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Software for Estimating *only* ???

Discussion in 'Business Management' started by mjkjr, Oct 18, 2020.

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  1. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    Tons from 3rd parties? No promises to how well things are done when they are dealing with in house database. In fact, that is actually mentioned in some of their responses that I've seen (which is understandable). That's the double edge sword of in house, unless they have a totally open API, I found no mention of that, but that could be possible and if it is, then a big portion of my concern would be moot.

    But, if it's not a totally open API, then there is always a risk that something doesn't come out in a 1:1 manner. 1:1 in the sense of migrating to another database. In fact, they talk about how some exporting to HTML may generate artifacts and that the data may be available in certain elements versus others. Depending on what you are wanting to do, that could be a hindrance. While I could run a python script and get info out from a more open database and put it in whatever element I wanted it in. There is less hit or miss with it. Now that was talking about specific 3rd party tools, if they have tools for users to use themselves, that may be something else as well.

    I know most people could care less about that and that's fine.
     
  2. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    There is a difference between "conversion" and "portability."

    As a testament to “conversion,” there is a well known solution available to the t-shirt, screen print, and promotional items manufacturing industry called Shopworks Onsite. It’s been running on FileMaker for over 20 years. (It still has an interface theme to match) :(

    It’s since been migrated thru at least three FileMaker database engines; .fp5, .fp7, and now .fmp12. It’s possible to have used just a single dialog and button, “Convert this database.”
    grabConvertThisDatabase.jpg
    As for “portability,” FileMaker can export any and all data, with keys, when designed and permitted to do so. It’s very, very rare for any FileMaker developer to hold data hostage and many developers offer full access to their solutions for a fee. One can purchase a fully-open JobPro Central at a very fair price, for example.

    Try not to let the forest get in the way of the trees?
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
  3. Stacey K

    Stacey K Getting Back in the Game

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    Anyone who has "EstiMate Sign Software"...do they charge for the plugins? I can't find anything on their site.
     
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  4. jimdtg

    jimdtg Member

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    As price they listed on website, they don't charge plugins.
     
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  5. mjkjr

    mjkjr Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for the replies and all of the suggestions. I've been busy since my original post but I've been reading the responses.

    I feel like I wasn't as clear as I could have been in my original post but I am specifically NOT worried about every little nut and bolt due to the way that I prefer to do package pricing. I want a flexible yet lightweight solution. I probably am being a little too picky.

    WildWestDesignsWildWestDesigns I have considered rolling my own, but I don't have the time, I'm a small 3-person shop. Plus I don't want to maintain software (until I start my own company making one of these things lol). So currently I'm searching for web-based solutions so as to de-couple it from the operating system underneath. Also I solely run Ubuntu at home so it's nice to be able to access stuff from there sometimes (as much as my family may hate it).

    ColorCrestColorCrest Filemaker looks awesome but it's just too complex for me to implement. I'm also turned off by how difficult it is to understand the feature set from the website. FileMaker cloud is extra/separate? Do I need to run a local server? I don't have an IT dept or time to be one myself. I need an off-the shelf solution that I can massage a little into what I need.

    Stacey KStacey K That's fine but I allow my clients to browse the apparel catalogs of SanMar, S&S Activewear, etc and they choose different items. Not all pricing is published in those catalogs due to price fluctuations so I would need to either maintain spreadsheets for all my vendors or log into their website to check pricing. I frequently do quotes while meeting with clients in person and this is not what I want to be doing, which is why I want something to pull in live pricing from vendors for these items. I have grid print-pricing forced into quickbooks from a spreadsheet to complete quotes so that part isn't the main issue, just a maintenance headache.

    GinoGino Yes to help me easily select and price a sign. No, I don't care about the minutia. I have an inventory solution so I don't care about that, and I use Trello to track job progress so no, which is why I was asking about something for estimating **only**. It doesn't need to create and invoice, it would be nice if it could automatically send one into QuickBooks Online though.

    The Big SqueegeeThe Big Squeegee I'll have to check out Wave accounting. I use QuickBooks Online for Credit Cards and Payroll too, so I'll have to see how Wave compares. I assume it can output similar reports as QuickBooks can for my accountant?

    @FireSprint I guess I just want a place I can call the Single Source of Truth for my pricing. I fancy calculator would work if I can make it work the way I need, but I guess I'm also looking for a certain level of automation such as being able to export it out into QuickBooks when it gets turned into an invoice.

    I'm searching for something that can:

    (1) handle pricing grids/matrices for things like business cards and yard signs that are commodities and need easy volume pricing (quickbooks sucks at this for me - you can only enter fixed line-item pricing and no grids - painful to update) and

    (2) also line-item simple package products without needing to fill in every nuts-and-bolts detail every time (like in CoreBridge, ShopVox, etc) i.e. I can say 2 Post & Panel Sign w/ Rectangular Face $x,xxx (package price super fast to send to client) and worry about the nuts and bolts in production.

