Avoid Distractions During a Sales Pitch

Making a sales pitch (or a presentation in general) is tough. It doesn’t matter if it’s in front of 1 person or a whole room of people, you need to speak clearly, directly, keep a good pace, and most importantly stay focused! Here are a few tips to avoid distractions during a sales pitch.   1. Plan Ahead Plan your presentation based on what you want your customer to know about you, your company, and the work you are presenting. Make and follow an outline! Not sure how to begin an outline? PEP’s Basic eBid template is a great tool to help you navigate a sales pitch.   2. Visual Aids Go into your sales pitch with materials and visual aids to walk through with your customer. These could be digital, like PEP’s eBid presentation, or a slideshow of past-work photos that the client can explore. They could also be physical – a photo album or samples of paint finishes to demonstrate the end result.This will not only help you stay on topic but it also makes your clients feel included in the presentation.   3. Location If possible, choose a location for your sales pitch that is free of distracting noises, people, and things. For example, a busy coffee shop would not be a good choice of places to make a sales pitch.   4. Prepare for Questions Before your presentation, take a moment to think through some  potential questions your customer might have. If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions, make some notes so you can get back to them.   Distractions are...

Estimating Hack: Make a Job Template

  We’ve talked about the importance of implementing process before. Process is teachable; process is consistent; process is a key ingredient in business growth. Whether you care about consistency, speed, or teaching someone to follow your process, this estimating hack can help! PEP doesn’t officially have “Job Templates”, but don’t let that stop you from building some. PEP can help you make a job template that can be copied and used as the foundation for other jobs. TIP: Build blank templates (areas without items) and teach your team how to add items using forms.   In a Nutshell: You’ll make a “Templates” client – to organize your job templates You’ll make jobs for this client – these jobs will be your templates When starting an estimate for a real client, you’ll copy one of the template jobs to kickstart the estimate.  Step 1 – The “Templates” Client: The easiest way to organize your job templates for quick access is to save them at the top of your client list. You can do that by creating a pseudo “templates” client using punctuation or number as the last name (i.e. “Templates . ”). Bonus Tip: If your client list is organized alphabetically by last name, punctuation and numbers show up before the letter A. Click the + sign to make a new client Enter First Name (i.e. Templates) Enter Last Name (i.e. “.”) If your client list is organized alphabetically by last name, this will ensure your templates are at the top of the list  Click SAVE No need to enter contact info because this will be used only as a place...

Make a Form Using Production Rates

In our last post we introduced you to Production Rates and how they make estimating quick and accurate by calculating how long a task will take. Now we’re going to walk through customizing your own form using Production Rates.  A form is list of pre-saved items you can access quickly and easily when building your estimate. PEP has a number of forms ready for you to use, or you can make your own to save materials and notes you use regularly. Forms are made inside of a job so start by selecting a client and a job, then make a new area (enter basic measurements) and get ready to add items (click ADD ITEMS if the window doesn’t automatically pop up). FYI – Everyone can use forms, but only PRO Subscribers can customize forms and make their own.   Step 1: Decide what items/tasks you want on your form and which Production Rates you want to use for each task. Focus on a single area that you regularly work on; a basic interior room for example.  Make a list of all the tasks you regularly do there (what goes into prep, what gets painted, etc).  Explore the Production Rate Library.  Identify which Production Rates you want to use on those tasks.   Things to keep in mind: : You can use the same Rate for multiple tasks. You can use Production Rates for some tasks and hourly lines for other tasks. You can have multiple lines for the same task, just remember that you’ll want to delete one when you’re estimating. For example, you can have a line for Siding...

