The idea is simple. Instead of asking customers to imagine an awning, you show it to them. That's the promise of Awning Composer—revolutionary software that lets you attach a rendering of an awning to a photo of a building. It's an innovative way to replace uncertainty with peace of mind and convert prospects into customers.
Have a question? Contact us at 800.226.8275, Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm EST. You may also browse the extensive help documentation embedded in the product, use the Contact form on this website, or consult our list of Frequently Asked Questions below.
What type of computers support Estimator Link?
Estimator Link can be installed on any computer running Windows XP, Vista (32-bit and 64-bit) and Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit). It can be run on an Apple computer running Windows via virtualization software or Apple's Boot Camp utility.
How long will it take for me to learn how to use the software?
Estimator Link comes pre-loaded with default values derived from a survey of 150 awning shops. We recommend that you review the most obvious values such as labor rates, steel prices, aluminum prices, etc. and change those values to reflect your shop pricing. Within a few minutes you will be comfortable creating estimates. But realistically it will take you a few hours to learn all that the program has to offer.
What do you offer to assist in learning the program?
We recommend you follow the tutorial section in the "Help" functionality under "Contents" which will provide the basics on how to use the program. After that you can use the "Help" functionality built into the program to locate features simply by typing in keywords such as "drawing" to get help on creating a frame drawing, etc.
What happens if I have problems or need assistance?
Our Contact page offers several ways to receive assistance.
How do I install Estimator Link?
Go to the Estimator Link Buy/Try/Update page and register to obtain the latest version. You will receive an email with a link to download the software and another email with your registration information.
What if I have multiple computers?
Estimator Link is licensed company-wide. Please refer to the Canvas Link license agreement for details.
We recommend that one computer be designated as the "master". This is accomplished by checking the "Master Database" checkbox on the Preferences window (click on Edit, Preferences). The other computers should have the "Master Database" checkbox unchecked, which makes them subordinate to the "master". You can now make changes to the formula data on the "master" and use the "Synchronize" option under the "Edit" menu to make each subordinate computer identical to the "master" computer. In this manner all computers use the same formula information insuring that you produce consistent estimates.
My registration number won’t work, what should I do?
The most common cause of this problem incorrectly typing the company name exactly as it is shown in the registration instructions. Upper and lower case, punctuation and proper spacing all must be put in exactly as shown or the registration number will not be accepted. If you are still having problems, our Contact page offers several ways to receive assistance.
I lost my registration number, what should I do?
Contact us via one of the methods outlined on our Contact page.
What formula should I use?
Each awning style comes with four different formulas. Two of formulas are prefaced by "M1" (which means Method 1) and two formulas are prefaced by "M2" (which means Method 2). The M1 formulas follow the traditional fabricator pricing model of incorporating profit and overhead into the material price and the hourly labor rate. The M2 formula calculates labor and material prices based on wholesale cost and uses an overhead factor to calculate the retail price based on the wholesale cost. You should choose the method that you are most comfortable with and some shops use both methods. The advantage with the M2 formula is that you can easily vary the overhead factor. For example, on a normal job you may use a 200% overhead factor (essentially doubling your labor and material costs) to calculate the retail awning price. However, on a large job you may have economies of scale that allow you to lower your overhead factor from 200% to 180%, making you more competitive.
How can a make a large awning fit into the Frame Visualization window?
Click on the awning, hold down both mouse buttons and move the mouse away from you. As you move the mouse, the awning will move away from you and appear to get smaller (but the dimensions will not change). Conversely, moving the mouse towards you brings the awning closer and it will appear to get larger.
How can I change the viewing angle of the awning in the Frame Visualization window?
Point to the awning in the Frame Visualization window, hold down the right mouse button and move the mouse to the right or to the left to change the viewing angle.
What is the best way to store my estimates so I don’t get confused?
We recommend that you set up a folder system to organize your pictures. Start by clicking on "My Computer" and then click on your "C" drive. This will bring up a window that shows all of the folders and files in the root directory of your "C" drive. Point to an open area within this window and right click to bring up a menu of options. Click on "New" and then "Folder". This will create a new folder that you can name as "customers". Now click on the "customers" folder and follow the same procedure to create a folder for each of your customers. You can use their name or street address as the folder names. Within each of these folders store your copies of your estimate files that are generated from reports window. We recommend that you save all three files for each customer: QUOTE.RTF (contains customer quote), DRAWING.RTF (contains shop drawing and dimension information) and SUMMARY.RTF (contains all the factors that went into the calculation plus all of the results that were calculated for this customer).
How do I get a copy of just the frame drawing for a custom proposal?
Bring up the Frame Visualization window and adjust the awning size and viewing angle as needed in your proposal. Click on the "Show Calculation Summary" window and select the "Frame Drawing" option. Point to the awning at the top of the Frame Drawing and right click to bring up the edit menu. Select the "copy" option. Open up your custom proposal, right click and select the "paste" option. The frame drawing will be pasted into your custom proposal.
How do I change values such as labor rates in all formulas?
Click on "Edit", "Edit Formula", then "Change Value". A "Change Variable Values" window will display and you can select the variable name to be changed. Once you have chosen the formula prefix (M1, M2 or All) and entered the new value, click on the "Show Changes" button to see a list of changes that will be made. Click on the "Apply Changes" button to make the changes.
How do I quote multiple awnings for the same job?
For every job, print out the frame drawing and send it through your shop as part of the job paperwork. Ask your employees to log their time on the frame drawing at each stage of construction. When the job is done, compare the estimated build times on the frame drawing with the actual times logged by your employees. If the estimated build times are too low, then you should raise those factors in Estimator Link so they reflect the actual build times in your shop. If the estimated build times are too high, then it gives you more flexibility to discount in a competitive situation. Be sure to look at a range of projects before changing estimated build times.
How can I use Estimator Link to make my shop more profitable?
Many fabricators include the cost of installation in their awning price and as a result they may not make the same profit margin on installation as they make on constructing the awning. Estimator Link allows you to enter the various components of installation (labor, mileage and miscellaneous charges) and list these as separate line items on your quote. Most customers are accustomed to paying extra for delivery and therefore they are not as sensitive to installation costs when comparing prices.
Another benefit of breaking out installation is that the awning ends up quoted at a lower cost. By treating installation as a separate line item, it forces you to focus on the real cost of installation making it more likely you will turn a profit.
What other ideas do you have to make my shop more profitable?
Estimator Link is only capable of creating one estimate at a time (the software was specifically designed in this manner to make it easy to use). Multiple quotes can be included in one document by combining documents through software such as Microsoft Word (through copy/paste or through document insertions).
What should I do when I get an Automation Error?
Automation errors usually occur due to a lack of resources (usually lack of memory) on your computer. Restart your computer and try it again.
What should I do when I get a Direct X Error?
Estimator Link could be improperly installed. Uninstall Estimator Link by clicking on the Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs (select Estimator Link from the list of installed programs). Re-install Estimator Link after downloading the latest version.
I installed new software on my computer and now Estimator Link is not running properly, what should I do?
Estimator Link, along with most other software, uses a series of shared libraries. Unfortunately these libraries are not all at the same version, so when you installed your new software, it changed the version of one of the shared libraries required by Estimator Link.
Uninstall Estimator Link by clicking on the Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs (select Estimator Link from the list of installed programs). Re-install Estimator Link after downloading the latest version.