The adoption of automation software and technology has proven to be immensely beneficial for businesses across a wide range of industries. From boosting accuracy and efficiency to streamlining workflows, the advantages have been substantial.
But when it comes to the M&E industry, how can businesses unlock the potential of automated estimating to achieve their targets and gain a competitive edge?
Jamie, Company Director at Minlec, recently caught up with us to discuss the impact of adopting Countfire into their arsenal of automation technology. We uncover how this move has helped propel their business to new heights, enabling them to hit deadlines with unparalleled efficiency.
Jamie started Minlec over 10 years ago and since then the company has gone from strength to strength, employing a team of 10 core personnel and working with a network of trusted contractors.
The core element of the business lies within the electrical division, which specialises in handling electrical packages and installations. Jamie describes this as the “company’s bread and butter; it’s how we’ve been able to build ourselves into what we’ve become today.”
Minlec also entered into the energy solution division around 2 years ago. This move was motivated in part by the increasing energy costs and the upcoming UK ban on fluorescent lighting from September 2023. Their aim is to assist clients in reaching their sustainability goals and reducing their overall energy costs and consumption.
Introducing automated estimating into the fold
Jamie says he’s always been an advocate for leveraging technology where possible to streamline his workload. He believes that if a task needs to be performed repeatedly, there must be a way to automate it for increased efficiency.
Over the years, Jamie has made significant strides in integrating technology into various aspects of his business. He upgraded his website, adopted the latest accounting software, and implemented job tracking tools. However, there was one crucial area he unintentionally overlooked – estimating.
“All this time, I’d print out every inquiry, get my pack of highlighter pens and count. It was laborious, time consuming and wasteful. It just didn’t click that I could actually automate this as well!”
Jamie first discovered Countfire on LinkedIn after noticing a testimonial posted by an accomplished friend in the estimating industry. This sparked Jamie’s interest as “it got me thinking about how I could also make it work for me. If someone you know recommends a product, you tend to trust it.”
Intrigued by the recommendation and the potential benefits, Jamie decided to give Countfire a shot and signed up to a trial. After a month or so of experiencing the advantages firsthand, he was thoroughly convinced and made the decision to integrate it fully into his business.
Hitting company targets
When asked about what the company has been able to achieve since using Countfire, Jamie immediately responded, “Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines!”
“Previously we just didn’t have enough time to meet client’s demands,” Jamie explains, “so the biggest plus for us since using Countfire is being able to achieve deadlines and keep up with the constant influx of inquiries we have coming in.”
In addition, Countfire has also been instrumental in fueling Minlec’s growth and enabling them to take on larger projects. As the company continues to expand, Jamie’s vision is to handle more tasks in-house to help retain and level up his employee’s skills, and Countfire plays a pivotal role in achieving this goal.
Jamie explains, “we had experiences before where we used external estimators. The problem with this is that it lacked transparency, and we didn’t always know how they worked out their numbers. If a client comes back to us with a question, I then have to try and pick apart how it was done, which isn’t ideal.”
To overcome this, keeping this information in-house became paramount and Jamie says Countfire is the perfect solution, enabling his team to have full control over their estimates. “With Countfire, I can work much more reactively when making any changes, I can cross-reference drawings easily, and I can give clients a breakdown on each individual aspect of the estimate. It’s crucial for us as we can retain the work in the business rather than having to rely on someone else.”
One of the notable benefits of Countfire is the time saved during the early stages of estimating. “Being able to spend less time and resources on this aspect of the job really helps us to keep our costs down and, overall, lowers our risk. This way, it’s not the end of the world if we aren’t successful with every tender. We can focus our time better.”
Jamie also notes another benefit of Countfire is that “it helps keep our pricing accurate despite the constantly changing prices from our wholesalers. This helps to keep us competitive and make sure we’re not accidentally undercharging on items that have gone up in price without us realising. Countfire does it all for you.”
Rapid responses from the support team
Jamie is also impressed with the support from Countfire and says that “everything from the initial sales calls and onboarding with Kieran, through to the support received from Rebecca has been brilliant.”
He particularly appreciates that guidance is often given over a quick Zoom call. He says, “I'm quite a visual person, so to actually see how it’s done makes more sense to me than a block text response and trying to work it out myself. I like that I can see what I'm supposed to do. It's top class.”
Jamie also mentions the speed of responses helps him to stay on track without missing a beat:
“With other software, a lot of the responses are only via email and you’re lucky if you get a response in 24 hours. So you have to park all the work you were doing and come back to it. But with Countfire, I know I’ll get a response within minutes – I just keep it on in the background and soon enough I’ll hear a ping and know I’ll be able to dive back in immediately.”
Closing thoughts from Jamie
To stay ahead in this competitive industry, Jamie’s advice to other estimators is to embrace automation by “putting the highlighter pens down and giving Countfire a go!”
With the increasing demand and tight deadlines, Jamie knows the pressure that estimators face. For those involved in mechanical, electrical, lighting or installation projects, he reckons Countfire offers a massive improvement in workflow efficiency and accuracy.
To see how Countfire can help give your business a competitive edge, start your free 14-day trial now.