H&R Electric Inc.
Find Success Fast with Electrical Estimating Software
Like many electrical contractors at small shops, Jake Hepfler was still doing everything manually. This included the entire estimating process for every project. But, as the business grew, he knew he could be much more efficient and save a lot of time with a good software program.
“In the last three years, we went from a 3-man shop to 17,” says Hepfler, owner and president of H&R Electric Inc. “That’s why we started looking at estimating software. We had to find work and be competitive.”
H&R Electric, based in Chippewa Falls WI, specializes in the complete installation of electrical services and also routine maintenance to existing electrical systems for commercial, industrial and residential clients.
“We’re a small shop that has expanded,” states Hepfler, a Licensed Master Electrician. “We have some really good accounts that keep us busy. We do all of their work, whether it’s service work, new installation, equipment, additions, it doesn’t matter, we take care of them. And, as we got busier, we had to hire more guys and it escalated from there.”
Since he had never used any type of electrical bidding software, Hepfler did his homework and looked at many different programs over the course of several weeks. Then, eleven months ago, he watched a video about Electrical Bid Manager (EBM) and did a one-on-one demo where he was walked through the program. Before the demo was over, Hepfler knew this was the right software for him, and he purchased two licenses of EBM Plus.
Why Choose Electrical Bid Manager?
“I purchased EBM to be more efficient and track jobs,” Hepfler says. “I wanted accurate reports of what each job is actually costing us and what we’re making for profit. I also wanted to find out if there were certain areas where we could be more competitive. Mainly, I wanted EBM to help us bid against the other contractors and be efficient at it. And it’s accomplished all of this for us and much more. Now, instead of having to take a whole week to do a $40,000 job we can do it in a very short period of time.”
Prior to purchasing EBM, Hepfler did everything longhand. So, he states that his time savings is at least 80 percent.
“None of us ever went to school for electrical estimating,” says Hepfler. “We weren’t estimators, just field electricians. Years ago, I did take a very basic estimating class, got the Manual of Labor Units and learned how to itemize everything out on a spreadsheet. But, EBM is a heck of a lot easier and quicker. It saves us so much time and money.”
When he first started playing with EBM, Hepfler admits that it was a little overwhelming since he had never used any type of estimating software. So, he and Ryan Shaurette, the Project Manager for H&R Electric, had a 90-minute one-on-one session with Brian Hoffelder of Vision InfoSoft. Hoffelder has more than 25 years of training and consulting with thousands of contractors of all sizes and specialties to assess their capabilities, proficiency and needs in estimating.
In less than 1-1/2 hours, they walked through how the software is meant to be used and they actually estimated two $40,000+ jobs. Hepfler didn’t get either job. He says a contractor was desperate and came in way too low. But, in a different scenario, he’s confident he would have gotten both jobs because his bids were good.
“With Brian’s help, everything made sense to us by the end of the session and we got very comfortable with the software,” states Hepfler. “The time we spent with him helped us tremendously to learn the program and understand how efficient it can be. All of Vision InfoSoft’s online classes and training programs are very helpful.”
When Tech Support Matters
As someone new to the world of estimating and estimating software, Hepfler also relies on Vision InfoSoft’s in-house support team. “I cannot praise their support enough,” he states. “Whenever I get stumped on something or something is not doing what I think it should be doing, I call support. I either get ahold of somebody immediately or they call me right back so I’m not wasting a whole day waiting around. This is the biggest thing for me.”
Hepfler comments that when someone is in the process of buying a product, the seller usually answers right away and is extremely obliging. But, once they purchase the product they never know if they’re now just stuck with it. However, Hepfler says Vision InfoSoft’s support is very helpful and not like that at all.
“I use EBM a few times per week, primarily for accounts that are looking for budget pricing or an estimate on different things they want to do,” Hepfler says. “But, Ryan is on it every day and has been using it a lot more than me. He’s out on the market picking up jobs and taking them on. He’s been extremely comfortable with it right from the beginning and does a very, very good job with it.”
Within days of learning how to use the software, Shaurette bid three jobs with EBM and got all three, which made Hepfler extremely nervous. “Even though the jobs aren’t yet completed, and one of Ryan’s bids was nearly 30 percent lower than the next contractor, we’re going to do just fine on it,” says Hepfler. “The other two bids were just underneath the next lowest contractor. We were right in there, and I felt very good about that.”
Electrical Pricing Data and Electrical Plan Takeoff
To help keep his prices current and immediately available in EBM, Hepfler purchased EPIC electrical pricing service. EPIC has instant, realistic pricing and descriptions on over 2 million electrical items, including rarely used items, common items and even newer items like solar LEDs. He also purchased PlanSwift, which is an electrical plan takeoff software tool that integrates with EBM and enables all the benefits of using electronic plans. Hepfler is very happy with both programs, and says they are extremely handy tools.
“The hardest part for us when we started using EBM was overthinking what we were looking at,” Hepfler says. “After all those years in the field when you’re running the project or doing the work, you tend to sometimes overthink. When you look at a plan you try to build it, rather than just letting the software do its thing.”
Since purchasing EBM, H&R Electric has won numerous bids with it. While there are a lot of electrical contractors in his area and three main contractors, Hepfler says he’s always right in there with them, and usually just under.
“It’s amazing how fast a contractor, with no electrical estimating software experience, can find success with EBM,” states Hepfler. “I believe there are a lot of contractors out there who can greatly benefit from using it. They just need to give it a try.”