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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My apologies if this is covered elsewhere. I am looking for a good recommendation for estimating software for my boyfriend who is a professional painter. He does interiors, exteriors and power washing and wallpapering.

Currently he does quoting with pen and paper and sometimes ends up underestimating; not always, but sometimes.

I thought for Christmas this may be helpful to his business. He would not need a huge fancy-pants program as his buiness is a small-2 man company; but enough that he is turning away jobs (imagine!).

Or should I get him a new fancy pen?

I appreciate any imput,Thank you!
 

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there is a program called "national estimator 20XX" it is updated every year. It is rather complex, he will have to know what all is involved with a job, material, cost for material, coats and all that jazz... then enter it and it spits out all that in a "quote".. pretty cool if you know all the measurements and all, and have the patience to figure out the program.

best of luck to you.. you are a thoughful girlfriend :)
 

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Born To Be Mild
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My apologies if this is covered elsewhere. I am looking for a good recommendation for estimating software for my boyfriend who is a professional painter. He does interiors, exteriors and power washing and wallpapering.

Currently he does quoting with pen and paper and sometimes ends up underestimating; not always, but sometimes.

I thought for Christmas this may be helpful to his business. He would not need a huge fancy-pants program as his buiness is a small-2 man company; but enough that he is turning away jobs (imagine!).

Or should I get him a new fancy pen?

I appreciate any imput,Thank you!
Assume he has a computer. If not start there. Then he needs to know his production rates and costs. If not he needs to learn them. Historical data can be tracked some in Quickbooks. That will also help with the billing and taxes at the end of the year. If you have all of that get the free estimating software from Ben Moore.
 

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As others have said, unless he knows his historical production rates, no program will be worth what he pays. I've looked at everything I can find, and they all have good points and bad. No single program is perfect, or will do everything, particularly if you don't know your numbers.

From my perspective, a simple Excel spreadsheet works almost as well as most of the commercially available estimating programs. I say this because, if you know how to use Excel, it can be very flexible and designed to meet your specific needs. I haven't seen a program that is very flexible.

Brian Phillips
 

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I just got a free copy delivered by UPS today of the Benjamin Moore Job Cost Estimator CD (retail value $99). (Definatley make a Cool stocking stuffer!)
I havent installed it yet so cant give an opinion, but I got it by going HERE... filled out a survey and joined the BM Professional Painters Advisory Board. Took less than a week for delivery.


If it helps, here's an article on Paint Estimating Software,
and a list below of all of the ones I've found, not tried any.

Goldenseal for Painting - Goldenseal Painter Software- Estimating, Accounting and More - (Estimating-only version $395, Full version $695)
CPR PaintCOST Estimator for Excel - MS Excel Based Construction Estimating Software - ($75.00)
Devwave Estimate Works Paint pro Estimating Software - Estimate Works™ Painting Estimating Software - ($295.00 - $429.00)
Regsoft Paint Estimator - Paint Estimator - ($208.00)
P.E.P Painters estimating program - Painter's Estimating Program PEP XP Field Estimator - ($249.00)
Cooncreeksoftware Estimate Master - How to use - ($299)
Craftsman 2009 National Painting Cost Estimator - 2009 National Painting Cost Estimator - ($29.99)
 

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Born To Be Mild
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As others have said, unless he knows his historical production rates, no program will be worth what he pays. I've looked at everything I can find, and they all have good points and bad. No single program is perfect, or will do everything, particularly if you don't know your numbers.

From my perspective, a simple Excel spreadsheet works almost as well as most of the commercially available estimating programs. I say this because, if you know how to use Excel, it can be very flexible and designed to meet your specific needs. I haven't seen a program that is very flexible.

Brian Phillips
The Ben Moore setup is really just an Excel spreadsheet.

IMHO it really helped me to understand my costs and how they relate to turning a profit.

I have PEP, but think the combination of Quickbooks and the B/M Job Cost Estimator is better and more accurate. (again, if you have your historical data and production rates)

Of course to plug Brian: The Out of The Bucket System helped me to look at things differently.

PMSPWR: If you want to help your boyfriend build his business, click on this link. Some good stuff there. Business Systems for Painting Contractors
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Wow thank you, all

Thank you everybody! I certainly have my homework cut out for me and I better get started so I can have whatever delivered by Christmas.

Again, thank you!

ps, or I just may stick with the new fancy pen idea...
 

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PinheadsUnite
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From my perspective, a simple Excel spreadsheet works almost as well as most of the commercially available estimating programs. I say this because, if you know how to use Excel, it can be very flexible and designed to meet your specific needs. I haven't seen a program that is very flexible.
Me too.

My spreadsheet can take my raw measurments and materials needed and generate cost figures and finally print out professional looking estimates and invoices.

The formulas are based on my productuion rates that go back 20 - 30 years and are updated frequently.

Excel is great because I do not have to live within the paremeters of what someone elese thinks is important. True, one must know how to use Excel, but that's what makes it "fun"
 

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Danahy,
I would like to know more about how you're using QB Pro for estimating. I use it to type up and send estimates, but the actual estimating is done elsewhere. Do you have all your item costs entered, and then just select qty, type etc? Thanks in advance!

damon
 

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ps. I can put in a plug for the CPR soft program. It's just a set of macros to make excel easier to use, preset productions rates etc, but is very flexible and easy to use. Very inexpensive compared to some of the others. I tried Goldenseal, and while it's a very powerful program, it took a lot of learning curve, and everything was tied together (accounting, job costing, payroll etc) which would be great if you really hit the ground running and got all the data in, but was challenging to get set up, learn, and run a business at the same time. They do have good support though.
 

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Hi Damon,
Been using QB pro since 2000 or so, previous to that I was an excel junkie.

