In house designers?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by mrusk, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    Right now i use a LA for all my designs. I think hes a good LA. I have no proablem with him, except i feel using a outside designer drags out the design phase of the project. Its taking me way to long to go from first meeting to finalized plan. It seems like i need almost 10-12 weeks now. I'd like to get it down to 7.

    We have 1 plan we are working on now with 5 more i need done. It just seems like there is no way i can get more than one plan out a month from this guy. It seems like i either need to find more LAs to work with or hire a LA or a designer full time. It seems that if i was willing to spend alittle bit more money a month i could find someone just out of school who wants big projects to prove themsevles. I do not have enough design work to keep them busy 40 hrs a week every week, but i would have the person manage there designs to make sure the project is installed to his/her vision.

    What do you guys think i should do?
  2. BrandonV

    BrandonV LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,603

    defiantly want one in house, not only will they do the design but they need to be your salesperson.
  3. PlatinumLandCon

    PlatinumLandCon LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,315

    I think you're at a point (or nearing it soon) where you'll need a full-timer. What I'd do is have them visit sites, contact clients, do a bit of sales, etc to keep them busy. All this is related to design work but takes a few tasks off your back and moves them over to the designer.

    I agree fully with hiring the student. What you might want you to consider is getting 2-3 students and giving them all 1 design each to do. Give a quick deadline (2 weeks?) so you can trash them if they're garbage and give them to the current guy.

    Thats just my .02
  4. cgland

    cgland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,929

    I do most of our design work. Unless the project requires stamped plans or something wierd. I have dabbled w/ an LA or two, but their designs really tend to look the same after a while. I don't like when I have no input on the design phase and if you start butting in too much w/ a LA they get a little snippy.

  5. bigviclbi

    bigviclbi LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 900

    Why would you let someone be out on the job that has little experience in real world applications? I don't think you need a full time la you either need to spread the work around a few or tell your person that he needs to be quicker or you will go elsewhere.
  6. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    I defiently like the idea to have 2 or 3 students design a project to see which one is better. Honestly, i do not have the time to do all my own designs, nor do i have the plant knowledge i would need. I think the design is the most important part of a project. I constantly sell jobs at much higher #s then the customer originally wanted to spend since my plans are good.

    The way it is now, on some project i will give my LA imput on what i am looking for, on others, it is 100% his ideas and i am fine with that. I have no proablem having no part in the plan. Half the design phase is picking materials and thats almost as important as the plan. I still get to pick the materials.

    If anything LAs should be upset since the contractor gets credit for the job when its done and looks great. Most people never ask "who did the plan for the job." My clients know i use a LA yet they still say "You came up with such a great plan matt." and thats what they tell there friends too.
  7. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    Find more LA/designers.
  8. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,406

    Matt, would you be paying these two or three students for this design competition? If not, you know you will get what you pay for.

    Sound like you need to find additional designers or LA's to work with. As you should be aware, the design process takes time and effort to be better than the rest. I can understand your frustration with the time it takes to complete a design project and your client's anticipation, but if the work is that good, it's worth waiting for. Sounds like you need to expand your design pool and bring in others for smaller or less complex jobs. A good designer can do many of the things an LA can do, with the exception of signing off on plans.

    The relationship of an installer and designer should be symbiotic. You should work together to achieve the same goal, the client's. Whomever gets credit is not as important as a happy client that pays well and the relationship you have with your designer.

    There are plenty of designers and LA's in your area to choose from, so I don't think you should have a problem finding additional help on an as needed basis.

    A good designer can also be your salesperson or a project manager, but you will have to pay them very well for these positions as well. I'm sure you prefer to be much more hands on with the selling and installing, so your options would tend to be more towards the design as needed basis.

  9. andrewcarrigan

    andrewcarrigan LawnSite Member
    from alberta
    Messages: 30

    we had the same problem, it comes down to money if you want your plans done fast and before the other guys, we decided to pay them twice thier cost of a plan,since then we get it back within days, it works for us so good luck!
  10. PlatinumLandCon

    PlatinumLandCon LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,315

    Thats not true. Students will kill to have a chance at a good job. Its basically their job interview so I'd be shocked if they didn't put their best work forward.

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