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Management - Estimating, scheduling and price sheets?

Discussion in 'Sales, Marketing, Pricing Etc.' started by Goatshaver, Nov 30, 2019.

  1. Goatshaver

    Goatshaver Member

    Dec 5, 2018
    Now that I'm transitioning into a regular operating business I'm finding I need a better way to track and schedule jobs.

    I need some direction and tips for organization as I'm not highly organized myself and this is a whole new world learning the business side of thing.

    Right now for estimating I use CreatABid.com. I like it but wish I had a little more control over pricing for things, but it keeps all my estimates together and customers. I use Excel as well to kind of schedule work in for the week but I'm finding it a bit tedious. Just feel like I'm doing stuff twice with that and the estimating site.

    And people are constantly asking for Price Sheets...no printer I've walked into has price sheets especially for piece work like stickers. Is this price sheet a thing others have? I just tell them it's but size and quantity because it's done by sq ft.

  2. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    Nov 11, 2008
    Are you looking for a estimating program that will help you come up with a quote for various signs, or just a program to manage estimates? We used to use EstiMate but found the pricing to be too high for some items and waaaay to low for others, even though we set up the program as best we could.

    We now use QuickBooks to create estimates based on some formulas we have developed over the years, it's good because I can estimate, invoice and collect payment all in 1 program.

    For scheduling, we use Google calendar, with shared calendars. Some people use Trello, depending on your needs.

    As for price sheets, I assume you mean a price list, we have one for a few items such as business cards, yard signs etc. But they are for the product only, design is not included.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. bannertime

    bannertime Very Active Member

    Sep 8, 2016
    There are lots of post here about estimation and job flow software and such.

    But for price sheets. We created "flyers" for standard products like flags, business cards, DOT lettering. Basically anything that comes in a few standard sizes and options. I know the pricing for other items like banners, coro, acm, 080 alum, and such that I just ask for size and tell them verbally or setup an estimate in Quickbooks. I do have some banners hanging up in my shop to show customers a few sizes and price options. I don't have a price list for any of that stuff because I like to be able to raise or lower the price based on the difficulty of the job or customer. It's kind of hard to do when you start showing prices on paper.

    If I could tell my past self anything, it'd be "don't let customers control the order process." Create a system, stick with it, and don't stray from it. At a minimum it should cover quoting/estimating, deposits, proofing, production start/end, shipping/pick-up and payment collection.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Goatshaver

    Goatshaver Member

    Dec 5, 2018
    EstiMate sounds kind of like what I'm using now. (CreateaBid) Can customize it in pretty much every aspect but as far as record keeping I can see it becoming very cumbersome for tracking/archiving management. I can export for QuickBooks from it so I suppose I'd be into using a similar setup to what you're using.

    I didn't know if there was better all-in-one solution for estimating and record management that is affordable. This is all new to me just starting out and not knowing much about the business management side of things. I just like to print stuff! lol
  5. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

    Dec 11, 2017
    So Cal
    "Affordable." What is your range? There are solutions out there, depending.
  6. Z SIGNS

    Z SIGNS Very Active Member

    Feb 14, 2009
    Trenton NJ
    Quick books for the estimates.Sticky notes on a board for all the rest
  7. Andy D

    Andy D Very Active Member

    Oct 20, 2014
    Hattiesburg, MS
    This is my "Old School" production method; Every counter job sheet goes into clear job jacket, along with anything provided by the customer, like business cards or prints & I add the printed out emails they sent me.
    I have applied magnetic strips to the back to the jackets to be able to keep them on my steel production board. Works great for a small shop.
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  8. Jun Lanon

    Jun Lanon Member

    Oct 9, 2018
    I created my own price list and that's what I've been using ever since.. I keep it standard across the board and around the shop. I copy and paste to an email if requested. My workers just looks at it to provide to inquiries. Keep it simple. It would be less of a headache when you come across a potential client who wants to argue about a price.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. ThatGuy

    ThatGuy Member

    Dec 6, 2016
    Hear nor There
    Here is the short & sweet...
    We use a spreadsheet job job numbers. This sheet has job status flags, job numbers, customer & payment information.
    We use trello as a job board. Each job has a "card" which is progressed through a work flow.
    We use Quickbooks for estimate, sales order & invoicing.

    We have used "estimate" software to set pricing of our products. This pricing is put in quickbooks as a product & we even print sheets with the pricing to be used at front counter or when estimating to a customer over the phone.

    We mostly price by the sqft for rough estimates. Pricing is narrowed after job details are fully known.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Chuck7772

    Chuck7772 silverback

    Jul 10, 2018
    Bucks county
    I use invoice ninja for my estimate/quotes and invoicing. I use ashore for all my approvals and work flow. I use use a dry eraser board too. And calendar
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  11. Stacey K

    Stacey K I like making signs

    Jun 20, 2018
    My most recent method is using plastic clipboard job boxes with the job ticket on front and all the other stuff inside. I hung some 4" shelves up and labeled them artwork, production, order materials, out for proof, on order. I put them in order of importance and rearrange as needed. It takes up space but I can see every job at a glance. I also have some pink sticky notes that have a to-do list on them so I can make sure everything I need is ordered, measured, etc. Dry erase board for installs and production that has immediate deadlines. I use Wave for invoices/estimates (free). I print out a job ticket and it gets a job # sticker I ordered off of Amazon. When I order something, I print it out and it gets a PO # sticker and those go on a clipboard until I receive the order in.
  12. Goatshaver

    Goatshaver Member

    Dec 5, 2018
    Not much. Bare minimum really. I'm on guy just starting out in this vinyl printing world.
  13. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

    Dec 11, 2017
    So Cal
    "Not much" is hardly a range. Gotta have something, at least "not much" to "not more than this much." Please try again if you're looking for real solutions.

    In the meantime, can you use this in your Excel?

    Attached Files:

  14. rossmosh

    rossmosh Active Member

    Oct 9, 2014
    New Jersey
    Here's my opinion on the matter.

    Pick a solution you want to go with. Tweak it until it works for you. Some people will find hi-tech solutions to work and others will find paperwork will work. Both have their flaws. Paperwork can get lost in the shuffle. Hi-tech solutions can be cumbersome, especially for those who aren't very technical.

    My quoting/invoicing/banking goes through QB. I'll also do Excel sheets for the estimating when needed.

    The order tracking is all paperwork with cubbies. It has major flaws but it works fine for our shop. If we scaled and had to bring in 2-3 more employees, I'd likely have to change the system to rely more heavily on cloud based solution.
  15. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

    Sep 27, 2010
    For estimating and scheduling, I created a solution that is browser based that I use for that. I have since converted that to an Electron app as the file is stored on the server and that is how it's shared among other computers on the network.

    For estimating, even a spreadsheet based version would work. Doesn't need to be terribly sophisticated, although could get really sophisticated if having the time (Alicia, wife, is able to do wonders with an excel spreadsheet, so it can be quite robust if/when needed) to tweak it to do that.

    It really is going to depend on what type of method fits you the best. More of a digital means of organizing or are you the more traditional analog means of pencil/pen and paper? After you pick one method, at least try to stick with that for some time to get into the habit of using it, especially if you aren't one that is good at organizing to begin with (I know I'm not).
  16. kcollinsdesign

    kcollinsdesign Active Member

    Apr 22, 2007
    Normal, Illinois
    Quickbooks and a manual "tickle file". All paper gets stuffed into a manilla folder, and when the job is done gets filed for reference.

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