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Case Study: Design Software

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W. D. Wells & Associates, Inc. has served many clients in their more than thirty years in business as a design/build landscape contractor in West Grove, Pennsylvania. Renovating landscapes is part of the scope of their work and DynaScape is the software they use for their plans.

On what started out as a relatively typical project, ?We were going to renovate a backyard and build a pool with a waterfall,? said Dan Maffei, landscape design manager at W.D. Wells. ?As we do with all projects, we left the plans with the client and then we reviewed them together. Almost from the beginning, we ran into a problem.?

After the review, Wells began to do some of the initial work, subcontracting out the pool. On the appointed day, the pool contractor arrived with his men and equipment. However, once the outline of the pool was drawn on the ground, and before he could start digging, the client said that he wasn?t happy and stopped the job. He wanted the pool to be five feet longer.

The pool contractor called Maffei and related the problem. He had a crew and equipment ready to work but was stalled. Maffei could not persuade the client to let the pool contractor start the job.

?Give me thirty minutes and I?ll let you know if we can do it or not,? Maffei told the owner. ?I brought up the landscape plan (on the computer) and played around with a couple of different scenarios.?

Using a three-tier software program that incorporated design/build, management and price quotes, Maffei was able to re-do the landscape plans, incorporating the larger pool area. Not only did he save the job, he saved the day for the pool contractor as well.

The staff at W. D. Wells spent three to four years researching software packages that could help in design and estimating of landscapes. ?We couldn?t find any programs that we felt comfortable with until we saw the DynaScape software.?

The software package offers three separate programs, Design, Quote, and Manage. They are compatible and can be used interchangeably. Design allows the landscape artist to import images, and the two-dimensional CAD platform offers the option to import or export any CAD drawing. Quote generates bids sheets, quotes and orders from plans or from scratch. The Manage aspect comes in handy when tracking correspondence with customers.
< br />Using AutoCAD and the drafting tool in DynaScape Design, Maffei was able to reduce the size of the patio and walkway enough to make the pool larger.

?This doesn?t happen too often, but it was probably the most time-sensitive use I got out of the software that I was able to put into play,? says Maffei. ?We knew that AutoCAD was going to primarily help us expedite the revision portion of the design process, but we were looking for the other end,? he explained. ?We realized through studying our own processes that we were doing everything manually. We had no efficiency whatsoever.?

?The program is designed for the landscape design/build/maintenance contractor who primarily caters to the mid- to high-end residential market,? says Everett DeJong, founder and managing partner of DynaScape Solutions.

Maffei says that the software program is pricey (about $2,500) but unique, helping increase sales and productivity by developing a better communication between their design, sales, and landscape operations department.

?There is now a clear communication of ?How many, what size, where is it, where does it go?? (kind of questions), as well as better paperwork generated so we can track what is being estimated versus what is being installed,? he says.

Maffei thinks the best part of the program is the time saved by not having to draft by hand, count items individually or worry about leaving items with his clients. Equally as important,
there are no mistakes.

?Before, I?d have to bring all my things to the client?s home and then I?d have to take them back to the office. Now I just copy all the information right onto the landscape plan and leave it with them,? he says. ?It?s interesting because when I first came to W.D. Wells as a designer, everything Circle 212 on Reader Response Card was done manually, from the drawings to filling in the blanks to writing up a proposal. It was very time consuming.?

?Our programs are designed to save the contractor time and give them the accuracy they need,? says DeJong. ?What used to take two to three hours to work up an estimate now takes five to ten minutes. Saving all this time easily pays for the programs.?

 
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