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High Performance Lighting
05-29-2007, 10:12 PM
I've been asked in a private e-mail how I qualify a prospect. I will share this here for all to see.

Who- I ask who they are and where they live, If they are familiar with my work, Have they been to my website. If so, do they like what they see and are they looking for similar.

what- what are they looking for- malibu lights? Pro quality high end lighting with brass and copper fixtures? Do they have a a system on their property now- if so what's wrong with it. This is a good question because it agitates. It reminds them how unhappy they are and why they are calling me and that they need to take action to correct it.

where-generally what part of their yard do they want to light

when- will work begin? are their any other projects they must be completed first. Is there anything keeping you from deciding to go ahead with me if our meeting goes well?

how- did you find out about me?

I'd like to tell you alittle about how I work

I am the owner and perform all of the work on your property. I work on one project at a time. Very Basic systems start around $2,500.00 but typically average around $6-8,000 for a small front and backyard tract home system. All projects are quoted on an individual basis and require a meeting with all decision makers on site . There is a $--.-- fee for a design consultation payable at the meeting which is credited to your project when accepted within 30 days of our meeting . My earliest availability to meet is------- at ----. my earliest availability to do the work is late August? (wait for objections if any)


Is this ------ at ----good for you and your significant other to meet and discuss your project?
Can you tell me who else will be meeting with us? and she is your?
Excellent, Can you give me directions, I'm coming from......

Thank you very much I look forward to meeting you and ---- on ---- at -----. Good bye.

I call this the sale before the sale. If you can't sell the design consult you're going to have a tough time selling your system.

NightScenes
05-29-2007, 11:08 PM
That sounds a lot like what I do. If they are willing to continue the conversation after I tell them about the design fee and starting package of $2500.00, we will probably do business. It has saved me (I'm sure) days of time that I would have spent meeting, talking, and designing for nothing. I can spend that time actually doing these things for paying clients.

seolatlanta
05-30-2007, 11:19 AM
I am going to start with my consult fee today.

I have a possible client ( he & I have never met except over the phone) who wants me to come over tomorrow night at 9:15 pm. He already has lights but likes what I did for his neighbors house and might want to add a few more. Now I dont know about you guys but the only time I go out at night is to do a walkthrough and pick up my check!

I tried to tell this guy that I dont need to come out at night for such a call I am quite qualified to do the call in the day but he wouldnt have it. I have to be honest - I agreed to the appt. but it forces me to charge him a considerably higher rate and I am not even sure I have got the job! He insisted I see the house at night.

I suppose the consult fee up front would have let me know right where I stand and made it worth my time. It is a very nice neighborhood but going out at night for a service call pisses me off.

NightScenes
05-30-2007, 02:26 PM
Hey there David, I usually give a one hour free consult (during the day) and charge a design fee of somewhere between $350 and $500. For that fee, I will come out at night if they wish but the cost of the project might reflect that (if you get what I mean). The main thing is that you get paid for your time.

See you next week.

Pro-Scapes
05-30-2007, 02:52 PM
we meet sometimes with qualified prospects at night efore installation. To us this would especially hold true if they are off a refferal and like our work. Let him know there will be a consult fee for evening consults (or all consults) due apon completion of the consultation and that you would be happy to apply that to any project.

I am about in the same boat. It was fun meeting with people and exciting but I got a feeling I will start charging soon. Our new hand picked post cards are slated to fly soon so this just might be the pick me up I need to have the gonads to start consult fees with everyone.

Chris J
05-30-2007, 08:58 PM
Hey there David, I usually give a one hour free consult (during the day) and charge a design fee of somewhere between $350 and $500. For that fee, I will come out at night if they wish but the cost of the project might reflect that (if you get what I mean). The main thing is that you get paid for your time.

See you next week.

Paul,
I'm a little confused about your process, and I would really like to know a better way for myself. In the above referenced post, you state that you give a free consultation, but in your response to Mike G's post, you say that your method is a lot like his where you tell the customer that there is a fee up front....:confused:
Could you please walk us through a typical phone call, step by step, of how you would handle a prospective client?
Here is the phone call:
"Hello Paul?" "This is Chris. My wife and I are interested in having some outdoor lighting done at our home and wondered if we could have you come out and give us an estimate?"
Your response would be..............................:waving:

Thanks Man!

Chris J
05-30-2007, 09:18 PM
Hey there David, I usually give a one hour free consult (during the day) and charge a design fee of somewhere between $350 and $500. For that fee, I will come out at night if they wish but the cost of the project might reflect that (if you get what I mean). The main thing is that you get paid for your time.

See you next week.

