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View Full Version : The direction of lvl


extlights
11-22-2007, 12:51 PM
We go through all these debates on here about which lamps are better, what techniques are better etc... What I really want to know everyones opinion on the direction of lvl. Yes, new fixtures, multi-tap transformers and higher end technology are starting to become more accessable in this industry, but what direction is this industry actually heading?

What I see is this. Many manufacturers are making very similar looking fixtures utilizing mostly the same bulbs. Led's are close, yet still pretty far away. The amount of LVL contractors are popping up like crazy these days making things more competitive. These are the main things I see on a daily basis.

Here's the thing in my mind though. Landscape lighting is very much a "niche" business. Yes there are books out there about it, but in reality the average consumer knows nothing about it. They see malibu plastered all over Menards and Home Depots weekly flyers and this is generally what they think lvl is. In hindsight if I weren't in the business I'd probably be just the same. It's up to us lighting professionals to get the word out, but how much can a small business actually do? When we first started, we were spending 30K a year on advertising...alot to us, but nothing to these big box stores. Can we make a living on doing this...yes, but could all of us do much better with more corporate support?..definately.

Many trades have thrived from major corporate support, yet this industry isn't quite there yet. Yes they will help in numerous ways...I'm not putting them down in anyway, but to me if it's up to us small lvl companies to truly enlarge this industry, then it's going to take quite a while.

So what's your take on where this "niche" industry is heading?

ChampionLS
11-22-2007, 01:30 PM
Well... first of all, I doubt that your spending $30,000 a year on advertising. That would put you above and beyond what most contractors can budget for. If that were the case, you'd be turning 5M a year or more in sales- and not having to worry about where the markets going. You can create your own market. Who says Malibu lights are what everyone wants?? The big box stores?- Thats all clever advertising. They're creating the industry and the interest. If it's there to buy, people will come.

In the Professional lighting world, there is a style of etiquette to abide by. Unfortunately, most of us are out of range to contact the consumer as the large retailers do. Theres still plenty of non-brainwashed clients out there that are willing to pay for and go the extra mile for quality fixtures and an installation.

The Lighting Geek
11-22-2007, 04:29 PM
I have been put in a position to possibly change people's perception of LVL. I first want to say I just happened to be in the right place in the right time. I have filmed two episodes on a new show on DIY Network called 'The Yard Crashers'. The name might change by the time it hits the air in april/may 2008. I was one of three parts in the episodes I participated in. I don't know if or what will make it to the show, but everything I heard from the producers was very positive. They found me through a local designer while researching the last 2 of 13 episodes. They have told me that they want me to be apart of next season, possibly a regular.

I have to tell you, this has been very humbling experience to me. There are alot of people who know more about lighting than me but apparently I could be the one to take us 'out of the dark' so to speak. There is more to this but I must be careful what I devulge at this point. I have held off announcing this for alot of reasons. Most of all I am just another lighting guy like you all are. But I feel it is important to keep you all up to date on something that might change the industry. I am of the mindset that if it happens, it happens. This might become something more serious but only time will tell. I am dedicated the industry as a whole and realize this is possibly bigger than just me.
This might be all there is to it and that's ok too.

The Lighting Geek
11-22-2007, 04:51 PM
I am challenged and put my response in the wrong place...DOH!

So I moved it..LOL

Mike M
11-22-2007, 05:36 PM
They have told me that they want me to be apart of next season, possibly a regular

Do you think you'll still be doing demos? hehe

Way to go, man. Who is the production company, producers, etc., do they have anything else out there already running?

Mike

extlights
11-22-2007, 05:38 PM
Well... first of all, I doubt that your spending $30,000 a year on advertising. That would put you above and beyond what most contractors can budget for. If that were the case, you'd be turning 5M a year or more in sales- and not having to worry about where the markets going. You can create your own market. Who says Malibu lights are what everyone wants?? The big box stores?- Thats all clever advertising. They're creating the industry and the interest. If it's there to buy, people will come.

In the Professional lighting world, there is a style of etiquette to abide by. Unfortunately, most of us are out of range to contact the consumer as the large retailers do. Theres still plenty of non-brainwashed clients out there that are willing to pay for and go the extra mile for quality fixtures and an installation.

First off, I stated that when we started off we were spending 30K per year on advertising, we don't have to do that anymore. Also...if 30K per year in advertising brought a return of 5 Million in business wouldn't everyone go get a loan for 30K? Unless you only do small quantities of direct mail...30K doesn't go very far....commercials, high end magazines, direct mail...all very expensive. Also, I never said that Malibu lights is what everyone WANTS..I stated that because of the big box stores push, that's what people generally associate lvl with....big difference. That's the whole point of this thread. I know there are people out there willing to spend the money...most of those people, however, are un-educated on low voltage and not aware that what us lighting professionals do even exists. I hear it all the time from customers of ours that they were shocked at what can be accomplished with low voltage lighting.

As for The Lighting Geek (I love that name by the way) congrats to you and I hope it works out for you. Anytime a small business has an opportunity for something like that, it can bring big rewards. I wish you the best of luck on that!

NightScenes
11-22-2007, 06:16 PM
I have been put in a position to possibly change people's perception of LVL. I first want to say I just happened to be in the right place in the right time. I have filmed two episodes on a new show on DIY Network called 'The Yard Crashers'. The name might change by the time it hits the air in april/may 2008. I was one of three parts in the episodes I participated in. I don't know if or what will make it to the show, but everything I heard from the producers was very positive. They found me through a local designer while researching the last 2 of 13 episodes. They have told me that they want me to be apart of next season, possibly a regular.

