Building a Future for Distributors and Dealers of Building Products
January/February 2006 Volume 45, Issue 1
The Window Guy A
The Insanity of Bidding Online
by R. Mark Reasbeck
This is my third year writing a column for the January/ February issue of SHELTER. I’ve had marriages with fewer anniversaries, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. As expected, I’m not going to go into detail on setting goals for the New Year or give you advice on resolutions you won’t keep. You can get those down the street. We’re going to jump right into the heart of what’s buggin’ me.
Please Enter Your Password
As a window distributor, the heartbeat of the business is getting bids into the builder’s hands. Your success on closing is strictly a numbers game. I don’t have to tell you that if you bid 20 jobs and your rate of closing bids is 25 percent, you’ll get—well you’ll get—some new jobs.
I know in other parts of the country, job leads are developed differently. In my business, we’ve stayed out of the Yellow Pages because we aren’t soliciting walk-in or telephone trade.
The builders we service are large master plan/tract developers, and they don’t seek out subcontractors; we have to go find them. Just up the road in St. George, Utah, you need a full-scale showroom because the homebuyer has more “say so” in the bidding process.
How do we produce our bids? Answer: the old fashioned, tried-and-true way. We pick up a set of blueprints at the builder’s office, bring them back, open them up, count windows, make a list, price it and submit our bid.
Well that little simple process is about to change in the Cyber World of Blueprints.
Forgot Your Password?
A couple of months ago, I got a call from a builder to see if we were interested in bidding a new project. Sure, you bet I was, but she said there were no blueprints available, except online. O.K., first the builders created a new “mini-size” blueprint (the size of a grade school assignment pad), that is impossible to read, and now they want us to go to a 17-inch computer monitor to view a complete house?
I know some of you are thinking, “You old dinosaur, get into the 21st century.”
In my defense, I can’t guarantee a correct window take-off if I have to rely on the “click” method. As mentioned in previous articles, I have always promoted myself as a ‘fenestration consultant,’ not just a window peddler.
By using a color-code system, and having an arsenal of rubber stamps with code explanations, when I’m finished with a set of blueprints, all of the errors have been noted, codes are corrected and suggestions are even passed along with small drawings. I can see it now, after doing Cyber Prints, my monitor will be coated with yellow, orange and pink highlighter ink.
You Really Can’t Remember Your Password?
The nice young lady invited me into her office to show me how “easy” it was. That little mouse was getting a workout.
“You just click here to get a floor plan,” she explained.
“I need to see the floor plan and elevation at the same time,” I told her.
“No problem. Just click here, here, here, double click here, and here, and split the screen,” she said.
Great! Now I need the Hubble Telescope to read the split screen. Not entirely opposed to change, I agreed to call the “Blueprint Webmaster.” After a discussion with him, he e-mailed a form to select and verify a password. I soon received the “Welcome to ... and we’re glad you have chosen ... and be sure to contact us ...”
My code didn’t work. They tell me to give it 24 hours. Let’s see. I could drive across town in 45 minutes, pick up plans and drive back in 45 minutes. This went on for several days. Finally, I was able to get “in,” and what do I see? A list of 52 entries. So now, I have to click almost every page to see if any of them pertain to me. Yeah, this is so much faster.
Frustrated with the quickness of this system, I called the purchasing agent and begged for plans.
What was I thinking? I have to go back to the 52 pages online and select the ones I want and order them. Not only do I have to order my own plans, but I have to pay $35 for my own personal set to bid on THEIR work. At that point, the words are: “I’ll Pass.” This, literally, is too much wasted time. I thanked them for the opportunity, but explained that I don’t fit with this program.
I have another builder who has a similar system, and a very personal e-mail will tell me to order plans from a service. I received notice last week to order plans for a new project. I went to the builder’s site, and the last entry was March 2005. I e-mailed them twice to tell them nothing is there to order, and I get the same message to order new prints. Other builders are looking at a system called Hack Saw, Chain Saw, See Saw or something like that, but hopefully the bugs will be out of the system.
You’re Not Worthy of a Password
Here’s my additional tidbit this month. What is up with someone who drives a new Lexus, and has a vanity license plate that says “LEXUS” and a license plate bracket that reads “LEXUS”? Only in Vegas, Baby. CLICK ...
R. Mark Reasbeck is owner of Coyote Springs Window & Door, a Las Vegas-based window dealership. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2006 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.