What Makes a Good Estimator?

Whenever I speak to a great estimator, I always ask, “how did you learn to estimate?” The answers always vary, but at the core of everyone’s response is, “I learned it the good ole fashion way of trial by fire.” 

The restoration industry is notoriously bad at training, and it’s not any one person’s fault. Most restoration companies are small businesses with less than 50 employees which means everyone is busy, margins are tight, and the resources to put employees through months of proper training is not usually an option. That means we have to learn a lot on the job. 

I believe we often underestimate how much knowledge goes into being a great estimator. Here is a quick list of what every good estimator must know - 

  1. Construction knowledge, including in-depth information on building materials and what can be salvaged or reused. There are also geographical and building type considerations.
  2. IICRC standards
  3.  Insurance Policy guidelines
  4. Managed repair program expectations
  5. Local Building Code
  6. Xactimate Software / Symbility software proficiency which includes sketching and memorizing 50,000+ line items
  7. Multiple software and technologies to document jobs and capture field notes.
  8. Time in the industry/experience.

The best estimators have spent years, if not decades gaining knowledge and fine-tuning their estimating skills. Unfortunately, not many people have the persistence needed to acquire all that knowledge, so they leave before ever getting great. As a result, less talented estimators mean fewer people are learning from them, which is why we see that the next generation of estimators is typically worse than the previous generation.

There are many ways to overcome this problem, but there are no shortcuts. The ultimate answer is training and development. Look for ways to plug in continual formal training, quality assurance development, peer reviews, etc. That process will work, but it’s long. 

To bridge the gap, technology must be leveraged to increase the capacity of top estimators. With the correct workflows, technology should increase the amount of estimating work top estimators can do between 3-10X.  

At WeScope, we look to optimize estimating workflows and leverage technology to maximize estimating quality while minimizing the cost and time to achieve those results.  We can recruit the top estimators in the industry by offering a 100% remote environment and their dream job:  just estimate, that's all.  We then empower that elite talent with custom software, resulting in the industry's highest quality estimate value per estimator output.  When we partner that power with our clients, who are expert project managers in their local markets, the results far exceed industry averages.  Our clients leverage our services to do some of the following:  rank top 10 in their region on TPA metrics, achieve sustainable gross margin increases, and increase project manager capacity by 25-40%.

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