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Lite4
06-02-2007, 10:21 PM
Hi guys. I am sure many of you market directly to landscapers for a fair amount of your business. I do know several in my area and 2 of them currently use me for all of their lighting. However, I know there are more to harvest out there. The problem being, is that several are doing "lighting-so called". I am going to send them a letter but am hitting a wall trying to get it started. Should I just tell them about me and what I can do for them on their projects? It seems very blausey and will probably earn me a one way ticket to the round file. I don't want to tell them that their own lighting jobs suck. Dale Carnegie probably would not aprove of this tactic. Any thoughts on composing a short letter. What has worked for you in this department?

High Performance Lighting
06-02-2007, 10:35 PM
Offer them a piece of the action for allowing you to do all of their lighting work. Tell them you will work directly with their client, handle all details of design, install and follow up service and maintenance. For this you will pay them a predetermined percentage of the project and then you can either build some or all of it into the cost of the project that's up to you. Explain to them that you want their full endorsement and recommendation and that's all you need to get in the door and you will take care of the rest. Emphasize how that will be the extent of their involvement and you will do all the hand holding. Good luck, I can tell you that landscapers are a hard sell. I've had much better luck with female landscape designers.

Pro-Scapes
06-02-2007, 11:01 PM
Mike G is right on the money on this one... Its a very hard sell. I have 2 landscapers and 1 irrigation guy now trying to get work for me. 1 has seen the deal and got paid accordingly (10% of the ticket) and another is so busy that he has not even had the chance to finish his current spec house workload to reffer lighting but no doubt he will when the need arises.

Another has reffered 2 projects to me. 1 I was slightly over the recent widows comfortable spending line and another was just reffered the other day and we have yet to havea consult It takes time. Seems so many landscapers think they are giving away money by subcontracting. I sub out irrigation work and still make good money with it. Probably more so than if I did it myself! I sent out about 25 letters to all the area legit landscapers. zero replies but I met with some at the garden show and had some good responce with a large project on the coast being reffered and proposed by us but waiting on the HOA approval for the funds.

High Performance Lighting
06-02-2007, 11:24 PM
Seems so many landscapers think they are giving away money by subcontracting.

When it comes to lighting that's the mantra that's being drummed into their heads everytime they open their mail or go to their supply house. They are made to believe that they are somehow half a landscaper, or half a man if they are not installing lighting. Screw driver and a garden spade is all you need.... yada yada yada. It's no wonder everything is so topsy turvy.

Lite4
06-03-2007, 12:39 AM
Well, the outcome of this mailing seems bleek. But nothing ventured nothing gained. I guess I am just looking too hard for that perfect hook to get them onboard. If money in their pocket doesn't do it, for sure nothing else will. Thanks for the input

BPC
06-03-2007, 04:40 AM
There are a couple landscapers that hand out my info to people looking for lights. When I land the job and get paid I give them a referral fee.

bumper
06-03-2007, 09:36 AM
I would rather not entice landscapers with the idea of doing lighting. If they are mostly full service and good at what they do they can figure out the lighting game and quickly become your competition. Even if they are not good at what they do they can quickly become your competition. I'd focus more on those who do high end maintenance in and around the areas you wish to work. They are a great resource for troubleshooting existing jobs which allows you a foot in the door for retrofits, new installs and new contacts.

If you are talking about contacting designers and Landscape Architects I'd go full steam ahead.

Pro-Scapes
06-03-2007, 10:25 AM
I would rather not entice landscapers with the idea of doing lighting. If they are mostly full service and good at what they do they can figure out the lighting game and quickly become your competition. Even if they are not good at what they do they can quickly become your competition. I'd focus more on those who do high end maintenance in and around the areas you wish to work. They are a great resource for troubleshooting existing jobs which allows you a foot in the door for retrofits, new installs and new contacts.

If you are talking about contacting designers and Landscape Architects I'd go full steam ahead.

I think your right on target here because the 2 guys that reffered me recently are high end maint guys. One does do lighting but was scared to go up a tree for a 30 ft moon light so gave them our card. Now that he has seen our refferal program he says all of his lighting work will come our way.

If a high end maint guy does not do lighting ask him about mailing a letter with his invoices letting his clients know he has teamed up with a premier lighting contractor.

A high end landscaper recently did a pro football players home here. He does not undstand lighting welll altho they have been doing it for years. I have not seen the project but it was well over 100 lights and our dist had to go in and design it and lay it all out for him. He has not even responded to my letters or emails about subbing lighting to me.