Sorry to keep badgering you Paul, but another thing that I don't understand is why you don't just go ahead and do the proposal while you are there the first time? Of course there will be some larger jobs when you will want to take your time and get a good design, but I'm sure the majority of your jobs are simple lighting plans that could be drawn out within an hour or so? At least this is the case with me. Don't get me wrong as I'm not criticizing at all. I just want to understand the other approaches. For me, when I schedule an appointment I will allot about 1.5 hours at that clients home. Before I leave, they will have a written proposal in their hand and I don't see any need to have to come back except to install the job. Are you saying that you give a consultation first, then you come back (if they have paid you) to give them a design proposal?

Thanks for your patience with my questions.

High Performance Lighting
05-30-2007, 10:30 PM
It has been around 10 years since I instituted the design consultation fee. I don't think that it's a coincidence that my business has grown substantially every year. What it has really done is given me better quality client's by eliminating off the bat those that are not predisposed to pay top dollar for a quality lighting system.

I would rather do a million a year and work with 35-40 clients than do a million a year and work with 150 clients . It's really that simple. At this stage of the game I am looking for the cream of the crop. Those with the nicest properties and the largest budgets to work with. The design consultation fee does a beautiful job of helping me attain that goal.

My unwritten policy has been to give freely of my time to paying client's. In my mind it never made sense to go and meet with a prospect for free. Come to their site, Share design ideas, educate them about landscape lighting. Especially if they , and some do, use your education and ideas to shop around and look for a "better deal" in their minds or a lesser price. I get paid to service a client's system. To me that just doesn't seem fair. Why give of my time and expertise for free to a prospect when an established client must pay for it.

You can't be everything to everybody. My position has always been this with those that don't want to pay. Sorry I do not make exceptions. I am quick to respectfully say that if they are balking at paying a nominal fee to meet with me then it is highly unlikely that our meeting will result in me doing any work for them since money is obviously an issue. Perhaps a few would become clients. However like anything else in business you must go with the percentages. And absolutely more times than not if someone doesn't respect your time enough to compensate you for your travel expense then they are not serious buyers and you let them go. Focus on the ones that will, and most will pay if you are professional and present it properly.

One call close- I almost always propose on the first meeting and do my best to close if i feel that it's right. I have at times refused to propose and have cut meetings short and left without asking for my fee in the following instances.
All decison makers are not there when it was clear that they were going to be there and never called to say so or reschedule. This is almost a guarantee of a no decision and or no go anyway. I consider this disrespectful and a waste of everyones time.
There is no chemistry
The prospect is clearly not a prospect and has proven this by what they say and do.
The prospect does not want to listen to my recommendations and has their own ideas on how things should be done. ie- re-use junk equipment, inferior transformers, old cable or they don't want a professional design but just 1 light in front of each tree etc.
That's not what I do, does nothing to excite me and is a waste of my time. No need to hire me when anyone can do that.

Some may say that this is a very independant way of doing business. I call it doing business on your own terms. This is what you do for a living and if you don't make the rules you will allow the prospect to make the rules for you. Your business will never thrive without a well defined set of procedures or systems that you follow on each and every contact.

David Gretzmier
05-30-2007, 10:50 PM
I think Mike G makes good points.

I am at the level in Christmas lights, where my reputation allows me to cherry pick clients from all the calls we get. I don't necessarily do the largest jobs, but the best jobs.

In Landscape lighting however, I am trying to make a name for myself, So I am doing minimal pre-qualifying. If I can go into a neighborhood that is desirable and do some fixes, put my graphics to work, for me that is a big plus.

Once I've been doing this for 7 or so years like the Christmas lights, I'll have a reputation that allows me some ability to qualify and charge for consultation.

Eden Lights
05-30-2007, 11:24 PM
One call close- I almost always propose on the first meeting and do my best to close if i feel that it's right. I have at times refused to propose and have cut meetings short and left without asking for my fee in the following instances.

Can you please define and or explain "propose" Do you get a deposit, design contract, design fee, verbal commitment, project budget, or what? What do you mean by close?

Thanks for your reponse.

High Performance Lighting
05-30-2007, 11:46 PM
Can you please define and or explain "propose" Do you get a deposit, design contract, design fee, verbal commitment, project budget, or what? What do you mean by close?

Thanks for your reponse.

propose= Walk client though the site describing my design. Fill out a custom designed form with name and adress, contact info. write in space designated for describing scope of work, payment terms and etc . All equipment is listed with total lump sum cost to perform said work. Terms of agreement listed on back of 3 part form. Proposal becomes a binding agreement or contract once it is signed and a deposit is tendered.

Close= Proposal is accepted, Agreement is signed , deposit is tendered. Work is scheduled.

NightScenes
05-30-2007, 11:51 PM
Sorry to keep badgering you Paul, but another thing that I don't understand is why you don't just go ahead and do the proposal while you are there the first time? Of course there will be some larger jobs when you will want to take your time and get a good design, but I'm sure the majority of your jobs are simple lighting plans that could be drawn out within an hour or so? At least this is the case with me. Don't get me wrong as I'm not criticizing at all. I just want to understand the other approaches. For me, when I schedule an appointment I will allot about 1.5 hours at that clients home. Before I leave, they will have a written proposal in their hand and I don't see any need to have to come back except to install the job. Are you saying that you give a consultation first, then you come back (if they have paid you) to give them a design proposal?

Thanks for your patience with my questions.

Chris, I rarely do 10 fixture installs. My average project is about $7k and you can't design and propose that in an hour and a half. I give a one hour consultation where I do an interview with the client to find out all I can about their likes and dislikes and where they like to sit, etc, etc. During this consultation I do not give lighting design classes. I prove to them that I am the designer that they have been looking for and it's worth the money to pay me a design fee. At that point, they are committed to the project. Once I have the check, I take my photos and make my notes. Bring it all back to my office and make my design. I close over 90% of the jobs that I consult.

We only install about 1 or 2 projects a week but they are good projects.

High Performance Lighting
05-31-2007, 12:17 AM
"My average project is about $7k and you can't design and propose that in an hour and a half. I give a one hour consultation where I do an interview with the client to find out all I can about their likes and dislikes and where they like to sit, etc, etc"- Nightscapes Paul

Pauls consultative methods are good if you have the time but they would never work for me. I don't have the time to make two sales calls and respecfully disagree with his statement about not being able to design and propose and close at the first meeting. I consistently close $20,000 and up jobs in 2 hour consultations or less. If your marketing is working like it should you can prime their pump before you arrive and have them waiting with their checkbook and pen in hand.

I twice landed $80,000 plus projects with a 30 minute meeting but that is not the norm of course. I have streamlined the design process and am able to arrive at a project cost in 15 minutes for most small to medium sized projects. My feeling is that there is no better place to design the project than on site. . Photos are good but not the same as being immersed in the space. That being said I do not close 90% of my meetings. My closure rate is around 50%. In addition the prospect is never in a better position to make a decision than at the first meeting where everything is fresh in their minds. I can usually tell just by speaking on the phone with them whether I'm walking away with a check at the first meeting. I'm not always correct but most times I am. You start to develop a sixth sense about these things. Different styles for different folks. Whatever works for you. I happen to do most everything fast but it's in my blood and I can't help it. I'm from NY.

Chris J
05-31-2007, 08:26 AM
Chris, I rarely do 10 fixture installs. My average project is about $7k and you can't design and propose that in an hour and a half. I give a one hour consultation where I do an interview with the client to find out all I can about their likes and dislikes and where they like to sit, etc, etc. During this consultation I do not give lighting design classes. I prove to them that I am the designer that they have been looking for and it's worth the money to pay me a design fee. At that point, they are committed to the project. Once I have the check, I take my photos and make my notes. Bring it all back to my office and make my design. I close over 90% of the jobs that I consult.

We only install about 1 or 2 projects a week but they are good projects.

10 fixture installs are rare for us as well. I would say that our average "small" job would be about 20 fixtures and would go for around 2k to 2500. I have to disagree with you about designing in one visit though. I have been doing this for a long time, and there have been very few occasions when I have asked the client to let me come back to finish the design. I just closed a job yesterday, in fact, for a $7200 project consisting of 39 fixtures. Total meeting time was 1 hr 15 min. If your way works for you then that is all that really matters. To each his own as I know it would be hard for me to change the way I do things. I simply don't see how your ever going to do more than one or two jobs per week if you have to meet with these people two or three times to get the job....

David Gretzmier
05-31-2007, 09:29 AM
I think this comes down to experience and time. I usually meet with clients once, ask questions and discover thier needs, and make an appointment with all decision makers on the 2nd visit for proposal.

I have the time to do that in Landscape lighting,now, but in a few years I might not. In the Christmas lighting business, I only do 1 visit, try to have all decision makers there, hand write up a proposal and try to close on that call. the only exception is jobs over 12k. those I schedule again with a more formal bid. I close anywhere from 30-50% depending on the time of year, and close 70% in the sweet 10 day period around thanksgiving.

Math is a funny thing, if you close 90% on 2 visits and 50% on 1 visit, you are probably spending about the same amount of time to get the same amount of jobs.

It could be argued that the 1st visit takes the longest: to find the location, and discover/figure out the job, write/ propose and try to close-maybe 1 and 1/2 hours total 1st visit. The 2nd visit is probably a formality of explaining the proposal, maybe 30 minutes.

2 visits is more efficient only, however, if you have a 90% close.

extlights
05-31-2007, 10:27 AM
We will try are best to get a check in hand the day of the meeting. If it's a larger project, or some specialty work needs to be done then it might be the next day when they get the proposal. Never longer than one day though....we don't want them to cool off. We will do smaller projects. We've done a few 10-12 light projects this year. However some of the neighborhoods around here have a multi-million dollar house crammed on a lot less than 1/4 acre.

Not sure if it's a mistype 2screwed or not, but 20 lights installed for 2-2,500?

NightScenes
05-31-2007, 10:43 AM
10 fixture installs are rare for us as well. I would say that our average "small" job would be about 20 fixtures and would go for around 2k to 2500. I have to disagree with you about designing in one visit though. I have been doing this for a long time, and there have been very few occasions when I have asked the client to let me come back to finish the design. I just closed a job yesterday, in fact, for a $7200 project consisting of 39 fixtures. Total meeting time was 1 hr 15 min. If your way works for you then that is all that really matters. To each his own as I know it would be hard for me to change the way I do things. I simply don't see how your ever going to do more than one or two jobs per week if you have to meet with these people two or three times to get the job....

Chris, here is the big difference. This 39 fixture job that you signed for around $2250, I would get over $10k for. This is where the design/proposal comes into effect (remember what Nels said at the AOLP conference). They feel that I am taking the time and effort to make their project special. This commands a higher price. If I can make an extra visit and make an extra $3k, why not? I think that's a pretty good amount for an extra few hours of work and an additional 40% closing rate.

Each of us has their own way of making the sale. I know that we all do quite well in our businesses, so it all seems to be working. I am currently patenting my "design/proposal" system because it is so successful.

Chris J
05-31-2007, 05:42 PM
Chris, here is the big difference. This 39 fixture job that you signed for around $2250, I would get over $10k for. This is where the design/proposal comes into effect (remember what Nels said at the AOLP conference). They feel that I am taking the time and effort to make their project special. This commands a higher price. If I can make an extra visit and make an extra $3k, why not? I think that's a pretty good amount for an extra few hours of work and an additional 40% closing rate.

Each of us has their own way of making the sale. I know that we all do quite well in our businesses, so it all seems to be working. I am currently patenting my "design/proposal" system because it is so successful.

Point #1: I don't understand what you are talking about. The price for the 39 fixture job was $7200 not $2250. Additionally, when you say you close 90%, are you factoring in the people that you go to see (for free) that do not buy into your design fee and continue on to the next step? Or is this 90% just the people that go into it as deep as the design fee. I would think that after you have spent that much time with them, they would also name their children after you.

Point #2: This particular job is brand new construction which is going to be extremely easy because the ground is fresh and no roots. I anticipate this job to take no longer than 6 hours with me and my two employees so the profit margin is more than fair. Even though I could possibly charge more, the profit that we will make on this customer is fair and we are not in the business to rip people off just because we could.

Point #3: You said in an earlier post that you are doing in excess of 1 million this year. You also said that your average job is about 7k, and that you do 1 or 2 jobs per week. Unless your year has 96 weeks in it, you may come up a bit short of that mil that you claim. These facts are leading me to believe that you would not get 10k for the above mentioned job, nor do you come close to an average of 7k on your current jobs.
But then again, what do I care.....You just ruffled my feathers a bit, that's all.

Chris J
05-31-2007, 06:09 PM
We will try are best to get a check in hand the day of the meeting. If it's a larger project, or some specialty work needs to be done then it might be the next day when they get the proposal. Never longer than one day though....we don't want them to cool off. We will do smaller projects. We've done a few 10-12 light projects this year. However some of the neighborhoods around here have a multi-million dollar house crammed on a lot less than 1/4 acre.

Not sure if it's a mistype 2screwed or not, but 20 lights installed for 2-2,500?

Yeah, Sorry. I meant to say that the 10 light job would be around 2-2500. Our smaller jobs are around 20 lights, and they would be priced anywhere from 3600 to 4500 (maybe a little higher or lower depending on difficulty).

Chris J
05-31-2007, 07:10 PM
Not to ramble on and take this subject off course, but when we are talking about cost we have to be aware of the terrain that each of us live amongst. Here in Florida, the soil is very sandy and soft. Therefore, the burial of wire is probably much more quick and easier than in the state in which rock and clay exists. You landscapers who are tuning in to these conversations about pricing need to understand that your particular situation will play a major factor in your pricing guidelines. If you see me arguing with a guy in Colorado because he is charging $100 more per fixture, you need to understand that an installation that takes me 3 hours may take him 3 days.
Just wanted to make that clear....

