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pete scalia
09-13-2007, 01:16 AM
I read alot of guys imposing their personal preferences and opinions and saying that this or that way is the best way to go. ie- uplighting /downlighting or fixture/manufacturer choice etc. You can argue amongst yourselves all day and it doesn't make a difference if the only person that counts doesn't agree. That person is the customer.:cool2:

sprinkler guy
09-13-2007, 01:38 AM
Pete,

Great post! Some of the postings on this forum are downright angry if you disagree with their idea or methodoligy. Some of the supervisors at the landscape company I'm partnered with have a saying. It's about those things they don't like on projects, but a customer wants and loves, so they do it. "I can't see it from house."

I designed an extensive project for a 5 acre estate a couple of years ago. There were lots of different gardens and walking paths, so I tried to give each little region its own distinct flavor. I had nine differnt pathlites laid out next to my truck for him to reveiw and make final choices on finish and style. The homeowner hated my fixture choices (alot of copper and brass, with some powder coat for a couple of specific things). He sees a couple of beat up old fixtures in my truck, something I had taken out of a job the day before and just hadn't disposed of yet. They were FX Della-Ribattas, a pagoda style fixture, but with a 10" top hat peice. He loved it and asked for all black. Needless to say, it is probably one of my least favorite projects, yet one of the most profitable I've done to date. The customer loved it, and I can't see it from my house.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-13-2007, 03:11 AM
Some of the supervisors at the landscape company I'm partnered with have a saying. It's about those things they don't like on projects, but a customer wants and loves, so they do it. "I can't see it from house."

When it comes to visible fixtures (path lights) my clients sometimes have different ideas in mind then the fixtures I would recommend. Most often that has to do with straight aesthetics. Usually, through a process of consultation, I will advise the client why I would pick a different fixture for the application and most times the client listens to my advice.

In those cases where the client is steadfast in picking a specific and non preffered fixture then I will comply and install it and then usually return and repair or replace it after its powder coating, socket, stake, lens, lamps or other feature has failed. I think we as professionals have the duty to advise our clients on fixture selection. Pointing them away from problematic components and reducing overall future service calls is a priority for my operation and seems to be a highly regarded quality of my business.

They were FX Della-Ribattas, a pagoda style fixture, but with a 10" top hat peice. He loved it and asked for all black. Needless to say, it is probably one of my least favorite projects, yet one of the most profitable I've done to date. The customer loved it, and I can't see it from my house.

Ultimately, if the client is happy then you have done your job. Not every installation can be your personal favourite. Q. Did you de-rate your warranty coverage on the fixtures that the client picked out? We offer a 2 year, no questions asked, blanket warranty on all of our installations (including lamps) but I would be hesitant to provide that on fixtures that were not recommended (client's choice).

Have a great day.

sprinkler guy
09-14-2007, 12:16 AM
Ultimately, if the client is happy then you have done your job. Not every installation can be your personal favourite. Q. Did you de-rate your warranty coverage on the fixtures that the client picked out? We offer a 2 year, no questions asked, blanket warranty on all of our installations (including lamps) but I would be hesitant to provide that on fixtures that were not recommended (client's choice).

Have a great day.

James ,

I get what you are saying. In this particular case, the client chose a fixture that is still a well made product and does a good job of lighting the walkways and beds. It just happens to be one of the ugliest fixtures on the planet in my opinion.

If I remember correctly you've mentioned in other threads that you are a fan of Nightscaping. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I'll use them as an example here. If your potential customer picked out a N/S fixture (via online or a catalogue, or however) that was aesthetically hideous, but could still do the job, you'd recomend something better right? But if they insisted on said particular light, you would relent, install it, please the client, and hopefully be well paid for it. On the other hand, if they insisted on a brand that you know wouldn't hold up, or couldn't do the job properly, you would probably do what I have done on at least three occasions in the last year that I can remember. Politely say "I am not the guy for you, your gardener can probaly help you in this case. Please keep my number handy and I will be happy to come back and perform service on the system if you start running into problems." I really hope they never call, beacause the satisfaction of 'I told you so' doesn't outway the headache of someone elses half a$$ed install.

David Gretzmier
09-15-2007, 01:59 AM
I'm afraid I have made some potential customers unhappy. My reputation is more important that what one customer wants. I have had numerous customers request the wrong plants ( shade for sun and vice versa ), the wrong lights ( malibu anyone ), the wrong materials ( can't you use this wire...) The wrong fertilizer- ( this 13-13-13 is fine) and just things I can't do anymore-pagodas.

