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Impress customers with space planning system

The Pool & Patio Center, New Orleans

CFR is always looking for products to increase the profitability of our members. Last year, I told you about a space planning system from Masterplan Magnetics, a CFR partner. Now, I want to tell you about Icovia Space Planner Business Edition, a computerized planning system from another CFR partner.

This partnership offers another big advantage of being a CFR member because Icovia will waive its set-up fee for members. If you aren't a member yet, join CFR before you subscribe.

By using Icovia Space Planner and your computer, you can create your customer's layout and drag and drop furniture elements into the area. Then you can move, add or delete items to show your customer just how their furniture will fit into their space. It is easy to learn, even easier to use and has a "wow" factor that is unbeatable.

Icovia Space Planner works in conjunction with your Web site or Icovia's Web site. So if you don't have a Web site, the planner will still be branded with your logo just as if you or your customer went to it from your own Web site.

Icovia intended its space planner to be an easy to learn and use design tool. They also designed it so it can create leads for Icovia subscribers.

Easy use. To create the basic footprint of the area you are working with, just enter the overall length and width of the space. You can modify its basic shape to match the exact shape and size of your customer's area. Once the space is defined, you drag architectural elements (doors, windows, etc.) into the design, then drag outdoor furniture elements into the space choosing from the large predefined collection. Once you drag a piece of furniture into the layout, you can alter its size by entering its length, width and depth. You duplicate, resize, rotate or delete pieces with a few simple keystrokes.

After it's finished, you can print out the layout to scale. In addition to the layout, you can print a list of items used along with their description. You can even include pricing in the final printed output if you want. The resultant plan rivals anything your client could get from a landscape architect.

Create leads. Once you subscribe to the system, Icovia sends a few lines of code to insert into your Web site. This code creates a clickable button on your site that anyone can use to open the planning system. When a potential customer visits your Web site, they can use the system to design their own patio before coming in to visit your store. If they register when they use the computerized layout, they can print out the layout, bring it into your store and work with one of your sales assistants to turn the layout into a sold order. Once they register to use the planner, their contact information is available for you to use in further marketing efforts — whether they come into your store or not.

My store has been using this system for more than six months. It took less than two hours to train my sales staff on the product. Now, they all use the system at least two or three times a week. If a tool can excite a sales consultant, you know it is going to impress a client. Customers get drawn into the process as they see their patio appear on the computer screen. By the end of the session, my store appears more professional than other stores they might have visited. Even though the cost is reasonable, it looks like a system only a big, multi-location, national chain could afford. That is great for our image.

If you can't subscribe to Icovia Space Planner, you should consider Masterplan Magnetics' space planning system. Regardless of system, my experience has been a space planning system increases the number of sales you close. We would not operate our business without them.

For more information, e-mail jt@icovia.com or call 603-845-0086.

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