Volume 14, Issue 5 - September-October 2010

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Using Microsoft Excel as a Sales Tool
By Manny Hondroulis

In my last column I discussed the impact of Microsoft PowerPoint. Now we turn to Microsoft Excel, another application included in Microsoft Office software.

Excel is a spreadsheet application made up of cells that are displayed in rows and columns. At first glance, an Excel spreadsheet can be quite intimidating, with 256 columns and 65,536 rows for a grand total of 16,777,216 cells. Each cell can contain data, such as a user-inputted number or string of text, or formula that produces a number or string of text. What does that mean for us?

If you’re calculating an installation’s square footage using pencil, paper and a calculator, then you’re going to love what Excel can do for you. Gone are the days when you have to multiply a window’s height by its width, divide by 144, and then multiply by the quantity of windows and scribble the results on note paper. A simple spreadsheet, however, can do this work in a fraction of the time.

Know the Details
Before we get into the specifics, let me explain one part of Excel terminology. We’ve already established that a spreadsheet is made of rows and columns of cells. The cell located at the intersection of Column A and Row 1 is referred to as Cell A1.

In this simple exercise we’re going to input a window’s dimensions (height and width in inches) and the quantity of windows. For each window type, we’re going to use a new row in the spreadsheet.

Type the word Quantity in Cell A1. Then type the words Width, Height, Square Foot and Total Project in Cells B1, C1, D1, and E1 respectively. Columns A, B, and C will require inputted data from you while Columns D and E will automatically populate with the window’s (Column D) or project’s (Column E) square footage (see table 1).

We’re going to ask Excel to calculate the square footage of each window set. So in Cell D2, type the following formula: =A2*B2*C2/144, and in Cell D3 type =A3*B3*C3/144. In typing this formula, we’re asking Excel to multiply the window’s height by width, divide by 144 to convert from square inches to square feet, and multiply by the number of windows in this set. Next we need to create a formula that will tell us the total square footage of the project. So in Cell E2 enter the following formula: =SUM(D:D). This formula will create a running total of the square footage of each window set for each row. Save your spreadsheet on your desktop as “Takeoff Template.”


Putting it All Together
In Cell A2, enter 10 as the quantity of windows and 40 and 60 as the window’s width and height, respectively. In Cell A3, enter 35 as the quantity of windows and 57 and 72 as the window’s width and height, respectively. Cell D2 will automatically calculate the total square footage of ten windows that have a width of 40 inches and a height of 60 inches, while Cell D3 will automatically calculate the total square footage of 35 windows that have a width of 57 inches and a height of 72 inches. The total square footage is 1164.17 as shown in Cell E2 (see table 2).

For every different window type, enter all of the vital information (quantity, width and height) in Columns A, B, and C, beginning with Row 2 and working your way down. You will need to copy the formula used in Column D for each new row. Select Cell D2, press the down arrow key while holding down the shift key until you get to the row where you want to stop. Then press CTRL D to paste the formula in D2 to the selected area.

This is a very basic spreadsheet and Excel can do much more, such as calculate the perimeter of your windows, which may be relevant if you’re applying an attachment system. If you have trouble creating your own template, download the one available here: www.windowfilmmag.com/documents/takeoff_template.xls. Using Excel, you’ll spend less time calculating square footage and more time marketing.

Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager for Energy Performance Distribution in Baltimore. Mr. Hondroulis’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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