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What Is Plumbing Estimating Software and How Do I Use It? 

by Chris Lee | May 10th, 2018

Today's plumbing industry is on the move. Digitization is overtaking every industry and plumbing is no exception. By taking advantage of the benefits of digitization, you can transform your plumbing business into a flexible, agile enterprise. This allows you to quickly act when market conditions change instead of being stuck in a cycle of reacting to new aspects of the industry. One area where plumbers are seeing strong gains is by incorporating plumbing estimating software into their business to streamline and economize their process. But what exactly is plumbing estimating software? What are the benefits of investing in it? How do you incorporate it into your business? Here's a quick look at those questions to help get you started.

What is Plumbing Estimating Software?

Plumbing estimating software helps improve your estimating time and accuracy, helping ensure you're bidding new projects in a profitable way. In the past, you might bid a project using paper or digital blueprints, performing a takeoff that was recorded on a notebook, worksheet or spreadsheet. But you'd have to frequently switch windows, which can lead to errors. You'd then need to look up all the prices for the projects, and if you had an old price sheet, you may have ended up losing money on the project. When you count items that are used together, you have to make sure to count them all separately, such as a FIP fitting, shut-off valve and supply line at a faucet.

Modern estimating software allows you to digitize your plans or import them into the system, where you can then perform your takeoff and record your counts and measurements without having to switch windows. Pricing databases are regularly updated by the software company, so looking up the product that you need will pull the pricing across at the same time. When you have specialty items that you need specific prices from your suppliers, the system will automatically email the supplier to request updated pricing. Assemblies can be created so that when you select the entire assembly, all of its parts are added to your estimate with a single click.

What about once the estimate is completed? A simple mistake can cost you a lot. One of the more common mistakes is to get an incorrect cost because you're switching windows frequently, accidentally mess up a formula on a spreadsheet or incorrectly enter a price. Estimating software keeps everything on the same page, protects the formulas it uses to calculate your total costs and automatically updates its pricing database, making it much harder to make a mistake on the estimate. High-quality estimating packages will even check your bid against national averages, to ensure you didn't make a simple but expensive mistake when entering your count.

Plumbing estimating software also delivers convenience. Digitization includes aspects of mobile technology, pervasive network availability, cloud-based software and supercomputing power. Imagine being able to check that unique part of the plans while in the basement of the structure on a ladder. Instead of having to tromp back to your truck or the site office to check the blueprints, you can pull them up on your smartphone and check the notes you made when first estimating the project. Have a crew member with a question about a particular aspect of the job? You can quickly pull up and deal with any issues whether you're across town or around the world. Instead of countless phone calls, emails or office visits to collaborate on the blueprints, you can assign tasks to specific team members or ask questions or make notes on a blueprint overlay so they can see exactly what you're looking at.

How Do I Use Plumbing Estimating Software In My Business?

It used to be that to add plumbing estimating software to your company's assets, you'd have to make a big investment to start with. After that, you'd quite often discover that you'd need additional licenses to operate it from your home office or laptop. You may find that you'll then need to significantly upgrade your business' computer assets or pay additional subscriptions or fees for particular features. Fortunately, today's the era of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which improves accessibility of plumbing estimating software to even the smallest plumbing shop.

Because of the same aspects of digitization mentioned earlier, you can now get plumbing estimating software on a subscription basis, allowing you to try a piece of software for a few weeks or months. If it doesn't work for you, you're not out the huge chunk of change you used to have to pay up front for new estimating software. It's designed to work with a range of computer assets, from a desktop computer in the office to the smartphone in your pocket.

Because it's located remotely, you can give up on long install times in favor of a few minutes of customization for your company's best performance. Backups happen automatically by the software company, as do updates, helping you save a lot of time in maintenance. Instead of having to have to buy a license for every machine it operates on, you only need a license for each user.

Another aspect of digitization is automation and compatibility across a multitude of programs. Good estimating software includes aspects of analytics to help you find what jobs work best for your company, accounting compatibility to instantly export your prices to your accounting software, automated marketing emails to keep in touch with your customers and keep referrals coming in.

By digitizing your business, you'll gain time and raise profitability almost instantly without a big investment. Linking across your business from the work crew to the accounting office, you'll get more done in less time without fretting the details. Esticom is a comprehensive package providing comprehensive tools to keep your business moving. Try our free plumbing estimating software trial today and discover where a quality estimating package takes your plumbing business.

Chris Lee
Chris Lee has an extensive background in preconstruction management as a former specialty contractor and business owner. As the Chief Estimator at Esticom, he’s helped thousands of specialty contractors digitize their preconstruction process to increase revenue and profitability while decreasing unnecessary overhead.

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