    I realize a set of spreadsheets may work for this but:

    (3) one feature I'd really prefer is the ability to pull in vendor product pricing automatically for those commodity items, specifically the t-shirts.

    It really sucks to try to update the QuickBooks Online "Products & Services" list with a new SanMar spreadsheet catalog a couple times a year - multiplied by half a dozen other apparel vendors I use. This is why Printavo was on my list of evaluations earlier. Also, if ShopVox wasn't so buggy when I tried it out (and had fewer horror stories online) I'd probably have stuck with that, I may try it again, but it really left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Since I started this thread I've found YoPrint and had a quick back-and-forth email chat with someone there and I am considering signing up for the trial period once I slow down a bit here at the shop. Does anyone here have any experience with it? They don't seem to be one of the big names in this space at all.
     
  6. mjkjr

    mjkjr Member

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    I wanted to add: I know I'm being picky here, but I want to find something I can set up and plan to maintain long-term with little headache and also won't be a nightmare in the future to train someone else to use it along side me (or eventually to replace me if I were to sell the shop or get a manager).
     
  7. Stacey K

    Stacey K Getting Back in the Game

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    I'm following this as I would like to find something also. I'm going to check out YoPrint over the weekend. I'll report back my opinion, thank you for the follow up
     
  8. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    Let's try again. Care to post your spreadsheet column headings? You could of already had a working solution by this time.
     
  9. Stacey K

    Stacey K Getting Back in the Game

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    I found a few additional options to the regular ones we see posted here for just screen print estimating for small shops. These might not work for the OP but if others are following, it's helpful. I'm dedicating my weekend to checking out these options and I'll report back Monday on my findings.

    At first Glance:
    • Estimate - monthly subscription, can quote signs also which is a plus - I've used this before and I do like it
    • T-Works - one time purchase, links to catalogs (so far this is my favorite for apparel at first glance)
    • PriceIt - similar to T-Works but starts at $80 per month
    • Ms.Tee Shirt Calculator - $99 one time fee - don't laugh, if you are looking for a good Excel sheet, this could be for you or give you some ideas if you watch the video. Uses lots of macros, she's an Excel nerd at heart.
    • The Print Life - $25 a month, just started up in July, super clean looking, maybe a bit too simple?
    • YoPrint - at first glance it's more than I need
     
  10. mjkjr

    mjkjr Member

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    Stacey KStacey K Thanks for the info! I'm looking forward to what you have to say next week. I'm going to try to make enough time this weekend as well to evaluate YoPrint. I think I've come across all of the others on your list there as well, but the one that intrigues me the most is The Print Life (my sister who screen-prints for me and I used to listen to this dude's podcast / youtube videos, cool guy). I really liked the look of it too but it seems to be closed to new subscribers as it only launched this past spring. In his video he mentioned only allowing 50 initial accounts. I will definitely keep my eye on it though, and it would be nice if he could generalize parts of it to allow for sign quoting too (maybe he has hard to tell from just the video), I know it is super screen-print focused but it could still work for me, I'd need to try it.
     
  11. Christian @ 2CT Media

    Christian @ 2CT Media Major Contributor

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    Sounds like you guys are more apparel than anything. you will never find a premade balanced approach out there. Most of the software is designed for one industry and adapted to others. You will always be doing work around or less than "your ideal" approaches to pricing unless you build your own.

    If you can map out your needs, there are a ton of cheap/low code solutions out there like airtable + stacker, filemaker, or even kintone. Working with other companies databases like sanmar and etc is always troublesome.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
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  12. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    I'm still lost.

    We've been using QuickBooks for nearly 30 years or so. Before that, it was Peachtree. Anyway, with QB, I've itemized many pieces of the puzzle from computer design time which is also broken down into blocks of time to individual parts of signs. If I have a repeat item, such as magnetics, which are almost always the same cost, I just have it in there and when I hit it, it comes up with the pre-figured figured cost. If I need to change it for some reason, you can do it on the fly. I have many steady customers which will lead the heading and sub-head under those many of their repeat orders. If you need installation costs, it itemized down to one man to two to a bucket truck, crane with one or two men and the hourly costs. When you put in the amount of hours, it automatically figures it all out and adds them up in the last column.

    At the bottom, is just one subdivision under one customer alone. However, if I want to use those prices for another customer I can do so, quite easily.

    There are many many other break-downs into very minute parts, but I just used basic ones for this example.

    qb sample.jpg

    This whole thing can be changed into a work order, an invoice, a statements and has many other features...... and I'm not even an expert on QB. I just know what I need to get my sh!t done.
     
