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How to Create Paint Job Estimates that Maximize Profit

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Painting contractor estimates tips

Job cost estimates should be accurate and calculated to yield a reasonable profit.

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 labor 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 labor, 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.

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

1. Labor

Labor doesn't just mean what you pay employees. It really means labor 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

  • 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 two coats, even in the deepest colors.

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 lowballing 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.

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

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