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Archive for the ‘Money and Time Saving Tips and Tools’ Category

Service Management – Building long-term customer relationships

Your customers are the life-blood of your business.  And they expect a lot from you.  From the minute they call-in to schedule an appointment….right up to the end of the job, they are evaluating your performance and deciding whether they’ll do business with you in the future. 

Service Management software is helping Electrical Contractors, Plumbing Contractors and HVAC & Mechanical Contractors build long-term relationships with their customers.  Key elements of a service manager program include customer history records, scheduling & dispatching service techs, flat rate billing and planned maintenance contracts.  Put these pieces in play and you’ll keep your customers happy for a lifetime.

Estimators Take-off with Industry specific tools

In today’s new economy, Electrical contractor estimators, Plumbing contractor estimators and Mechanical/HVAC Contractor estimators are having to bid an ever increasing volume of jobs in order win their share of new business. 

When you increase an estimator’s work load, the chances of mistakes happening can increase.  Last minute quoted items, specification changes, price changes, shortened deadlines – all of these can play havoc on the integrity and accuracy of the final bid price. 

Improved accuracy

To improve on accuracy, the estimator can now work with industry specific estimating software that interfaces with a take-off device.  As the estimator rolls the take-off device over the blueprint, the counts and lengths are being captured and transferred onto the take-off software screen.   There’s little chance for error as the take-off device and the software work together, calculating each material quantity, cost, price and man hours.    

Cuts the estimating time by 50%

And oh yes, with a take-off device and the right Electrical Contractor estimating software or Plumbing Contractor estimating software program, the estimator will complete his take-off work in half time that was spent doing it manually.

To learn more about some of the features and advantages of our estimator, please email or call COBRA today. 1-800-466-2507

Auto Reminders – Set it and Forget it!

“It’s a whirlwind out there”, one busy Electrical Contractor said the other day.  “With all of the jobs and activities related to each job, I sometimes forget about important tasks that need my attention”. 

Not only is this a problem for Electrical Contractors, but other Contractors too…Mechanical Contractors, Plumbing Contractors, HVAC Contractors, and Low Voltage Contractors. 

With so many job responsibilities to keep track of, Permit due dates, Pending Proposals, RFI’s, Submittals,  Pending Change Orders , Purchase Order delivery dates, it’s easy to see how tasks and deadlines are often missed or overlooked entirely. 

A simple solution is to use auto remindersbuilt-in alerts that are embedded throughout contractors accounting software and project management software.  Whenever you feel a task that you’re working on warrants a reminder in the future, simply click a reminder date…set it and forget it! 

Auto reminders not only remind you about the task and when it’s due, they also organize your tasks in a pop up window including all the details behind each task.  You won’t have to re-enter dates and task information into other calendar programs such as Outlook and Google anymore. 

And just in case you’re totally hooked on using outside calendar programs, that’s ok too because auto reminders talks to Outlook and Google…so the tasks you’ve been doing in your Contractor Accounting Software or Project Management software can automatically be sent to anyone using Outlook or Google for auto reminding!

Visit our FAQ page for more information.

Reveal Your Job Cost and Maximize Job Margin

When you ask a Plumbing Contractor, Electrical Contractor or HVAC Contractor how much money they made on their last job, most can’t give you an answer. And it doesn’t matter what type of job….a service call, long-term project, bid/not to exceed, time and material job, change order, etc.

The problem is…

Contractors don’t know their costs. A plumbing contractor recently told me, “I’ve been in business 20+ years and I’ve never been able to effectively Job Cost. We tried it several times, it didn’t work, so we gave up”.

Automatic Job Costing

So why don’t specialty contractors, including Low Voltage Contractors and Mechanical Contractors make a concerted effort towards job cost?    Most don’t have the time or resources to cost out each job.  And paying people to work on spreadsheets or doing the work by hand is not efficient.  The answer is to let the software do the work for you – read more on our job cost feature.

Profit Preview

One tool in particular, Profit Preview gives the Contractor a detailed list of all costs & profits for each material, labor, sub-contractor, and direct item before a billing takes place. With Profit Preview, the contractor can easily spot forgotten items, incorrect material quantities, incorrect man hours…and make the adjustments prior to billing. And this can make all the difference between a healthy job margin and one that isn’t.

“If you aren’t job costing…

you’re operating in the dark and either charging too much (which your customer’s don’t appreciate) or too little (which lowers your profitability)”. – Deb Perry, Perry Heating, Plumbing and Electric.

Newer, custom designed job cost tools like The Profit Preview are only available in software designed exclusively for Electrical Contractors, Plumbing Contractors, HVAC Contractors, Mechanical Contractors and Low Voltage Contractors. The only question is… when will you start you using them?

Learn more about how COBRA can help your business stay on track and on top of their job cost. Email or call 1-800-466-2507.

Contractors face uphill battle over tax audits

With states strapped for cash, Contractors are increasingly being audited by state tax collectors.  In particular, Electrical Contractors, Plumbing Contractors and HVAC Contractors seem to be prime targets.   

The complexities of a tax audit can be overwhelming.  To help offset the time and expense of an audit, Contractors are relying more and more on Contractor Accounting software that specialize in tax tracking and reporting.  

Specialty designed reports such as taxes billed and taxes collected include the detail auditors are looking for – invoices broken out by labor, material, and direct charges per taxing authority (state, county, city). 

Specialty tax reports not only save a Contractor mountains of preparation time, they’re also extremely accurate and reliable – and that’s a good thing to have on your side when sitting next to an auditor.

If you have specific questions regarding the kind of report you could customize, please call or email COBRA and we will be happy to answer your questions. 1-800-466-2507.

When does a .10¢ item cost you $10.00?

How many times a day do you call your supplier for up to date pricing?

 If the answer is more than once, well, then that is one time too many.

This holds up your bidding process, your real time job costing and slows down Time and Material invoicing.

Now you begin to understand the importance of an automated Price Update Service. 

 COBRA Contracting Software has set the industry standard by creating automated Supplier Update Services with your Suppliers. Thus, giving you up to the minute pricing, accurate Time and Material Billings, and Bids you can have confidence in.

The time you spend spinning your wheels is actually inflating the cost of your item and ultimately affecting your bottom line. Let COBRA’s Supplier Price Update Services take the time and hassle out of keeping prices up to date.