Point cloud of Jacobs University, Bremen: Source.
See if this sounds familiar. Your client asks for a “point cloud model”. You deliver a PTX file of the site. They say, “What’s this? I asked for a model, these are just a bunch of dots!”
One turn of phrase, “point cloud model” versus “model from point clouds,” and the time, cost, and expectations increase 2 to 3 fold. We often lament the fact that our clients require so much educating to be able to utilize our services and technology. While it represents an opportunity, most clients are unwilling to pay to be trained unless they are stepping up to compete with you. So, how do we broaden their horizons without spending more than it will reap?
After talking to numerous clients, friends, coworkers and competitors about this over the past year, one idea seems to have risen to the top: options. The firms that I saw open new marketing fronts with the most success started by offering the new services/products to their existing client base as an additional option along with their current deliverable(s).
The easiest place to start is on proposals. By all means, listen to your client and provide a quote that covers exactly what they asked you to provide. But why stop there? Let’s say they told you that they want a point cloud of the interior of a hotel lobby. Do they want it with RGB values? If so, do they also want the panos? Would an HTML viewer like TruView or NetView be helpful? Are they going to model it in Revit? Would it be cheaper for them to outsource it to you versus the time it will take them to do it in-house? How will they know if you don’t let them know how much it would cost for you to convert it into Revit objects for them?
The reality is that a lot of being educated is simply knowing what the options are! Odds are that you covered all of this in the phone call that preceded your proposal. So, why add it in the proposal? More people will have access to your proposal than were on your phone call. Even if the initial call was of the conference variety, I still recommend adding options to the proposal. If they did not want a written reference, they would have taken info from the phone call instead of asking for a written proposal. Give them all of the options again—projects change, people are moody, and you never know whose desk your proposal may land upon.
Truthfully, most of us use software every day in ways that barely skim the surface of what the applications are actually capable of. I am a huge fan of online training courses for learning new applications. They allow me to grab a general overview and quickly ascertain whether or not an application is right for whatever purposes I need at the time. However, if I am trying to master a program, I feel the need to go through every menu until I know what each command actually does. I first picked up this method with Cyclone as it allows you to export a list of hotkeys. What that actually is, however, is a list of every single command that there is in Cyclone. If I saw something on that list and I didn’t know what it did I would immediately go and find out.
Software GUIs are not necessarily designed this way anymore. Take AutoCAD 2014 or later for example. I’ve mentioned my fondness for ACAD and ReCap before and I think they are doing great things for our industry. But, if you are looking for point clouds in AutoCAD there is literally one button. If you miss it (and don’t know what ReCap is) you would have no idea that point clouds are an option as a data source. Now, after you load a point cloud, there is an entire ribbon devoted to working with point clouds. But you have to first load a point cloud and then select it to activate the ribbon.
If I had a dollar for every time I showed a client that they could use point clouds in a version of AutoCAD that they already had on their desktop I could probably buy myself another copy of AutoCAD! It’s quite funny. They are always so surprised, “Wow, I’ve never seen that menu before!” Next thing you know they are requesting point cloud deliverables like never before. Why? Because they now know it exists as a possibility. Of all the tools they have, my data is now an option.