2 days ago while out doing some work I stumbled apon a new install someone did. It had tree mouned lights just screwed to the front of the tree... lights in plain view firing up into the canopy... wires just hanging across it and the lights mounted to the front of the tree instead of hiding them behind it. Went back to see it at night and it definatly is the textbook for "dont let your landscaper do this"

Lite4
06-03-2007, 10:43 AM
You know I hadn't even really given any thought to using maintenance companies. I'll find some that deal in residential.

David Gretzmier
06-03-2007, 06:18 PM
The other issue is by working with a landscaper you will end up teaching them how much you charge for your work.

The danger is they are there doing a 3 grand job in which their 2 guys may take 3 days doing work.

he refers you, you get the job and come in alone and do 3 grand in lighting in one day. by yourself.

he can price similar fixtures/transformers and you possibly create a competitor.

I had an irrigation contractor that referred me for mostly repair work on lighting til I got a job last year on an irrigation install he was doing. I do an install in a day, he's still there with a helper after I leave, and he does the math on the fixtures( whoa, dave's making MONEY !) , voila, no more referrals.

as an added bonus, he now installs lighting at around my price. Instant competitor, just add water.

be careful out there. I'd look at landscape architects that do only design and try to get on their list of installers, you'll probably have to pay them a percentage.

High Performance Lighting
06-03-2007, 06:48 PM
( whoa, dave's making MONEY !)

You know Dave I hear this quite consistently from other subs on new custom home projects I'm involved with. In particular from the landscaper and the electrician whom both would love to take my gig away. The funny thing is the total cost of my contract is about 1/10th theirs. In other words if my contract is for 50K theirs is 500K. My profit margin has alot to do with how I've structured my business , kept my overhead low and operate extremely efficiently. It's unfortunate to be subject to sour grapes from fellow trade professionals but it is what is is.

Chris J
06-03-2007, 08:15 PM
I can relate here. I talk to quite a few individuals, not only in the lighting business however, who boast about high sales revenue. 1 milllion, 2 mil, etc... When you get to the bottom line, however, it is what you put in your pocket after expenses are paid that matter. Building rent or mortgage, equipment, employees, office staff, sales people, vehicles, insurance, etc, etc, etc,... this all adds up. I was once very impressed by an individual competitor who was doing upwards of 1.5 million in gross sales. That was until I found out that his net was just about the same as mine, and the envy was over. Although I would certainly love to be among the "rich and famous", there is something to be said about the benefits that come with keeping overhead to a minimum and reaping the benefits of going without these headaches. There really is no reason why you can't still be "rich and famous" following this principle.

niteliters
06-03-2007, 08:35 PM
many interesting comments, I think this site is good for this type of brainstorming. This profession is still a "needle in the haystack", nation/world wide performed the way many are trying to do it. I think it's difficult to share techniques that in ones opinion may be fool proof because what works for one will not work for the other for many reasons, not the least of which is your own personality, skill set, drive and passion for lighting. The piece of advice I have for you Tim is this. Try any idea that comes to mind, but when it comes to associating yourself with others seek out the best, pass over the rest. It doesn't have to be someone in the green industry. I have a friend who gets his best leads from a plumber, another who gets them from property managers, and many other odd matches. The thread is professionalism and customer service. Find out who the companies are that are the best at customer service in your area, that's who I seek out, doesn't matter what they do. The best are the best because they take care of there existing clients before all else. They are successful and very busy ain their trade. Clients they have, an exceptional associate in lv lighting they may not. I had one of my clients ask me who I thought the best dry cleaner was in town the other day...I had a name. Be stingy with who you let have access to referring and be stingy with the ones your reccomend...research them, get to know them..build a protfolio of them. I learned of the dry cleaner from some of my best clients, called him, met with him, interviewed him so to speak, he got to know me, I got to know why he was the best. That 2 hour meeting got me 2 jobs thru him. Here's the catch though, you will never get in that circle if you are not one of them...totally, in your heart, dedicated to customer service. There are many on these threads that mouth the words but only a few who follow thru...day in, day out...call after call after late night call, year in year out. that, tim, is what will truly make you exceptional. By the way, this doesn't happen over night for most, perserverence, for most, a day at a time, a contact at a time

Lite4
06-04-2007, 03:12 AM
Roger that Chris, Its all about networking. I am just like the next guy though, impatient to the end. I am in the middle of a career change, having started back in school and I am just now making the transition from around 15 years in the landscape business to doing solely lighting. Even after I finish school I plan on running this business full time as well as starting another one associated with my training. I do have a lot of friends in the green industry which does give me a slight advantage I would hope. I guess I will have to wait and see how it pans out over the next 12 months. Thanks for the ideas. It helps to get a broad range of ideas.