There are a variety of ways contractors can save time and effort in finding work and building proposals and submittals by accessing data online. Here are a few options contractors can consider:
Approved BidClerk Contractor Edition Search Engine, Basic Package(www.bidclerk.com) is an online construction project lead service for local and national contractors. According to the company, it reports on more than 30,000 private and public construction projects nationwide a month, providing information on the projects and a list of contacts subscribers can use to reach out and submit bids.
For example, according to the developer, between Jan. 1, 2012, and Feb. 10, 2012, BidClerk reported on more than 11,000 projects with HVAC listed under Mechanical Trade Types, with more than 6,000 in the private sector and more than 5,000 in the public sector. Subscribers have unlimited access to private and public work for a monthly fee, no long-term contract required.
The projects are listed by location (state and town), building use (e.g. single family residential, multi-residential, educational, water/sewer, office, retail, restaurant, municipal, bridge/tunnels, conference center, military, power plant); status of the project (e.g. conceptual, pre-construction-negotiate, design, GC bidding, sub-bidding, award) and date information was last updated. Subscribers can search for projects listed in the last 7, 14, 30, 60, 90 or 90+ days. An advanced search function enables users to specify a zip code and the search radius around that zip code, which is handy when looking for work within a large metropolitan area.
For any projects meeting the subscriber's search criteria, a click on the plus sign expands project information to show the estimated start day, value and short description. Clicking on the project link icon brings up the full-detail page. Subscribers can save and manage searches, projects, contacts, companies, folders, notes and also request Custom BidAlerts based on the results of the saved searches.
When searching within BidClerk, the user can save and track a project through the entirety of the construction process. The subscriber can be included in the Bidder's Directory, which is an e-mail delivered directly to the project contacts with the subscriber's contact information and firm profile. BidClerk offers a similar service at the Enterprise Level for HVAC/Plumbing Building Product Manufacturers (BPMs), the Architect Directory. BPMs can send their firm's profile and product information to architects working on specific projects.
An upgrade from the Basic to the Pro Package adds access to project plans and specifications and the ability to download project-related documents and save them directly to the user's PC. The subscriber can create his own saved search criteria and track specification rates and competitive strength by sales territories or project type.
Right-Mobile Consultant (www.wrightsoft.com) is a web-based application that automates a repeatable sales process using data from 26 brands. It can be accessed at any time from a browser on most mobile computing devices, including touch-screen laptops, iPads and Android tablets with internet access. The solution enables sales people to give a professional presentation on a mobile computing device, and allows quick performance of Manual J load calculations, helping validate a proposal specifically engineered and sized for that home.
Once a sales person sets up the customer information, the user graphs the building footprint dimensions onto a template to generate a block load and, with a few taps on the screen, selects the building details. When completed, Right-Mobile Consultant submits the data via the Internet to Wrightsoft web servers which compute the load and send the results back to the mobile device.
The program enables quick selection of equipment from a pre-loaded database and performs utility costs for up to four systems, differentiating them as Base System, Good,
Better and Best. It also provides the customer with a worksheet that includes federal, state and local rebate input and calculates payback for the good, better, and best systems and length of time for ROI via energy cost savings.
When input is complete, Right-Mobile Consultant automatically generates a proposal based with the user able to choose from single system or best, better and good options.
Standard reports include building analysis, project summary, load worksheets, component constructions, AED assessment, drawings and proposals.
As Right-Mobile Consultant is a cloud-based solution, information on a project can be shared between home office and sales members in the field, reducing manual communications and improving efficiency.
Later this spring, the program is slated to include additional capabilities, including accessory selection wizard, coil selection, a price book that enables dealers to build their pricing and have it automatically appear in the program, and the ability to change the proposal template to add logo and legalese.
Submittal Manager for plumbing and mechanical contractors by Trade Service (www.tradeservice.com) is online software that could save a lot of time with product submittals. It consists of 250,000 up-to-date catalog pages representing more than 1 million items, ready for downloading as spec sheets into a submittal.
The software, which automatically classifies documents to the industry standard CSI Master Format, includes markup tools and formatting options, enabling users to customize each submittal with company and project information. Users can also create templates of the most frequently used items.
Authorized users can update the submittal package anywhere there is an Internet connection. Submittals are permanently archived for instant access, which could be very handy as an onsite resource during construction.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected].