After 35 years in the remodeling business, Terry Quinn was still using a yellow pad and pen to create homemade estimating spreadsheets. But a demonstration of Clear Estimates software by a member of his Business Networks peer group changed that. “It's easy to learn,” says Quinn, who credits the software with helping him increase business because of the detail he's now able to show clients.
Developed over the past 20 years by remodeler Wallace Orfield and his son Nolan, Clear Estimates does only two things: estimating and proposal writing.
“It's amazing how many multimillion dollar companies … are still using pen and paper or Excel spreadsheets, or small companies using ridiculously complicated programs they struggle to learn and are too sophisticated for [them],” says Nolan, an engineer by training.
Clear Estimates, a stand-alone application that does not require additional software, has a detailed database that users can customize easily. The system is divided into categories such as permits, fees, set-up, demolition, rubbish removal, and renovation. Quinn, who owns Almar Building and Remodeling in Hanson, Mass., says he has added his own section for old work “because it's more costly to fish the walls than build new.” He says it took him five or six estimates to customize the software the way he wanted it. Now he can do a $100,000 estimate in about an hour. He can even break it down room by room. And, he says, “the system spits out a typed estimate that's totally awesome.”
Sample reports, screen shots, and the downloadable program with a 30-day free trial period are available online at www.clearestimates.com. The software has a one-time fee of $295.