Estimation for Electricians Part 2: Know When to Bid

This is the second installment of Estimation for Electricians. What does it take to create an accurate estimate before you begin adding up the numbers?

This series is dedicated to helping you understand how to make profitable decisions for your electrical contracting business.

There are numerous bidding boards and websites online.

If you find a job you want to bid for, don’t take too long. In the current economy, contractors have to bid on more projects than they used to, so the competition is fierce.

However, don’t rush placing your estimate. If you need to be bonded, wait until you have the preapproval paperwork.

Knowing when to bid in the estimation process is a balance between doing it quickly but making sure you have all the information you need to make a profitable decision.

Also, the rush isn’t worth it if you don’t put the time in to determine how you will make money from the project. Haste can make room for errors. Don’t let that happen to your business.

Really Vet Your Projects

Once you find the projects, review them to determine if it’s they’re projects you can bid for and if you really should.

Remember from earlier in this process when you determined your business’ core areas of expertise? That should play into the projects you choose to bid for.

Consider if the project is right for your business: How far along is the project? Is it too early to tell the work that will truly be required or are the plans definite?

If gaps seem to exist in the project or it’s early in the design, it can be difficult to create an accurate estimate.

Smaller Tasks Are Easier to Consider Than Large Projects

When you review a project, break it down into all the small tasks it will take to complete, Electrical Construction & Maintenance advises.

Make an estimated timeline for these tasks to determine the number of workers you’ll need to complete each one. Many jobs need to be finished in a short period of time, so don’t forget to factor in overtime.

Understand the Project Plan

After you’ve estimated the tasks and timeline, participate in the project walkthrough. This will help you better understand the details of the work, and you’ll be able to update your original task list with the new information.

Next, read the plans and specs carefully. Electrical information in a job will greatly affect the tasks and time it takes to complete the project.

Also, if there are errors in the specifications, this could lead to problems and overtime during the project.

If there appear to be errors, submit a request for information for clarification. It’s better to ask than estimate a bid on the wrong information.

Know When to Walk Away

If there are tasks you can’t complete or you don’t feel you could meet the deadline, don’t submit an estimate for the project.

It may be hard to walk away, but your business will find more success in jobs better suited for your resources and strengths.

This is the second installment of Estimation for Electricians. Stay tuned for more articles to help you make profitable decisions for your electrical contracting business.