JDE & Associates has for the past seventeen years helped contractors succeed; one key method we use to aid contractors is our estimating training courses. Our first class, Fundamental Estimating; we have always believed in computer estimating systems however consulting with electrical contractors we see where the systems are not always being used properly. Estimating software is an important tool for most electrical contractors, without these systems the time it takes, to complete an electrical estimate manually is often time prohibitive. Estimating software is a time saving tool that we feel almost all electrical contractors need, that need is strengthen if contractors know how to structure their estimates. This is where JDE & Associates shines, we teach the why of electrical estimating. We have held numerous training sessions to teach electrical estimating software to find out that many contractors need to understand how to structure an estimate.
A common issue for many contractors is calculating labor burden and overhead costs. The majority of estimating software systems has a line item for a contractor to insert their labor burden and overhead costs. We try to show contractors how to determine what their true labor burden and overhead percentages are and how to be competitive with them. We provide a Microsoft Excel template to help determine labor burden and overhead percentages. We have used this method for years and have found it to be reliable, we always have our accountants periodically verify these numbers and have over the years found this method to be accurate for us. We are not accountants and do encourage contractors to have our method checked by your accountants to make sure that your labor burden percentage are correct based on how your accountant calculates these percentages.
We are proud of both our one on one webinar classes and our on–site classes, both are great opportunities to expand an estimator’s knowledge. In our webinar estimating classes, we are able to start at each estimators experience level, strengthening and expanding their effectiveness as an estimator. Speed for an estimator is important; speed without accuracy can be devastating. We work on teaching accuracy, consistency, and speed in our estimating course. Our method of instruction helps make many of the more popular computer estimating systems work better, when an estimator understand why their computer estimating system operate the way they do, this knowledge makes a better estimator. We strive for a consistent estimating method, we also show methods and techniques that often help our student’s success, we would like for these same tips and techniques to help you.
We offer our fundamental estimating classes for those contractors who estimate manually, as well as those that utilize electrical estimating software systems. In either case, contractors need to know how an electrical estimate is structured. Our method of electrical estimating has many checks, from start to finish helping to reduce mistakes and realize maximum profits. This reduction on estimating mistakes will build confidence, reduce stress, and allow a contractor to know their estimated costs more accurately. We also supply our students with other Microsoft 2003–2010 templates for Word and Excel to assist them in both class and their future daily electrical estimating tasks.
Since our beginning seventeen years ago, we have enjoyed training experienced estimators with years of estimating experience as a refresher, something to reignite the competitive edge. We have also worked with students just entering our trade. Both experienced and students just entering our trade need different methods of training and we are prepared for both individuals.
In our Estimating Fundamental Classes, we begin before an estimate is even needed. We begin with the need for a written business plan, both for the individual estimator and for the contractors themselves. This is an important tool for an estimator as it begins to encourage that estimator to think more as an owner, rather than as an employee. We want an estimating staff to be very powerful and creative, if your staff is thinking as an owner, the results are often positive.
We always want to make sure that the projects we are extending our resources on to estimate make sense for your firm. We believe in completing a pre–bid evaluation for every job that we are considering spending our estimating resources. If the decision to bid a project is made by an estimator's supervisor, the estimator can point out possible discrepancies, but when told to bid a project, should still do their best to be as competitive as possible.
Breakouts within an estimate just makes sense as they allow an estimator to separate floor levels, systems, and so much more. Breakouts then continue to help by allowing a reviewer to review an estimate in these same smaller sections to assure accuracy and competitiveness. Assemblies make estimators duties while estimating easier. These assemblies must be code and specification compliant and match in the estimate how your field will install them on the project.
The next item will be the cap sheet; this is the place that is for most students the most exciting, the most fun. If the steps leading up to these cap sheets are not completed accurately, the time to finish an estimate could be a waste of time; all contractors need to avoid wasting time. As an estimator, we can win or lose a great estimate with a cap sheet that does not display a contractor’s costs and needs.
We continue by talking about your scope letter and the importance that an accurate scope letter has for your firm. Typically when assigning this assignment we ask our students to complete two scope letters, one in the style that their firm currently uses and one styled in a similar manner as to the one that is provided in our class material. The answer typically lies somewhere in the middle depending on a contractor’s needs.
