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PRODUCT FEATURE | Technology for your business


LEFT: A kitchen layout created on Articad. The 3D render and the 2D drawings can be seen at the same time


BELOW: A 1920s-themed bathroom


designed using Virtual Worlds


behind Winner Design and Innoplus packages – has added a specific ‘sketch mode’ that only shows basic outlines for when retailers want to give customers designs to take away with them. This tool gives the customers a rough idea, but means that a rival designer won’t be able to recreate it completely. Articad has a similar function where designers can share parts of the design if required. Andy Peters, UK sales director


of


Microcad Software – the company behind


the Autokitchen the program deposit and to –


suggests that retailers only give out printed copies of designs after the client has paid


initially


present on a computer. Then only give the designs once they paid the deposit. Part of the Virtual Worlds software package, which includes 4D designs, has time limits and restrictions. For example, the retailer can set parameters so that the client only has the design for a specific time. Or if they haven’t responded to follow-ups after the design appointment, then the designer can remove permissions for the client. Compusoft MD Alex Ainge’s main


advice about this issue is to make sure that you sell on your service, not just your design skills. To ensure that the customer will know that nobody, but you, can recreate those designs. He explains: “Sell the value of your


service. Kitchens and bathrooms are expensive, so ensuring the customer gets the best possible finish and service is essential. Showing a customer that they can get the best possible service with that retailer, versus a cheaper alternative, and asking whether the customer can afford for it not to have a high-quality finish, helps to establish that.” Nathan Maclean, managing director of Virtual Worlds, believes that retailers


40


Presenting a design produced beautifully with pen and paper is a nice touch, but having to redo the entire design if a client wants a different bath would be time-consuming Jim Gibson, Stone and Chrome


should always charge for their design expertise. He says: “Ultimately, retailers shouldn’t give their designs away – there should always be a fee. Beyond this, though, retailers should be selling their brand first and foremost so that the customer is invested in you and time-wasters are turned away.” Now all that’s left is to hope that everyone in your local area operates


with such integrity that they won’t steal someone else’s branded designs.


Mastering design tools Easy to learn, but hard to master, feels like an appropriate description of designing on CAD. Based on retailer feedback, it is apparently simple to learn the basics, but adding in intricate details and personalised features takes time and practice to learn. Of course, there will always be that one colleague who can master it after one session, but the average designer will require dedication. Two-thirds of the kbbreview100 said


they felt they had been given sufficient training. In-person training was preferred over online classes, but of course, right now all are online-only. “The problem with training is a thorny one,” explains Trevor Scott,


owner of Rugby Fitted Kitchens. “Most of the in-house seminars are very generic. The problems arise with increased knowledge as the designer begins to expand their skill set with the CAD package. Then a whole new set of designer/retailer-specific issues arise, and these can only really be answered by a trainer who comes into your business and works with you and your catalogues rather than the normal training catalogues. This, however, is very expensive so isn’t used very often.” The consensus from our retail panel is that general training sessions should be done in the classroom. Because of Covid restrictions, that is not currently possible. However, retailers praised the CAD companies


for sessions ranging reacting


quickly to the situation and offering online


from full courses, to Facebook live sessions · January 2021


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