My estimating was guesstimating at best.
When I first started my business I had no idea what to charge my clients for the work I was doing. I knew how to charge by the hour, but I wasn’t always sure how long it would take me to finish tasks. Eventually I had a pretty good idea of the time it would take me to do the work, but I was still guessing about how much material I needed. I found myself making repeated trips to the paint store because I ran out of supplies mid-job. Not only were these trips a waste of time, I was forced to use paint mixed at different times and hope the colors matched. This problem magnified every time I hired someone new to work with me: their completion time and material use was always different from mine.
It wasn’t until I talked to seasoned painters that I learned there were formulas for estimating. Then I joined the PDCA and really started to learn about production rates. I began to understand more about industry standards and how I could use them to estimate the time my team needed to complete a task. The next (and much larger) hurdle was to figure out how many square feet, linear feet, or individual items my team could paint in a given amount of time. This data would tell me if we were at least performing at standard PDCA production rates.
We gathered this data through field feedback.
We would measure a space to get the square footage of walls and ceilings; we would count windows; we would time ourselves painting a wall, a window, a ceiling; we would record how much paint was consumed on each piece of the job. My crew tracked this information for every job. Their feedback enhanced my ability to accurately estimate jobs. We continue to do this every day, with every job. Field feedback ensures that our production rates are accurate. It also tells me where we are strong and which areas require more training so that I can tailor company meetings to be truly productive training sessions.
Processing the Data
PEP Cloud is the tool I use to process the field-data I need to check my team’s productivity and to guarantee that I am charging my customers appropriately for each job. You can start small; the key is to stay motivated and continually track your procedures in the field to improve your estimating abilities.