Our class completes by discussing change order estimating methods, again our style while completing change orders uses the same methods to estimate change orders as a new projects estimate, and we include a few twists that have benefited many contractors.
Typically, a contractor must be awarded a project before managing it, is even an issue. In order to be awarded a project, solid estimating is vital. We teach estimating in the old school fashion, manually, for those few contractors that still estimate manually, a mistake in our opinion for most contractors, this will be an enormous benefit to you. For the majority of contractors who utilize computer estimating systems, this class is critical to your success. Knowing how to use an estimating system is key to its success, knowing why a computer estimating systems performs the way it does and being able to set up that systems, is priceless. We believe our training compliments most computer estimating systems training, as we teach how to structure an estimate; this structuring enhances your estimating success. A huge topic in our estimating class is breakouts for bidding purposes, we see quite a few estimators that do not utilize these and wonder why. Breaking out your estimate into small sections can increase an estimator’s speed, will almost certainly increase their accuracy, and for projects awarded, give your firm a jump start on managing projects efficiently. We look at breakouts as the gift that just keep giving, pay for it once on the initial estimate and take advantage of it in the final review (before the bid is released), then jump start your firms management of successful projects.
We work with all contractors, regardless of size that wants to improve their estimating techniques. Or contractors who have issues with consistency in their estimating. Sometimes a contractor may need help with both issues. A standard question that we ask when consulting with a contractor is to see their last 5 or 6 estimates. Some show us and some do not, a surprising number of contractors that do show them to us have no consistency between estimates. We feel this is a problem as the estimator themselves have difficulty remembering what they did for a particular job, after the fact. Many reviewers have difficulty reviewing estimates as their estimating methods change from estimate to estimate. We believe that for contractors, our estimating classes increase accuracy, often increase competitiveness while reducing stress and uncertainty. Look at the estimating home page to get more details on our estimating training, our classes are designed to help you if you are just starting your estimating career or if you are an experienced estimator needing to brush up and perhaps learn a new technique or two.
These following topics are covered in class;
Business Plan – this tool is often overlooked and is vital in our opinion to know which direction your firms is headed it will provide the same information to colleagues, creditors, and vendors that need to know the same information.
Action plan (to do list) – this is such a simple item to use and yet so many contractors and their employees do not take the time to utilize this tool. This one item should be sufficient to pay for any class. It is only one of the items included in the class. Give us thirty days and this plan can change your life.
Bid log – this tool while simple is very effect to keep track of items relating to projects you look at, projects you bid, projects you are awarded and can help manage projects that you are awarded. The estimator generally sets this up but they are in no way the only ones to get help from this remarkably simple format.
Pre–bid evaluation – again the estimator generally set this up to determine the chances of success when determining whether to bid a project or not. You will complete estimates for projects that may not fit your criteria from time to time for political reasons, theses should be the exceptions not the norm. Project management can make these evaluations really useful by updating them so that the estimators can evaluate other similar projects more accurately in the future.
Take off sheets – we utilize these sheets for estimating projects, we have them for both manual and computerized estimating purposes.
RFI – an item that can not only clarify issues for you during the estimate but protect your interest when the person that answered the RFI forgets how they directed you. It is smart to document your actions with written RFI’s.
Manual takeoff (We utilize a very similar method for computer estimating) – This is the meat of the class it is the basis of estimating whether using a computer estimating system or estimating manually you must take off the drawing. An accurate takeoff is critical regardless of whether an estimating system or manual estimate is being completed. We will show you how to complete a takeoff accurately.
Manual extension – based on our experience knowing what needs to be included in each assembly is a curial step for an estimator. Often we see estimators who do not even look at what is being included in their estimates from an estimating system, this is a mistake and we will help you avoid that mistake.
Labor burden and overhead calculator – over the past decade we are always interested to see what contractors include for labor burden percentages and overhead. Labor burden is relatively easy to determine while overhead is significantly more difficult. Regardless you must have an understanding of how these two percentages apply to your projects. We have a Microsoft 2003–2010 Excel spreadsheet that has helped us determine these costs, we always have an accountant verify our results, we would suggest you do the same.
Cap sheet (summary of bid)
Proposals – this is one of the least understood tools in the industry, be clear as to what you are including and excluding in your proposal.
