Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I've found many contractors are simple people and don;t understand these damned computers! I also frequent other forums where I've found some contractors just cant figure out how to use forums like this, but I prefer this layout that vbulletin has.

How would you rate your computer skills? Do you estimate with software or do you use a pencil and paper? Obviously you know how to use the internet if you are reading these forums!
 

·
Flooring Guru
Joined
·
2,794 Posts
We have updated computers and internet connection at our desks. We use CDMS for estimating bids, but it all starts with a tape measure and a pencil.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,606 Posts
I'd rate myself at about a 9 out of 10. But I agree with you Grumpy, most contractors are not up to speed on technology.
Thats one of the reasons I added this "Computer / Technical Help" section to the website. You can make your business much more prodcutive if you use technology to your advantage.
Printing out a professional looking estimate instead of a hand written one is an easy way to let the customer know that you are a professional who has his act together.

What system do you use Grumpy?

-Nathan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I developed a custom macro system in MS Word which we outgrew after a few weeks. It was a quick fix to the system we used to have which was repetitively type everything over and over again in MS Works. Thank god I took over that part of the business.

I've been trying hard to convince my boss to go what I call mainframe. I want to come up with one central database to store all customer data, and I can do it given enough time. He's against it because he doesn't understand it. He just took a class to learn how to type.

I rate myself a 9 on a 10 scale in computer knowledge and I am the kind of guy always looking to upgrade and stream line. I was a part time web deisgner from 98-02 while doing this contracting full time.
 

·
General Contractor
Joined
·
1,035 Posts
About a 9 out of 10. Standard windows stuff is a breeze. Got into programming dynamic websites and graphics after I got a quote for someone to do one for me. I like to build about anything - furniture, homes, convention centers, websites...etc. I can troubleshoot most stuff on a computer - if I can touch it anyway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
178 Posts
hatchet said:
About a 9 out of 10. Standard windows stuff is a breeze. Got into programming dynamic websites and graphics after I got a quote for someone to do one for me. I like to build about anything - furniture, homes, convention centers, websites...etc. I can troubleshoot most stuff on a computer - if I can touch it anyway.
The first twenty or so years of my working life were in information systems, definition, design, development, and deployment. Towards the latter part, much of my time was spent working with business owners and their staff to show them how to use information to run their business. One common observation was that those who know how to use information properly were usually the dominant players in their area. They reached more customers, had faster responses, better margins and higher quality. Interacting with the computer is at the level of knowing how to fire a gun. Above that basic skill is the tactical level (Customer data bases and contact lists, computerized estimates, stardard form letters, automated fax responses, voice mail, e-mail, etc.), that allow quick reaction and low cost of operation, and above that is the strategic level (Lead management, web sites, financial monitoring systems, competitor database, etc.) that allow the business to position itself in the market, and navigate the changing business environment.

Think about the most feared competitors in any field, and a good information handling system is usually part of the domination. Think about Wal-mart and their to-the-minute inventory and sales tracking system, GE and their project management methodology, IBM and their client managment methods. On smaller scales, I've been in well-organized lawyer offices where a small team of 4-5 lawyers handle the work of much larger firms, and architectural firms which outbid and outmanage much larger companies.

One of the businesses I own manufactures roofing products which we sell to dealers, installers, and similar companies. Since I'm interested in selling more product, I try to understand how my customers run their business and how we can help them be more effective. The dealers that are moving ahead and growing have built good reputations by hard work and delivery of quality results, and are leveraging this by hiring people to carry on the system, while, the owners focus on managing the business. Extracting yourself from the "doing" and being able to manage requires a good information system, which in turn requires you to think hard about what's really important in the business, and how to capture that information without creating a bureaucratic nightmare. Then, the system must be put into place, everyone who uses it must be trained to use it effectively, and finally, the management/owners must be consistent in working with it. It's a lot of work, but what you're doing is setting up a production line, in which customer interest is going in one end, and money coming out the other.