High Performance Lighting
05-31-2007, 11:00 PM
Chris, here is the big difference. This 39 fixture job that you signed for around $2250, I would get over $10k for. This is where the design/proposal comes into effect (remember what Nels said at the AOLP conference). They feel that I am taking the time and effort to make their project special. This commands a higher price. If I can make an extra visit and make an extra $3k, why not? I think that's a pretty good amount for an extra few hours of work and an additional 40% closing rate.

Each of us has their own way of making the sale. I know that we all do quite well in our businesses, so it all seems to be working. I am currently patenting my "design/proposal" system because it is so successful.


paul would you be kind enough to walk me through the patenting process. I have a couple of things I've been considering patenting as well. Specifically
the term Patent pending-Does this mean that a process or whatever it is that is being patented cannot be duplicated before actual patent has been accepted?
Are you working with a lawyer?
Is this something that can be done online?
Cost?
Are their specific things that you know of that do not qualify for a patent?

Thanks in advance.

NightScenes
05-31-2007, 11:56 PM
Point #1: I don't understand what you are talking about. The price for the 39 fixture job was $7200 not $2250. Additionally, when you say you close 90%, are you factoring in the people that you go to see (for free) that do not buy into your design fee and continue on to the next step? Or is this 90% just the people that go into it as deep as the design fee. I would think that after you have spent that much time with them, they would also name their children after you.

Point #2: This particular job is brand new construction which is going to be extremely easy because the ground is fresh and no roots. I anticipate this job to take no longer than 6 hours with me and my two employees so the profit margin is more than fair. Even though I could possibly charge more, the profit that we will make on this customer is fair and we are not in the business to rip people off just because we could.

Point #3: You said in an earlier post that you are doing in excess of 1 million this year. You also said that your average job is about 7k, and that you do 1 or 2 jobs per week. Unless your year has 96 weeks in it, you may come up a bit short of that mil that you claim. These facts are leading me to believe that you would not get 10k for the above mentioned job, nor do you come close to an average of 7k on your current jobs.
But then again, what do I care.....You just ruffled my feathers a bit, that's all.


Chris, my friend, I did make a mistake on my last post and meant to put in the $7200 instead of the $2250. My bad.

When I say 90%, I mean I close on 90% of the projects that I visit.

Please let me know when or where I said that I would break a mil this year. Just cut and paste it here for me. Man, that would be something. Maybe in a couple more years.

Chris, you know I love you man.

NightScenes
05-31-2007, 11:57 PM
paul would you be kind enough to walk me through the patenting process. I have a couple of things I've been considering patenting as well. Specifically
the term Patent pending-Does this mean that a process or whatever it is that is being patented cannot be duplicated before actual patent has been accepted?
Are you working with a lawyer?
Is this something that can be done online?
Cost?
Are their specific things that you know of that do not qualify for a patent?

Thanks in advance.


Mike, contact your local S.C.O.R.E. office. They can walk you through the whole process.

Eden Lights
06-01-2007, 12:20 AM
I have tried to stay away from this thread since I felt like it was a little too much information for a open forum. Since my process is so different I felt like I had to at least give you guys a little info. so you could get a good laugh. You guys have meet, proposed, and are staging product even before I even get through my design process. Heck, I had a two hour lunch today with a client and some of his business partners and I didn't even think a thing about the time until I came home and read this thread. So here goes take a look at a small job.

extlights
06-01-2007, 12:39 AM
Hey Mike.....make sure you get a good attorney who specializes in patents. Nothing is more important than this. Getting a patent is not cheap and it takes quite a while to do it right and get it done. Don't use anything from tv such as that inventors hotline or whatever it is. To do it right will cost you into the thousands. I'm sure there are some good patent lawyers in So Cal.

David Gretzmier
06-01-2007, 12:50 AM
man, eden- I'm guessing you did those drawings for an existing landscape, looks like about 32 fixtures by my count, although those dots and arrows are tiny on my 15" screen.

Nice plan, but I gotta be honest- I don't have the talent to draw up such nice plans, and I'm betting you close a lot of jobs by your drawing ability.

I normally walk my clients through each fixture placement at the site of the fixture, on 1st visit, hand write a proposal of how many fixtures and transformers, and actually try to close the job.

this comes from my Christmas light experience, but looking at your work makes me want to put more time into the design process, if for no other reason than looking professional. Also I see an advantage in the future for providing plans for employees to install the system.

no doubt about it, if you and I were bidding against each other, you win, regardless of price.

niteliters
06-01-2007, 07:32 AM
Eden, interesting comment, I was thinking the same thing. I went to meet with a new client last week and they had been to this site. It had its pros and cons. It is cause for a pause at times though, for me at least. Nice drawing....some large rocks!!

niteliters
06-01-2007, 07:34 AM
Eden, if don't mind me asking, what is the name of your business? You might have answered this already...Do you landscape...mow grass?

seolatlanta
06-01-2007, 08:03 AM
I have never hada client refer to this site before but I am sure some of my clients have searched the internet and found the same information.

