ZEN Industries' March 2012 e-Newsletter 

Putting Manual Take Offs Out to Pasture 

More than a Sales Pitch - a Path to Survival 

Manual Take Offs for HVACOne thing a tough economy does effectively is shake out inefficient business practices.  In the world of HVAC estimating, this means putting manual take offs out to pasture.

No, this isn't a sales pitch for the latest estimating software, although there are a variety good packages out there. 

Instead, our goal is to highlight our own experience in the hopes of providing a roadmap to greater profitability.

At ZEN Industries, we didn't go completely digital overnight.  The large plotting printer still sits against the wall and the days of manual review, as our teams pored across table-sized print outs is still fresh in memory.

Easily Definable Return on Investment

On Screen EstimatingLooking back from where we are now, with full on-screen take offs and estimating, it's easy to see the savings:

  • Eliminated hundreds of dollars a month in ink, paper, and printer supplies

  • Eliminated manual notations and digitizing of printouts into estimating software 

  • Increased quote turn-around time by first 30%, then 50%

Imagine a  typical contractor that quotes $10M a year in projects.  By adopting a thoroughgoing digital approach, they could quote double that, and if it's possible to quote that many more projects, what are the possibilities for increased gross sales and improved profitability?

Fears of Change that Hold Us Back

We know your fears.  After all, it's your company reputation that's on the line.  What happens when the software screws up?  When the order arrives on site and it's wrong?  And do you need to hire computer jockeys that know software but not HVAC?

Our experience shows that each of these concerns can be effectively managed.

  • By reducing the number of times data needs to be entered, we've found on-screen take offs significantly increase accuracy

  • Delivered product arrives on site more precisely matched and cleanly identified and notated than ever before

  • The software environment allows our own experienced draftsman to "push the envelope" by exercising their well-honed skills more effectively and efficiently

The Investment

No matter what software package you choose, there is an investment, and that goes beyond merely purchasing software. 


To be effective, work stations need dual monitors.  Where we started with a 42" inch and a 22" setup, we've found two 24" monitors seem optimum.  They need to be high resolution capable of at least 1080 dpi.  If your computer is not ready for multiple monitors, you'll also need a dual monitor video card installed.


There are a variety of competing packages on the market.  Here at ZEN, we've had excellent results using several programs to meet different needs, including EastCoast's CAD/CAM for shop drawings along with Quote Express™ and QuickPen's AutoBid® for automating the estimating process. 

Learn more by reading our articles on Duct Drawings - Design to Fabrication and Automating HVAC Production Requests.

Buy In and Learning Curve

The time and cost savings of going digital are both real and substantial, as are improvements in accuracy, but these benefits depend on translating the skills of your experienced estimators into the digital world.  Your estimators need to get past the "pain of change" we all experience, through the learning curve that any new software represents, and personally "buy in" to the next level of success which is not only possible but being proven daily throughout the industry.

Even considering the hardware, software, and personnel time to "gear up," this is the kind of investment that can show real returns within a single year.  What other change with the potential to double operational efficiency has a return on investment that is so quickly and easily definable?

No matter how big or small your project:  

ZEN Industries provides all or part of your HVAC needs.  HVAC ductwork manufactured according to your schedule, meeting 3rd Edition 2005 SMACNA standards.  Contact Drew McCaffrey - Sales & Estimating at 877-600-0274.   

Contact ZEN Industries today.

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