Pre–proposal bid review
Time sheets, (why they are important to you as an estimator)
Change order estimating and proposals
These courses can be completed utilizing several formats,
Classroom Estimating Classes in your area
Webinar Fundamental Electrical Estimating – one–on–one individual training, geared to your knowledge level.
Private In–House Electrical Estimating Classes
Class Room Electrical Estimating Training in your backyard
Local training in various cities is an opportunity to exchange views with other estimators and to hear questions that they may have. These classes are a fine opportunities to gain a tremendous amount of information in a short time. This form of training is our most common electrical estimating course; it is thorough, convenient, and quick. This training is typically paced as a four day class consisting of two, two day sessions; each class is four hour long (16 total classroom hours). Each session is separated by two weeks. The information in this course is detailed, yet basic and does involve homework between sessions. A minimum number of students are required to conduct this course.
Webinar Fundamental Electrical Estimating
Our webinar course is an option which allows individuals to complete the Fundamental Estimating Class in an eight week schedule. Once a client has registered and paid their tuition, all material, textbooks, project drawings, specifications, tally counter, scaled tape measure and templates for Microsoft Word and Excel files (on disk) are mailed. Once the student has received this material and has had time to review it – approximately one week – we will discuss via phone or email when the class will start and what scheduled day we will have our class. Once we start our classes, we continue every week until your class is completed, no starting and stopping, we do not skip weeks. Because this is a one on one class, should an issue arise, with 24 hours’ notice we can reschedule to another time or even a different day. Our local course is generally set up as a two, two day sessions over a two week period when in a class room setting. This home study course is a method to spread a tremendous amount of information over an eight week time frame. Allow between four to eight hours a week for this courses material as a home study course. The more time invested the better your results should be. As you can see this class allows a substantial increase in time over the local training. Motivation to complete this class is a key to this class’s success as the class is self–paced. We will e-mail students requesting homework once or twice during the course to help remind them that an assignment is due.
We make every effort to motivate our students enrolled in these classes; however, it is intended for people who are willing to commit three to four hours a week during the eight–week course for homework. The more time invested on this material the more information you will retain from this class.
Again, we will not start and stop this class during the eight–week period. The reason for this is that the project we use for the class estimate is small and student's retention of the homework cannot stay fresh when our students start and stop working on their homework. No refunds are given for those students that do not complete their class. Once we start our classes, we continue every week until your class is completed, no starting and stopping, we do not skip weeks. Because this is a one on one class, should an issue arise, with 24 hours’ notice we can reschedule to another time or even a different day.
Once the class schedule is determined between our instructor and student, we generally start class within a week. We begin with the setup of an estimate and then start the process of taking off light fixtures and switchgear – our quotable items, the first homework assignment is given during our first class. Homework is then completed, scanned into a computer and emailed to JDE & Associates in a PDF format for review and comments within 48 hours of our next class. Generally, papers are reviewed and emailed back within one day. This review does not issue a letter grade; instead, we markup areas where we think the homework can be improved, we also markup areas that are exceptional. The returned assignment will benefit our students from repeating similar mistakes that may have occurred in the previous assignment. This homework, review will continue for seven assignments and will finish with a scope letter as a final homework assignment.
During the course, many questions may arise that are not clear to our student. These are handled via emailed request for information questions; if an email answer doesn't work then a second email requesting a telephone call are welcome. To save on telephone expenses for our students these calls will be scheduled by email and then we will place the call at an agreed time, in the United States or Canada.
An important technique in our estimating structure is breakouts for bidding and future project management purposes, we see quite a few estimators that do not utilize these and wonder why? Breaking out an estimate into small sections can increase an estimator’s speed, will almost certainly increase their accuracy, these breakouts provide your firm a jump start on managing projects efficiently. We look at breakouts as the gift that just keeps giving, pay for it once on the initial estimate and take advantage of it during the estimating process into the final review (before the bid is released), and then jump start your firms project management on awarded projects.
This class option is not for everyone, but it has many advantages, you do not need to pay for a private class, or wait for a scheduled course in your area. The best advantage is that the class will be geared to help each individual. If you are more advanced, your training will allow for your previous knowledge. If you are just starting with limited knowledge in our industry, we accommodate your knowledge level. We are ready to start within days of your decision to take the class.
