Profiling the Ideal Client - by Ken Smerz, CEO, Eco3d USA
as seen in LiDAR Magazine, March 2017
The 3d imaging world, as new as it is, has many companies in search of the right target audience to fund growth—and ideally, to provide recurring revenue. Do you really know what types of businesses can best fuel your growth? Who your ideal target client is? And who should you avoid altogether?
I’m going to save you thousands of hours of wasted time and money -- avoiding mistakes I’ve made over the years laying a foundation for the 3d scanning/modeling industry. Why would I do that? Because we’re all in our infancy when it comes to creating digital 3d models; the more we help each other, the faster we collectively benefit.
Before you start hunting, invest some quality time in strategically reviewing your existing client base and potential targets. A successful project is predicated on the right client type – one that will develop into a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.
Client attributes you should hunt:
Multiple Locations: Any client with multiple (25+) locations/facilities that all have at least 25,000 SF of facility space. Why? The quotes will be large enough to support the sales effort (money spent) to pursue the opportunity. The project sizes are typically larger in scope and provide better cash flow to grow your business.
Furthermore, owners with this sort of investment portfolio will require continuous facility renovation to remain competitive with what they produce/sell, and they’ll need accurate as-builts to manage their assets. Examples include hospitals, maritime facilities, hotels, etc.
Digitally Aware: There are many clients—many large corporations—who are still using 2d CAD 100% of the time. And there are client types who realize the value of a 3d model - not only for construction, but also for the operation of their facility. Hunt for those who are hungry for 3d and don’t require a white paper on the value of converting from 2d.
Values Precision: A pharmaceutical drug manufacturing facility is far more desirable than an existing airport hangar, because the need for accurate dimensions is significantly more valuable. In addition to these types of facility managers, firms that provide services (engineers, MEP contractors, etc.) to precision-based manufacturing clients are also excellent targets for your technology.
The point I’m trying to make is to identify an end user industry that benefits significantly from highly accurate 3d data and that relies on a manufacturing process. It’s a much easier sell because their real estate is far more valuable. Think high purity industries, such as oil and gas, or materials manufacturing.
Has Money: Seems too easy, right? Ideally, you want your customer to pay you for services rendered. However, there are many heritage projects, non-profit needs, or even religious entities that would prefer a donation. While it’s good to help out, it’s also wise to protect yourself - run a credit check, validate the client, and make sure you can get paid. No company ever survived by only doing things that feel good.
Understands True Costs: Since nothing is ever built according to plan the first time, renovation budgets often carry a line item to capture existing conditions. In your due diligence phase, ask the question, “How much is allocated for accurate as-builts?” Somewhere along the project cycle, someone created an allocation for this component. Find the person who has a handle on the total build cost, and you can start a conversion on the value of providing that service.
Prioritizes Safety: Let’s face it, laser scanning provides accurate information/data without contact, without putting people in harm’s way. Any company that wants to improve worker safety and maintain their safety records by keeping their employees on the ground is a good choice to introduce laser scanning. Think oil and gas, power, building elevation, etc.
Those you might want to avoid:
“In-House” Integrators: There are a group out there—often architects or general contractors—who believe that, with just a little experience, they can integrate the technology in-house. While I’ve witnessed a 100% failure rate in this model, it’s a lesson that must be learned firsthand (like putting your lips on a frozen pipe). I would suggest you avoid them, because they won’t be satisfied unless and until they’re successful – and the only way they will succeed is if you teach them everything you know. Which of course then means you’re out of a job…
Non-Profits/Municipalities/Government: I understand that this can be a feel good moment, or perhaps a large bid opportunity, but let’s look at the facts. All of these type of clients have an abnormally long sales cycle (months or even years). The process will put you in a competitive bid scenario, often for the lowest price. They don’t have the software or technical expertise to manipulate your deliverable without struggle. And they probably won’t remain loyal just because you worked together/were awarded one job in the past. Because of their mandated procurement policies, these type clients can be as loyal as a stray cat.
Really Great Guys: This is that client that you really like hanging out/lunch/play golf with, but they are essentially Time Thieves. You can recognize them by how much actual time you spend with them not directly attributable to a project. Compare that opportunity cost to another client who will generate more revenue this year in a single transaction. Look at your YTD revenue to see where best to focus your efforts…and stop talking to the Time Thieves!
Prolonged Sales Cycles: My favorite example in this category is the entire infrastructure world. Think about how much opportunity exists for scanning/modeling of our bridges and roadways - it’s awesome! But it’s also a very long sales cycle to educate, qualify, bid and re-bid – all while competing against less qualified providers. Make no mistake, if you can get “in,” you can achieve great success, but projects are often awarded to the lowest price and it can take forever for some public stakeholders to make a decision. You’d better be able to fund the ride!