"How to Get More Time,
Get Accurate Estimates &
Make Money Job After Job"
Not Enough Time and Tired of Losing Money?
Are you fed-up because:
- You leave money "on the table" because your estimates aren't
- You wish your estimates looked more professional
- You don't know what it's really costing you for your jobs
- You aren't confident in the prices in your estimate
- Your estimates are "guesstimates" rather than estimates
- You're paying bills from the last job with cash flow from the current
- You rush through an estimate because you don't have the time to do it
If all or any of these are true, then this is the most important
letter you've read. Let me tell you why.
There is a solution, and I'll tell you more about
it in a minute...
Organize Your Estimates for Accuracy & Speed
One of the things that's going to make your estimating faster
and more accurate is using what I call "Sections." Sections are
a way of breaking a project down into the steps you take when you're
doing a job. Some people call them tasks, phases and classes. It's all
the same concept.
Sections are a logical breakdown of your jobs. Sections would include
things like: Site Preparation, Foundations, Framing, Roofing, Landscaping, and so
on. By the way, most of the examples in this letter are based around
general contractors. However, exactly the same principles apply to
specialty contractors. No matter what trade you may be in, these rules
apply to you.
Here's how it's going to make your estimating more accurate
When you use sections you take one section at a time and you
take each of the items you need for that section of the job. If you're taking off
foundations all of the items for foundations are in the Foundation
section. By having only foundation items it's much easier to spot
missing items and duplicates. That eliminates errors.
Imagine what your estimate would look like without sections and you
have several hundred items in the estimate - that's at least 2 pages.
You could spend hours reviewing the estimate looking for missing items
and duplicates. Because it's all one big random list, it's much harder to find
duplicates or missing items which creates errors and it take a lot
longer to find any errors.
This means that you save time when your estimating
so you have more time for the things you want to do and you are less
stressed over the accuracy of your estimate.
Measurable Items For Consistent, Accurate Estimates
The only way you can estimate consistently job after job and make
money is by making sure everything is in measurable units. A measurable
unit is a linear foot, a cubic yard, or a square foot, and so on. It's
something you can measure with your measuring tape.
What that means is you have to have a system that everything is taken
off in measurable units that you can calculate a cost for materials and
labor. For example, a 2X4 interior wall with drywall on both sides takes
(I'm totally making up numbers here) 1/2 hour of labor per linear foot
(your labor production rate, i.e. how long it takes to do something.)
and $10.75 in materials.
That's measurable and when the job is complete you can compare your
cost for materials to what you thought it was going to cost. If there's
a difference, you know which part of your job cost your profit and so
you adjust your estimating for the next job. Maybe
your material cost should be $11.25 a linear foot, or maybe $10.25. It
doesn't make any difference if you're high or low, adjust to the correct
And, you can compare your labor hours to how long it actually took. Adjust labor hours,
labor production rate, in the same fashion.
estimate by hours always estimate by the units you are taking off. For
example, I've talked with a contractor that would estimate that a 10 foot wall will take
about 8 hours to build and the same contractor a week later will look at a 15 foot
wall and say it will take about 8 hours. How do you measure that?
The Contractor's Profit System™
When you use The Contractor's Profit System with LiteningFast
Estimating you will:
- Have more time for other things that are important
- Get accurate estimates... estimates that you will feel confident
giving to a prospect and making money
- Make money job after job
Estimating is important! If you don't estimate, you don't get jobs.
Without jobs you don't have an opportunity to make money.
If you estimate, but you don't know what it costs to do the work, are
you estimating or guesstimating? Are you making the same mistakes over
and over again, job after job?
One of the ideas behind The Contractor's Profit system is that it no
only includes LiteningFast™ Estimating, it
is integrated with QuickBooks® so you can do
job cost. Not only is it integrated with QuickBooks, it creates
simplified budgets that give you the power you need to make money job
after job. By the way, the program has been tested and certified by
What do I mean by "simplified budgets"? Budgets are created based on
sections. This means that:
- It's easy to do job cost as your bills and employees
- 10 seconds per bill to capture costs
- 10 seconds per paycheck to track hours and costs
- You will easily track your job cost with QuickBooks reports
- Job Estimates Vs Actuals Summary show you at a glance where
- You will see the forest for the trees
- Catch small issues before they become BIG job threatening
- You will discover how easy it is
I'll tell you more about the system in a minute, but first...
Why Should You Listen to Me?
I had my first construction client in 1977. It wasn't that I was a
contractor or specifically interested in construction, I had a good
reputation and approached by someone
that wanted me to develop software for his company. His name
Allen and his company was a large plastering and drywall
company. When I say large, I'm talking millions of dollars in revenue in
1970's dollars. His company was involved in plastering the Moscone
Center in San Francisco many years ago, as an example.
With one contractor "under my belt", I started looking for other
contractors to do business with. From going on the road talking with
contractors about my system I learned what they needed that was
different from my original system. The system evolved over the years
based on user input.
I created a system that ran on PCs, before the days of Windows. They
were DOS machines and the program included everything a contractor
needed to do business: Estimating, Payroll, Payables, Job Cost,
Receivables, Financial Statements, everything.
