Let me start by stating that any work that I can do that is profitable is work that interests me. Additionally, I am interested enough in some work to do it even when it is not profitable. One of the more interesting aspects of the current state of the 3D imaging market is the opening of new markets due to decreased hardware costs and increased software performance. I only intend this to be a primer to those in these new markets. An open letter of introduction that will (hopefully) smooth the path before us all.
Dear New Client,
Welcome to the wonderful world of 3D imaging! You could not have picked a better time to join the party. Prices are down, options are up, and there are more deliverable products in the market every month. Many of us have been here a while and you may have gotten the impression from someone here that this is all fast and easy and relatively cheap. However, now that you are here, we need to talk about the cover charge.
That whole fast, easy, cheap thing? Well, that was in comparison to what it used to be like 4 or 5 years ago. If you are comparing my imaging your warehouse to you sending out three or four interns with tape measures and a legal pad, I am going to look very expensive. But, please, hear me out because what I am delivering is totally different in coverage and accuracy as well. It’s really not apples to apples, I promise. If it was, I would simply go out and hire a bunch of low cost labor instead of trying to learn and maintain all of this expensive equipment.
Whatever I tell you today will probably be wrong (or at least outdated) in less than six months. The technology really does move that fast. Be ready for a sharp learning curve. We have developed and co-opted an entire vocabulary to describe what we do. I’ll try to give you a glossary but please do pay attention. The word “model” is simply not sufficient to define the deliverable in your RFP. Oh, and I hope you enjoy acronyms.
What you see when we are onsite is the fastest, easiest part of what we do. I know how it looks. I spend a day at your site and go back to my office and tell you it will be two weeks before you can expect your 3D model. I really am at the office working on it (and other projects for other clients). I’m not at a bar or on the beach. Creating a CAD or Revit model from a point cloud can easily take 3 or 4 hours for every hour in the field. The software needed to do this is rather expensive. I can’t buy a few extra seats just to knock your project out in record time without raising your invoice accordingly. Even if I could, I couldn’t find the trained staff to use the licenses. If you doubt any of this, just give me a call. I’ll be happy to arrange a visit to my office so you can watch our modelers work on your data. I’m sure you’ll find the hours to be fascinating (that’s sarcasm BTW. I really wish there was a punctuation mark to denote it. We are working on it internally but adoption has been slow).
Last but not least, please try to understand where you are on the dance card. You are an emerging market because we are no longer cost prohibitive. Most of us are coming out of the petrochemical and other heavy industries. We were a cost-effective solution for them when the rates were double what they are today. When I have a scheduling conflict between the two of you, well, as they say in the South you’ve gotta dance with who brung ya’. This is especially true if you are asking me to rebid your project again so you can try to beat me down on price (for the 4th time today) for an office building two time zones away that has to be scanned at night because it is occupied during “working hours.” I really am trying to help you, but I’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and years of training and hard earned experience that I’m bringing to the party. I have about two years to pull in the ROI on my hardware before it’s out of date and software maintenance bills that can make a grown man cry. I’m not robbing you blind. If you are in the heritage or architectural fieIds, I’m probably breaking even. I firmly believe that we will both benefit from a long and respectful relationship and if I did not think so, I would not be willing to guide you through the learning curve that you are enjoying so much at this moment. Just remember I’m not billing you for that either. If you don’t think that is worth something, try getting free professional advice from a lawyer or doctor.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions you know my number. Just understand that if it goes to my voicemail, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
Your Hired Gun