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Thinking of taking the Planit plunge
#10
I agree that glossy renders won't win jobs and that isn't what I am after. I was in some ways when I started this exercise trying to talk myself into buying Planit. I haven't ruled it out yet but it doesn't look like it will do what I want. I would still need to invest in Easyquote so that it could do automatic pricing as well.

I have made initial enquiries with Compusoft and it appears that their strength is the effort that they put into manufacturers catalogues. Pricing would be automatic and I would have the facility to price different options easily and quickly. It would seriously cut down my time in the office so I could be out there with customers.

Planit appears to be suited to big corporates and Compusoft seem to aim at the independent market. I will get a demo from both of them before I make a decision. The exercise started with the emphasis on whether or not I could afford Planit and has evolved into whether I can afford not to use Compusoft.

I won't bore everyone with my reasoning and the particular needs of my business but suffice to say that it is constantly growing and I may end up sitting on my arse drinking coffee whilst I invent quotes! Speculating to accumulate can go two ways though so I will proceed with caution.

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#11
Sitting on ones arse drinking coffee is good though,that's what I'm doing right now and for the next 6 weeks,not inventing quotes though,dislocated shoulder,NOT GOOD!!Battered

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#12
Have had demos now from Compusoft and Planit and I'm not that impressed by either. Well at least not when you consider how much money they want.

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#13
I can't speak for Compusoft but I do think Planit is a good product. However, as you say Andy, it's the money they're asking for it and I just think it's too much outlay for a one man band.

As I said, I'm happy with my Kitchendraw but if I ever need something a bit better looking I give the room dimensions and the kitchen layout to the bloke I buy my kitchens from and he knocks it up in half an hour......at no cost. ThumbUp

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#14
I have just spent the weekend trying to learn how to use Kitchen Draw. I have to say I'm warming to it especially when you consider the cost of other options. Compusoft sounded great but the £100/month startup option isn't all it is cracked up to be. It's basically an easy intro into a 3/4 year package that costs £9.5k. Also it doesn't have the facility to draw different coloured cornice and pelmets. That's what the sales guy said and I'm waiting to hear back from him on that one. Planit Compact might be a better option at £2250 plus the dreaded but it has to be funded over a max of 4 months and with Crimbo coming now is not the time.

So it's KD for now. Here's what I spent my weekend doing along with a load of pricing. It's wonderful being self-employed sometimes especially when your mates are all out having fun. However it will be worth it in he long run. I do hope so.


resim

resim

resim

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#15
Nice render, good layout, but wheres the hob? Wink2
I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.
Benjamin Franklin

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#16
Nice bit of Cad work there Andy ThumbUp

The thing I love about KD is that it's fully customisable.
Once you've learnt how to add floor and wall tiles and different colours to walls it can really make a difference.

Although it's it won't necessarily win you jobs (although I have to say it does make a difference) it's important to get the perspective views right and those that you've posted, I have to say, are hundreds of times better than the crap that B&Q and Homebase and even Howdens produce - IMO.

Also, with KD if you download the program to a CD or USB stick before installing you can then install that program into as many PC's as you want and dongle your designs between PC's. I find this really useful for working on the designs on my PC with its 18" monitor then taking the designs out to the customer and showing them on my laptop or netbook. And you have the capability to export the drawings as Jpegs (as you've proved Andy) and email them to the customer.

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#17
I know I'm coming late to this discussion - but I think it all depends what market you're in. I'm in a different position because all I do is designs - I don't sell kitchens - but I think the principle is the same.

I do a fair amount of work designing IKEA or Second Nature kitchens, or the like; where my plans will be compared with B&Q and Wickes and Howdens etc ... but I also do a lot of bespoke work with in-frame kitchens. If you're competing for kitchens in the £15 - 30k bracket, then the visualisations make all the difference ... it doesn't matter whether you have a showroom, or not, or whether you're a company or a one (wo)man band ... it's what market you're aiming at that counts.

I used KitchenDraw for a couple of years (when I decided that hand drawn sketches weren't going to be sufficient) ... but it wasn't flexible enough. I too compared Planit with Compusoft Winner a couple of years ago ... and went for Compusoft.