One of the most important discoveries I made over the years
talking with 1000s of contractors is that successful contractors
were keeping track of their costs and adjusting their estimating when
they found differences. A successful contractor is one
that's been in business for years and is making money consistently on
his or her jobs.
In 1994 I sold the original system to another company. When talking with
contractors I heard a lot of "I'm using QuickBooks." That
After digging into QuickBooks I discovered there was an import
function that that would allow me to import budgets. I figured an
estimating program that would create budgets for job cost in QuickBooks
had to be a winner. I created that program. I called it LiteningQuick
Estimating. Back in 2001 Intuit (the makers of QuickBooks) didn't like
the fact that I had "Quick" in the name of the program. They were
helping me market the program, so I was happy to change the name to
LiteningFast, which it remains to this day. That was over 4,172 clients
and 7 versions ago.
Saving You Time... Estimating Quickly and Accurately
You will estimate more quickly for 4 primary reasons:
Estimating Accuracy -
The Other Half of the Estimating Success Story
Estimating faster by itself, doesn't mean you
estimate accurately. With The Contractor's Profit System with
LiteningFast Estimate you not only estimate faster, you estimate
accurately. Let me tell you why:
- Once again Sections come into play. As you've read before,
Sections organize your estimates. They also improve the accuracy of
your estimates because it's easier to spot problems in your estimate.
Since you're only looking at, say, roofing items when you are taking off
and reviewing the Roofing Section it's easy to spot duplicate and/or
missing items. You're viewing a few items in each logical section not 100s
scattered in an estimate.
- You can print a material list and send the list to your
suppliers to get prices for the materials. In a matter of minutes
you can update the prices in your estimate (and your database as
well) so you have EXACT pricing for your estimate. No
- When you're tracking and reporting your costs in QuickBooks, you
can easily hunt down any area that you have problems. Maybe current costs too
low or too high. In either case you can correct your estimating so
your prices are right on the next time you bid. You keep
your estimates competitive
- Are accurate estimates important to you?
Customizing the System to Fit YOU!
You probably do things somewhat differently than every other
contractor. I've heard numerous different ways of doing things over
the years. That's why the system is flexible and customizable.
- You can change the Section list to suit your way of working by
adding, deleting or changing the sequence to the way you want to do your take
The system comes with different sections built in: Our
Default, CSI - Construction Standards Institute, NAHB - National
Association of Homebuilders, and Electrical. You can add, change,
and delete any of the section items in the list to fit your specific
- The "Browse n' Build" catalog is 23,000+ items that you can use
to build your customized take off Item List. Only huge contractors
need 23,000 items in their database. The system allows you to pick and choose
the items you use and skip all the ones you don't need. That means
the database is customized to your specific needs. You can go back
at any time and get more items from the Browse n' Build catalog as
your needs change
- Assemblies allow you to build common groups of items you
estimate with. For example, a 2X4 exterior wall could have: Studs,
Top and Bottom Plate, OSB Sheathing, Tyvek, Insulation and drywall.
Assemblies are easy to build and fit your exact needs
- You can add your own items to the take off item list in seconds.
You may have items you use that aren't in the Browse n' Build
catalog and you can add them in a few seconds, so the take off item
list is specifically set up for you
- You have numerous choices for the format of the estimate that
you present to your prospect. You can display as much information or
as little information as you wish. Include your notes, or not,
Include individual line item prices, or just a grand total at the
bottom of the estimate printout
When you give your client a detail estimate as part of your contract:
- You reduce "Sticker Shock" because your client sees what's going
into the job and how you arrived at the prices. They feel like they
can see what they're getting for their money
- You look like a pro AND have gained their trust
because everything is on paper in plain sight and you've presented
it in a form they understand
- Your competition looks like amateurs
because they haven't
- The amazing thing is it doesn't take you any longer to
present the detail estimate than they spent to do a summary...
maybe even LESS!
- You eliminate misunderstandings because if it's
not in the detail estimate it's not in the job
- There are no "give aways" due to misunderstandings. Without
a detail estimate if they say you told them they were going to
get gold fixtures, you're not going to give them the original
cheap fixtures that were what you were thinking about when you
made the bid. You're going to upgrade them out of your pocket,
probably not to gold
- There are change orders when something is added
- This means that:
- You save money (no give aways) and you make money
- Don't have the hassle of arguing about what was or
wasn't promised for the job
Easy to Use & Easy to Master
One of the major design concepts for The Contractor's Profit System with
LiteningFast Estimating is that it has to be simple, easy to master, easy
Here's why that's true:
Click here to see and hear what our customers have to say
Video Tutorials - everything in the system is
covered with a video tutorial that takes you step-by-step through
the process. We've found that our clients that spend a few minutes
with the video tutorials get started 62% faster than those that
don't watch the videos.
Get Started! manual - for those that prefer
following written instructions the Get Started! tutorial will have
you up and running in no time.
Point & Click takeoffs - doing take offs is a snap: Click on a
section e.g. framing, click on an item, e.g. 2X4 Wall Framing, Enter
a quantity, click Ok. That's it.
Update Budgets to QuickBooks with one click. Everything QuickBooks
needs for the budget is automatically created. No extra work on your
Do you want to get started with a system without spending weeks
trying to learn it?