Bob Smith, a small landscape contractor, takes a good deal of care with his job estimates and quotations. This particular estimate, for a residential landscaping job, wasn't too complicated, was competitively priced, and was accepted by the client. Work began on schedule, the weather held, and the project was completed on time. The only glitch was the need for a couple of extra skids of pavers from the supplier. Bob discussed it with the client, received the authorization and one of the trucks was sent to pick them up late in the day.
Bob's daughter-in-law spent one day a week doing the company's bookkeeping and processed the invoice to the client. Unfortunately for Bob's company, the authorized change order for the pavers was still sitting on the dashboard of his truck, lost amongst other paperwork, and was never charged out to the project. Bob's reasonable margin on the job was considerably decreased, if not eroded completely.
If this fictional scenario sounds familiar, you certainly wouldn't be alone in recognizing Bob's dilemma. This particular problem, or something similar, happens throughout the industry every day, much too often for comfort. If it has happened to your company, or if it has potential to happen, you'll be interested to know that there are solutions available. There are many simple-to-use computer based estimating programs . Some of these programs include project management and job costing. Most are inexpensive, and don’t require additional staff or a change in business operations.
Some of the more advanced programs will track every scrap of information as the project progresses through to final completion. From the initial estimate proposal form, to letters to the client, to purchase order forms, to daily reports for field crews, and more, every critical information and communication step is covered. Actual job costs can be tracked at any point, in several categories, helping to keep costs at hand. Contractors of any size can enhance and lend credibility to their logo and business information.
Few contractors fail because they lack technical or trade knowledge. They fail, all too often, simply because they lack the business knowledge and tools to be successful. Keeping control of information, employees, supplies and other costs is a critical step toward growth in the business. Using an effective computer based estimating program will help the contractor achieve that control.
Successful contractors keep their costs in line and their margins healthy. They keep their business information under control and readily at hand for review. For our friend Bob, the odd delivery slip or invoice may still occasionally disappear behind the truck seat, despite every precaution. Now, however, the savvy contractor can have a powerful tool that helps eliminate a lot of potential problems and disappearing margins.
Dermot Fitzpatrick is the owner of Fitz Solutions Inc. a software development company that creates powerful, affordable easy to use software tools for the construction industry. These include estimating, project management and job costing. Custom software design services are also offered.