Proper Estimating Through Production Rates
There are all types of painting contractors in today’s market. There are professional companies who have an office, support staff, and run their companies like a business. There are companies who are small with just the owner and a few guys, who have an office in their home, and work very hard, where the owner wears every hat in the business. Then there is the painter “out of his truck” company, who may or may not have insurance, a valid contractor’s license, and likely pays their help under the table. This last company is just there to make quick money, and move on. How will you know the difference? There are many ways, from vehicles, company clothing, to how they present themselves. The way I would like to talk about today is the estimate.
When it comes to painting estimates, they come in all shapes and sizes. I have had customers receive a price on the back of a business card, while others received one hand written on a sheet of paper. At the very least you want a hand written one on a company form, but the ideal is a computer generated one that is either emailed to you or a printed copy. A computer generated one enables a lot more detail put into the wording of the estimate and comes across as much more professional.
What goes hand in hand with an estimate is how the contractor got to the price they wrote on the estimate. I have had many customers tell me the contractor was at their home for 10 minutes and made no notes. We have personally witnessed this on large commercial job walks where all contractors are onsite all at once. So if they don’t write anything down, how can they possibly come up with an accurate estimate? I know my memory would fail 9 times out of 10. We always take detailed notes, either written or on our computer.
What do we do with those notes? We then put them into our estimating software, with production rates that we know are accurate. We have in the past timed our painters for all the tasks they do, so we know how to accurately estimate the cost of the job. In fact this summer we are going to go through a 2 month process of having someone on our jobs once again time all of the tasks we do to ensure we are up to date and our clients are receiving the most accurate estimates possible. Once we have entered our notes and calculations into our software it generates a written estimate that we email our clients.
Regardless of the size of the company you hire, make sure they take notes at the estimate, measure the job, and provide you with a comprehensive written estimate and then a written contract. It not only protects you in the case something goes wrong, it goes a long way to prevent unexpected issues during the job.