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Estimating for the Electrical Contractor
How Do You Find the Right Estimating Software
Always having to be the low bid won't keep you in business
The economy is about to rebound. Are you ready?

Estimating for the Electrical Contractor

Construction estimating software has evolved over the past 40 years. It first ran on large, costly mainframes and then moved to other technology platforms as they were developed, decreasing costs dramatically. Most of the larger electrical contractors have been using software for many years to help them save both time and money. They use the software to get every edge they can over their competition. These companies know that estimating affects every aspect of their business. They understand the value of using the right tool to get the job done.

So you have to wonder - Why are so many electrical contractors still not realizing the benefits of using a formal estimating process and software solution?

To understand this, you have to look at some of the attitudes that contribute to smaller contractors not implementing an estimating discipline. Here are the most common ones that I hear:

  • Estimating software is too expensive: The cost of TurboBid is a fraction of other leading estimating programs. In fact, when used properly, TurboBid is capable of an ROI measured in just a few weeks. If you think about it, if it helps you win just one profitable job, it has paid for itself. Or, just one avoided mistake on the right job would pay for the program.

  • The software I’ve looked at does not address my specific type of work: Everybody knows that you can't use the same labor units to estimate commercial, residential and service work. TurboBid's unique Type of Work feature automatically adjusts the material labor units to reflect the selected type of work.

  • I’m afraid of new technology: TurboBid is arranged in a user friendly format that guides you through the estimating process. We also make it easy to learn how to use the program through our large library of detailed video tutorials. There is also a live chat icon within TurboBid so live help is always just a click away.

    Bill Ruffner, the founder and CEO of TurboBid, is an electrical contractor with over 19 years of experience. He knew using a computer to help estimate electrical jobs was the fastest and most accurate method. The problem was that he couldn't find a software program that met the unique requirements of his contracting company. That's when he decided to take the extraordinary step of creating his own estimating software program. After a few years of developement, TurboBid had turned out to be so good that Ruffner figured that there had to be other contractors that could also benefit from the program. In fact, TurboBid is recommended by industry expert Mike Holt who has designated TurboBid as the Best Buy of all major estimating software programs.


    One contractor, Geof Gratny of GSS Electric, out of Kalispell, Montana, realized early on after starting his business that there was a strong need to do things correctly. Gratny says "I started my business two years ago. I have been wiring for over 30 years so I knew the industry from an employee’s perspective. Facing the challenges of being a contractor left me with much to learn. I realized that if I was going to succeed, I had to really understand what was involved in the estimating process."


    Gratny states. "In a visit to, I discovered TurboBid. Being the perfectionist that I am, and wanting to keep startup costs low, I found TurboBid to be a very attractive program. Other programs that I researched were two to six times the cost of TurboBid.” Gratny knew several small electrical contractors that had purchased these other programs. "I was appalled to learn that they didn’t use the software anymore because of its complexity and lack of support from the company.  They told me  that the software was overkill for the type of work they do and the learning curve just wasn’t worth it."


    TurboBid employs a unique wizard format that allows users to easily identify and account for all possible labor and material costs.  Additionally, material and assemblies are automatically assigned the correct labor unit based on the estimates type of work. The software also helps the estimator identify all direct and indirect costs by utilizing specialized calculators. This allows the estimator to set-up the program to accurately reflect the cost structure of his own company.


    As for the learning curve, Gratny not only found the video tutorials to be very helpful but took advantage of TurboBid's live training. "Bill Ruffner of TurboBid was willing and able to walk me through the startup phases of TurboBid. He graciously took the time and led me through several live web based tutorials, numerous personal phone calls and emails to get me up and running. That sold me. I knew if I didn’t get a program with the right support, I’d be wasting my money.” Gratny said.


    TurboBid offers electrical contractors the opportunity to test drive the software program for 14 days. During this period of time, TurboBid’s support staff places an extremely high value in helping contractors learn how to use the software. They even take the time to assist contractors in completing their estimates.


    Drew Garza of Templar Electric, an contractor in the outskirts of Houston, couldn’t agree more. "I have used four other estimating software programs only to be let down or disappointed. TurboBid is hands down, the most efficient and user friendly estimating program I have used and for the price, it can’t be beat.” Garza added,  "TurboBid’s customer support is top notch.”


    Eugene, Oregon’s Antone Electric owner, Shelby Antone says, "The folks at TurboBid allowed me to select  training times that fit my busy schedule. They have a convenient scheduling calendar where I could schedule a web based training session, 7 days a week. I really appreciate the  effort that TurboBid puts forth to accommodate my business.”


    Gary Gomez of Dakota Electric in Sioux City, Iowa simply put it "Follow up and training is most excellent. TurboBid’s support hours are for the working class blue collar owner and beats all. I suffer no working time lost by being able to take training classes in the evening. This is really important to me because I am out in the field working on the residential, remodel and light commercial jobs that I won by using TurboBid.”


