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Once you have set up your budget, your costbook, and become familiar with the basics of creating accounts and opportunities, you are ready to begin building estimates. Kits are not required to build a construction-style estimate, but they will make the process a whole lot easier if you are able to put some together. If you would like to know more, check out our guide on how to build kits.
There are three places from which you are able to create a construction estimate – from the Construction Estimates tab of a customer account, from the Construction Estimates tab of an opportunity, or from the Sales > Construction Estimates menu. Before you are able to create an estimate, you must have both an account and an opportunity in place. If you create a new estimate from the Construction Estimates menu, then you will be prompted to select an opportunity to associate the new estimate with. If one does not exist, you can simply create it right from the opportunity selection screen, set the new opportunity to an “estimating” sales phase, and then hit “Save & Create Construction Estimate”. Make sure you have the appropriate Division selected on the opportunity before creating your new estimate.
Once you have your estimate tied to an opportunity, you will be prompted to select an estimate template. You will not have any estimate templates on a brand new site, so simply select “Blank Estimate” if you have not yet created any templates. To create an estimate template, simply build an estimate that contains all the items you would like to include in the template and then select Actions > Save As Template.
Upon opening a brand new estimate, the first thing you should do is review the general info tab and see if any information should be updated. First, note the estimate name. The estimate name will have the same name as the opportunity by default. You can change this name to something else if you want, keeping in mind that you are able to display the estimate name on the proposal that you print out and send to the client.
Next, look through the rest of the items on the page. The ones on the left do not require any action but are simply for your reference. Under the estimate name, you will see the automatically generated estimate number, which is a unique number that can be used to identify an estimate if you have multiple estimates with similar names. This number is automatically generated based on the estimate number settings found within the Division. Note the opportunity type and division, both of which were set up on the opportunity. The estimate status will be Open on a brand new estimate, and will automatically be set to Closed once you mark it as Won or Lost. The “Estimate is Active” checkbox is used by Manage360 to distinguish archived (old version) estimates from the most recent version of those estimates. When you create a revision of an estimate, the previous version will automatically be archived, which simply means that it is not identified as the most current version. You can still go back and Win an archived estimate. In general, this checkbox should be left alone.
On the right side of the General Info tab, you will see the Estimate Date (defaults to the date you created the estimate – you can change it if you want) and the Expiry Date. The expiry date is automatically calculated based on your Division Settings, but you are free to change it if you like. You have the option of displaying the estimate expiry date on the proposal. “Days to Expiration” can be referenced by the estimator to identify when the estimate has been sitting around for too long. It is good practice to close off any old, unnecessary estimates to prevent your list of estimates from getting cluttered.
Below the expiry date, you will see three available roles: Salesperson, Designer, and Estimator. A salesperson will be automatically assigned based on the salesperson that was assigned to the opportunity, but you can change it if you like. Designer and Estimator are optional roles, but if you assign them then you will be able to do things like run reports which can show you how accurate certain estimators or designers are.
The notes tab has four different sections for notes which will display their contents in different places.
The Opportunity Notes area simply takes the notes that were on the opportunity and display them here, so that the estimate can reference any notes that were taken on the opportunity before the estimate was created.
Proposal Notes are displayed near the top of the proposal, under the estimate name and proposal header, and above the estimate contents. Note that this is a rich text field, so you can format how you would like these notes to be displayed before the proposal is generated.
Crew Instructions will be displayed on the timesheet for the crew to see, so any special instructions related to the work the crew is required to perform should be entered here. You can edit these instructions at any time, and this notes area will be available later on when you have won the estimate and created a job. These notes will be visible on both the paper timesheets and on the timesheets found in the mobile app.
Private notes do not display anywhere else in Manage360 except for right here. This area is for the estimator to write down any notes they would like to reference later, and are usually related specifically to the estimate you are working on.
This is the main tab of the estimate and where most of the work will take place.
In this section, we will learn how to add items to an estimate and organize them in an effective manner that makes sense to the estimator, to the crews keeping track of all the work on their daily timesheets, and to the client when they look at the proposal.
On a brand new estimate, the items tab will initially be empty until you start adding items to it unless you have created the estimate from a template. Click on the Add Items button to begin the process of selecting items from your costbook to bring on to the estimate.
The add items dialogue – use this to browse your costbook for items to add to the estimate
The window that pops up will allow you to browse through your costbook by navigating through the various sections, finding the item(s) you are looking for, and then selecting them so they can be added to the estimate. To find a specific item, first, pick the type of item you are looking for by using the navigation tabs at the top of the window and then use the search or filtering options depending on what is available. The plants and materials sections have more categories to filter by, so you can filter down to a specific item category, division, or supplier. Plants and materials also have a “favorites” list which will filter down to only the items you have added to your favorites. To add an item to your favorites, find that plant or material in the costbook and then select the “is favorite” checkbox on the item and save.
