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How to Create Paint Job Estimates that Maximize Profit

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Painting contractor estimates tips

It's not just about winning the bid. Make sure your painting job estimate maximizes your bottom line.

Being an accurate job estimator is an important part of running a profitable painting business.

You know that your quote must factor in labour costs, material costs, and overhead costs. There are two components that many business owners make the mistake of omitting: your own wage for your time and labour, and a profit margin. You deserve to be paid for your skills and time and to expect a reasonable profit to expand and develop your business.

Benjamin Moore's free Job Cost Estimator tool for contractors will help you calculate an accurate quote based on actual costs and desired profit.

When preparing your paint job estimate, keep these factors in mind:

1. Labour

Labour doesn't just mean what you pay employees. It really means labour hours—the time spent on the job and doing office work—and how much that time is worth. When estimating the total time the job will take, consider as many variables as apply:

  • Area size and the time it will take to accommodate doors, windows and other architectural structures; how many coats of paint are needed; and allowance for drying time between coats.

  • The difficulty of the job or special skills required to get it done.

  • Prep time: Proper preparation is the foundation for every successful job. Save yourself time, money and effort by considering everything that affects your preparation: masking and covering surfaces; moving furniture; any necessary surface treatments such as caulking, sanding, or power washing; obtaining permits; cleanup.

  • Application Method: For example, spraying is faster than using a roller and brush, but you may need extra time to cover adjacent surfaces and objects.

  • Travel time

To save time and money, use a good quality, fast-drying product like Benjamin Moore's Aura® paint. Its quick drying time means fast recoats; and its superb hide means that you never need more than 2 coats, even in the deepest colours.

2. Material Costs

Material costs will include the coatings, tools and supplies needed to do the job.

Use our online Paint Calculator to help determine how much paint to buy.

The right application tools make the job easier. Get high-quality Benjamin Moore paint brushes and roller covers at your local Benjamin Moore retailer.

3. Overhead

Your overhead is the cost of doing business and includes fixed expenses such as utilities, equipment, advertising costs, taxes, and office supplies. It also includes variable expenses, which differ from job to job, such as fuel costs and the purchase or lease of any special equipment needed.

4. Profit

Determine a fair and reasonable profit—typically between 10% and 20% of the total job cost—not just "what's left over."

Lastly, to make sure you're not out-pricing or low-balling yourself, it's always a good idea to find out what other painting contractors in your market area are charging.

A fair, accurate and organized estimate will save you time and money, and will communicate your professionalism to your customers.

Download our free Job Cost Estimator tool and boost your bottom line.

See other business tools and educational resources to help you grow your business.

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