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View Full Version : PDA estimating software market research


tx_angler
11-04-2004, 03:50 PM
Please read this entire thread before responding to the poll

In a previous life I spent 20+ years as a computer programmer and consultant working for many Fortune 500 companies. Since most programming has been outsourced to offshore companies I started a lawn business. One of the first things I noticed was a need to create accurate estimates that were repeatable so I developed PDA software for my own use. My current PDA version is fairly unstable and lacks the "bells & whistles" of a commercial product but works for my purposes. Now I can train an employee how I want an estimate done and they can do the estimate. If I go to check the accuracy of their estimate, the totals are almost identical.

I've seen many threads here about the lack of PDA software and am considering a prodution version of my PDA software if the market/need exists. The product will be used for estimating only and will not compete with the add-on product that Team Gopher is developing for their accounting system.

If there is a market/need for this product I'll probably recruit 5 or 6 folks from Lawnsite.com to assist with design and testing of the product prior to roll-out. With that said, if you are interested in helping to define requirements and testing let me know.

In order to be a tester you will need to own (or purchase) a PDA, have access to the Internet to download software AND, most importantly, have a method of estimating other than "I just look at it and know what price to charge". Before you jump at the idea of being a tester you must understand there ain't no free lunch. The testers that are chosen will be required to invest a substantial amount of time to help with design and testing, but the upside is your estimating method will probably be incorporated into the final product. At this time, the product is still in the concept stage; therefore no pricing or release date is available. Additionally, the final product will only run on a device with a Palm OS, sorry no Windows CE version will be available.

This picture is a screen print of my Lawn Estimate Screen. I'm certain that if I develop a commercial version this screen will change dramatically.

http://www.lawnbarbers.net/images/MowEstimatePDA.jpg

Before everyone starts knocking my estimating methods, the customer NEVER gets to see this screen and we do make adjustments for unforeseeable things like retaining walls, ditches, corner lots, etc.

tiedeman
11-04-2004, 04:32 PM
I feel that if there was an all around program for schedules (routes) and something that did with estimates I would jump on it.

I have been wanting to use a PDA for use for schedules and then just upload into the computer but I have never been able to find anything

grassrootsinab
11-04-2004, 05:40 PM
When I started expanding my lawn business, I bought a Palm m130 to run Documents to Go so I could keep my billing and route information on an Excel spreadsheet. It would be awesome if you had an estimation AND billing software on the PDA format.

My old m130 (3 yrs old) is starting to go (the screen is looking worse for wear) and I am looking at upgrading before next spring. I find the PDA more user friendly than a laptop when on route. I think your idea is GREAT!!!

Pecker
11-04-2004, 05:46 PM
Actually, for me it depends on whether it is something I could afford as a small operation. . .and if it were better than the one I built for myself using Excel. Also, I'd only be interested if it were compatible with Pocket PC 2003 since that's the one I use.

all ferris
11-04-2004, 06:18 PM
I feel that if there was an all around program for schedules (routes) and something that did with estimates I would jump on it.

I have been wanting to use a PDA for use for schedules and then just upload into the computer but I have never been able to find anything


This is what I want more than estimating software. i want to be able to scroll through a customer list when I finish cutting. Click on that customer, check what service I performed (cut/trim, clean up, fertilize, bed weed control etc...), the program knows what I charge for that service and stores it. I would do this at each stop daily and then when I got home I would plug it into the puter and up load the info. At the end of the month I press the print button and the bill gets sent out in the mail.

They have this stuff for cows (dairy farms), why don'y they have this for lawn guys?

tx_angler
11-04-2004, 09:44 PM
I'm going to bump this thread one time and if there isn't much more interest I'll drop it and move onto more productuve endeavors.

Thanks guys.

billc
11-04-2004, 09:52 PM
This is what I want more than estimating software. i want to be able to scroll through a customer list when I finish cutting. Click on that customer, check what service I performed (cut/trim, clean up, fertilize, bed weed control etc...), the program knows what I charge for that service and stores it. I would do this at each stop daily and then when I got home I would plug it into the puter and up load the info. At the end of the month I press the print button and the bill gets sent out in the mail.

They have this stuff for cows (dairy farms), why don'y they have this for lawn guys?

All Ferris - CLIP Software does this with both PDAs and web-enabled cell phones.

redoak77
11-04-2004, 10:25 PM
I would definitly be down for something like this. I have been mowing for 4 years and i keep track of all my account in Docs to go and memo pad. I havnt been able to justify cost of comp program yet but would love on for my palm. I think it would be great for large companies.

tiedeman
11-04-2004, 10:38 PM
what is the going cost through to getting the CLIP and software add-on for PDA. I use quickbooks and it would be great, but last time I checked I thought that it was expensive

lampeslawnservice
11-04-2004, 11:20 PM
I would take one if it would print out a statement or invoice at the end of each job. Just think no more stamps. Now that would kick Add. I even thought about making my laptop mobile if it weren't for the heat.

