Sr. Business Writer
Between powerful new tech tools and soaring construction demand, the role of today’s construction estimator is evolving at a rapid pace. Digital tools are having a big impact on an estimator’s day-to-day life as businesses leave two-dimensional drawings with pencil and paper behind for faster, more accurate estimates.
Just how radically different is estimating today than from a decade or two ago? For a closer look, we asked 30-year construction veteran and On Center customer Jeff Eckes. As acting senior estimator for Premium Millwork (Premium), he is an independent estimator operating mainly in the New York City area.
Every Day is Bid Day
In an interview with On Center featured in Construction Business Owner, Eckes said bid day is less like a single day of the week, but more like a series of rolling deadlines with proposals due daily. He will typically have several computer monitors running, using digital tools to jump from one proposal to the next. If he’s waiting for a price or confirmation from a subcontractor, he can hop between databases to quickly turnaround proposals. For Eckes, this means every day is bid day.
Like most estimators today, Eckes said missing information and getting questions answered are his main obstacles to completing a bid. The good part about using digital tools is that he can easily document any missing information. Also, being able to paste drawings into an email can speed up the process of nailing down missing details.
For Eckes, the transition from paper to digital has been a no-brainer. “Now, I can look at 150 pages of plans and review a proposal in 20 minutes; whereas before, I had to invest the time and expense of printing plans first,” he said.
Keys to Winning on Bid Day
For Eckes, having a polished, professional proposal with a clear and concise executive summary is critical for success. An organized proposal means an organized project. “You can instill confidence in the GC and owner when you show a level of understanding in the bid sheet and scope,” Eckes said.
Having to jump on a call or send repeated emails to track down plan details may be frustrating but being able to deliver on those little details can have a big impact on whether you win on bid day. “Often, you will win the project because GCs know you’re reliable,” he said.
Changing GC-Subcontractor Relationship
While the millwork business is still competitive, Eckes is seeing more collaboration and transparency in the leveling of projects today. Just the cost of finding another millwork shop at the last minute is enough to make GCs more cooperative. Small jobs are often given to subcontractors, whom GCs are helping to develop throughout the project.
Want to read the full Q&A with Eckes? Check out the cover article in Construction Business Owner now to learn more about the give-and-take between estimators and owners.