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How do you handle your lighting designs? Do you sketch out something on paper while you are on the property? Do you draw an in depth detailed sketch or do you draw out something simple and get the contract before you go into details. Do you draw out a wiring diagram at the same time? Do you take detailed photos and measurements and create a design on your computer? I am wondering how everyone is handling this in there neck of the woods. I have been drawing a rough sketch while on the property of the design and wiring diagram and cleaning it up once I get home.
 

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For smaller designs I usually sketch it out, design it and give the proposal on the spot. I've never been a big fan of going back twice to give the presentation. For larger projects however, I'll make some notes take them back to the office and create a much more detailed plan. I'll usually ask for available blueprints, but if they aren't available I'll draw it by hand. I'd love to be able to do the CAD stuff, but I've never taken the time to learn/buy it. When I do sketches, I usually make a note of the measurements. I don't do the wiring design until after the contract has been signed.
 

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I usually do a demo, and the customers and I will tweak the lights here and there, coming up with a final look. I typically will not do a drawn design layout unless they pay me to do so, and the contract is signed. I have done free sketches on proposals in the past, only to have others bid off my design and get the job. Since I am the only one here doing demo's, the demo gets me jobs rather than sketches or design work.
 

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I have done the demo, just to give them a idea of how it is going to look. Now I prefer to do a walk through with them without the demo. Give the price and go from there.

Ya'll will love this. I was working on a job saturday at the lake. Well the neighbor across the cove was like I want to talk to you about some lighting over here. I told him to come over and I will show him what i was doing over here.

Well to make a long story short after I was done working under the boat dock, I just took alittle swim to go over his lighitng job. Ended up giving a rough price. He wanted 65 light fixtures. Never had to give a price with a bathing suit while having a beer.
 

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I do the demo and have it all layed out. My demo only has 22 fixtures so if more is needed i wll suggest to the customer. Then i write up whats going to happen, tell them a price and they either sign or say well tell you when you come pick the demo up. Simple as that. Demo really helps the selling process.
 

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I will usually rough sketch the house and landscape, I also take plenty of photos for later if I need to reference back to something on larger jobs. Most of the time I set up the demo and come back with a proposal when I take it down. I do a full out detailed as built drawing on CAD when I am finished with the job and then put a copy in one of the transformers and a laminated copy to the homeowners.
 

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If they want the job based on the demo plus revisions, I will describe in writing and attach to the proposal. If they okay it and I have to submit to a community architectural review board (everywhere here) I copy their site plan and draw on it with symbols (like those in Nate Mullen's book or Janet Moyer's book). Those are great references if you haven't got them yet.

I bought a bunch of fancy drawing pencils and sketch paper at one point to sketch scenes out on the spot, as Chris indicates, but it's all still in my drawer unused. lol.
 

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I wish I had some good in the field contracts that are 2 part carbon paper so I didn't always have to go back to the office to type up and print out an estimate. I have tossed around the idea of keeping a laptop and printer in the truck to do this with but I think a simple carbon contract would be good for this. Does anyone have one made up that is any good? I would be willing to pay for a good template.
 

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Tim I tired the laptop before. I bought a small HP printer as well. I didn't like having to use the laptop during the heat of the summer, waiting on it to boot up. It just didn't work for me. Maybe i'm just tooo restless.
 
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Tim, I have used the notebook / printer combo for years now and would NEVER return to working without it! It paid for itself on the very first job.

I have a lot of driving between my clients and my office. The clients have even more driving between their primary residences and their cottages. As such, I need to be extra responsive in order to capture their attention and be efficient during our 16 week high season. Enter the notebook computer and small printer.

Now I go to site, conduct the interview, walk the property, design the system in pen and ink, then spend whatever time is necessary on site to work up the quote, specification and contract. I print this out and sit down with the client again for their approval. I am usually in and out with a signed deal in two to three hours.

This has helped immeasurably. The client's are still very much interested and excited when I present the details and I dont have a lot of wasted time travelling back and forth, setting up multiple meetings and generally wasting their valuable summer time off.

Like I said, the notebook computer and printer combo has been indispensible to me... it also comes in very handy for on site edits, changes and as-builts when on the installation.

Have a great day.
 

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James, I have kicked this idea around over and over again and I just don't see how I can get around not having the notebook/printer combo. I like the fact that a printed contract is cleaner and much more professional looking than anything handwritten. I have also considered this may reduce the amount of demos that I will need to perform and I also believe my closing rate will be higher if I can get a commitment on the initial visit while their interest is at its peak level. This will also save gas as I will not be making additional trips to the site to sign a contract. I think this is the way I need to go.
 
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I highly recommend it Tim. The most interesting thing about this 'technique' is that you maintain the client's interest and excitement level. Nothing worse then leaving the initial meeting, returning in a week's time with the spec. and contract, only to find you have to go through all the details again, re-build enthusiasm, or worse, deal with some type of change in direction that was unknown to you.

My next notebook pc will probably be a Tablet PC, that will allow me to do my "pen&ink" designs right onto the PC, converting it automatically into my system design template.

Better, Faster, Stronger, Higher.
 

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Our engineer picked up a tablet laptop that allows him to write and draw with a special pen right onto the laptop screen. It is a really cool set up. This may be a handy piece for some of you guys considering doing the notebook/printer thing onsite yet want the flexability of hand drawing a sketch of the property.

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/landing_pages/sales/2008/dealboxes?cid=us|semd|ggl|us_xseries_tablet_db_en|t127D|s&&s_kwcid=tablet%20notebook|2309519791
 
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Yep, thats what I am talking about Joey... Toshiba, HP, Acer, and others all offer Tablet PCs now too.

They are pretty cool, and the price has dropped to be competitive with standard notebook pc's.
 
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