A closer look at the add items dialogue
Once you have found the item you are looking for, you can click on it to select it. You will then be prompted to specify how many units of the item you want to bring in. For non-unit pricing items, you will be prompted the option to specify the cost of the item, and fixed price items will additionally present you with the option to adjust the price. The options you are presented with will depend on the type of item you have selected, and how that item was set up. After choosing an item to add to the estimate, you will then need to specify where on the estimate this item will go. To organize our estimates, we have two tools at our disposal – Work Areas and Kits.
You can choose where to place the item on the estimate as well as edit the item details before adding it to the estimate
Note – clicking on the edit button next to a costbook item will open a window that allows you to permanently edit the costbook item directly. If you want to change any of the item settings temporarily (like cost, price, item name), you can edit the item directly on the estimate while you add the item or after the item has been added to the estimate. Only use the “edit” button if you want to make a change to how the item is set up in the costbook.
Use work areas to break your estimate down into distinct categories or phases. Typical examples of work areas include things like: Front Yard, Back Yard, Garden Bed, Planting, Patio, Pergola, Water Feature, Phase I, Phase II, etc. The purpose of a work area is ultimately to contain related items for a phase or activity on a job and set them apart from the requirements of a separate work area. Work areas can be helpful from the perspective of the estimator so that these different categories are held as distinct and separate – can be helpful for the crews when they are out in the field, so they know what the requirements and allocated time/materials/equipment breakdown is for the activity/work area they are working on – and can also be helpful from the perspective of the client, as their proposal will be broken down into work areas. This allows you to create a proposal that will list the name of each work area along with a nice description of what the work involves, and then presents the client with a pricing breakdown by the work area. The client will then have an idea of how much their new patio costs, how much they are paying for the new plants in their garden, and so on.
When adding an item to a brand new estimate, the only work area available will be labeled “Default” until you create some new work areas (a new estimate may have work areas if you have created the estimate from a saved template). If you are using the default work area, the assumption is that you will not be creating any additional work areas. The default work area is effectively a work area with no name, so instead of separating the estimate into distinct areas like “Front Garden” and “Front Walkway”, you will just be adding items to the estimate without breaking them into sections. This is fine if the job you are doing is very simple and does not have several distinct areas/activities. However, you will likely be using work areas most of the time. If you add items to the “Default” work area, you will have the option of renaming the default work area to something else later. If you would like to use a named work area instead, click on the + button next to the “Work Area” box.
Items on an estimate can be separated by work area. Determine which work area the item belongs to when you add the item to the estimate
You will be prompted to enter a name and notes for this work area. There is also a checkbox called “include in general conditions” – see our section on General Conditions for more information on how this works. This checkbox is generally left on. The work area notes allow you to create a detailed description of the work area, which can be used to communicate to the customer what exactly it is that they are paying for in that work area (as opposed to giving them an itemized list of plants/materials/equipment used). Good work area descriptions make for very effective proposals. These work area notes can also be used to communicate the various tasks to the crew – so these notes can be for the customer, for the crew, or for both depending on how you write them. You can change the work area name and enter notes later on, so don’t worry about getting an amazing description of the work area right away. Once you are satisfied with your work area, hit the Save button to move on.
See the following picture to get a sense of what an estimate with multiple work areas looks like. Note that I have left the first two work areas collapsed, and only expanded the final work area. Expanding/collapsing work areas allow you to easily navigate through a very large estimate.
This section will cover kits specifically with respect to their behavior on an estimate. For information on what kits are and how to build them, please see this section on creating kits.
When you add a kit to an estimate, you will generally be taking one of your premade costbook kits and then adding it to a work area. A work area may then consist of several kits along with your costbook items (items that have been added to a work area without being separated into a specific kit) and your general conditions.
Adding a premade costbook kit to an estimate is simple: simply browse through your kits in the “Add Items to Estimate” window and select the one you are looking for. You will be prompted with how many units of the kit you would like to add along with where on the estimate (which work area) you would like the kit to go. If your kit has lead items, you will also be prompted to select your desired lead item (e.g. type of paving stone, type of mulch, etc.). You can change your selected lead item later by hitting the edit icon that appears when you hover your cursor over the kit name.