Understanding Production Rates

We’re going to build  auto-calculating estimating forms, and to do that we need to understand where the information comes from. So we’re here to discuss  Production Rates. Production Rates are used to figure out how long a task will take.  PEP’s Production Rate library contains  hundreds of rates. Each one can be modified. New rates can also be added to the library.  What is a Production Rate? A Production Rate is a record of efficiency – TIME, not money. The Production Rates record how much work can be done in 1 hour. When you’re estimating in PEP, you select the Production Rate, indicate the size of the task, and the program calculates how long it will take. That time is multiplied by your hourly labor rate (including overhead and profit markup) to come up with the price of that task. PEP offers an entire library of Production Rates for you to use in your estimating. You can think of the Production Rate library similarly to a physical library: You have shelves that hold all of the books, and books that contain chapters, and chapters that tell all of the information. Note: You can explore the Production Rate Library by clicking SETTINGS >> PRODUCTION RATES.   How to Navigate PEP’s Production Rate Library: Select the RATE CATEGORY, this is the general task you are working on and the “shelves of a library” (i.e. Sheetrock, Painting). Select the RATE, this is the type of material you’ll be working with- smooth vs. textured- and the “book on a shelf” (i.e. Sheetrock, Smooth). Select the METHOD, how you will be applying the paint-...

How to Make a “Time & Materials” Form

With PEP’s library of production rates, you can make a detailed estimate that calculates time and material based on the surface (sheetrock, smooth trim, rough trim, brick, etc), the method you plan to use (brush, roll, spray), the number of coats, the difficulty level, and the height of the work. But sometimes you just need to record a list of labor hours and materials. This is especially helpful if you come across something you don’t have a production rate for. To help your estimating process go faster, you can make a Time & Materials Form with itemized tasks you frequently do.   Step 1: Decide how you want your T&M estimate to look to clients There are a few ways to go about setting up a Time & Materials form in PEP. The real difference is how it looks when you present to clients in the proposal. Check out the samples below and then jump to steps #2 and 3 for the option you like best. Option A – Simple A list of itemized tasks with one line labeled “materials.” This does not show customers what specific material is being used for each task. Option B – Use Materials from Your Library Shows itemized tasks and specific materials within each line item using the Materials Library. Option C – Note the Material Make a note on each task line to indicate the intended material. Step 2: Begin your estimate Forms are made inside of a job so start by selecting a client and a job, then make a new area and add items. Note: Time & Materials does not...

How to Make and Execute a Project Plan

The warm days of summer are upon us, which means the busy season for many businesses that are anything but lazy! During these months of hectic work loads, you may spot some inefficiencies in your business practice. Projects are how you’ll implement new systems into your business strategy but before doing so, it’s important to develop a project plan. No matter the size of the project, a project plan is your road map to guide you through the process. A project plan is a working document that outlines the direction of a project: the “what” and “how” it will get done. It provides timelines, deliverables, team responsibilities and can be adjusted throughout its course to accommodate unexpected issues.   How Do I Make and Execute a Project Plan? Creating an effective project plan before implementing a new system to your business will ensure greater success in the project and overall business practice. Follow this 7-step process and you will be on your way!   Step 1: Define the Project What do you hope to accomplish? A project may have multiple objectives so be sure to list each one clearly.   Step 2: Discovery and Research This is an important step in your project plan. Some things to consider: How will you go about implementing the project? What tools do you need to complete the project? Who will be responsible for various tasks? How long will each task take? What are the potential risks? How will you measure the project’s success?   Step 3: Verify– Is this worth doing? Think about how the project will enhance your business and if...

Using Notes in PEP

Do you remember taking notes in class with your spiral-bound notebook and ballpoint pen, trying to keep up with the teacher’s lesson? I would ferociously scribble down every word the teacher said and was confused to look up and see other classmates merely jotting down a word or two or, dare I say, not taking notes at all! How will they remember the details? Maybe you’re no longer in school but taking notes is still an important task and can be helpful for the business owner, project manager, crew, and the customer. These notes should be key points you want to remember about your clients and jobs. Enter your notes in PEP to reference later. Because who can remember every detail without a little help?     Recording Notes in PEP There are several ways to add notes in PEP. Some of the notes are just for you in PEP. Other notes will appear on reports you share with your clients and team (eBids, proposals and work orders). Below are a few key places to record different kinds of information. TIP: Notes about the job or estimate will automatically show up on an eBid. If you choose to send your client a proposal, you’ll need to select the medium or high detailed option for notes to be included (or you need to configure your own proposal settings).   Client Notes – Not included in reports These are notes for you to reference about your client, not related to a specific job. Maybe the client has specific likes/dislikes or this might be a record of communication (list of phone call...

