HBXL Building Software for small building firms – meet Sarah

From conversations we’ve had with lots of individuals and couples who have small building firms, Sarah represents a good number of women in the UK construction industry. Whilst enjoying a successful full-time job, she had a baby with her partner Steve. She soon concluded that her career and child care weren’t going to work alongside each other, so instead, started supporting Steve’s building firm in an admin role.

It didn’t take long for her to discover that the hard graft Steve and his subbies were putting into their work, was bringing in little more than a wage. In fact, she concluded that Steve would be better off financially as an employee.

Neither of them wanted that. Steve had put his heart and soul into the business for the past four years. He didn’t want to become another statistic. Something had to change. But what was going wrong?

Sarah watched Steve agonising over estimates late into the night to bring costs down at the request of customers. And he always succeeded. But it was evident that he was helping them and not himself. The savings he made invariably impacted his profit margin. Customers were taking advantage of his good will – and his misplaced view that any work was better than no work.

Maybe Sarah benefited from the fact that she had no pre-conceived idea of what builders quote based on square meterage, or conversations in the pub, or prices that have been in circulation for years. She was all about the facts:

  • Price a job accurately based on the actual cost of materials, plant and labour
  • Add on overheads, wastage, wear and tear – and inflation
  • Plus a realistic profit margin – one that would, over time, give them scope to grow the business and put money into a pension.

Nice idea but pulling it off was easier said than done:

  • Steve was unsure of what the latest material prices actually were – he didn’t have time to keep updating his spreadsheet
  • Neither of them had confidence in their maths abilities to add a percentage for wastage and so on
  • And since Sarah couldn’t read Steve’s mind – where most of the costs and speculative jobs were kept – she didn’t know how she could actually do anything constructive.

They needed help. Sarah joined a WhatsApp group of like-minded women, and soon discovered that EstimatorXpress was the most popular estimating software in the small  building firm community. And basically, they haven’t looked back since they started a cash-flow friendly subscription.

Knowing that EstimatorXpress is going to price the job accurately using the latest material prices gives them the confidence to quote the true worth of the job. And since the estimating takes hours instead of days, if a customer doesn’t like the quote, they have time to go onto the next prospect, and the next. EstimatorXpress has given them the courage of their own convictions.

Have a short online demonstration of EstimatorXpress >>

Sarah might not be a builder, but she can certainly make sense of the dashboard in EstimatorXpress. It’s massively user-friendly. All the reports and analysis appear automatically from the estimates themselves. She can see what jobs are more profitable, where most of the money is going, what quotes need chasing up, when new jobs will be starting etc. etc.

EstimatorXpress dashboard for small building firms

We have an estimating solution for everyone >>

EstimatorXpress has been a game changer. But don’t get me wrong, success wasn’t instant for themand they did lose the odd job because they weren’t ‘cheap’. Yet they held firm. A free 60-minute session with our business mentor Simon Lazarus ensured they didn’t abandon their game plan – and it paid off. Customers liked the detail in the quote. They liked their professionalism. They liked that they were shown a build programme – at the estimating stage. They welcomed the honesty about inflation.

Watch the video on the psychology of quoting >>

The first job that came in was a double-storey extension that was going to take three months. Now Sarah and Steve can’t imagine committing three months of their lives to a job that would leave them with very little to show for it – for no other reason than to have a job on the go…

And the statistic that Steve didn’t want to become?

Last month, Statista reported that in the third quarter of 2020, there were 148,584 construction firms with one employee, and 94,651 with two. I wonder how many there are now?

The Financial Times reported “more than 3,400 smaller UK construction businesses went into administration in the year to April. In April alone, almost 400 went bust, representing a near-50 per cent increase compared with January 2020, before the pandemic.” And that’s according to the Office for National Statistics figures.

You might think that all these statistics aren’t exactly encouraging you to part with your hard-earned cash on construction software. Well it’s exactly because of these statistics, that our estimating software has becoming an increasingly important investment.

Don’t go into reverse in tough times – think bigger – why and how >>

Actually I say ‘investment’ but we’re talking £599+VAT for a 12-month subscription on EstimatorXpress Plus, which I reckon you could easily absorb into the quote for the next job or two? We recommend that every job you quote has a percentage of your annual overheads, anyway.

Sarah and Steve are perfect examples of making accuracy work in your favour. There are still jobs out there. Homeowners who want quality work are still spending their money on quality building firms demonstrating professionalism and transparency. There’s no room for cowboy builders and chancers, but plenty of room for professional businesses.

What next for small building firms?

Give us a call on 0117 916 7898 and we can have a quick chat and set up a short 1-2-1 online demonstration. Or go straight to the booking page on the website.

And then there’s our HBXL Estimating Service for when you’re too busy to estimate building projects yourself and want the support of experienced professionals on an important project. Find out more here.