First and foremost contractors need to understand that a successful construction estimating department takes a serious commitment and a large investment to operate properly.
Construction estimators are the nucleus of your construction business, greatly impacting it’s success or failure.
Upper echelon estimators are not easy to find and you will need to pay them well. This is an area not to scrimp on. Typically, good estimators are paid at least the same base salary you are paying your best project managers. Don’t get fancy by offering a lower salary, tied in with performance incentives. This short armed approach will not be desirable to a professional estimator and will be counter productive in achieving your goal.
Don’t expect your senior estimator to do anything else, but estimate. Estimators are not hired to be project managers, accounts receivable collectors or marketers.
Make your estimator as comfortable as possible. Provide enough lay-down space, good lighting, file and rack storage for the multitude of plans they will be working on.
By their very nature, senior estimators are extremely detailed people, analytically driven, and require a peaceful environment to maintain the high level of concentration needed to avoid mistakes.
Construction estimating requires accurate record keeping, the filing of contact information, material quotes, subcontractor quotes, etc.; along with tracking the time spent estimating each job. The estimator is expected to disseminate the means and methods used to arrive at the estimate logic for the project build out.
Provide computerized, digital estimating systems to maximize productivity. If possible, coordinate systems that your estimator may prefer or is familiar and comfortable with, for a seamless transition. If you already have a system in place that your estimator has not used, provide the necessary training to minimize the learning curve.
Good Estimating Departments take a large investment from the contractor to perform at high levels and maximizing their return on investment.
For those contractors not ready to commit financially or mentally in developing a top tier estimating department, they should consider hiring a professional estimating company. The key is finding a comfortable fit with a freelance or outsource estimating company to achieve all the benefits of an estimating department without the financial investment required.