Darr57
11-05-2004, 03:14 AM
Hey Tx_Angler sign me up for the beta test, I think its a great ideal! I personally hate having to take notes in the field and come back to the shop to enter everything into excel, this should be a big time saver.

Premo Services
11-05-2004, 06:36 AM
I would like to see something like this. I use qxpress for scheduiling and it has made scheduling a whole lot easier. You can put me down for testing the program, I am up for that!!!

Premo Services
11-05-2004, 06:40 AM
I feel that if there was an all around program for schedules (routes) and something that did with estimates I would jump on it.

I have been wanting to use a PDA for use for schedules and then just upload into the computer but I have never been able to find anything

What about Qxpress
Gopher
Clip
They don't do estimating but for scheduling and using, and entering data in the feild and uploading to computer. Qxpress is the one I am using :drinkup: :drinkup:

GarPA
11-05-2004, 06:54 AM
Tx Angler...for what its worth Im a pda junkie. Being a small operation who cannot afford office help, my pda is my "mobile scretary". On my third pda as I broke the first 2 and will likely drop this one . When I went to buy a new one, I was disappointed to see there were so few choices as there had been just a year ago. After a bit research, I learned that Sony is getting out of the pda business and others are cutting back on product offerings. Apparently the reason is that pda sales are flat as a result of "organizer" functions now being built into cell phones. I've looked at one of my employees cell phones who has the new organizer functions and its not for me as the pda is far easier to use and has more functions. I'll stick with pdas. Reason I'm mentioning this is that you may not have a strong pda software demand down the road and you are probably already aware of that possibility.
Since you asked for opinions on software needs for the land-business heres my gut reaction:
1. I rarely ever do estimates in the field nor do I have a need for that capability
2. the basic palm os meets most of my needs (schedule/calendar, phone "s, todo lists with priorty ranking, calculator etc)
3. we use a paper daytimer to record daily job times every day all year.
Its quicker and frankly easier to use the paper calendar than entering this data into a pda and theres no risk of losing data as with a pda if it crashes (yes we do backups but the daytimer is easier)

Entering any significant amount of data into a pda is in my opinion, still their achilles heel whether using the grafitti, or tapping the letters using the onscreen keyboard.

Bottom line is I doubt I would buy additional software for the pda but if you still move forward with a beta version I'd be glad to be one of your "testing" people. Good luck

SWD
11-05-2004, 07:34 AM
I am highly interested in this idea. However, your software needs to be Zire PDA compatible. PM me so we can discuss more details.
Steve

Darr57
11-24-2004, 08:27 PM
To those interested I just found this software. Kind of exspensive but, here it is anyway.
www.jobtimetools.com

tiedeman
11-24-2004, 09:42 PM
that is a pretty cool estimating tool they have there

YardPro
11-25-2004, 09:57 AM
i haven't bought a pda yet for fear of them only lasting two weeks.

cell phones only get 6 months with me

Southwest Lawns
11-25-2004, 10:11 AM
I would love to be part of the beta test (if you develop windows ce version) I have been using a pda for about 4 years and use it alot in my full time profession. undefined

tonygreek
11-25-2004, 10:18 AM
angler, apparently i missed this thread the first time around. like you, i'm a consulting refugee (ncr and andersen consulting/accenture). i have a dell axim and did the same thing. there were no decent window/siding estimating softare packages for pda's, so i wrote my own (relatively easy given the windows platform). i recently did the same with my lco business.

if you decide to make a run at a commercial version and you want to bounce anything off of me, feel free to pm me. if you haven't already, check out handango.com and get a feel for whether that's a place you might like to try selling it. i've known a few people who make veeeery good livings developing niche software products.

good luck,
tony

out4now
11-25-2004, 04:36 PM
There must be a market for it otherwise Gopher software wouldn't be trying to launch one. My suggestion is get one to market before they do as theirs is taking a long tiime to come out. If it does sprayer calibration, billing, routing and estimating and it is portable to multiple OS's like Mac and Linux as well as windows you're onto something. I'd target the LInux community myself because this is a low profit margin business and people have less $ to throw around so if they can get a Linux computer from Wal-mart.com for roughly 1/2 the cost of a windows unit then it would really be attractive. Might I suggest trying to work with Linspire or Xandros companies to develop something like that.

LawnsRUsInc.
01-28-2005, 08:38 PM
Iam looking at purchasing gopher software and it would be a big!!!!!!!!!! Plus to be able to track things like that on a Palm Pilot. Also a mapping software for me and the guys. That way we can have easy directions from one job to the next or for landscape jobs.

Jason

pushmower
01-28-2005, 09:13 PM
Check out www.jobtimetools.com I think you will find it interesting.

Southwest Lawns
01-28-2005, 09:49 PM
I use lowfatinvoice, mapopolis, and pocket informant (pocket pc)in my business. if you need information about any of these let me know.

Carolina Cutter
01-28-2005, 10:01 PM
Check out www.jobtimetools.com I think you will find it interesting.


Did you get an idea of the price for that? I didnt see it anywhere on the site.