I am sure if you look hard enough a technically savvy homeowner could install his own decent system with info taken from websites.

That being said that person is not your customer. a person looking for service and a reliable trustworthy company is my customer.

Hey Eden-where do you get that large graph paper-those plans are awesome.

I am sure if I was to do that for some more jobs my close rate will increase! This is a perfect example of "professional" outdoor lighting! Kudos to Eden for sharing that with us.

High Performance Lighting
06-01-2007, 08:11 AM
Hey Mike.....make sure you get a good attorney who specializes in patents. Nothing is more important than this. Getting a patent is not cheap and it takes quite a while to do it right and get it done. Don't use anything from tv such as that inventors hotline or whatever it is. To do it right will cost you into the thousands. I'm sure there are some good patent lawyers in So Cal.

Thanks EXT

niteliters
06-01-2007, 01:46 PM
you would be correct david, how's your position at AOLP progressing?

High Performance Lighting
06-01-2007, 11:16 PM
"I am sure if I was to do that for some more jobs my close rate will increase! This is a perfect example of "professional" outdoor lighting! Kudos to Eden for sharing that with us."
__________________

The detailed drawing posted in this thread is certain instances can be an effective sales tool used in making the sale .

First let me say that I do not have the artistic drawing ability to turn out a quality piece like this. However if I did have the talent I wouldn't do this for a prospect or client for the following reasons.

#1- Most prospects or clients will not expect or ask for this.
#2- prospects realize this is time consuming and is expensive and they will be paying for it. Eating the cost of this is not a smart business decision.
#3- people in general have a very difficult time deciphering plans and are more receptive to color graphics such as photos or dimensional pastel drawings etc of effects not symbols on a plan
#4- Unless you need to pull permits you will not need this to submit to city or HOA's for that matter (they would not require such a detailed plan)
#5- Call outs and locations can come back to bite you. How many jobs go in exactly as they are called out on a plan? This makes it difficult to make any on the fly changes as you go if and when you realize by being on the site for an extended period of time during the installations that you can enhance the end result by making changes. Then what, are you to do hold up the job until you can have a meeting and get clients approval?
#6- One dimension drawings are just that one dimensional
#7- When the job is over you are left with an ornament unless it is reworked (more labor) to become an as built that includes cable runs, transformer locations, load schedules, etc. An as built is valuable once project is done however it does not need be so elaborate.
#8- I am a firm believer in giving a prospect only enough information to hire you and never get technical or so specific. Getting tied up in minutia will bog down the sales process and confuse the prospect and result in a no sale.
#9- Prospect may ask for you to leave it behind while 'they think it over". If you are silly enough to comply this becomes a negotiable instrument and can and will build your competitors business. If you won't leave it behind you will look like a prick. Even if they pay for it who cares. You are not in the business of selling plans. Your margins are made in design/install. If you don't get the project then all that time spent is a waste.


Remember what it is that you do. You design and install landscape lighting schemes on clients' properties. Greg Wittstock became a multi millionaire many times over and never once used a drawing to sell a pond to a residential customer. In fact he used a common garden hose laid across the ground to get his point across. You can't get more simple than that.

the statement above about being sure that their closing rate would increase is questionable. Bottom line is, fancy night photos, drawings, power point presentations, demo's aside. All of these are great but should not be relied upon to "close every sale". If your lighting ability and people skills are lacking no sales tool in the world is going to make a difference.

If this is working for the original poster than more power to you. My point is that you do not need to be a expert draftsperson to succeed in this business. If that were true than I would be asking do you want fries with that at the drive up window each and every day.

David Gretzmier
06-01-2007, 11:31 PM
although I agree with all the above points, My experience with human behavior is this- prospects REALLY want to hire who they THINK is the most professional when dollars are similar.

Even though I may do a better job, and be a super salesman, The landscape architect can win the job over me hands down, and he won't even install the job 95% of the time. When he shows up with a 24"x36" landscape/blueprint, my handwritten bid just looks silly. and yeah, he'll charge them for that plan, and lets face it- sometimes it's worth it.

I am currently upgrading my proposal package to be as "slick" as the franchise systems out there, with color folders, ooh ahh pictures, and referrals inside, etc. If I could do a beautiful drawing, I would, but I can't. So I make mine look as nice as possible, to help me compete against the other guys.

