When designer Tim Rowan sits down with a client to plan the perfect poolscape, he literally leaves nothing to the imagination.
Tim, the president of the 36-year-old landscape/poolscape company outside Baltimore, Maryland that bears his name, uses a combination of skillful salesmanship and sophisticated 3-D software to show clients exactly how he will translate their dreams into reality, right down to the soft splashing of the waterfalls, the gentle blowing of the breeze and the crackling of the flames in the fire features.
“People always have trouble visualizing what the finished project will look like, and as a salesman it can be difficult to explain what I’m designing,” he says. “Even when I show them color photos from our portfolio of similar pools, visualizing their project is difficult.”
His techniques, which earned the family-owned and -operated company a 2017 EDGE Marketing Award from the Master Pools Guild, have not only boosted sales but also sales figures.
For years, Rowan Landscape & Pools has been presenting clients with DynaScape CAD drawings. The Structure Studios Vip3D software program takes its designs to the next level.
For this project, shown in photos and a 3-D screen shot, Rowan Landscape & Pools designed and installed a formal pool that included three sheer descents, an air bar, foam jets, glass tile and ledger stone.
“We do everything from the pool and landscaping to the lighting, hardscape, outdoor kitchen and fire features. We strive to present a master plan so that the client can have a design that is exactly what they are dreaming of,” he says. “In the majority of the cases, we need to tweak the cost for budgeting purposes. The master plan allows our clients to work in phases so that the budget can be accommodated.”
Once the CAD drawings are approved, Tim’s wife, Beth, in a process that’s akin to building a virtual doll house, spends four to six hours creating a two- to three-minute 3-D video of the poolscape using Structure Studios landscape software.
“I had tried this about 10 years ago, but it took too much time,” Tim says. “Now as the program has improved, it’s much easier, and it actually saves us time and money.”
When Beth creates a video, she incorporates the house and property elevations. She also adds furniture and creates entertainment spaces and shows views during the day and at night.
With Structure Studios, she can even include animated figures splashing in the water, diving into the pool and tossing beach balls to each other.
“Although other companies use the software, Tim goes one step beyond and makes the 3-D design as detailed as possible,” Beth says. “I re-create the style of the house and put the windows and doors where they are in real life. I want to be as accurate as I can so the client can relate to it. This gives the client the ability to look out from a window in the house and see what their view will be.”
Tim says that the video never fails to clinch the sale. “It makes the clients get more excited,” he says. “And if they cannot afford everything at once, it persuades them to phase in the work. This way, the design won’t look piecemeal – everything goes together at the end.”
Indeed, one of Tim’s clients was so taken with the fact that Beth had outfitted the virtual bar with a bottle of wine that he said “sold” before he got to the end of the video. In another case, Tim used the video to show clients what it would be like to swim by a waterfall or under a bridge and what the pool looked like from under the water.
Rowan Landscape & Pools designed and installed this free-form pool and spa combination that features a beach area with a swim-up sunken tiki bar. The photo and 3-D screen shot are virtually identical.
If the client wants to make changes to the 3-D design or get a different view, this can easily be done.
“It’s not often that you can see what a project will look like before construction begins,” says Kari Whitehead, Tim’s daughter and office manager. “It gets people involved, and for those who are on the fence, the 3-D design gives them the confidence to move forward. When the project is complete, I take photos. I compare them to the screen shots from the 3-D video. The similarity is unbelievable — it’s truly an accurate representation.”
Tim says that the 3-D video serves as a valuable backup for his CAD designs. “At times, Beth will point out that I’m missing design aspects or certain issues were not addressed,” he says. “I can then go back and correct them.”
He also uses screen shots from the video to clarify things on the jobsite. “I can show foremen and masons exactly what the features and details are to look like,” he says. “It saves a lot of time.”
The 3-D video is presented to the client, who can share it with friends and relatives to get feedback. “We recently had clients who sent it to their family in China,” Tim says.
Rowan Landscapes & Pools also posts the designs on YouTube and social media channels.
“We, of course, remove the client’s name,” says Kari. “But we keep our name on it and use it as a marketing and publicity tool. It acts as a free ad for our services.”
The end result is a splashing win-win. “The software makes happy and confident clients,” he says, “because it makes their dreams come to life in 3-D form so they can see what their investment will get them.”
Rowan Landscape & Pools is a proud member of the Master Pools Guild. For additional resources, visit www.masterpoolsguild.com.
Photos by Rowan Landscape & Pools