Grab your pad and pen and dig out your calculator. Providing accurate estimates for electrical projects can be tricky. But you can make it a lot easier by automating your processes with field service management software for small businesses. But how do you choose? Get insights on selecting the right field service management software for your small business with our seven essential features.
How do you estimate an electrical project?
Manual processes are so last century. When electrical businesses can streamline estimates, life gets a whole lot easier. After all, software goes a long way toward producing accurate and consistent bids, pricing to build profit, and making jobs more efficient.
The problem is, shopping for electrical estimating software isn’t like going into a convenience store—you can’t just grab and go. Instead, look for these key features so it works for you:
1. Estimation and bidding
Time to state the obvious: Your electrical estimating software should be able to generate estimates. But beyond this is how it does this. Look for software that ensures accuracy with various features. This might include color-coding electronic blueprints to distinguish different materials, having the capability to perform what-if analyses, and sharing estimates with clients. It should have estimate/bid management features that are robust enough to help you keep everything organized from beginning to end.
2. Item and cost database
Can you stay competitive? The only way to do that is to know what other providers are doing. That’s why the best field service management software for small businesses gives you an item and cost database. With it, you can access real-time prices via software to match material prices across distributors. And when you can do that, you improve your bids, materials costs, and proposals, helping you secure more jobs.
3. Quantity takeoff
Struggling with data? Look for software that clears away the cobwebs. Effective estimating software should be able to count symbols, measure distances, color-code measurement calculations, use algorithms to calculate areas, and create takeoff reports. These features work to improve your accuracy, speed up takeoff, and help avoid the need for recalculations.
Your assemblies impact estimation too. But with the right software, you should be able to refer to various assemblies to speed up the estimating process. Be on the lookout for software that provides the capability to calculate groups of materials instead of just individual ones—it’ll make life a little easier.
5. National Electric Code (NEC) tables
Safety can’t be a second-class citizen. That’s why you need software that ensures the safe installation of electrical equipment and wiring. The one you choose should include NEC tables to present conduit, conductor, and cable properties, ultimately informing accurate calculations and improving safety.
Technicians quickly get exhausted hustling from job to job, but field service management software for small businesses can keep the madness to a minimum. Look at options with scheduling modules so you get visibility into workloads. Assign technicians to jobs accurately and fairly, avoiding over- and underscheduling to improve productivity.
7. Dashboard and reporting
Enough with the paper already. If you’re ready to ditch manual, physical files and records, pick a real-time software platform with dashboard and reporting features. This allows you to analyze data, generate reports, and share information across the organization.
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Grow & Run a Successful Electrical Business
What strategies can you use to compare software?
Bells, whistles, and even a whole orchestra are big motivators for choosing the best electrical estimating software, but there’s so much more to consider. Several strategies contribute to the larger whole. Do your homework ahead of time and ask providers questions about how their solution meets your needs.
Consider what could happen if your electrical contractor estimating software was more than a little off. Accuracy enables your technicians to do their jobs right the first time and makes costs clear for customers. Inaccurate estimates are like a gut punch to customer satisfaction. Accounting for it will help you avoid the sting of a poor reputation.
Sure, it might be nice for your software to be able to juggle and jump through hula hoops, but that doesn’t mean it needs to. On the other hand, some features are nonnegotiable. Compare your wish list or requirements checklist to what various options actually provide. One may even stand out because it has something the others don’t, like helpful integrations.
Like it or not, money talks—and saving it is a sweet perk. So, what will field service management software for a small business actually cost? You need to look at how providers offer their software to manage your budget:
- Can your top contender accommodate your organization’s size?
- Is the software provided as a one-time investment or a recurring subscription?
If you need a tiebreaker, think about the bang for your buck. A platform that includes support and training doesn’t leave you hanging, offering added tools for success as part of your investment.
Getting the best of everything won’t matter one lick if adopting a new solution is going to drive your team nuts. Onboarding should be relatively seamless so that you can take advantage of the software’s benefits. Put user-friendly platforms with streamlined user interfaces at the top of your list. These provide an advantage right out of the gate by making the software more accessible and adoption easier. Find out if the system requires training—and whether an implementation team will offer that to get you up and running quickly.
Spark your electrical business with the best software solution.
Choosing the right field service management software for your small business isn’t a science, but it can’t be random either. Think long and hard about the features you need most—from reliable estimates all the way to quantity takeoff and reporting—to get it right.
Still comparing your options? We would love the help! Explore our interactive infographic to see why Service Fusion’s field service management software for small businesses is different.