    Geof Gratny also wanted a program that was capable of importing material pricing updates. "I found out that our three local distributors have pricing formats that are compatible with TurboBid. So I have thousands of prices at my finger tips that I use for reference in addition to bidding. It’s extremely valuable for me to have a program sort and index 60,000 items for easy pricing.” TurboBid is set-up to easily import material pricing updates from TurboPricer, Trade Service, EPIC and NetPricer. There are also a growing number of national and regional suppliers that have agreed to provide price files to their customers that use TurboBid.


    The ability to quickly create accurate and consistent estimates is especially important to the small contractor that relies on a single person to do the estimate, submit the bid, negotiate with the customer and then strap on the tools in the field. There is very little time to do it all. As North Florida contractor Shaw Electrical Services’, owner Steve Shaw states "I have 20 years of experience as an electrician, but now that I own my own business, I realized that I needed help estimating. I looked into several different estimating programs. I chose TurboBid not only because it was tailored specifically to my types of jobs but also because I was impressed by how quick and easy it was to produce incredibly accurate estimates, as well as being able to automatically generate professional proposals to give to my customers.”


    Geof Gratny says "I’ve used TurboBid to win jobs including small remodels, service work, large residential, medium commercial and several mid sized industrial projects. I really enjoy knowing exactly what my costs are, which enables me to negotiate more confidently. It has been very interesting hearing from general contractors and customers about how they were astounded at the clarity and accuracy of what my proposals included. Recently, a general contractor called and told me that the other bids that he received were 2 pages long and he really didn’t know what they included. The twelve page Room by Room Quantity Take-Off report that I printed from TurboBid gave him perfect clarity. He was able to relay to his customer exactly what I was including, instead of a verbal assumption. He used words like "Comforting”, "Confidence”, "Confirming” and "Clarity” in describing the proposal."


    Drew Garza adds, "The reports are absolutely amazing and they definitely give me a winning edge over my competition. I smile while I think to myself how it only took me five minutes to create it.”


    Gratny concludes, "I am convinced that my success in this tight economic time is largely due to being able to produce a professional looking bid package, be accurate with the numbers and know my boundaries for pricing. I am very happy with TurboBid, the support and the flexibility that it gives me.”


    How Do You Find the Right Estimating Software?

    It can be a daunting task when you start to look for an estimating software program that is best suited for your own particular needs.  Every company is saying the exact same thing: Our software is easy to use, it is the most accurate, it is the most consistent, it will help you win more bids……… In fact, you might even start to think that they are all pretty much the same.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.


    TurboBid is quickly becoming well known for both its estimating software’s capabilities as well as it's stellar customer service.  All you have to do is listen to what our customers are saying and you’ll understand why.  But as a contractor who is not currently one of our customers, you have had very little contact, if any, with our company.


    So how do you know if what we are saying is true?  Doesn’t every estimating software company make the claim that they are better than the next?  Sure, you could do your research and peruse the various blogs and forums on the internet and see all the positive press for TurboBid. While it would certainly help, would you truly be 100% convinced?  Or you could even go to Mike Holt’s website and see that TurboBid is listed as the "Best Buy” among his listing of major estimating software solutions. You might even discover that TurboBid was designed around the principles taught in Mike Holt’s Illustrated Guide to Electrical estimating.


    Again, how do you know which is the best estimating program for you?


    Just remember: Without using the software in real life situations, on real bids, you are just making a decision based on what others are saying. Instead of casually looking at a limited trial version, we want to help you really use the software and prove that TurboBid is a winning solution.  We are offering you the opportunity to utilize TurboBid for 14 days, performing actual takeoffs. This isn’t just a trial where you download the software and find out that you’re left on your own to figure things out. This trial includes the full support of our company. 


    Download today and learn first hand why contractors across the country are so excited about TurboBid. 


    Always having to be the low bid won't keep you in business

    TurboBid's bid package will show your customers that you are a professional. They'll have confidence that you know what you're doing. It's a proven fact that people pay more for a contractor that they have confidence in. No longer will you need to be the low bidder to get the job.


    The economy is about to rebound. Are you ready?

    Now is the time to invest in your success. TurboBid is not just about arriving at a number. Pen and paper will do that for you. TurboBid is concerned with the bigger picture: Estimating, sales and project management.


    TurboBid provides a systematic process to identify all of your costs. The majority of electrical contractors always fail to identify all of their costs and end up leaving money on the table.


    Selling your services is all about presentation. TurboBid automatically generates professional bid packages that contain formal proposals, quantity take-offs by category and by room, value engineered pricing, change orders, option pricing, material kits, local code requirements, etc.


    You need to maximize your time and your crew's productivity. TurboBid's reports provide you with valuable information. For example: Let your crew know how many hours they have to complete the job. Print out material kits for each phase of the job. Give your crew a complete list of the electrical inspector's requirements. Give your crew a room by room breakdown of what is included in the estimate.