At Christmas lights I give customers some slack because it is a temporary up/down, but even then I am running into trouble- " oh look can you get me that 15 foot inflatable santa you put over there?....sometimes when you agree to do something you don't want to do, it comes back to haunt you to repeat it. you guys can do whatever the customer wants, but I got boundaries.

pete scalia
09-15-2007, 02:02 AM
It's your duty and responsibility to give them what they want not always what they ask for. Think about that carefully and you'll get my drift.

David Gretzmier
09-15-2007, 03:04 AM
I get your drift pete. I've been in the lawn business for 25 years now, and I gotta tell you, I've gotten in trouble for giving what they wanted , and gotten in trouble for giving what they asked for, and it is sometimes just easier to not do some jobs. My energy is often better spent making money on other jobs than educating the consumer.

Pro-Scapes
09-15-2007, 08:55 AM
I often find that alot of times a what a client asks for and what they want are not the same thing. Its up to you as the lighting professional to determine what they are asking for and deliver.

Path lighting is the only fixtures I generally ask clients thier prefference. If they freak at the price I show then the difference between a cast or kichler light thats been in 1 year vs an imitation. The often silents the price questionif they can infact afford it. I carry some failed copper lights of the "good kind" with me I replaced at a clients house after less than 2 years.

Let them see the difference between a malibu and your offerings. Often times when a client is spending this kind of money they want to see what they are getting for it.

Try not to give them what they ask for unless they are asking for what they really want. Too many clients ask for 1 light shining up at a large tree or 2 lights for the whole side yard. Your clients will be happier if you deliver what they really want. If all else fails give them what they ask for then let them know there will be a fee to re-do it if they are not thrilled with the results.

Im sure we have all had the client who moves/readjusts lights for us or changes lamps.

pete scalia
09-15-2007, 09:14 AM
I get your drift pete. I've been in the lawn business for 25 years now, and I gotta tell you, I've gotten in trouble for giving what they wanted , and gotten in trouble for giving what they asked for, and it is sometimes just easier to not do some jobs. My energy is often better spent making money on other jobs than educating the consumer.


Read the power of positive thinking by Norman Vincent peale. It will improve your negative attitude.

ar-t
09-15-2007, 12:50 PM
If the customer insists on installing pagodas. and you can not "educate" them to use something else..........well, if you can afford to turn down the job, then turn it down. Your happiness and peace of mind is just as important as money and a "positive attitude".

I guess I must have a negative attitude as well. Maybe I should start to change by adding some smiley faces.........

JoeyD
09-15-2007, 03:59 PM
My question to a homeowner if they are telling me to use any pagoda would be "how many lighting jobs have you done sir?"

NightScenes
09-15-2007, 04:12 PM
My question to them at that point is "why are you hiring a professional landscape lighting designer if your going to do it yourself?"

sprinkler guy
09-15-2007, 08:35 PM
My question to them at that point is "why are you hiring a professional landscape lighting designer if your going to do it yourself?"

That's a valid question Paul. I've only been in bussiness less than two years. A year ago, 9 months in business, I wasn't in a position to turn down a $65,000 job just because the guy insisted on a pagoda light. He did ask me my opinion, and I gave it. He also asked me if they could still do the proper job of lighting the areas. Once I confirmed that they would work, he dug his heels in. It was still my decision as to the brand (FX), and bulb (Luminex bi-pin xenons). I sized the runs, made all of the water-tight connections, buried all of my runs, mounted my chosen transformer (also FX), and connected it to the house control system. (The electrician left all of the leads labeled for me, then had his foreman walk me through on the day of wiring, then he checked my work to make sure it was okay. Might have been easier to do it himself, but he didn't want to touch my stuff.) Anyway, next month is a year, and I've only had to go back to replace 2 bulbs on 188 lights. It has been about two months since I was last there, so the first week of October I'll go back and walk the system one last time (per contract) and repair or replace anything that needs fixing, then present my service contract proposal. I got alot of kudos from the general as one of the only subs that the hoemowner enjoyed working with, and who didn't give him a hard time on his style choices. Did I have to eat a little crow to get there? Maybe. Did my family get to eat for a while from the paycheck? Absolutely.