So, those of you who have started the process, keep it up. You've got a powerful weapon that the contractors who don't understand computers just don't have.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,573 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
pgriz said:
So, those of you who have started the process, keep it up. You've got a powerful weapon that the contractors who don't understand computers just don't have.
Contractors who don't understand computers remain subs... in my observations. If you don;t understand computers you hire someone who does to run your offices.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Computer rating

I estimate using an excel spreadsheet. Draft using Floorplan, a simple program. Quickbooks for accounting. The answering machine is on the computer. Design and web master two web sites. I have been able to set up and troubleshoot most tasks by exploring tech forums. Oh, and still swing the hammer 8 hours a day. So much for technology making life easier!:no:
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
41 Posts
I'm probably a 9. I estimate using Excel and dynamically link the data with dcom into Access and then into Word for the proposals. I can create pivot tables in Excel and do mail merge in Access.

I also configure routers, switches and firewalls in my work.

But these skills are just confined to Windows, I really need work in Linux.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
88 Posts
No Trifecta

i suppose im an 8? Theres nothing in windows that I cant deal with, same goes for mac, though i prefer pc. I really need to learn linux like w6ire mentioned as it seems thats the only thing im missing. I use the ol pencil and paper to get things started, but I almost work entirely digital as much as possible after that. Save on office supplies like nobody's business. I got this one program with my laptop, MS OneNote. Its like a digital binder so to speak and it makes keeping things central easy. too easy. im expecting it to blow up any day now...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,449 Posts
I'll go for the 10.. Computers have unfortunately been a big part of my life for the last 25 years. Everything from building, selling, programming and fixing. I'm a big BSD Unix guy and I'll touch Linux if I have to.

My last actual full time employment was as a Project Manager for a US based hardware company where I specialized in evaluating the 'innovative' crap that was coming out of China. But they shut our location off just over a year ago.

I'm glad to be out of the office and into the field now installing technology in peoples houses. Much more satisfying than banging my head up against the wall of bonehead Product Managers and budget cutting CEOs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
262 Posts
Heh, I'm a recovering IT guy so I'd rate about a 7. Started out as a child, using a Vic-20 in the early 1980's. My parents bought a tape drive and an acoustic modem. I poked around the public areas of a few Gov't and University bulletin boards, used Gopher a little but never really got to know Archie & Veronica. We stepped up to a Commodore 64 about 2 years later and eventually got the $300 external floppy drive.

While I've done a little bit of a lot of different things, my specialty was putting web based front ends on databases. I know enough to build a message board system, but it would take a year for one person to add all the features we take for granted. Ahh, good ol' LAMP - Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.

Sometimes I miss it, but the feeling usually goes away after about 5 minutes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,449 Posts
While I've done a little bit of a lot of different things, my specialty was putting web based front ends on databases. Ahh, good ol' LAMP - Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.
Heh, for me it's FreeBSD, Apache, MySQL and Perl :) I've moved more into PHP these days since I can do some quick and dirty integration with my websites that way. Perl handles a significant amount of my backend processing for my old picture databases.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,471 Posts
I'm guessing myself as a 5 on common programs. I'm much more comfortable with CAD/CAM programs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,169 Posts
I'm a decent end user.
if something gets screwy hardware or software, I hire a pro nerd to come fix it.

ray
 

·
Professional Remodeler
Joined
·
2,289 Posts
9/10 for PC's - - - 5/10 for Macs

Started out in the early 1980's with Cordata systems, went through 8088's through PS-I and PS-II's, 386's 486's Pentiums, etc. Ahhhh, the good old days of DOS and Windows 2.0...

The last 8 or so I built myself, the last 3 or 4 have been quick and easy since plug & play has been more refined. It takes assembly and intigration from hours to usually less than one.

Remember when PS-II's came out with an unheardof 30 megs of storage? Everyone said you will never fill the drive up. Now my accounting program takes 3 times that amount.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top