Ep.50: Choosing Estimating Software with Jef Forward
Estimating accurately is critical to the success of any remodeling business. As you grow your business or hand off estimating to an employee, having the right system in place is paramount. It can feel like an overwhelming decision — there’s so much software available. The wrong decision will cost you lost revenue, but even worse — lost time.
Fortunately, there’s a simple strategy to help you navigate this very important decision.
In this episode, Jef Forward talks about estimating software with Tim and Steve. He’s worked with several estimating software packages and systems over the years, and shares what he’s learned.
Jef Forward is the founder — and co-owner with his wife Monica — of Forward Design Build Remodel in Ann Arbor, MI. For more than 20 years, Jef has performed every role within the company, including designer, laborer, carpenter, bookkeeper and estimator — you name it, he’s done it. Now with 24 employees, Jef has two full-time estimators.
Start your decision-making by looking at two factors — getting the estimate itself right and how the program’s output will be presented to someone other than the estimator — especially your clients. The first step is to not look at any software, Jef says. You can get distracted by all the bells and whistles of new programs and miss whether it will really work for you. He talks about the vetting process, what it can do for your estimating, and some of his favorite software choices, including:
- How to create a Process & Needs document
- Integrations with other programs
- Deciding on must-haves and nice-to-haves
- Mixing and matching vs. all-inclusive systems
- Not looking for quick fixes
- Evaluating and testing
- Who to involve in making choices
- The fine art of guessing
- What to do by hand vs. what’s automatic
- Slicing and dicing information
- Client presentations and reports
- And more …
Choosing the right estimating software for your company depends on many factors, but the work done up front will ensure you’re not saddled with a system that doesn’t fit. Taking the time and involving the team will help you make the right pick.
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