Chris J
09-15-2007, 10:34 PM
That's a valid question Paul. I've only been in bussiness less than two years. A year ago, 9 months in business, I wasn't in a position to turn down a $65,000 job just because the guy insisted on a pagoda light. He did ask me my opinion, and I gave it. He also asked me if they could still do the proper job of lighting the areas. Once I confirmed that they would work, he dug his heels in. It was still my decision as to the brand (FX), and bulb (Luminex bi-pin xenons). I sized the runs, made all of the water-tight connections, buried all of my runs, mounted my chosen transformer (also FX), and connected it to the house control system. (The electrician left all of the leads labeled for me, then had his foreman walk me through on the day of wiring, then he checked my work to make sure it was okay. Might have been easier to do it himself, but he didn't want to touch my stuff.) Anyway, next month is a year, and I've only had to go back to replace 2 bulbs on 188 lights. It has been about two months since I was last there, so the first week of October I'll go back and walk the system one last time (per contract) and repair or replace anything that needs fixing, then present my service contract proposal. I got alot of kudos from the general as one of the only subs that the hoemowner enjoyed working with, and who didn't give him a hard time on his style choices. Did I have to eat a little crow to get there? Maybe. Did my family get to eat for a while from the paycheck? Absolutely.

Sean,
Could you please explain this install a little more? From your post above, it appears that the electrician installed the wiring, or something, and you maybe just connected the fixtures? I'm a bit confused as to how this job went down. Please understand, I'm not trying to pick a fight. I'm just a bit intrigued at your very large install of 65K and just want to learn more about it.

Chris J
09-15-2007, 10:47 PM
It's always difficult to confront a homeowner when he/she wants to be involved with the decisions of fixture selection and/or placement. I'm still looking for a good book on this subject, as I always seem to stumble when encountering this kind of client. If you encounter a homeowner who has already done some of his own research, he will already have in his mind what is good or bad. Trying to change his mind at this point, for me anyway, always seems to lead to somewhat of a less than desireable repore as you are disagreeing with his knowledge (therefore discrediting his aptitude, at least in his mind). I have won over a few clients with this attitude, but the majority of them that I have won was back when I did demos. CASE IN POINT FOR THE DEMO GUYS.
It is a difficult situation, to say the least. I would say that the person who has the most patience will prevail in most cases. (That counts me out)

carcrz
09-15-2007, 10:56 PM
I guess for me (still a learner at this point), pictures do me justice. I want to see what a fixture will look like in the day, but also at night. Do I want a ball of light 12" off the ground, or do I want the landscape & path beside it to be lit? Do I want to be an air traffic controller or do I want my redbud to be softly lit? I know the difference in quality among manufacturers, but only because I have seen them in person - before & after installation. I guess if the client has their mind set in stone, then all you can do is either satisfy their demand or calmly begin your exit strategy.

David Gretzmier
09-16-2007, 12:38 AM
Pete- I've read the book. After trying to deal with you for several posts on different threads, as of now I am ignoring your posts and threads until you can show yourself to be an adult and a professional.

pete scalia
09-16-2007, 12:39 AM
You tell them what I usually tell them. Barry Bonds doesn't go to the plate with someone else's bat. And then go on to explain how and why you use the equipment you use, you carry parts on the truck etc. If they trust you they'll trust your judgement.

extlights
09-16-2007, 01:31 AM
If you have way too much business to be able to turn down a project because of a fixture that a customer wants and you disagree with it fine, but that's not something I'd ever do. I would make it perfectly clear to the customer the possible downsides to that particular fixture and if they still want it...fine. Look, our reputation is because of our designs, professional installation and service. We can always work a design around a particular fixture, and no matter what fixtures we use our installation and service will be the same as always.

No, we won't install malibu crap or any other low line fixtures, but if someone wanted another fixture from say Kichler, FX or Hadco, we'd install it. Now this has happened maybe only 3 or 4 times since we've been in business. I guess we're able to "awe" the customers enough with our demo's that they just want it exactly how we have the demo set with the same positioning and fixtures.

ar-t
09-16-2007, 02:52 AM
The only difference that I see between Malibu and pagodas is that one is made of plastic. I can not imagine anyone with $65K would want schlock at their house. For that customer......they would get whatever they want. I suspect that anyone in that income range would not have gotten their solely by winning the lottery, or dumb luck. But..........I notice the poster is in So. Cal.......who knows!

pete scalia
09-16-2007, 12:45 PM
when products fail on a project it usually leaves a bad taste in the mouths of the homeowner. Especially if it's a few years down the road and they have forgotten it was their choice. If you touch it somehow you own it in their minds. They typically shoot first and ask questions second when it comes to the blame game. Have you ever been accused of screwing something up on a property that you never came remotely in contact with? You were there so you are the first suspect. Guilty in their minds until proven innocent. Gardeners are typically blamed for every exterior ill that comes down the pike just because they are there, whether they did it or not it's the owners perception and that's more powerful than the reality.