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  13. Stacey K

    Stacey K Getting Back in the Game

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    I feel like my sign pricing system that I have works pretty good, I have a similar set-up as Gino in my Wave Accounting. If you only do a few apparel orders here and there and it's mostly generic stuff, that works good. I have a nice chart and I can quote quickly. The problem comes in when you start adding different products. The Sanmar catalog alone has like 2000 pages of apparel in it. I agree with the OP that just an estimating program that pulls the catalog items would be much quicker than looking up item numbers/price all the time. A common order I have is for trucks, coro signs and tshirts/hoodies for one company - easy and quick estimate. However, lately people are ordering higher end apparel and up to 20 different items, a database direct from Sanmar (or wherever) would knock a lot of time off the estimates. I'm happy I'm growing and busy so I'm not going to complain too much LOL But I need to be more efficient in that area.
     
  14. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    For what it’s worth, see the attached image of a database I created which, on the left side, shows the list column headings I was asking of the OP.

    I spent a total of 1/2 hour downloading a t-shirt vendor's freely available spreadsheets and opening 4 of the 5 into a single FileMaker database file. (Their 5th spreadsheet is just U.S. zip codes of delivery zones.)

    I spent a total of another 1-1/2 hours to determine their primary key ID (they use “styleID“) to relate the 4 tables of data together and create a single layout to view it all. Now that I’m familiar with this type of vendor’s data, future efforts would take only a fraction of the time. It turns out this is a catalog of over 5,000 styles and over 200,000 products.

    This is not a “pricer” but resource data to begin as the base for such a software tool. In practice this data would sync to the original source from time to time. From this point, the OP would create his own “products” data set using his unique names which link to these resources. Because the OP is working two rather separate niche product lines of t-shirts and signs, resources for signs would require separate layouts because of their various and different column headings (attributes).

    grabShirts&Stuff.jpg
     
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  15. mjkjr

    mjkjr Member

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    GinoGino my current setup is similar to yours, but see Stacey K's post for one of the main issues I'm having. A full 50% of my sales is printed apparel, the other 50% is between various signage, vehicle lettering/wraps and small format printing. Those sign items are not a problem to quote. It's a headache to try to re-sync the apparel databases into QBO as each vender has a different format. Also, for example I send a lot of stuff out to printograph, same issue there is a huge catalog to update into QBO every once in a while and it's a huge pain to deal with.

    ColorCrestColorCrest would this take an additional 1/2 hour or 1-1/2 for each apparel catalog considering their different? If the pricing changes mid-year am I looking at spending an hour per catalog updating them all? Also doesn't help with live pricing for items that are frequently on sale.
     
  16. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    A feature of FileMaker is one of expecting Excel and a few other data formats. It's literally a single button click to manually repeat or sync updates. Otherwise, the t-shirt vendors offer their API for any-time contact to their data. The S&S data is in Excel format, however their field names are suspiciously a convention that of FileMaker developers.

    Good luck on your search.
     
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  17. mjkjr

    mjkjr Member

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    ColorCrestColorCrest which Filemaker subscription product would I need to sign up for in order to connect to the API and have my Filemaker hosted in the cloud? Also, can I build such a Filemaker app from my browser/in the cloud? Basically what I'm getting at is: can I use it 100% without having to install software onto my computer? If so, which exact subscription combinations would I be looking at?
     
  18. Stacey K

    Stacey K Getting Back in the Game

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    I'm downloading the trial right now. It looks like it can be cloud based. I'm just going to jump in with both feet and check it out, ColorCrests persistence has me convinced this is the answer :)
     
  19. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    I recommend you go to this link to download a retired training solution which will become indispensable to you. Claris could remove the resource at any time because they are revamping all such materials. (Maybe not for the better, so far IMO.) Nevertheless, it's still very helpful and valuable to any FileMaker user.

    https://support.claris.com/s/articl...ies--advanced-for-filemaker-15?language=en_US

    When you get the files, be sure to immediately make a copy and store the original away. Maybe apply the word "original" to it and always have it as the golden reference. Because you'll be working and learning on a copy, you will make extensible modifications and if you make a mistake, you can always refer to the original for clarity.

    It's 5 years old but I recommend it over anything else available today, by far.
     
  20. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    I'm guessing you're of the subscription generation. I'm not. Therefore, I first recommend the trial version to get one's feet wet. In the 45 days, one would probably get to fully understand all the options available and evaluate at that time. FileMaker offers perpetual licensing. Keep that in mind. It will come to a "want vs. need" decision.

    You create a file on the desktop then upload it to a server. Once shared by the server, any person with certain permissions can modify of further build-out the file remotely and FileMaker on the desktop is required to do that.
     
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