High Performance Lighting
06-01-2007, 11:44 PM
I am currently upgrading my proposal package to be as "slick" as the franchise systems out there, with color folders, ooh ahh pictures, and referrals inside, etc. If I could do a beautiful drawing, I would, but I can't. So I make mine look as nice as possible, to help me compete against the other guys.
__________________
Dave this is much different than a line drawing. You are talking about two different things. I am all about the "flashy" graphics as i truly believe they influence a sale.

The homeowners perception of the architect being more professional and entitled to his fee is valid. But what is it that you do? How are you losing out to architects when they are only offering design services? Don't you install? I don't understand your fear.

David Gretzmier
06-02-2007, 12:13 AM
mike g- basically what has happened on a few bids is a landscape architect in this area does bids for landscape lighting. His drawings are very professional and nice. my full color proposal just does not stand up to what he does in his consultations/proposals. He gets the job, and his guys install the lighting. it looks ok, but hotspots, too bright for my tastes, etc.

They also do landscaping, irrigation, etc. his price is usually higher than me to boot.

The bottom line is even though I am specializing in lighting, whoever comes out looking like the better "professional" gets the job. I have no problem winning Christmas light bids against anyone. They usually hire me or no one. sometimes they hire the really cheap guy.

but Landscape lighting is turning out to be a different animal. I think once I have 7+ years experience in Landscape lighting, I think I will win some of these professional to professional competitions. but not now.

High Performance Lighting
06-02-2007, 12:21 AM
The bottom line is even though I am specializing in lighting, whoever comes out looking like the better "professional" gets the job.

Dave how do you know this to be true? Have you asked those prospects that you lost out to this architect to? If not maybe you should. This maybe is your own perception of why you lose out. Don't jump to conclusions until you hear it from the horse's mouth so they say. The horse's mouth in this case is the client.

extlights
06-02-2007, 12:41 AM
[QUOTE=High Performance Lighting;1849387]The bottom line is even though I am specializing in lighting, whoever comes out looking like the better "professional" gets the job. QUOTE]

I'll second this. Contractors in all industries get a bad rap, if you get a project and deliver what you promise then you'll have a customer for life. Not to mention referrals.

Lite4
06-02-2007, 01:17 AM
I guess I will put in my 2 cents on this. As an architect being in the landscape business for around 15 years, professionalism always sells. The customer is always reasured that the person they are giving thousands of dollars to actually does know what they are doing and can perform the job to achieve the desired results. Now let me just say that I do not draw a plan for every job, but it definitely helps on the ones where I think I have some competition or the customer will feel better about it. I would recomend investing in a simple CAD program to draw plans. I used to do them all by hand but it is much easier to do corrections for an as built drawing on the computer. Here is a simple lighting plan for a back patio we did with the landscape.

Lite4
06-02-2007, 01:21 AM
Sorry wrong format, hopefully picture will post this time.

Lite4
06-02-2007, 01:46 AM
It will only post in pdf, Ok if you have adobe acrobat.

David Gretzmier
06-02-2007, 06:44 AM
I try to ask every bid I don't get why, and that is why it is so weird in Landscape lighting- I can handle folks low balling me in Christmas Lights- I know they are not making much money, and they do a poor job to boot- the home owner gets what they pay for, fine

but In Landscape lighting, I am around 220 per fixture, Usually higher than most landscapers, but against a landscape architect, they can command higher prices, convince the home of a higher level of professioanlism, supposed or real, and get the job at a HIGHER price. and looking at the finished job, they do use nice fixtures, but the aiming, bulbs, and focus needs work. I know I am better at effect, but the homeowner never knows the difference.

referrals help, and mine love me, but when I ask why I don't get the job, this is a new experience for me losing out to a higher bidder. I've heard the client say they are going with a landscape architect because of complexity, etc. when someone is getting my jobs because they look more professional, my only logical choice is to try and raise my own professioanl image.

Chris J
06-02-2007, 11:11 AM
Firefly,
That is really nice, but I would think I would need a 4-year degree in CAD programs to do something like this.

Lite4
06-02-2007, 02:28 PM
Oh heck no, It's pretty easy. Use Raincad software. Take about a week or 2 of evenings going through their tutorial and you will have it. It really is a fairly easy program to navigate and be proficiant in. It is a lot faster than hand drawing.

Chris J
06-02-2007, 04:05 PM
Oh heck no, It's pretty easy. Use Raincad software. Take about a week or 2 of evenings going through their tutorial and you will have it. It really is a fairly easy program to navigate and be proficiant in. It is a lot faster than hand drawing.

Am I to assume that in order for the design to be to scale, everything existing on the property like the house and property lines must first be measured out and then entered into the program?