Chris J
09-16-2007, 02:07 PM
Pete- I've read the book. After trying to deal with you for several posts on different threads, as of now I am ignoring your posts and threads until you can show yourself to be an adult and a professional.

Ditto that.

sprinkler guy
09-16-2007, 04:14 PM
Sean,
Could you please explain this install a little more? From your post above, it appears that the electrician installed the wiring, or something, and you maybe just connected the fixtures? I'm a bit confused as to how this job went down. Please understand, I'm not trying to pick a fight. I'm just a bit intrigued at your very large install of 65K and just want to learn more about it.

No problem Chris.

The house was brand new construction, so I was called in early to determine transformer locations. The house has a computer control system, similar to a Vantage System (but better in the words of the electrician). Everything that takes power in this house can be controlled by the computer. This is one of three houses the guy owns and he wants to be able to monitor it from out of town. Anyway, specifiaclly to your query, each transformer location had to have a computer controlled module at it, with either an outlet hooked to the module, or the wiring so the transformer could be hardwired. Most of the transformers were hardwired, so the electrician marked the wires at each location, but insisted I would wire my own transformers. The job had 8 transformers at 4 locations. So the electrician simply provided the power to the transformer locations, like most any job. I did everything else from there. I hope that makes a little more sense.

NightLightingFX
09-16-2007, 04:29 PM
It seems strange that a customer would be willing to pay $65,000 for patagonia lights. To me they are the most hidious fixtures ever made. They don't do any kind of accenting. (Anyone can install them) There is no artistic skill involved at all in using them. If someone offered me $65,000 to use patagonia fixtures. I would try my hardest to share with them what kind of effects you can get with other options. If they insisted on patagonia lights, I guess I would have to conceed to them. However, I wouldn't want anyone to know I did that job. A lot of times it is very easy to make the customer happy with almost any lighting design. When ever I finish a job even though the customer might be very happy. I always ask myself if other lighting professionals (such as on this web site) would be impressed or not. I always try my hardest to create a lighting portrait that would impress the toughtest critics. However, a lot of my finished jobs still aren't perfect. I am still learning and, and a lot of the time a project is restricted by cost to make it perfect.
~Ned
www.nightlightingfx.com

sprinkler guy
09-16-2007, 04:32 PM
The only difference that I see between Malibu and pagodas is that one is made of plastic.

Dave,

I'm not trying to be insulting, but your statement is one of ignorance. I mean for you to say the only difference between a Malibu light and an FX Luminaire light is plastic tells me you are unfamiliar with the FX product. Check out a local supplier and I think you'll see a vast difference. I've been in business for myself less than two years, but I've been in the landscape industry since 1990. I installed my first lighting system in 1995. I've seen a lot of different products, some good, some not so good. I've been dealing with the folks at FX since 2001, and they continue to make their product better everyday, as do most of the better lighting manufacturers. Are there better or higher end lighting products out there? Sure, but while FX may not be at the top of the food chain, they are a far cry from the types of products wearing the Malibu name.

NightLightingFX
09-16-2007, 04:45 PM
Pete,
I have to admit. If the customer is willing to pay a lot of money for a project I guess as an ARTIST. It comes down to the risk vs. reward consideration. I don't know about you but I consider myself an artist. If someone insist I do something that looks horrible. If is is a lot of money I guess I will swallow my pride and do it for the pure profit. But lets face it, the average person doesn't study or know anything about outdoor lighting. It is our job as a skilled outdoor lighting professional to educate them as to taking an artistic approach in lighting their property.
~Ned
www.nightlightingfx.com

pete scalia
09-16-2007, 04:59 PM
Pete,
I have to admit. If the customer is willing to pay a lot of money for a project I guess as an ARTIST. It comes down to the risk vs. reward consideration. I don't know about you but I consider myself an artist. If someone insist I do something that looks horrible. If is is a lot of money I guess I will swallow my pride and do it for the pure profit. But lets face it, the average person doesn't study or know anything about outdoor lighting. It is our job as a skilled outdoor lighting professional to educate them as to taking an artistic approach in lighting their property.
~Ned
www.nightlightingfx.com