If estimating is where your firm needs are this year, we have seventeen years’ experience teaching contractors and well over forty years of actual estimating experience, our last bid was submitted in early December, 2015. Contact us; we can discuss what may work best for your company.
Our Fundamental Estimating webinar class is now $1,990.00, a savings of $496.00 from 2015 pricing.
Please contact us for available class times before registering, to avoid delays starting your class.
Register today Webinar Fundamental Estimating Course
Interested, but not sure, if one of our classes is right for you or your firm? We offer one free, one hour webinar per contractor to show some of what we teach more importantly how we teach. This is not your normal sales call; this hour will be spent helping you with areas that are an issue for you and your firm. We sell classes, everyone knows, so instead of your typical sales presentation, this time will be spent dealing with your issues or concerns. This offer is a one–time offer per contractor. Use our Contact Us Page, tell us what those concerns are, and give us a few days and times when you can spare an hour. We will send you a confirmation on which day and time we can complete your webinar or an alternate day/time if we have a scheduling conflict.
For Contractors that would like to enroll in our Webinar Fundamental Estimating Class, however may be struggling with the cost of the class, we have started to take payments. We start with an initial payment of $1,025.00 which gets most of our class materials sent and the classes started. One month later a second payment of $512.50 will be due and a month after that the final payment of $512.50 is due. This allows contractors to take a class and begin to realize benefits for their firm, while paying for the class.
Should a payment not be made on time classes would stop until a $100.00 reinstatement fee and the missed payment is paid.
Contact us for the details of this offer, the class could change the way you do business, in a positive manner.
Students must supply their own calculator (basic), writing pad, and will need to print takeoff sheets from the supplied CD, all other course materials are supplied, including;
Scaled tape measure (in lieu of a plan wheel)
3 High liters
CD with Microsoft 2003 Word and Excel files (these will assist you in the class and can be used in your day to day estimating work)
We also encourage questions and attempt to help for up to three months after a class is completed. Use this service, it is included in the class and can result in you understanding the concepts that you need to know. We will not answer bid specific questions, relating to a bid that you are working on. Ask these questions in a generic fashion, as we would not have the bid documents to give you a proper answer, a specific question would require. Our intent is for each student to leave the class with the best instruction that we can provide, and a basic understanding of the fundamentals of estimating.
We make every effort to motivate our students enrolled however, it is intended for those people who are willing to commit three or more hours a week during the six–week course for homework. The more time invested on this material the more information you will retain. Hours are set for specific days and time frames, if a student misses a class, they can email the instructor for that week’s information, but the class will proceed with or without them. We begin with the setup of an estimate and then start the process of taking off light fixtures and switchgear – our quotable items, the first homework assignment is given during our first class. Homework is then completed, scanned into a computer and emailed to JDE & Associates for review and comments within four days. Generally, papers are reviewed and emailed back within one day. This review does not issue a letter grade; instead we markup areas where we think the estimate can be improved, we also markup areas that are exceptional. The returned assignment benefits our students from repeating mistakes that may have occurred in the previous assignment. This will continue for five assignments and conclude with a scope letter as the last assignments.
During the course, many questions may arise that are not clear to the student. These are handled via emailed request for information questions; if an email answer doesn't work then a second email requesting a telephone call are welcome. To save on telephone expenses for our students these calls will be scheduled by email and then we will place the call at an agreed time, in the continental United States.
In-house Electrical Estimating Training at your office
Our in–house training is intended for contractors who want specialized estimating training for their firm’s staff, while not being in the same class as their competition. It can be tailored to meet your firm’s individual needs, it can be more elementary or more advanced electrical estimating techniques. Residential, commercial or industrials, which ever suits your companies needs.
All Fundamental Electrical Estimating class options include,
Once complete with this course our students will have been exposed to a method that can reduce stress, while increasing both accuracy and profits. Our method of electrical estimating allows the Project Manager of an awarded project to have a schedule of value well under way. Estimating in a manner that is broken down into various floors and tasks this allows for quick verification of the accuracy of an electrical estimate. We extend the option to continue to ask generic questions relating to this class for up to three months after the course is complete via e–mailed request for information questions.
Some advice from us at JDE & Associates,
we are beginning to build videos to help our contractors achieve greater success.