4. Accurate Equipment Rates – Excellent estimators know what equipment really costs. Calculate the cost for each piece of equipment your company uses from the pickup truck to compressors, welders, cranes or forklifts. Total the initial purchase price, interest, maintenance, gas and insurance over the life of the equipment. For each piece of equipment, divide this total lifetime equipment ownership cost of by the expected number of billable hours you will be able to job charge over the life of the equipment to arrive at your accurate equipment cost per hour.
5. Accurate General Conditions – Most estimators either guess at the actual costs of job start-up, mobilization, move-on and move-off, managing, supervising, temporary facilities and closing out projects or they use a percentage to figure their general conditions budget. And the unit prices often used are outdated or inaccurate. (When is the last time you looked at a job toilet invoice? It varies by number of services per month plus the delivery fee.) I find on a typical eight month project, our general conditions can vary from $10,000 to $25,000 per month. Accurate estimating must include a review of what your general conditions really cost and then an accurate budget based on input from the field.
6. Accurate Overhead – Your company overhead is fixed cost and does not vary as you get more jobs. It is not a percentage of your job costs or sales. Excellent estimators know what it costs to keep their company open without any jobs under construction – this is your fixed general and administrative expenses or overhead costs. First you must know your total annual overhead cost. Divide this projected overhead amount by your total projected annual job costs for all jobs you will build (not sales volume). This percentage will equal the actual overhead recovery markup you need to use to recover all of your overhead expenses for the year. For example: $800,000 projected total annual overhead / $5,000,000 projected annual job costs = 16.0% markup for overhead recovery. Don’t get trapped into thinking you can use an industry average such as 15% or 20% to cover your overhead costs.
7. Accurate Profit Mark-Up – Profit markup is not determined by what you can get in your market. It is a fixed amount of profit you want to earn by the end of the year. Sit down and decide how much pre-tax net profit you want to make over the next year. For example: if your annual overhead is $800,000, a good net profit target is 50% of your overhead = $400,000 net profit. To determine the profit markup required to hit your goal, divide your total annual projected costs by your annual profit goal to determine the profit markup you need to use. For example: if you’re annual net profit goal is $400,000, divide it by your projected total annual job cost goal of $5,000,000. $400,000 / $5,000,000 = 8.0% required profit markup to hit your goals.
To complete the calculation, now add your total annual job costs to your overhead to your net profit goal. This will give equal total sales required to achieve your financial targets. For example: $5,000,000 job costs + $800,000 overhead + $400,000 profit = $6,200,000 in annual sales. Now ask yourself if you can you hit $6,200,000 in sales at a markup rate of 16% for overhead plus 8% for net profit (total overhead and profit markup of 24%)? In this example, look at the markup rates. If you can’t achieve 24.0% overhead and profit markup in your market, your only solution is to adjust your volume up or your profit markup down (not your overhead!) until you hit your $400,000 profit target. Or lower your profit goal to less than what you want!
Want to make lots of money?
Make you bid more than a ‘guestimate’ of what it might cost. Be accurate. Make each estimate an exact prediction of what it will take to build every project.
George Hedley is a professional business coach, popular speaker and best-selling author of “Get Your Business to Work!” and “The Business Success Blueprint For Contractors” available at his online bookstore. He works with business owners to build profitable growing companies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org to request your free copy of “Winning Ways to Win More Work!” or sign up for his free monthly e-newsletter. To hire George to speak, be part of his ongoing BIZCOACH program, or join one of his ongoing Roundtable Peer Groups, call 800-851-8553 or visit www.HardhatPresentations.com.