family-run plumbing and heating company who freed themselves of paper, inefficiency, and over-reliance on individual staff members.