The Business of Laser Scanning: Confessions

A 265Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

Many of you reading this LiDAR News publication are in the business of providing services–data capture, modeling, documentation — to your clients. Having been an upstart small business for 5+ years, which in our industry is a lifetime, and having scaled our business to a relatively large size stand-alone service provider, we’ve made some pretty big mistakes. Looking back over the years these are some things we should have done differently:

It’s not laser scanning! We used to impress everyone we met by showing them our laser scanners and point clouds. Yet our conversion rate to an actual job was horrific. Why? It’s not about the laser…ultimately nobody really cares…it’s about accurate measurement. We used to sell laser scanning. Today, we sell accurate, 3d, non-contact, eye-safe measurement. And our conversion rate has improved radically.
Bust the silos. We wrongly assumed that just because we did a great job with Company X in California, they’d surely hear about that in their Atlanta office. Wrong! Most large companies don’t communicate well internally so you need to bridge the gap between the silos–and do it aggressively.
Get social. We underestimated the value of engaging social media in our marketing efforts. The fact is the greatest users of "3d" in our world are the younger generation. Guest what else they also use? Social media. Now we engage with our user base better than ever.
Always `yes’ So the phone rings, . the caller wants a laser scan or 3d model, and we’d say "yes". We’d always say `yes’. In doing so we’d stress our team and never build out an expertise that we could master and ultimately improve profitability. Today we don’t always say `yes’ and instead dig into the client’s needs to determine it if really is something we can do well.
Talk too much. I can’t tell you how many times we didn’t ask enough questions, didn’t dive down into the clients problems, and didn’t get an idea of a clearly communicated deliverable. Today we have our clients go through a "menu" of potential services when asking us for a bid. This helps us both create goals that everyone understands. (Email me at and I’ll share it with you.)
No free lunch. We’ve done hundreds of "lunch/learns" and usually with fantastic interest and active participation. But converting those into actionable quotes… which then turned into jobs… less than 10%. If you’re doing the ground work of educating the end user for me, I want to thank you in advance. All you’ve done (as we did) is to create more interest. If/ when you do the lunch/learn, ask for the order and/or get aggressive in asking for a project.
No Low Balling. There are way too many of us out there who are trying to enter the market, or remain in the market, who are focused on being the low price leader. Your low price might get you a single job, but without providing value on the project you’ve essentially opened the door for your competition. The reason your client selected you to perform the service needs to incorporate the VALUE of what you’re providing. How are you making the client’s life better?
No Superheroes. There have been too many times we were so excited to sell the client on all we could do, that looking back, we probably scared them away. Sure we impressed them, but we we’re showing Star Trek technology to guys who were using sling-shots. Find something that resonates with their immediate needs and close the deal on that. Then up-sell as you develop the relationship.
Stick to the Plan. We too often would make analysis on short term results without considering a long term strategy. We’re far better off today by making minor adjustments to the overall plan instead of trying to re-write the playbook every 3 months.

Ken Smerz is the President of President/ CEO of Eco3d ( a service provider that travels throughout the nation working with A/E/C and forensic clients. He can be reached at with any questions or comments you might have.

A 265Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

About the Author

Ken Smerz

Ken Smerz... CEO of Precision 3d, has worked the past 24 years within the construction industry as a licensed contractor and business executive throughout the western U.S. Upon discovering laser scanning, 3d imaging, BIM, Ken recognized an emerging market opportunity to provide consultation in a 3d world. Relying on his past experience and entrepreneurial spirit, he has positioned Precision 3d as one of the largest national providers of laser scanning and other 3d imaging services. His team of professionals specializes primarily in the Architectural/Engineering/Contractor marketplace as well as forensic investigation. The key to their business model is to provide exceptional customer service in helping clients achieve their specific goals.
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