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Writing Contractor Bids Online

Discussion in 'Business Applications' started by yankee doodle, Jul 19, 2006.

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  1. yankee doodle

    yankee doodle Thread Starter

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    I used to work for a contractor last year(now I'm on my own), and when he would bid a job he would physically go to the job, look it over and return home. Then he would bring up his bid sheet, fill it in with all the specs of the job and prices, then email it to his customer. I think he was using Outlook Express, whereas I'm using Hotmail. I want to be able to do business that same way, sure streamline's your life, but, I've lost the key to the cluebox!
     
  2. Rockn

    Rockn

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    So what's the difference between using Outlook and Hotmail, it's just email.
     
  3. WendyM

    WendyM Retired Trusted Advisor

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    Hi yankee doodle,
    Is this the same question you were asking about here? From what you've said, it sounds like the contractor had a form set up where he could enter the data. This form was likely not scanned and was likely not part of Outlook Express. My guess is that he used something like Word or Excel to create a form, and then would complete that and attach it to an email to send to the customer. Do you have any examples of emails he sent? Or a way to get in touch with him? And what are you using now for bid forms? Do you just have a hard copy?
     
  4. yankee doodle

    yankee doodle Thread Starter

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    Sorry to say he died 2 months ago, liver cancer. But from what I can tell, he had his bid sheets scanned into puter, filled them out w/pertinent info, then emailed them to the customers. Plus, that info was saved. He went to Jax State to learn all about running a puter. But that's what I want to do, it streamlined his life big time! The less time I have to deal w/the customer, the better! The way gas prices are, I don't want to make multiple visits to the customer. The dog dropped the ball at first base when he stopped to brush his teeth!!!!:D
     
  5. WendyM

    WendyM Retired Trusted Advisor

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    I'm still stuck on the idea that he probably didn't scan them from an original hard copy and fill them in. It would be very difficult to do and probably more trouble than just recreating the forms in an electronic format. Do you have any idea where the forms actually originated from? In other words, is it something that he likely created? Or is it a standardized form that multiple companies use?
     
  6. kiwiguy

    kiwiguy

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    I'm with WendyM on this one.

    Scanning in a bid document, OCR'ing it (running it through an Optical Character Recognition program), correcting the inevitable formatting and spelling issues that arise etc would take an age.

    A simple scan will produce a "picture" but not the ability to enter data onto it easily, or tidily.

    If thety are customer created "bid sheets" they are liekly to be available in soft form (Excel or Word) from the client company. If they are your own "bid sheets" they should be in the same Excel or Word format?
     
  7. WendyM

    WendyM Retired Trusted Advisor

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    It just occurred to me that perhaps he used Word or Excel and then converted them to a pdf, which gives the same appearance as a scanned document and could be the thing that's creating the confusion. Yankee doodle, you said he would go home and input the data. Does that mean that he worked from his home and you worked from yours? So you don't have access to any of his files?
     
  8. yankee doodle

    yankee doodle Thread Starter

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    You're probably right, Wendy. And yes, he worked out of a home office, as do I. No, I can't get access to his files, he died 2 months ago.
     
  9. WendyM

    WendyM Retired Trusted Advisor

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    Unfortunately, without access to his files, I think you're looking at having to recreate the form. That could be really difficult or not very difficult at all, depending on how complex the form is, how exactly it needs to mirror the hard copy you have, etc. As one last thought, do you have a relationship with any of his customers where you could ask one of them if they still have the form from him in an email? If it's a pdf it probably won't be much help, but if it were in something like Excel or Word, it would be extremely helpful to you. Just a thought.
     
  10. yankee doodle

    yankee doodle Thread Starter

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    I know he had both Excel & Word in his programs. Maybe he did create the form himself, but it sure is identical to the hard copy pads I buy from OfficeMax. That's why I assumed he had scanned it.
     
  11. kiwiguy

    kiwiguy

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    Without seeing the form, its possible that any half-decent OCR scanner program may be able to create an Excel or Word version, usually a lot of editing is needed though to get it looking the same.

    Why not create one in Excel, use it as a template. You only have to do it once.

    When emailing the bid in, "print" it using a free PDF creator program so you end up emailing it as a non alterable PDF?
     
  12. yankee doodle

    yankee doodle Thread Starter

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    Thanx for the post, KiwiGuy! I hate to sound stupid, but I have no earthly idea what it is you're telling me. I'm VERY new at this, but I am a good learner.I can follow instructions. I have Word, but not Excel.
     
  13. kiwiguy

    kiwiguy

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    Tou would need to try scanning in a blank bid form, in a scanner. Then the output should be converted to a Word document using "OCR" software ("Textbridge" or "IRIS" are two commonly supplied OCR applications that come with most scanner software)

    That *might* give you a useable Word version of the form. It *might* also give you the best it can (remember we have never seen the form) that takes a few hours of skilled reformatting and editing before its useable.

    Then you use that as a blank template, rename a copy of it for each bid you email in.

    You NEVER email it as a Word document as that would mean that anyone could alter the figures. You convert it to PDF and send it as a readable (but unchangeable) document.

    Obviously your old boss had a template of the bid sheet in Word or Excel.

    As to how you send it, it would not matter. Outlook Express and Outlook are both email programs, as is Hotmail.

    But no business would be considered "professional" by their clients using a Hotmail address, in my opinion!

    If your income relies on a degree of computer skills to survive, I would suggests a few computer courses at a local nightschool would be highly beneficial. You will find that it will be the best thing you could ever do, longer term. The professionalism that is perceived by communication with clients means a lot.
     
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