I have to admit that I was probably influenced by the fact that the Planit salesman was a wassock ... his follow up letter was addressed to "Mr." John!! And I've often wondered since whether I'd have been happier with Planit ... but who knows. I'm sure there are issues with both.

I chose Winner because you don't have to pay for extra catalogues (important if you're independent), because it was unashamedly more expensive than Planit (read "better"), because their salesman was miles more efficient, because it includes pricing, and because their training programmes are fairly local to me.

It's virtually impossible in a short demonstration to discover which programme would actually suit you best - and very few people have used both programmes extensively - so you have to rely on the salespeople. I went for the purchase option (because it's MINE - all MINE!) - but I still have to pay about £100 per month to keep it updated (and they're threatening to withdraw that monthly payment option - and ask for over £1,000 annually!).

Having used 20:20, Planit, AutoKitchen and KitchenDraw previously - but not been really proficient in any (except perhaps KitchenDraw) - I'd say it takes at least a year of using any of the more sophisticated programmes to produce really good results ... and to produce really good individual photorealistic pictures is always going to be time consuming.

It's perfectly true that Winner will only produce one colour of cornice, pelmet and plinth per kitchen ... and I don't think that's likely to change in the near future. It's also fiendishly difficult to get the contrast right in the photorealistic pictures (or perhaps it's just me). I export them and do a bit of photo-editing on them, before printing them out or e-mailing them off (that way I can adjust the contrast and swap the colours on the cornice etc).

And this is what the results are like:

resim

resim

Having a programme where you can insert photos for the appliances (as for the Rangemaster fridge-freezer and Falcon cooker above) and for the views out of the window, makes a big difference to some kitchens. The one below would look totally different, if it didn't have those splendid (real) views:

resim

I do plans and photorealistic images for some cabinetmakers and for some showrooms (who have their own CAD programmes) - but they only use me for big and expensive kitchens where they haven't got the time, or the inclination, to do a good job themsleves ... and I charge considerably more than £30! (For some kitchens that would only pay to get the room on the CAD programme ... let alone any furniture).

Sorry I didn't mean to write such an essay ... but maybe it will have helped? Do you need pictures like the ones above Andy? Or just a basic visualisation of the layout. Like Stretch says, your Kitchendraw pictures will improve quite a bit with practice and with flooring, wall tiles and wall colours ... but they'll never be as good as Planit or Winner.

Majjie

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#18
Majjie, there's no need to apologise for writing an essay! It was very informative and much appreciated as I had been hoping to receive your input at some point.

I'm no closer to making a long term decision than I was when I started out on this quest. I'm not actually impressed by any of the packages I have seen so far if I consider how much they will cost over a 3 year period. I might look at Articad as an option though I wouldn't have considered it until I had seen the Compusoft and Planit demos.

The Compusoft guy was fine till I discovered the plinths/cornice/pelmet flaw. He messed around for about 10 mins trying to convince me he could fix it knowing full well he couldn't and finally admitted it was a design flaw. I do so love being treated like a numpty, it always makes me warm to people! He had also agreed prior to our meeting to do an actual customer plan for me by way of a demo knowing that I wanted to use it to show to that customer. He then refused to give me the image unless I signed up there and then having rambled on previously about their low pressure sales approach. I do have to say that Compusoft up till that point looked way better than Fusion. I had ruled out Fusion as an option up until that point but it is back in the mix again.

I'm also putting a lot of thought into where I want to take my business in 2011 and beyond. A lot of people have suggested I expand, come off the tools completely and employ fitters either as subbies or pemanently. I was sold on that up until recently and I'm not sure I want the hassle as I fear that it will be a leap out of the frying pan into the fire. I only actually need to do about 10-12 kitchens a year if I fit them myself and can cherry pick my enquiries most of the time. It just depends where in the market I want to try and position myself and that is where I toally agree with Majjie. Size is not important (it's so nice to hear a woman say that!!!) and if a package is going to cost 3k a year to purchase and run it won't be a problem generating the extra margin to fund it provided my marketing is effective and margins increase.

The only decision I've made so far is not to make a decision. Kitchen Draw will do the job for now and I can always use someone for the funkier drawings. Planit probably has the edge for now if I do go for something but only by a nose.

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