Estimate using Excel? Think Again

Best Practices
August 24, 2017

Estimate using Excel? Think Again.

Excel is where it all started for most contractors. We’ve all used it to estimate. The problem is, though, that was 10+ years ago. Sure it was amazing technology for its time, but we’ve moved on. Cloud estimating is much more secure, reliable and accurate. Let’s discuss a few reasons to drop Excel and pick up Clear Estimates.

#1 Reliability

Estimating with Excel is risky in itself. Think about it. Excel is a downloadable program. Anything you do with it is saved to your computer. Trusting your hard work to the machine that you are working on is a thing of the past. All it takes is one computer crash or low battery to completely gut the work you’ve done. An Excel spreadsheet is only as good as the computer you’re on. Where is the estimate if the computer crashed or you forget to save? The answer is nowhere, it’s gone. To keep your spreadsheets backed up, you need to buy an external hard drive, which means additional cost and setup. If you get a new computer, you’ll either have to manually transfer all of your data over via an external hard drive, or you’ll have to start from scratch.

By using an online program, all of the worry is out the window. Online tools are tied to no one computer. When you use a program like Clear Estimates, your data is stored in the cloud and can be retrieved from any device as long as you have internet access. Whether you’re at the office, a coffee shop, or at home, you’ll be able to access your account. We use industry leading data storage sites, and back things up in many locations. This gives you the modern ease of mind in case computer crashes, or you forget your computer. Also, if you decide to cancel your subscription and come back a few months later, all of your estimate data will be waiting for you.

#2 Accuracy

Spreadsheets offer no accurate pricing unless you are managing and updating a database within Excel. It is extremely time-consuming to update line items and manage an extensive database that covers your scope of work. If you don’t manage your own database within Excel, you likely are guessing numbers - never a good idea to begin with. You may think you know the cost of everything, but this is a great way to lose money. This industry can be ruthless with a number of bidders for each job. It’s important to have your numbers right from the beginning, that way you end up making money, not losing it.

Clear Estimates manages a database of over 10,000 line items with both material and labor priced out to a location near you. This information comes from our partner company, RemodelMAX, a trusted source featured in Remodeling Magazine’s Cost v Value report. On top of this, we offer a markup section that you can tailor for each job. No longer do you need to scour Home Depot for up to date pricing or play with numbers until things look right.

#3 Free Support

Excel isn’t known for its customer support. Getting ahold of someone immediately isn’t really possible, and most likely you’ll end up climbing the ladder. In an industry where questions need to be addressed right away, this can be troublesome. This can be even more painful if you’re in a crunch and need answers right away. Excel to a new user can look like a whole new language with no one there to really help you through.

At Clear Estimates, our pledge to you is 100% free customer support, 100% of the time. This means you can reach out as much as you would like when any questions come up. We’ve got a direct number you can call, a chat feature built into our website, as well as an email contact. We desire to maintain a reputation built on customer satisfaction, and we believe support is at the center of that. This is a staple that sets us apart from other programs.

#4 Save Time

Excel is a tedious program to learn. In order to set it up like you’ll want, a class or two is probably in order. There are many bells and whistles to the program, but they must be discovered and learned. Complex spreadsheets take hours to create, if not days. Constant attention must be paid to avoid a corrupt cell. You’ll be asking yourself, “Where is this error coming from?” There’s nothing professional about Excel, it’s a dinosaur in an age of user-friendly programs. It’s also boring and won’t help you win the bid. When you hand your estimate to a client and it reads like a bunch of cells, a client is going to be turned off. Think about all the time you put into that bid too.

Instead of managing your own spreadsheets for both line items and proposals, allow Clear Estimates to take care of both. Our software has a database of over 10,000 line items for you to compile an estimate from. When that estimate is complete, use our proposal feature to automatically translate a line item list into a professional looking document you can give to your client. Our professional looking proposals boost your legitimacy and increase your chance of winning the job over Excel.

To learn more about Clear Estimates, give us a call at 1-800-540-3935. We’d love to hear how you are currently estimating and chat about how Clear Estimates may help you increase your bottom line.

Jack Dean
Jack Dean