Communicating Relevant Information

  Relevant information depends on who you’re talking to.     There’s a lot of overlap in  information that is relevant to clients and relevant to the crew. The areas that are part of the project, the work to be done in each space, the materials and colors: all these details are important for both groups to know. However, a few pieces of information are only relevant to one group. Clients need to know the price of the work. Clients do not need to know the material requirements or the number of man-hours. That is not relevant information. The crew does care about material quantity because they need to make sure they have enough materials. The crew does not need to know how much the client is paying for the project. How to Communicate the Relevant Information   Step 1: Build your estimate in PEP Organize your estimate into areas. Include a picture of the area. Make a list of tasks that will be done in the area and include the material. This is easy if you use a form! (Check out this link for details). When entering your estimate into PEP, there are a lot of details helpful to you as the project manager but not relevant information for your customers (for example: production rate descriptions, which can be confusing). When you convert the estimate into a proposal, your clients will only see what is entered in the NAME column and the PRICE. They never see the production rate DESCRIPTION or the HOURS, which are reference details for you. If you want to change the name of an...

Documenting Business Processes

Whether you are a business owner or an employee, you likely use a number of business processes every day. This means going through the same steps for doing specific tasks (i.e. generating reports, processing invoices, communicating with new leads, etc). Business processes are designed to streamline the way you and your team work. Putting business processes in place and following a set of thought out steps is helpful when training new employees, and will also result in fewer errors, less duplicated work, and overall efficiency and satisfaction for employees and customers. With so many tasks at hand you’ve probably also experienced the results of inefficient processes, which can wreak havoc on a business, its employees and its customers. For that reason, it is important to regularly review business processes and make improvements when they are not working well.   Follow these steps for documenting and reviewing your business processes:   1. Map the process First you have to write everything down. Document each step of the task. A flowchart is helpful for this because it allows you to see the steps visually. It’s important think about the details of each phase and to include every sub task, even the minor ones. You may also want to consult your staff who regularly use the process to make sure nothing is left out.   2. Analyze the process Use your map or flowchart to pinpoint potential problems in the system. Think about these questions: Which steps might cause frustration from employees or customers? Do any steps create a bottleneck and/or delays? Which steps require the most amount of time? Where can...

Setting Goals and Getting Organized for the New Year

The beginning of a new year marks a fresh start. In addition to setting goals for myself for the year ahead, which I prefer over the term “resolutions” that seem to fail after a month or two, I always get the urge to clean and re-organize, purging my house of unnecessary items and bringing back a sense of order after the chaos of the holidays. The same mentality can be applied to your business! Setting goals that are smart and attainable for your business and decluttering your mind and work space are key to being productive. Here are some guidelines we recommend that will help you set goals and get organized in the new year:   Declutter Tidy up your work space by filing papers and archiving digital documents. Throw away unnecessary clutter (mail, magazines, catalogs, etc) and invest in some organizing bins so you always have a place to put things. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is a motto I live by! Starting the year off in a clean, organized space will give you that “fresh start feel” we’re talking about.   Set the bar high (but not too high) Goals should move your business forward but setting realistic goals is critical for success. If your goals are too difficult, you’ll be frustrated when they aren’t met. If they are too easy, your business could go stagnant. To achieve the most, you want to set goals that are high but reachable.   Be specific Setting goals that are specific and in line with the big picture of your business will be more effective than...