You can also edit a kit after it has been added to the estimate. You can delete individual items within the kit if they are not needed by hovering your mouse over the item you wish to delete and selecting the X button that appears to the left of the item name. You can edit the costs and quantities of individual items within the kit. You can even add additional items into the kit by choosing the “kit” option under the advanced drop-down list that appears when you add an item to an estimate.
This is the default place for an item to go. If you are adding an item to an estimate that does not belong to a specific kit, then it will be placed under a subsection within the selected work area called “Costbook Items”. Use this kit if the selected item does not need to be added to one of the kits already on the estimate.
The + button to the right of the kit drop-down list allows you to create a new kit within the selected work area for the purpose of organizing the work area. It is helpful if you think of kits as subsections of a work area. For example, you can have a Front Yard Work Area with a Mulching Kit in it. Let’s say that the mulching kit was a premade costbook kit, meaning that it was made outside of the estimate and that the kit has a production rate that associates a certain amount of mulch and labor to the quantity of the kit. You now want to add some plants and plant installation labor to the Front Yard Work Area. You have a few options for where to put these items – you could place them in the Mulching Kit, but that wouldn’t make much sense. You could place it under the Costbook Items kit, which would make sense, but maybe you want to be a little more specific with how you organize the work area and would like to keep the plants and planting labor separate from everything else in the work area. You can use the + button to add an empty kit to the work area with a name of your choice. In this case, it might make sense to create a “Planting” kit that will contain all of the plants and all of the plant installation labor for the front yard. Doing this will create the kit only on this one estimate, and not save the kit to your costbook. It is purely for the sake of organizing your estimate with more detail.
To create a new kit on the estimate, select the + button, enter your desire name, and then save. Be sure to select the kit from the drop-down list after you create it to ensure that the item is added to the correct area. You can then add additional items to this kit if you like.
Aside from organizing your work area, this feature can be used to present the total price of a group of items. For example, if we choose to display kit names and kit prices on our proposal, the customer will see the Planting Kit and the total price of all items within that kit.
This is a shortcut to the “Add a New Kit” process outlined above. When selected, it will automatically create a new kit on your estimate with the same name as the item you created the kit from. Just as with other kits, you can rename and add/edit/remove items from it later.
Once you have all the basic components of the estimate added you are able to add the general conditions. General conditions are typically things such as travel time, load and unload, daily cleanup, supervision, job offices or dumpsters, and other general job equipment which are not directly added to the estimate but which can be automatically added to your estimate based on the number of days the job will take and the number of workers per crew. Equipment like trucks and bobcats can also be added to the estimate automatically based on the number of days the job will take. These general conditions can then be spread across the estimate automatically so they are evenly distributed across your different work areas. Adding General Conditions to an estimate can be done through the Add General Conditions button in the Estimate Items screen or when you save the estimate. As long as the Costbook items have setup to be included in your list of General Conditions, you will see them in the Add/Edit General Conditions screen, if you have items that are not setup yet, you can set them up by following the instructions in the Setup item as General Condition section in the Costbook.
For more info on general conditions, see this video:
Adding General Conditions to an estimate can be done by the Add General Conditions Button or clicking the Save or Save and Close button, each are outlined below:
Adding General Conditions by the Add General Conditions Button
•Add General Condition: If you need to recover the cost of an item for this one estimate, click Add General Condition button, a window will appear where you can choose to add the item:
The following are not editable:
•Unit Cost can be adjusted if you need to change the Cost of the General Condition Item for this estimate
The General Conditions will be distributed proportionally across all Work Areas according to their price. Any Work areas that have the “include in general conditions” setting unchecked will be ignored.
Adding General Conditions by clicking the Save or Save and Close button
General Conditions can be added to an estimate after creating or editing your estimate and you click Save and Close or Save. The below will occur once you click Save or Save and Close:
If you choose Yes, then the General Condition will be spread across the Work Area’s which have been Included in General Condition checked and based on the default General Condition Settings:
If you choose No, the General Condition will not be spread across the Work Area’s and you will be informed whenever you open this estimate:
Edit General Conditions
If you have already added General Conditions to your estimate and you would like to verify and adjust the General Conditions, please follow the below steps:
When editing payment options for an estimate there are three options available to choose from. These can be selected at the time that you are in the Estimate.
If you select this option there will not be any automatic billing and you will have to create each invoice manually.
If you select milestone billing for your estimate you can create invoices based on milestones that are achieved. You can preset milestones in the Settings tab Payment Schedules section.
Once this is edited and the percentages add up to 100% you can save the changes.
If you select this option, the Invoices will be based on the percentage completion of the job. This can be broken down by work area or across the whole job. This section can be modified after the job has been created or the estimate has been won.