I do have QB fully loaded with item costs for everything. Everything from SQ' prices if I need to price that way, or (which) I prefer Room costs. Every type of surface interior / exterior or room that i have ever painted has been program'd in with a set price (I refer to the set price as a base price, cause i + or - as needed after visual inspection). I buy mostly from 2 sources, so my materials costs are always up-todate.

When choosing materials i have it set up where i can select the products individually which shows my cost (not really a big deal if you consider I typically use usually the same 6 products on every job), and allows me to throw a markup in there also. The printed/email estimate doesn't show that information, it spits out (all one 1 line) as Materials....... $X (no break down shown for materials, cause i like it that way)

Programming each thing takes a min or two, but I add things only as they come up, but once they're in there, u don't have to ever do it again, and editing, making changes cause u realize something should be alittle more or less only takes a few seconds.

For labour, I preprogrammed in a base price for certain rooms, it's literally this easy (I'll use fake numbers).

I type "Dining Rm"... (click tab to next line)

***on the estimate it shows as (if u know QB imagine the alignment being better than my example)

Room: Description Qty: Rate:
Dining Room Prep and paint dining room with 2 coats...etc 1 200

For materials

I type "602" tab... qty "2" tab
I type "mur" tab... qty "1" tab

*** on the estimate it looks like

Materials Description Qty Rate
Paint materials Topline Paint materials req'd 1 150

etc. etc....

Note: I have done alot of customization of the boxes/colours/fields/formats to affect the look of my estimates/invoices. It doesn't look like I bought QB off the shelf, and used the standard templates.

I know u aren't asking for this much, but i'll mention a couple other things about QB incase anyone is curious... and is looking for something to use for thier business..

so the above was for estimates....

Those that know QB's, know u can turn any estimate into an invoice, to print/email etc...which covers the Income portion of your bookkeeping. I'll later on punch in receipts into QB's for my expenses. While doing so, I make sure to select from the drop down box "job/project" to associate what expense was incurred from which job i was working on. Useful if u run a P&L statement to analyse which jobs were makin u money.... When my statements come in (bank/CC), i check see if anything got missed.

GST time comes, I click GST button (which i added on my desktop view), copy numbers from that to the real deal, Done.

Year End comes I click "back up" company file, upload to my server space (my webguy set that up for me, I prefer this, cause if ur house burns down, ur back up's r still online)... My accountant deals with QB's, so he get's his own Login/PW, downloads it on his end, (I manually bring in the few folders) he does his thing, Done.

Note: For anyone who still wants to do some things with Excel, U can export ur estimates to Excel, play with it how u see fit, then import it back in. It's complicated to explain, just know that it can be done.

For me, a small paint contractor, QB's Pro does everything I need.
 

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Just want to add something small here while i'm still thinkin about it.

Because all my prices/costs r already pre enter'd into QB, It simplifies my actual walk thru estimate with the customer. I make little notes, on a scratch pad, little codes that mean things only to me.

Ie.
Din 2w,2df +50,T2g1l

which means;

Dining Rm walls 2 coats, 2 window frames, 2 door sides with frames + $50 for a tricky spot, will take 2 gallon's of topline wall paint, and 1 litre of topline trim paint....

I've also set up a terms/conditions/notes/contract line item with a $0 dollar value,...

I type "notes" (click tab)

and what prints is... my 2 page contract info including a "X_____________" area to sign for the customers near the bottom.

I can walk thru with a customer for 1/2 hr. making 1/2 page of small notes, and pressuming I went straight home, can prepare/email back an accurate 4-5 page estimate in about 10 mins. Generally I'll click the delay send option, cause I told the customer to look for this within the next day or two.
 

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Hi Damon,
Those that know QB's, know u can turn any estimate into an invoice, to print/email etc...which covers the Income portion of your bookkeeping.
I use QB for my estimates but I use a separate excel page that I send to the customer that works well for my residential estimates but I do use QB for my commercial estimates. For my estimates I use all the items as you do to work up my estimate but for the commercial jobs I only send one line item with the scope and description of the work which leaves one price. Converting estimates into and a simplified one item estimate or even an invoice for me I have to create a separate estimate/invoice. When QB converts an estimate into an invoice there is far too much detail to give a customer. Are your estimates and invoices detailed with each item listed or do you condense or summarize it? My problem is when I have to summarize I lose the accounting benefits of tracking items to revenue.
 

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Better Late than Never

I have been in the painting industry for 7 years now, mostly as a Sherwin-Williams Store Manager and Sales Rep. I recently took a position with a Painting contractor. We are members of the PDCA...if you don't know what it is - find out. To go along with that, there is an estimating program called PACER. It is a real treat to work with once you've gone through their "boot camp". It comes preloaded with many different tasks as they relate to different substrates in different conditions. It is not an overly cheap investment @ approximately $2500, but well worth the money if you have the time to invest in the training they will give you along with that. It is one of the most complete products I have seen, and if you need it to do something different that it doesn't already - they'll help you make it work for what you need or change the program to make it work.
 

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I have been in the painting industry for 7 years now, mostly as a Sherwin-Williams Store Manager and Sales Rep. I recently took a position with a Painting contractor. We are members of the PDCA...if you don't know what it is - find out. To go along with that, there is an estimating program called PACER. It is a real treat to work with once you've gone through their "boot camp". It comes preloaded with many different tasks as they relate to different substrates in different conditions. It is not an overly cheap investment @ approximately $2500, but well worth the money if you have the time to invest in the training they will give you along with that. It is one of the most complete products I have seen, and if you need it to do something different that it doesn't already - they'll help you make it work for what you need or change the program to make it work.
Its not worth the investment. I have had it, and don't use it anymore.
 
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