Working in an electrical trade requires focus and skill, not just to complete jobs well but to keep yourself and others safe while doing so. However, spending your time from the hands-on work for detailed electrical quotes and estimates is a necessary part of the trade and an important part for both you and your customers.
That's why it's important to regularly take a look at how you quote and provide estimates, then refine the process so you can get the admin out of the way faster and get back to the job at hand.
Let's dive into the topic further by taking a look at electrical quoting in further detail.
Electrical Quotes and Field Service
Accurate electrical quoting is important for your business; it’s the way you cover costs and how you make money, but it’s also the customer trusting you to give them a fair price for the job they’ve hired you for.
Customers don’t like surprise charges or bills higher than they were told. When your electrical estimates vary wildly from your quotes, customers can feel misled and unhappy with your business, even if the work has been completed properly. Electrical quoting lets your customers know what’s expected on their end and can foster trust and customer loyalty when done right.
Field service is all about providing good customer service that can boost the reputation of your business and foster positive relationships that can lead to loyal customers. Accurate electrical quoting and being clear about expectations with your customers goes a long way!
So, what are some of the challenges with electrical quoting and how can we make it easier while not sacrificing quality? We have a few ideas, but first, the annoying parts.
Challenges with Electrical Estimates and Quotes
There’s lots of moving parts to a job, especially when you’re handling your own admin and invoicing. This carries over to electrical quoting and estimates. It’s not just the inventory that will be used and the cost of your time, but wear-and-tear on your equipment, insurance, vehicle costs, unforeseen overheads and more.
Having more employees than yourself only adds on to the equation. Who’s going, what’s their pay, their hours if the rate changes. Then there’s the overall competitive pricing to the job when considering your electrical quote. You need to make profit, but you also need to make your prices attractive to customers.
Even if they’re hiring an emergency electrician that they need right away, potential customers can still pick from different businesses in their area and get varying electrical estimates. Too low can make a customer uneasy about the quality of work, but too high can cause them to feel ripped off.
There are standard rates for each state and city, and this will change depending on the complexity and time-scale of the work. A simple power point replacement will have less chance of unexpected events, overtime or damages compared to rewiring a commercial building.
Speaking of unexpected events, well, none of us can tell the future. If we could we’d pick winning Powerball numbers and then we wouldn’t need to worry about any of this. Anything could happen during a job and while we can’t predict it, we can account for it in electrical estimates and quotes.
You need some wiggle room in case the scope of the job changes or an employee gets sick or there’s an accident. This doesn’t need to be in the electrical quoting, but it is good to be upfront about extra costs that might be incurred by unexpected events.
What we can see is that when it comes to electrical quoting, there’s so much to consider and communicate with the customer. Adding speed on top of that seems like asking for trouble, but there are ways to make it easier!
How You Can Streamline Electrical Quotes
So, you’ve seen how important it is to get an electrical estimate and quote right first go, for both you and your customers, but you also know just how bloody finicky and time-consuming it is to get done. It doesn’t help that it’s recommended that electrical estimates are preferably given to potential customers as soon as possible to get the best chance of getting the job.
You don’t want it so quick that the customer might wonder how much work went into it, but you don’t want it to take so long that they choose another electrical estimate before you’re ready to go.
Then comes the electrical quote which needs to be accurate while also accounting for any unexpected events and changes, while also making sure you get a fair profit mark-up for your business.
You want to be quick and accurate. For a new business, this will take time to get used to, and we have a few tips to make electrical quoting easier.
Data Collection Tools
A good place to start with your electrical quoting is being able to see information from previous jobs and work from there. The more work you do, the more familiar you become with what inventory you’ll use, how long jobs will take and travel times around your area.
Of course, it makes it even easier if all that stuff is one place for you to access when you need it. It’s good to have hard copies of everything, but when you’re on the go and needing to figure out an electrical estimate away from your files, it’s a good idea to have a cloud system for your business.
AroFlo can help with your job management needs and we have a great article about what other electricians like about our software and how it can help your business. If you are able to save time and money on admin, that can mean quicker electrical quoting for customers and more potential jobs for you.
Having data on hand also means that if a customer returns to your business for another job, you already have their details ready to go and you and your customer can focus on what needs to be done.
Having your own template for your jobs can make ticking off the necessary boxes much easier by having it all in one place. Your checklist for an electrical estimate can cover what’s needed for site assessment, labour required, materials needed for the job, location and expected timeline.
You can have your own templates for inventory, hourly rates for employees, overtime, fees and your profit mark-up. Once you have templates set, you can simply punch in the numbers and generate an electrical estimate or quote.
Another handy thing about having a template is using it as a referral tool when finding out the clients expectations for the job and covering all your bases. That way there will be less unexpected things for you and you can cover yourself if expectations do change.
Excel/Word are decent options, but it can take a lot of time to get right and get it looking professional while also being clear and useful for your electrical estimate. It’s doable and if you’re a small business, it might be where you start, but as your business grows, you may need more robust tools made for the purpose.
Professional tools and software are more common as more paperwork goes digital and technology continues to advance. AroFlo, for example, can provide on-the-go quoting straight from your devices. Apps that integrate all your information will be your most handy tool as your business grows, as you’ll spend less time with paperwork and more time hands-on.
Finding Your Niche
You don’t want to spread yourself thin when deciding on what kind of electrician you want to be. Sticking to a specific sector might feel limiting but by picking a niche you want to fill you can save time and money by being able to more accurately decide on electrical estimates and quotes, build a reputation in that area of work and being direct with customers on what to expect.
This can be particularly helpful if you’re planning to start your own business or are trying to grow your business in the midst of the competition. You can also compare your rates and fees to other businesses in your field to see how they match up.
If you are just starting out your electrical business and want more information beyond electrical quotes and estimates, we’ve got a full guide that covers all the basics here. It lays out what you need to consider when wanting to start your own business and why you need a clear goal before you start.
Tips and Solutions
Electrical quoting can be tricky and you’re not always going to get it right. Sometimes when you do get an electrical estimate done accurately and quickly, the customer can decide on someone else for a job.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your competition and the current rates in the market. Electrical quoting will change depending on your area, your specialisation and your hours, but what’s important about quoting is clarity between you and your customer. You know what you’re charging for, and they know what they’re paying for. If you want more info about invoicing, cash flow and more, AroFlo’s accounting tips and solutions for tradies covers what you need to know about running a business.
We hope some of these ideas can help with your electrical quoting and estimates and help save you time so you can focus on your trade.