Bidding/estimating software questions and advice
Hello everybody! I’m Chad from Cleaning Shark. I’ve been a lurker on these forums for a long time (under a different user name) and have utilized much of the advice provided by members to grow our cleaning business.
For a little background, I own and manage (with a lot of help from my business partners) a commercial cleaning business in the mid-Atlantic. We have grown substantially since the company’s founding in 2008 and attribute a lot of our success to our bidding process and the internal systems that we have developed to help us estimate jobs, develop proposals, and track and manage these estimates/proposals. At first, we used a very simple system: we always sent of our senior team members (me or my co-owner) out to bid and estimate jobs. But, we found that this method was inefficient as we grew and added sales staff…we needed to institutionalize our processes and procedures for bidding new jobs. The sales staff just didn’t have the intuition and knowledge that my co-owner and I had and weren’t able to effectively bid new jobs.
We eventually evolved to our current internal system which is a web-based application that our sales staff utilizes both in the office and in the field to quickly create an accurate estimate of the expected time and expense associated with a given job. Because it is web-based, the sales staff can log in using their mobile devices (typically and iPad or phone) while onsite and then quickly finalize a proposal from their computer back in the office. After a lengthy internal debate, we recently made the decision to open up our bidding/estimating application to external customers. We are a several months away from the launch of the product as there are lots of improvements to be made before we could ever feel comfortable sharing our product with outsiders.
***Just so I don’t get bombarded with negative comments on bidding software products, I firmly believe that an owner operator or small business owner would not need our product as experienced industry professionals can do their own estimating/bidding relatively quickly with a spreadsheet or calculator. Our application is aimed at growing companies that have hired or plan to hire sales staff to help grow the business beyond a small “mom and pop” operation.
With that said, I’d like to get input/feedback/suggestions from others in the industry and on this forum. As I mentioned, the beta launch of our product is still a ways down the road but, here are a few questions I have for the members of this forum:
1. What are your biggest pain points as it relates to signing up new customers and the bidding/estimating/proposal process?
2. How much time do you spend creating estimates and proposals? Would you be interested in a product that could reduce the time spend on estimates and proposals to 15-20 minutes (outside of the site visit/tour with the customer)? As a reference point, 15-20 minutes is actually higher than our internal average (we’re trying to be conservative) and we (and our customers) believe that our proposals generally provide much greater detail and are more effective, as demonstrated by our high new customer conversion rates, than those of our competition.
3. What products/software do you currently use for your bidding/estimating process? Do you use Excel or another product? Do you pay for your current solution? Do you use solutions from any of our potential competitors (i.e. cleanbid.com/cleanguidepro.com/bidcleangrow.com/etc.)? What are the things you like about your current solution? What are the challenges with your current solution(s)?
4. Do you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see in a web-based bidding/estimating/proposal creation tool?
Thanks so much for your feedback!
FYI…we will be looking for beta users in a few months so please let me know if you are interested. We plan to offer our beta users a substantial discount on the final product in exchange for their suggestions and help as well as for dealing with us while we fix bugs in the initial versions.
Lastly, just so you don’t think I’m crazy and am spamming these boards, I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve posted a similar message on a few other forums that I frequent.