I have to tell you, this has been very humbling experience to me. There are alot of people who know more about lighting than me but apparently I could be the one to take us 'out of the dark' so to speak. There is more to this but I must be careful what I devulge at this point. I have held off announcing this for alot of reasons. Most of all I am just another lighting guy like you all are. But I feel it is important to keep you all up to date on something that might change the industry. I am of the mindset that if it happens, it happens. This might become something more serious but only time will tell. I am dedicated the industry as a whole and realize this is possibly bigger than just me.
This might be all there is to it and that's ok too.

This is great Tommy. I did a show for PBS in our area. I think all of these things help get the word out about landscape lighting and when people start seeing it more often, they will then persue it.

It appears that a local pest control company is getting into the act now as well. Although they will probably do some pretty crappy lighting work, they will spend a fortune promoting it and therefore promote lighting.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
11-22-2007, 10:07 PM
The 'direction of LVL'? That would require a pretty big crystal ball. But here is my take....

I think that the market of people who want their homes and properties to look great, be safe and functional will continue to grow. There has been a strong trend towards padding the nest in recent years and I don't see an end to this. People want their properties to look, feel and work very well, as they have invested a lot of time, energy and resources into them.

This brings us to our business... Lighting. We all understand the benefits of a well designed and installed lighting system. One by one we all seem to educate a segment of the marketplace that makes the decision to purchase our services. Those happy people enjoy and remark on their lighting systems to others, and the phone continues to ring... All is good. Did you notice what I left out there?

I left out "Low Voltage", I left out "Landscape Lighting", "Garden Lighting" and I left out any and all technical references to fixtures, lamps, brands, manufacturers and on and on. I sell "Custom Designed and Installed Lighting Systems".

Quite a while ago I learned a very good lesson from one of my clients (who later became one of my business advisor's). It was during the 'sale process' to this Gentleman... I was going on and on about low voltage, about halogen lamps, about Powercenters, about connections, etc etc. After some time he stopped me mid sentence. He told me if I continue to talk about the technical aspects of the lighting system that he was going to send me packing. Ultimately, he just wanted a wonderful looking and performing system installed by a niche professional.

As I got to know Dan better, and we talked more, I revisited our initial meeting to get a better understanding of his rationale and motivations. To make a long story short, he said that he is much too busy and overwhelmed by information on a daily basis to take any time to understand the technical workings of an outdoor lighting system. He wanted the best, he wanted it to work, and he wanted it to look fantastic. Period.

Since then I have done some experimenting with my sales technique, varying it from presenting a technically rich presentation to one that is more akin to a Designer or Artist. I have found that the latter approach works much better! Clients want to know what you are planning to do with their properties but believe it or not, they are not too interested in HOW you are going to do it. When I present with a lot of technical info included, the process seems to bog down, go much slower and generally results in a less confident purchase decision from the client. When I present as an artist or designer, things go much quicker, smoother and the client generally seems eager and elated to hire us.

So, as far as a direction for "LVL" in the future? I would suggest that we as contractors in this industry need to continue to listen, adapt to our individual markets, and most importantly, move forward with confidence. Get those clients to understand that you are a PROFESSIONAL, and that you have their best interest in hand.

By elevating yourself and your business out of the trenches (pun intended) and into the realm of the designer / artist, you will be doing a lot to positively promote your business and this industry.

Have a great day.

klkanders
11-23-2007, 03:26 PM
Tommy, Congrats on those 2 episodes! I can't wait to see it.
I am thinking I have seen a few of those DIY outdoor shows that used some Malibu stuff from one of the box stores and they were a sponsor of most if not all of those types of shows. My question is if they do sponsor those types of shows how long will it take them to realize your pushing a better product then they are trying to sell on their show? Will it matter to them?

Lite4
11-23-2007, 04:08 PM
Tommy, it is on DIY (do it yourself) network. Don't give away too many secrets to the "do it yourself" crowd, or you may not be 'doing it yourself'. Ha Ha, just kidding. Good luck. Sounds like some great exposure, Light it up Brother.

The Lighting Geek
11-23-2007, 04:57 PM
My approach on the show is to show the results of good lighting, some very basic info, and the fact that this is a skilled craft. Do all the DIY stuff yourself, leave the lighting to a professional. I believe I am one the first people doing full time lighting to do this. It usually is a landscaper (nothing wrong with that) showing lighting and it gets a 5 second blip. It is not a major part of the project, where as I am hoping they continue to have the lighting be a significant part of the projects.

Malibu is NOT a sponsor of the show that I am aware of, the producers get the material donated by whoever is willing.

klkanders
11-23-2007, 06:15 PM
Sounds good Tommy! I didnt mean to imply that Malibu was a sponsor sorry. I think it was either Lowe's or Home Depot that might have and thus perhaps dontated a box of Malibu stuff since they have shelves full of it. All and all your episodes should do nothing but help bring more awareness to doing it right the first time. Thanks!

David Gretzmier
11-24-2007, 05:03 AM
James- I like the idea of placing myself as an lighting artist or lighting designer. I probably get bogged down in the technical stuff myself. I am already positioned in the Christmas light business as the best in the area, and I already consider myself more of a outdoor decorater than a christmas light guy. you've got me thinking...