Lite4
06-02-2007, 04:10 PM
Yes this can be the case. However the homeowner often times will have a site plan from the original construction if the house is built within the last 5-7yrs. If not, yeah it's a pain in the butt. However, 20-25 minutes measuring max is usually all it takes to get the basic outline to convert to CAD

Chris J
06-02-2007, 04:17 PM
Thanks,
I may have to give this a try one day just for curiosity. I doubt very seriously that I would ever change my ways though. I too used to the simple way that I have been doing it.

Lite4
06-02-2007, 04:27 PM
whatever works for ya. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

ChampionLS
06-03-2007, 03:50 AM
Firefly,
That is really nice, but I would think I would need a 4-year degree in CAD programs to do something like this.

You can do that with a basic drawing program, most computers come with. Example : Microsoft Paint.

That drawing is not shown to scale, it's simply line-art. (drawing circles, angles and squares) You can use the text tool to identify components, same as call outs on a real plan.

I use Corel Designer 12 for all blueprints, CAD, and landscape design. It does take quite a bit of computer knowledge to work proficiently when using a complex computer program. Theres also nothing wrong with hand drawing a site plan the good ol' fashioned way- Paper and Pencil. You can buy rubber ink stamps or use a layout template that's geared to landscape and lighting for identifying fixtures, hubs and hardscape.

Lite4
06-03-2007, 10:26 AM
Hey anthony. The drawing is scaled 1"/10'. Its sheet size is 24x36. It is only 1 of 5 other sheets that have the construction details that do have the scale on them. I didn't put it on this sheet since I was doing the light install myself. There actually is a huge difference between your line art programs and a CAD program. Biggest being drawing and printing to scale and output format.

Eden Lights
06-03-2007, 10:51 PM
This has been and is a excellent thread and I can't wait to catch up in the posts. I have been on a youth retreat for the last few days and all I want to do is catch up some sleep right now. I just wanted to thank everyone for all the great comments, good and bad.

" A man that agrees with you can teach you nothing."

I don't know who said that, but I really like it.

Eden Lights
06-03-2007, 11:31 PM
Can you please define and or explain "propose" Do you get a deposit, design contract, design fee, verbal commitment, project budget, or what? What do you mean by close?

Thanks for your reponse.

I think my hat was in my hand on this one, I was just trying to learn a little something.

Eden Lights
06-04-2007, 11:05 PM
Eden, if don't mind me asking, what is the name of your business? You might have answered this already...Do you landscape...mow grass?

Eden Lights

Architectural & Landscape Lighting

We also are involved in interior lighting design and the associated controls of both interior and exterior lighiting.

Eden Lights
06-04-2007, 11:08 PM
I have never hada client refer to this site before but I am sure some of my clients have searched the internet and found the same information.

I am sure if you look hard enough a technically savvy homeowner could install his own decent system with info taken from websites.

That being said that person is not your customer. a person looking for service and a reliable trustworthy company is my customer.

Hey Eden-where do you get that large graph paper-those plans are awesome.

I am sure if I was to do that for some more jobs my close rate will increase! This is a perfect example of "professional" outdoor lighting! Kudos to Eden for sharing that with us.

Staedtler Layout Bond w/ 4X4 cross section, You can find it most office stores and drafting supply houses.

Eden Lights
06-04-2007, 11:25 PM
Sorry wrong format, hopefully picture will post this time.

Excellent drawing, we have done some Auto Cad drawings and would rather draw that way, but there is a certain niche that must be hand drawn or overlayed on the Architects hand drawings. I know many will not understand this and say it's crazy, but that's just the way it is. Anything else and you would not be considered due to your lack of design skills.

Lite4
06-04-2007, 11:56 PM
ya, I hear ya Eden. I used to hand draw my plans as well and I really enjoyed it. You just can't put an artistic flair on computer drawings. But now when I get plans from an architect I have them give it to me in DWG format (standard CAD), so I can work directly from their drawings. I guess that is why I went to CAD. Mainly from a pragmatic standpoint to hasten the design process. I still do all my renderings by hand, so I can still get the artistic outlet.

ChampionLS
06-05-2007, 02:36 AM
Hi Tim!,

Yeah I hear ya. It takes a really long time to layout and design any plan on a computer. Doesn't' matter if its Irrigation, Construction, or Landscaping. When I draw, I set the scale to 1'=1/32" and set my rulers at 2 divisions each. This way I can layout a drawing to real dimensions, and have it fit nicely on letter or legal size paper. It's a little tricky. Even if I draw on blueprint size paper, I can select the whole page and scale it to the paper. It's just harder to draw that way.

It really depends on the budget. 95% of my clients dont care for the fancy drawings. I do it for my own reference on site. Especially when there may be a problem down the road and you need to reflect back on what you did. I had a tree guy use a stump grinder on a clients property and eat up everything.