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For small businesses in the construction industry, providing clients with an accurate estimate of the cost of a job isn't just good customer service, it is critical to ensuring the financial health of the company. Underestimate a job's costs and you could run short when it comes time to pay your crew or frustrate your client by needing to request more money midway through a project; overestimate it and you could risk loosing the bid to a competitor.
Despite the importance of preparing an estimate, which should take into account the costs of labor, material and equipment and overhead, as well as profit expectations, the task can be daunting for many small business owners. Technology, however, can help contractors efficiently produce professional estimates, along with assisting in other accounting and management tasks. Check out these innovative and affordable software programs that make it easy to produce construction estimates:
Designed to create estimates for residential or commercial construction, this software offers the flexibility to change and update estimates as needed and supports all construction trades. Bid4Build also features invoicing, job-tracking and scheduling functions and integrates with QuickBooks. Prices range from $49 for the stand-alone solution Design Build Estimator Rough Estimator (single-use license) to $595 for the Enterprise Edition Estimating System.
In addition to allowing residential and commercial contractors, subcontractor and specialty craftsman the ability to create accurate estimates, this cloud-based solution from PrioSoft offers bid and project management and invoicing functionality. It also offers contact management features that can be used for marketing and sales purposes and works with Microsoft Office templates. Prices run from $695 for the basic software to $895 for a version that includes accounting or scheduling functionality to $995 for a complete version. Monthly plans are also available, and the company offers a free 15-day trial.
Goldenseal Business Software
This integrated solution from Turtle Creek Software, best suited to small and medium projects, offers estimating, accounting, and business and project management functionality. It runs on both Macintosh and Windows operating systems and integrates with QuickBooks. The basic program and a single-user license (no accounting functionality) costs $395; the full program is $695 for a single license; and multi-user versions run from $995 for two users up to $2495 for 20 users.
This cloud-based comprehensive solution from Viewpoint provides estimating, project management and accounting functionality, including managing financials, employees and payroll. The program is designed for general contractors in residential and commercial construction, in addition to specialty trades like concrete and masonry work. Contact the company for pricing.
Built using Microsoft technology, including an SQL database and .NET development, this software helps contractors create estimates, perform digital takeoffs, store project drawings and manage the bid-day process. ProEst is designed for contractors in all specialties, from residential to landscaping to electrical, and is available in three different subscription-based options to suit different businesses' needs: Standard, Professional and Enterprise. Contact the company for pricing.
With so many affordable software solutions available to help contractors efficiently create accurate estimates, there is sure to be an option that is right for your business.
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Lotus Abrams, StudioOne editor, is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than 10 yearsof experience working with content about small businesses and technology forsuch publications as American Salon, Macworld and Potentials.