Ned,
I consider myself more of a businessman than artist. What it comes down to is this if you compromise your beliefs and go against your better judgement and use a customers product of choice then do so with eyes wide open and understand the possible repercussions from it. Such as the scenarios I described above when the product fails. Turning down work over differences in product choice or design ,if you can afford it, is fine . But there is nothing wrong with accepting the customers choice if it means not losing the job if you really need it. There is no nobility in poverty. We should all learn not to judge a person until we have walked a mile in his shoes.

pete scalia
09-16-2007, 05:47 PM
It seems strange that a customer would be willing to pay $65,000 for patagonia lights. To me they are the most hidious fixtures ever made. They don't do any kind of accenting. (Anyone can install them) There is no artistic skill involved at all in using them. If someone offered me $65,000 to use patagonia fixtures. I would try my hardest to share with them what kind of effects you can get with other options. If they insisted on patagonia lights, I guess I would have to conceed to them. However, I wouldn't want anyone to know I did that job. A lot of times it is very easy to make the customer happy with almost any lighting design. When ever I finish a job even though the customer might be very happy. I always ask myself if other lighting professionals (such as on this web site) would be impressed or not. I always try my hardest to create a lighting portrait that would impress the toughtest critics. However, a lot of my finished jobs still aren't perfect. I am still learning and, and a lot of the time a project is restricted by cost to make it perfect.
~Ned
www.nightlightingfx.com

Ned can you clarify "patagonia" lights. I never heard that before.
Thanks, Pete

NightLightingFX
09-16-2007, 06:07 PM
Pete
I ment to say "pagoda" I just can't spell. It was in reference to sprinkler guy's post.
~Ned
www.nightlightingfx.com

Chris J
09-16-2007, 08:22 PM
No problem Chris.

The house was brand new construction, so I was called in early to determine transformer locations. The house has a computer control system, similar to a Vantage System (but better in the words of the electrician). Everything that takes power in this house can be controlled by the computer. This is one of three houses the guy owns and he wants to be able to monitor it from out of town. Anyway, specifiaclly to your query, each transformer location had to have a computer controlled module at it, with either an outlet hooked to the module, or the wiring so the transformer could be hardwired. Most of the transformers were hardwired, so the electrician marked the wires at each location, but insisted I would wire my own transformers. The job had 8 transformers at 4 locations. So the electrician simply provided the power to the transformer locations, like most any job. I did everything else from there. I hope that makes a little more sense.

Thanks for the explanation Sean. Sounds like a pretty trick installation and control system. Thanks also for not getting all wound up about my question. As I said, I wasn't trying to cause any trouble I was just curious and a bit confused. Seems lately I have a hard time saying anything without getting some girls panties all twisted up in knots. :blob2:

Thanks again pal, and congratulations on the nice job!

JoeyD
09-17-2007, 02:36 PM
I dont care if the Pagoda was made of Gold, I still would want nothing to do with it. But for $65K I would install anything they want. Downside is that your name is stamped to that job so down the line if it does go to crap your the guy who installed the "crap". A homeowner will never fess up to being the guy who damanded the product. He will always pass the blame. It is a fine line to walk telling homeowners they are wrong but when you are talking big bucks and you can see the homeownwer is not budging, I do what Sprinkler Guy did and install the damn lights. I'm not letting any $65K dollar job slip away.

The best way around this is to carry or obtain a bad looking in this case Pagoda light. Show them how the fixtures powdercoat is peeled and the aluminum is corroding around the screws and the base of the stem. Maybe show them some pics of some bad "cheap" lights installed on a job. You can drive through most neighborhoods and still find bad lighting jobs with cheap lights on them. The neighbor probably has one!!!

We used to give out a Pagoda award to the guy who showed up late to meetings here at Unique. Kind of funny, we all agree that it is the most outdated light on the market but continues to sell. What are you gonna do?

Joey D.

pete scalia
09-18-2007, 12:17 AM
We used to give out a Pagoda award to the guy who showed up late to meetings here at Unique. Kind of funny, we all agree that it is the most outdated light on the market but continues to sell. What are you gonna do?

Joey D.


Years ago when Unique was selling aluminum lights (remember the "colt"? ) along with their wellight and transformers they were also selling an aluminum pagoda light too as part of their fixture line.

JoeyD
09-18-2007, 11:22 AM
Yeah we sold those lights for a year before we gave about 5000 of them away to Goodwill. We were the first to admit that those lights blew. For the record we OEM those lights, we did not manufacture them. They were a test for us to see how people would respond to Unique selling fixtures, back then the only light we made was a well light. Now look at us!!