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Cart-Away
08-28-2008, 09:44 AM
We are exploring a way to sponsor an internet based yard design program. We would then allow anyone to use the service to review their design ideas before making any purchases. What do you think?

forestfireguy
08-28-2008, 11:34 AM
What is you hope to gain ? Is this a marketing effort ? Seems interesting, but being the skeptic that I am I'd guess if thats your angle it'll be taken advantage of........

Cart-Away
08-28-2008, 12:32 PM
We are a landscape material supply franchise that has retail locations specializing in offering contractors and homeowners the materials that are needed to complete outdoor improvements. The more access we can give to people to create their design before they make any purchase the more accurate they will be in placing orders for their supplies. We believe that one of the values that an involved retailer should deliver is to see that the decision making processes are simplified so that customers are satisfied. The last thing that a responsible supplier should want is sell that which is unnecessary to complete the project successfully.
We see this service, with unlimited free access, as a benefit to both the supplier and the customers that they serve. It is a fact that Cart-Away Supply has a logo on the page, so marketing justifies our upfront and ongoing costs to run the project.

Hardscaping
08-28-2008, 01:15 PM
I do think you using the software to allow your customers to see what they are going to have as a finished result is a great aidea and will increase sales. I just wouldn't want your employees spending too much time on the designing for them and them not buy anything.

tthomass
08-28-2008, 01:22 PM
Copy, paste, print and let your competition under bid you?

If you're doing design/build you should have a contract for the design work, including fees. They're basically committed to you as they will most likely sign once the design is finished and proposal submitted.

Hardscaping
08-28-2008, 01:31 PM
He is a supplier not a contractor! He just sells the product.

tthomass
08-28-2008, 02:46 PM
Helps if I read the replies.......

I had someone wanting to design my website around something similar. Potential customer could input their deminsions, browse plant material and basically prepare an estimate on their own but that wasn't something I was interested in.

As a person selling a product........the more "face time" you get with a person the better your chances are going to be at selling a product. Maybe you have the design software at your location and while they are there you can show them the actual product. People like to touch stuff more than look at in in a magazine. Someone will read that comepletely wrong I'm sure.....haha.

Cart-Away
08-28-2008, 02:55 PM
Do you think that people could go to a site on the web, insert a digital picture of their back yard and then using a digitally enhanced program create a new look? Would they be able to use this type of program to add pavers here, a planting bed there and a water feature over there? Do you think that contractors who are working for their customers would use the service and then show their ideas to the potential customers via the Internet? Or would do-it-yourselfers be savvy enough to create their own designs on the net?

Hardscaping
08-28-2008, 03:01 PM
I think any landscaper that is doing designs would probably just throw the 250 bux plus tax for realtime landscape architect 3d design software, they can create 3d videos of designs and everything. But yes there will be alot of small contractors that will use it provided they know where to access it and how to use it. a very simple program to use for someone is also a plus. for example if had access to this software and someone wanted a free design done then i would use the quickest and easiest route to make that design, but if they want a thorough design i would just use my software!

I do believe if you set it up right and it is easy enough to use why wouldn't people use it.

Home depot has something like this they sell theirs though for like 40 dollars.

Most people don't want to spend 4 hours making a design they want to load the photo and almost do nothing to come out with a result.

DVS Hardscaper
08-28-2008, 04:48 PM
One supplier in our area employed a LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT whom did designs for their residential and contractor customers. They DID charge for each design, designs were not done for free.

Dreams To Designs
08-29-2008, 09:08 AM
A free design is worth what you pay for it. Most homeowners and often the majority of installers have very little design knowledge or experience. As DVS stated, if you want to create designs for your clientèle, be they professionals or homeowners, you need the skills and talents of a designer or architect. A "design" program is simply a digital pencil and a presentation tool, it does not help you design. It will make whatever you do look good, but will not likely be any good. Just as professional installers use professional tools and techniques, professional designers use professional software and have gained tremendous amounts of information through education and experience, something no software can replace.

If you have someone on staff that is a qualified designer and you wish to offer a design service, than look at software that is commensurate with your intentions. Drafix, Pro Landscape and Dynascape are two of the better products on the market. Each taking skill, knowledge and ability to operate and get quality designs from. You can go with an inexpensive imaging software and let folks play with placing materials, but the results will be similar to homeowner created paver and SRW installations. It might look "cool" but is it practical and useful. These are attributes that will be brought to the drafting table by someone with knowledge and experience, not a computer program.

Without proper site analysis, including soils and drainage issues as well as building codes and legal issues, you are opening a can of worms.

Kirk

Cart-Away
08-29-2008, 10:07 AM
Kirk makes a great point concerning the skill level needed to design a landscape. And the difficulties of doing an adequate job using limited skill sets. This has been our concern as well but we hope to find a way to support customers who do not have the resources to employ a designer.
We appreciate this input. This is the reason that this forum is so valuable to us at the franchise systems development department. It is our desire to assist Cart-Away Supply customers to improve their outdoor living spaces and order the correct products to get the job done efficiently. Our target customers are generally individuals who are concerned with their time resources and look for ways to get value in every project.
Let's try another idea... What about presenting a photograph of a finished project. Say a 12' by 8' paver patio. This image has been contributed by a professional contractor who also shares the list the materials used, including the tools needed to complete the project displayed. This would be like a material punch list and a tool inventory checklist.
Would a contractor feel threatened with sharing this information?

Dreams To Designs
08-29-2008, 10:16 AM
As every installation should be unique to the home, it's residents and it's site conditions, your idea can give them an idea of what a project might cost and the materials needed. I think that would be something you could do with many of your professional customers, while giving them appropriate credit for their work and possible contact information, when the homeowners realizes they are over their heads. You could also offer design services, whether in house or offered through outside design services.

Around here the suppliers offer installation clinics on Saturday for homeowners, put on by local contractors. More often, the homeowners employ the contractor for all or some of the installation.

Kirk

DVS Hardscaper
08-29-2008, 10:49 AM
I'm not big on design imaging.

Infact, it's kinda old school.

Yeah...homeowners may get all excited over it. But, I don't care for it. Primarily because design imaging is NOT scaled.

If you're going to present a client with a design...it NEEDS TO BE SCALED. It NEEDS TO BE ACCURATE. Otherwise when it doesn't fit together....they're going to be furious.

I used to have design imaging software. Infact, I have not used it in 7 years!

JohnnyRoyale
08-29-2008, 11:02 AM
What about presenting a photograph of a finished project. Say a 12' by 8' paver patio. This image has been contributed by a professional contractor who also shares the list the materials used, including the tools needed to complete the project displayed. This would be like a material punch list and a tool inventory checklist.
Would a contractor feel threatened with sharing this information?

You may be on the right track now, most homeowners have no idea as to what they want or need, and for somplie DIY projects, this may be the answer/solution. In fact some paver manufacturers for instance have downloadable DIY projects with material list and drawings available on their websites. I agree with some recent posts, putting the design tools in the hands of the client, may not accomplish much, and possibly frustrate them, as they generally have no concept of whats actually involved to design and build a properly constructed, aesthetically pleasing final product. Commisioning a qualified and experienced designer to consult/design the project would be much more effective IMO.

Cart-Away
08-29-2008, 11:21 AM
Our current system includes a design idea center in each store and offer regular seminars presented by vendors and contractors. We are looking for a web-based support system that they can work on without feeling the pressure of a Cart-Away salesperson breathing down their necks.
Would the disclosure of your material list and what tools where used keep you from sharing these projects to this idea/design/construction tips site?