Estimating Painting Jobs Using the PC

When I go to a Paint Job, I still see my competitors’ hand writing their estimates. This may be a quick way but it doesn’t look professional. Just to run through the customer’s job and quickly scribble an estimate down by hand is cheating you the painter out of the best chance to win the estimate.
Why not present a professional printed estimate? A lot of contractors will bring a laptop and portable to the job, but I don’t like this because the client tends to rush you through the estimate. This makes it more likely to make mistakes because of being rushed.
What I prefer to do is to take my measurements, digital photos and notes back to my office. When I am in my office I make very few mistakes. I do my estimate and print it up on my custom proposal form. I like to do a 2 step meeting with the customer. The first time we meet is only to measure the job, and the second time is to sit down with all buying parties to review the bid and sign the contract.
You can craft your own software if you are so inclined, it takes quite a bit of work and the learning curve is there, but once the software is done it can save you a lot of time, just on the calculations alone.
An Excel spreadsheet is a great help. You can design you own formulas and just plug in your measurements. The spreadsheet will calculate automatically and give you the totals. The measurements then go into the Painter’s Cost Estimator by Craftsman Books. Finally I import the finished Paint Estimate into my customized QuickBooks Proposal form.
A tool that I use with my PC and my digital camera is the colorization software that the paint companies sell, usually for around $10. I offer to help with showing them what the finished colors will look like.
Initially there will be some time invested in setting these things up, but it is only one time and from that point forward it will be easier, faster and produce a much more professional looking paint job estimate. A computer will save you time and be more accurate in creating estimates. And the next most important thing is not to be patient and not rush through the estimating process, because the estimate is our guide when we are working as much as it is an estimate and contract for the customer.