Estimating is a crucial part of the HVAC business. The quality and accuracy of your estimates will dictate how many bids you'll win and how many customers will return for future business. However, generating accurate estimates has been a long-term challenge for many HVAC contractors.
Data shows that the bids on small projects can exceed 20% over or under the actual costs. If you underestimate by that much, it can lead to a disgruntled client who believes you may have overcharged them, ruining your business's reputation.
That's where HVAC estimating software comes in. It automates and streamlines estimating for HVAC contractors ensuring the bids and estimates you send out are accurate and top-quality, representative of your brand.
However, before you invest in HVAC estimating software, you need to consider its features, ease of use, the potential for boosting revenue, and customer support.
Here's all you need to know about HVAC estimating software before investing in one.
The Pitfalls of Traditional HVAC Estimating Methods
The pitfalls of traditional estimating methods necessitate HVAC estimating software. Common issues faced with pen-and-paper estimating include the following:
Manually creating estimates is a time-consuming process. It requires several cumbersome, repetitive steps involving punching the calculator, cross-referencing catalogs, forms, and spreadsheets, copying and filling out templates, and maintaining a growing set of files.
This time could be spent winning more business.
Moreover, homeowners make HVAC decisions quickly, typically within 12 to 24 hours. Taking longer than this to deliver an estimate will lose you business, especially if you're competing against a faster rival using a software solution.
Pen-and-paper estimates have a poor presentation. They get worse when you rush the tech to draft a short proposal and estimation in the truck. The effect is that the client perceives your work as a quick improvised fix instead of a well-thought-out plan.
This might lead the potential client to choose a competitor with a more decent-looking estimate over yours, despite them probably being pricier and less experienced.
Working with a handful of paperwork is always a headache. Moreover, it makes you appear disorganized to a client no matter how hard you try to keep everything in place with paper binders.
The situation looks worse when you have to juggle reams of paper amidst a home inspection, with potential mix-ups since the files are jumbled.
The downside to poor organization is that, in desperate efforts to appear organized as you fumble through papers, you may forget to ask the client essential questions, make wrong measurements, or skip some steps in the home inspection.
You're also at greater risk of losing important information stored in the files.
Pen-and-paper estimation has several possibilities of introducing human error. If you or the tech failed to ask a few questions or faltered in making measurements while managing the paperwork you've carried, you may make the wrong calculations and estimates.
Worse, you may end up recommending ill-suited HVAC equipment for the client. Consequently, you may lose jobs due to overpricing, lose revenue due to underpricing, or suffer reputational damage by appearing unprofessional.
Tips for Selecting the Best HVAC Estimating Software
HVAC estimating software will save you from the pitfalls of manual estimating. However, you can still face a few issues if you fail to choose the best option. Here's what you should be considering.
The Ease of Use
Usability should be on top of your mind when shopping for HVAC estimating software. The least tech-savvy person in your crew should have a breeze using it. Otherwise, it will not yield better results than a traditional pen-and-paper approach.
The best indicator for an HVAC estimating software's ease of use is its implementation time. The longer it takes to integrate it with your business systems, the harder it is to use. If you must rely on an external IT team to integrate it, you should probably avoid it altogether.
Look at the Potential to Boost Revenue
The primary goal for purchasing HVAC contractor estimating software is to boost estimating efficiency. However, it should also increase revenue as a result.
Since your team can quote and bid for more work, you should be able to impress more customers and win more jobs. HVAC estimating software should allow you to generate customized, professional quotes with a logo, terms and conditions, slogan, and product photos.
You should also be able to use customizable templates and formats to streamline work and deliver a polished, professional estimate.
Look for these Four Key Features
A well-built HVAC estimating software should have the following four key features:
Local Cost Data
Local cost data gives you updated information on the local cost of materials, equipment, and labor needed to complete an HVAC job. Local cost data is more accurate than national cost data.
Cloud-based HVAC estimating software takes up less device memory and doesn't require any installation. Therefore, it can be accessed anywhere and on any device.
Well-built HVAC estimating software has prebuilt assemblies for material and equipment, with the option of creating your own library of items that you commonly use in your bids.
Link sharing makes it easy to share your estimate and bid with clients and have them always view the updated version. It can also be helpful if you can export or download your estimates if the client prefers to receive them differently.
Consider the Range of Functions
Apart from the four key features aforementioned, there are other useful functions you might want from your preferred HVAC estimating software. They include the following:
- Quantity take-offs
- Forecasting capabilities
- Planning and scheduling
- Subcontractor management
- Cash flow and valuation tools
- Master templates
The more the range of functions you can get from the software, the better it will serve you and your team.
Despite choosing the best and easiest-to-use HVAC estimating software, having quick and effective customer support is still essential. Adopting new digital solutions will always be a challenge for any business.
Technical support will help you fully utilize the software's capabilities and quickly troubleshoot.
Get HVAC Estimating Software from a Trusted Vendor
HVAC estimating software is the most effective tool for an HVAC contractor seeking to place and win more bids. Take the digitization step today and contact a trusted HVAC estimating software vendor to learn how you can transform your estimations and win more jobs.