For Love of Spreadsheets!

Real Estate Agent with Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities #1 in Forest Land Mgmt

For Love of Spreadsheets!

It is amazing the things that we can do with these often underutilized little tools.

When I interview office personnel they almost always tell me that they are very proficient with spreadsheets, yet a few questions later they reveal that they barely know what a spreadsheet is, much less a small fraction of the amazing things that these tools can do.

I know a lot after playing with these things for nearly thirty years, yet sometimes I feel like I only know how to use a fraction of the components available for me here.

Way back when…

When I started college they did not have spreadsheets as we know them, of course we did not have PC’s either.  But when we did get PC’s or as they were referred to then IBM’s or IBM clones, I was the first person in my circle of friends who went out and emptied his savings on one.

The first program to master was DOS, and after a couple of late nights during Christmas break, I was mastering WordStar as well, and a little basic programing for the things that I did not have software for.

Then one of my professors introduced me to Lotus 123, a very expensive program that did amazing things, of course I could not afford this top of the line pioneer of spreadsheets, but my professor was kind enough to make a copy of the many floppy disks needed to operate the program.  (Shortly after graduation I did go out and purhase my own spreadsheet)

This was in my 5th or 6th year of college when I had already completed my Forestry degree and was working on my Communications/PR degree when college was more about writing and less about the serious calculations involved in a scientific degree like Forestry.

While learning the capabilities of this spreadsheet, it became clear that I had discovered this a few years too late, it could have saved me hundreds of hours and several calculator keypads during some of my forestry classes. 

We had one particular class where the answer to one question involved nearly 10 hours of punching numbers into a calculator, hoping not to make any mistakes.  Generally these were best done with a friend, comparing the final result, if they were the same then a celebration was in order, but if they differed then one or both of us made a mistake somewhere and we both had to start over until the results came out the same.

These assignments in this class could have been done in a small fraction of the time with a spreadsheet, just think about how much time could have been saved.  Unfortunately spreadsheets were new at this time and I doubt that this professor even knew about them or their magical powers.

Over the years in running a Forestry Consulting business, I cannot begin to count the number of ways that a good knowledge of spreadsheets has saved me. 

It is also impressive when I get together with other foresters at meetings and we discuss as much or more about our computers than we do about trees. 

Databases, spreadsheets, and Geographical Information Systems are some of the hot topics.  Sometimes sharing what we have discovered, sometimes asking for advice from others who have discovered how to get past a difficult problem. 

Clearly these woodsy people have a good dose of computer geek buried in their DNA.

It is also not uncommon for me or one of my competitors to pick up the phone and ask or share advice on how to improve on our skills and calculations on one of these fine tools.

The big spreadsheet issues this week at Woodland Management Service involve forest inventory data tabulation and manipulation by Nick and the other Foresters.

The office people and I are doing some tweaking of the DNR’s MFL database so that we can print postcards and manipulation of USFS Forest Inventory data for a series of blogs that I am writing about the forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

And of course dozens of other little tasks in between the big projects.

So tell me, how are spreadsheets making your life easier?




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  1. Sara Wagner 05/16/2015 01:00 AM
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Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

I love love love excel and use it all the time. I track so many things in my biz w/ it.  I also created templates for m estimates which enables me to do them much faster and also to create the proposals directly from them.  They have many formulas (incl "if then statements" and I love them.

Apr 20, 2015 09:38 PM #1
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Reading this post was such a walk down memory lane for me...I remember when our office got its first PC...floppy disk on one side for data, WordStar on the other.  Later in my career, I spent more than 6 months developing a 123 spreadsheet comparing all of more than 10,000 of our genuine replacement parts (I was working for AMF at the time) to 6 competitors, including calculations for our cost, margins, etc.  It was a monster!  I think I burned out on spreadsheets after that, LOL, but must admit working with them is incredibly efficient and satisfying. 

Apr 20, 2015 09:38 PM #2
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

The more sortable fields the better Bob Crane. A condo project had a spreadsheet that, when printed, exceeded 8 feet in length. That "Monster" was proven worth it's weight in gold when tracking customer's choices in paint, cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, plus a host of other options and information. The only thing we lacked was a good wooden pointer, not the laser kind.  

Apr 20, 2015 09:57 PM #3
Nicholas Crane
Woodland Companies - Cadott, WI
Managing & Appraising Forest Land

I love spreadsheets to.  No matter the project is excel can help.  I think I was the only student in some of my college math courses that used excel all the time. 

Apr 20, 2015 11:08 PM #4
John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me!

Good Tuesday morning Bob Crane -

I really like spreadsheets as they just make my life so much easier.  My tax gal said she always likes to see me walk in the door with my spreadsheets in hand.  Makes her life easier too.

Apr 20, 2015 11:13 PM #5
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great information...thanks for sharing it! I hope you have a wonderful Wed!

Apr 20, 2015 11:47 PM #6
Bill Roberts
Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate - Oceanside, CA
"Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner

Bob, Most of us are aware of CRM (customer relationship management) BUT VERY FEW REALIZE IT IS A SPREADSHEET PROGRAM.

I can not imagine life without spreadsheets. I track my metrics on a daily basis. I couldn't do this without a good spreadsheet.

Bill Roberts

Apr 21, 2015 12:07 AM #7
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty

I have a Google Docs spreadsheet for everything. It drives Josh nuts but it's how I have to stay organized!

Apr 21, 2015 02:00 AM #8
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Bob - Great post about an often ignored, misunderstood and yet highly effective tool. I cut my teeth on Visicalc and Multiplan on the Mac, and have been using Excel forever - it's still capable of surprising me with it capabilities.

Apr 21, 2015 02:09 AM #9
John Meussner
Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA, - Walnut Creek, CA
#MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852

The timing on this is funny Bob, just the other day I was trying to learn some more about excel as I know so very little and know it's a very powerful tool for organization.

Apr 21, 2015 03:08 AM #10
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I do my own style of a spread sheet.  I know there must be a better way, but mine works just fine...why fix what is not broken.

Apr 21, 2015 06:34 AM #11
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy

Hi Bob,

I admire all those who love spreadsheets.  Just before I read your post, I was doing one to show our clients what data we need for their website, so that our developer can upload it.  I for one am not fond of the, and I know all the arguments, but my mind works in different ways.  Ron loves them. A


Apr 21, 2015 07:12 AM #12
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


You know your stuff . . . . The new programs work so much better then the old programs and they are far easier to use.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Apr 21, 2015 12:58 PM #13
Claude Labbe
Real Living | At Home - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

Funny 1st job out of college.... using Lotus 1-2-3.

I've always had a numeric mind, and so this was a very natural tool for me.

Even now.  Real estate is about location/location/location, but it's also so very much about numbers.  Two or three years ago, I'd shared my numbers (aka, spreadsheet) with a buyer client, trying to quantify the current market.  He responded back by addind standard deviations to sold price vs asking price.  It cracked me up.

I love how a spreadsheet can tease out certain information that I wouldn't otherwise get, from which I often build charts to show my audience/client.

As one of your other comments said....spreadsheets are also the basis of many CRM's, and I'd say of many calendars as well.

Apr 21, 2015 02:00 PM #14
Nicholas Crane
Woodland Companies - Cadott, WI
Managing & Appraising Forest Land

Thanks for sharing these reports, our clients gain value from of this type of information.

Mar 22, 2020 11:00 PM #15
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