Do you think good help is hard to find in this industry?
Don’t worry, you’re probably a great worker or owner. Yet, turnover is still an industry wide issue, even with estimators. So what are some things to look for in finding an estimator?
First, what makes a good estimator? Is it knowing Xactimate or the pricing software you are using? Being the smartest gal/guy in the office? Having OCD? Being rude so they won’t take any crap from any adjusters? Some of those are good traits but each of these traits may have their own issues associated with them. Here are some things to look for:
- A willingness and a capacity to learn
- Experience where it matters
- A critical eye
- A mindset of profitability
- Someone within your team
1. A willingness and a capacity to learn.
This desire isn’t something that can be taught. It can be learned though. A person has to have a drive to learn.
Here are some things to look for:
- If they don’t know the program, how much do they want to learn it?
- Are they willing to learn in their spare time? Not that you will require it… but it does say something about their desire.
- Do they come to you or their manager and ask for assignments that will expand their knowledge base or experience?
Along with this, they have to have the capacity to learn. You don’t need to be a genius to estimate. I did it for many years… if I can do it, anybody can. But you do need to be able to pick up patterns, learn codes, learn or at least know the process of drying (why, what, how, etc) so they can explain it properly in their estimates.
Also, they need to have some capacity to learn and at least be proficient in using a computer.
2. Experience where it matters.
Experience in what though? Experience using a program? Nope… that can be taught. Someone in your office can teach them that. Or you can go to an Xactimate course. Learn Xactimate from the comfort of your desk HERE, or take our next Estimating and Negotiating combo course.
You could also send your estimator to learn from someone that specializes not only in teaching them the program but also how to write profitable estimates. Learn how to write profitable estimates HERE!
Both can absolutely help!
But having experience in drying can make a huge difference. An estimator can draw on their own experiences and knowledge to review technician scopes, other estimator estimates, and assist in sometimes teaching adjusters. Explaining why you did something on a job is one thing, but being able to explain why someone else did something and why it was correct is something else. It would be best if your estimator was IICRC WRT and ASD certified. Knowledge of the s500 is invaluable when estimating.
3. A critical eye.
A critical eye is not an excuse to be a jerk. But being able to look at a job critically and be able to give well-reasoned, but positive comments to help the team can be invaluable. You want the team to function together.
Office staff and field staff have the tendency to be polarized. Put someone in the estimating chair that can understand what the techs are going through, but also know that changes can be beneficial.
Those conversations aren’t always easy, but they are necessary. If your estimator has a critical eye but doesn’t know how to make criticism constructive, there will be issues such as a divide or a need to insert yourself or a manager between the sides.
A good estimator with a balanced, critical eye will never stop finding you money. They will continue to look at every job for missed opportunities to make sure these don’t become patterns.
4. A mindset of trying to be as profitable as possible
Many turn to those who were adjusters in the past or even worked for a TPA. Why? Because they know the estimating program. There is something to that. But in this process, the program is the least important thing.
For many companies, every dollar you make will come across that estimator’s desk. Make sure you put someone there that has the mindset of trying to be as profitable as possible.
Having someone unnecessarily saying things like: “They don’t pay for that” without good reason is bad. It’s almost as bad as having an estimator who is dishonest (not equally… but still bad).
There is nothing wrong with hiring someone who was an adjuster. There are some very real advantages, especially when hiring a former IA (independent adjuster) or PA (public adjuster). But keep in mind that there may be some adjustments/deprogramming that will need to be done when it comes to profitable estimating.
5. Someone within your team
The best way to hire great estimators is by hiring great technicians and then training them to be the best technicians they can be. If you need help with that, Reets TV Streaming is available to assist.
While they are becoming great techs, watch your crew to see who has the above traits.
As you observe your technicians ask yourself:
- Who wants to learn the most?
- Who takes the lead in correcting mistakes and wants to be profitable while they are doing jobs?
- Who keeps asking for new tasks and succeeds as you continue to challenge them?
Mitigation is a weird industry where you have to be smart enough to do calculations and understand how to dry structures but also be willing to shovel crap… Make sure you have goals for your techs including growth within the company.
Many companies don’t have unlimited spots opening up for their techs to move up. But good companies do their best not to lose techs with potential.
Hiring within also improves team building, company culture, employee motivation while lowering hiring cost, onboarding time and improving turnover rates.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for an estimator, look closely at those around you first. If there isn’t anybody that can fill that spot, look in the mirror. Make sure your company is grooming someone for these spots before they even open up. Make sure you’re training techs and building their foundation. Be looking at not just who your employees are now but who they could potentially become. Finally, look to outside sources as an alternate resource.
Learn more from Nick below:
Nick Sharp has worked with Jeremy Reets for over a decade now. He started in carpet cleaning and mitigation before moving to the construction side as a project manager. He then was the senior estimator for Champion Construction for over 8 years. Since its inception in 2015, Nick has been an instructor of our Restoration Estimating & Negotiating course. His most recent venture is as a restoration estimate consultant. Nick is an Xactware Certified Trainer and is also has his Level 3 Certifications in Xact 28 and X1. He’s a bad boy on that sketch but better at finding lost money!