Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Operational Planning Part 3

Pint Precise


The cornerstone to your estimating operations is hiring/training excellent commercial estimators. Any changes with respect to your commercial estimating plan should ideally occur before or consecutively with the plan to establish a more solid customer base. You don’t want to generate more bidding opportunities than you can deliver on. 

One of the key elements in attaining your goals to build a solid stable of customers is to have an estimating staff that knows how to dial in a bid and be more competitive. Keep in mind that anyone can have a 100% hit ratio with bids, just by being the low number. It goes without saying that this approach will not be a sustaining strategy. Your estimators need to track the results of all their bidding efforts. I would suggest that they call each customer that they have bid to, on every project, and ask for results. Some will be willing to give you a detailed breakdown, including the respective numbers. Some may be hesitant to this, but you can ask what order the various bidders came in at, and simply for a percentage of the difference between you and the low bid. These results should be documented and kept in an ongoing database. Often, subcontractors will ask for results, and if they are not low they will just say “Thank you, we’ll catch you on the next one.” A better strategy is to not give up that quickly. You can press the customer for their reasons for choosing another sub; “Was it just price?” “Is there anything we can do get this job?” “Can we compare the scope of work we included, to your other bidders. Perhaps there are items we included that were not in the other guys’ bid.” This can often open an a door to a successful bid, especially if it is with a customer you have built a relationship with, and who may actually prefer to work with your company instead.

It is not easy to find experienced, qualified estimators, but this cannot stop you from persisting until you succeed in finding them. This will be key to your success in growing your commercial work, so it is not optional. Most of us have tried several avenues, but I would suggest advertising locally and beyond. (I was once hired by a large company in Chicago, who ran an Internet ad for an estimator/project manager). Pursuing a word of mouth approach can yield results as well. I have had some success by discreetly asking paint sales representatives to keep their ears to the ground. They typically have their finger on the pulse of which companies may be experiencing a slowdown, and might need to let someone go. They may also hear about people who are interested in making a change.  You can also ask your painters to do the same, if you are comfortable with that. As for any estimators you may already have, I suggest that you find them appropriate training, as soon as possible.  If you are interested, my website offers my Book which contains sections on blueprint reading and estimating, as well as spread rates and production rates, as well as my DVD on Blueprint Reading and Estimating. I think that some form of one-one-one training would also be beneficial. 

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I would also recommend that this person’s bids be reviewed by yourself, your Sales Manager if he/she is experienced enough to do so. You should also give some thought to your estimators’ method of doing takeoffs. Most common is probably the use of an on-screen takeoff computer program. You can find a number of different ones by searching the Internet. Following are links to a few.

Another popular method for doing takeoffs from plans is to use a wheel such as a Scale Master

Another popular method for doing takeoffs from plans is to use a wheel such as a Scale Master

In addition to a takeoff program you of course need an Estimating program. There are many to choose from, which can be searched out on the Internet as well. One you are aware of is my program, Paint Precise. Others might include: Pep Cloud, National Estimator and Eagle Bid. *Note that Pep Cloud is more specific to Residential estimating.*+estimating*

I would point out that the Eagle Bid program is offered by Lynn Fife of Evergreen Technology. If you are not familiar with Mr. Fife, he has been an educator in the industry of decades, and offers much more than just his estimating program to help contractors. I would strongly suggest that you give him a call and explore the programs and training he has to offer – (817) 223-3520.

Other sources for estimator training are the PDCA, and the Carter School of Estimating at

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             Lynn Jackson      

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