Several years ago I went looking for a landscape design software program that would fit my needs as a Landscaper designer. Yes, I know that Auto cad is the obvious choice but I really wanted something specific to my industry.
This was my experience and I want to share it so that average landscapers trying to improve their businesses don’t get burned like I did.
After attending an industry trade show here in Vancouver ( similar to shows like New England Grows in Boston and Landscape Industry Show in Los Angeles that are going on right now ), I came across a landscape design software demo booth.
This particular software seemed to be the whole package. At the time it offered a quote generator, a color program and the ability to build plant care packages for your clients.
It was perfect for my needs but had a very steep price tag. To get the design, quote and color it was over $3000. In addition, you would have to continue to pay $500 a year for a subscription in order to use their on-line plant dictionary.
This company up sell’s the subscription as a guarantee of receiving all the latest updates…. discontinue the subscription = no updates. That seems like a pretty standard agreement, except what you may not understand is that if at anytime you opt out of paying for the subscription, your software becomes useless as you need to be connected via Internet to them in order to use it, they included this catch on their latest version.
When I bought the software, I had issues right from the get go as the color part of the program conflicted with the latest Windows. It took awhile but a patch was made to fix it, unfortunately not during the season I needed it though.
The quote program in this landscape design software received a few upgrades over the couple years I’ve owned it and because of this wiped out my entire plant library and plant pricing per nursery, which took countless hours of data entry to create. The program allowed me to assign attributes to each plant, not anymore. This add on program is now considered obsolete and although still available with a patch, it also has been discontinued and going forward, will not supported. It is only a matter of time when you will be forced to purchase their latest add-on ( not included in your subscriptions ) that replaced this old one so that you will be able to use the updates.
The on-line plant library that this particular landscape design software uses may have a lot of plants, but most likely won’t fit your zone or your preferences. For instance, I found it would list 2 or 3 options of a common plant when there are hundreds of incredible varieties of that plant to choose from. The solution was to pull from your own data base, but beware, an upgrade may wipe out all of your own data like it did mine. So don’t be fooled into thinking there is a value sitting there. In fact the most recent conversation I had with a sales rep is they are looking to replace the current on-line plant library with their own in the next year, so that may be a good or bad thing depending on how much you use it. Regardless, it’s yet another change to the original purchase.
Now, the plant care packages. This feature really was what swayed me into making the investment. The amount of time I would have to put into creating these for my residential customers after the installation was incredible. I used to have to hunt for images in the varieties we planted, get the care info, insert it all into a Word Doc, etc.
My customers loved this feature, it set me apart in service as they felt informed and armed with all the info they needed to care for their new garden after I left.
The fact that I was able to generate these as I designed was my number one reason for buying this program. Time is money right?
I basically built an entire database that would be amazing to work from for years to come. Then it was all gone.
This landscape design software company no longer supports the plant care generator package part of the program. It too has been discontinued. So….everything I bought this program for is now obsolete. They have a whole new set of add on programs now that you can buy instead that will cost you $100′s more. ( not included with your subscription ).
After basically srtipping everything away that I had originally purchased and leaving me with something I could have got through Autocad, I had enough of throwing money away and canceled my subscription. Here’s where I find out that the latest version that I had upgraded to prior to my cancellation was a catch that if I canceled, my software would be rendered useless.
The salesman advised me to uninstall the latest version and reinstall the last disk I received and that should at least get me back to using the remaining unsupported parts of the program that still worked. It wouldn’t bring back my library, it won’t restore my plant care package function but at least I can try to salvage the design software.
After doing as I was instructed, I realized that I had paid over $1500 in subscription fee’s to upgrade to the latest version via internet ( you can check for upgrades on your computer and download directly ). They owe all those prior updates ( the ones not requiring a link ) to me. I’ve been back a forth with these guys trying to figure this out, just trying to reach a point where I can at least get something out of this mess.
This morning I received an email for what appears to be the end of their effort to resolve this. One line that basically says that the updates I did pay for ( subscription ) are not available. Sorry.
I’m not demanding a refund although they should give me my money back in full. But not to at least give me what I paid for…. Sorry??
I have ever made. PERIOD!
I am writing this for every landscaper that is out there, hunting on line or going to trade shows, looking for landscape design software program they can invest in. I really shopped around before I decided to bite the bullet on what I thought was a good investment for my small business. To date, I have paid over $5300 for a program that is 1/3 of what I bought and have been left out to dry.
Use caution before you fork over $1000′s of dollars for landscape design software and especially if they require you to pay $1000′s of dollars more just to use it.
What you buy today might not be available to you tomorrow.
At the time of writing this I had hopes that this company would make good on my lost updates so I wouldn’t have to publish this and I could move on. I did get a response back basically telling me that in their agreement I wasn’t allowed to use the software I purchased unless I continued to pay them $1000′s of dollars in subscription fees going forward.
Why would I continue to pay for something that is a lesser product than what I bought a few years ago?
If you are just an average Landscaper like I was….beware!! It’s easy to get drawn in by the salesmen and all the fancy options but do your research, and DEFINITELY read the small print or you’ll be eating 5K + like me!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I am more than happy to answer them.