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Mike M
04-16-2008, 07:06 PM
What are typical rates to charge for retail on a service call?

MR16's, PARs, etc.

Thanks.

Chris J
04-16-2008, 08:23 PM
I don't think you're going to get an answer to this question as it is a bit too forward. It will all depend on your purchasing power (what you pay for them) and what you need to mark it up to make a profit.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-16-2008, 10:08 PM
I am always looking at what name brand lamps cost at retail stores. Take Home Depot for instance. They are selling Phillips FMW MR16s for between $8 and $9 each around here (packaged as singles, a bit cheaper if you buy a card of 3)

If it is good enough for HD, then it is good enough for me.

Pretty hard to justify a $8 MSRP lamp at $10 or $12 bucks each to savvy clients these days.

Of course the other way to do this is to package the lamp and the service together as one line item... So on your invoice you might have: 1 Bullet Uplight - Replaced lamp, cleaned, reaimed, labour incl. -$27.50 (or whatever)

Buy Low, Sell High :)

extlights
04-16-2008, 11:18 PM
Of course the other way to do this is to package the lamp and the service together as one line item... So on your invoice you might have: 1 Bullet Uplight - Replaced lamp, cleaned, reaimed, labour incl. -$27.50 (or whatever)

Buy Low, Sell High :)

Ditto that.

sprinkler guy
04-17-2008, 02:13 AM
James brings up the local Big Box pricing being a factor, but that can only hurt you if it's your bulb of choice. If you use the same bulb Home Depot sells, than being several dollars more than the box is an issue. If you use something else (Ushio Long Life or GE Constant Color are my choice) that isn't available at the Depot, than your higher price may be easier to justify. I've shown up a couple of times to repair/troubleshoot a system, and the homeowner has some cheap bulbs on hand and says to us them so as to avoid the cost of replacement bulbs. I charge by the hour for my time, parts seperately, so in this case, I say no problem, but said bulbs carry no warranty from me, and should they burn out, I will charge for another service call to come back. Most said to use my bulbs and provide the warranty.

Mike, do you have a handle on what other guys are doing in your area?

Mike M
04-17-2008, 06:54 AM
Sean, good points on comparing quality. By the way, the other guys in my area are buying aluminum fixtures and pointing them at the road. It's good when the bulbs go out.

Most are electricians or landscapers and are not offering service contracts.

I'll go to home cheapo and write down their prices. James, that's a good idea. Also, I have an idea for connections. They sell an ace connector rip-off for like ten bucks a pair. And the silicone twist-ons have a retail price, too. I'll even price the wire per foot at the same price for extending leads. Then I'll include something nominal for CLR and lubricant.

I'll tag on $10 for the gate pass if they have one.

From there, it's pro-rated hourly, including my windshield time factored in to the first hour.

I agree with Chris to just add up all the costs and add-on how much your time is worth. But I just want a nice way to itemize it for the customer.

One thing for certain, I hate having to haul my f-150 around for service calls.

irrig8r
04-17-2008, 10:14 AM
Gate pass? You mean they'll charge you to do work in gated communities? Never heard of that...

One I've worked in that has a guard just writes down your name, veh. lic. # and reason for "visiting"... others you either have the gate code given to you ahead of time by the customer or use a keypad to call the customer who buzzes you in.

NightScenes
04-17-2008, 06:07 PM
I never itemize an invoice. I write down what I do and what parts I use and a final price. I inform them that if I separate parts from labor I have to charge them sales tax (in my state) and they understand that it's going to cost them about 9% more if I do that.

I don't itemize proposals either!!

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-17-2008, 07:11 PM
I never itemize an invoice. I write down what I do and what parts I use and a final price. I inform them that if I separate parts from labor I have to charge them sales tax (in my state) and they understand that it's going to cost them about 9% more if I do that.

I don't itemize proposals either!!

That is the same situation here... If you sell a widget to someone you have to charge them sales tax. If you install that same widget in their home or commercial property, then it is exempt from that sales tax as it is now considered an installed service.

Beyond that, would you have a portrait artist itemize their invoice to you for a painting? Didn't think so.

Mike M
04-17-2008, 07:49 PM
Portrait artist? This is lawnsite. We're one click away from talking about chicken poop as fertilizer.

The greatest film producers of all time were held accountable to their budgets and itemized expenses.

I'm talking about a service call. You know, guy calls for a bulb, I tell him it's ten bucks, and I'll swing by at my rate and materials, plus my gate fee. While I'm there I'll service the fixtures and see if there is anything else I can help with.

I like to itemize to show them why it cost 80 clams to change a light bulb.

I also like to itemize my projects. By doing so, I had the confidence to get 350 a fixture on my last job instead of 250.
There was a lot of time-consuming and tedious work, and a lot of wire.

Now, when I get a solid reputation like my elders on this forum, I may be able to ditch doing demo's and itemizing materials.

By the way, chicken poop has a well balanced supply of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-17-2008, 08:56 PM
Probably just like Paul, I pretty much never itemize an invoice or installation contract... not since day one. I started my business with advice from others, listened to it and followed it. Now I find myself re-telling those same lessons and my installation invoices still carry only one line: 1 Custom Designed and Installed Lighting System - $xx,xxx.xx

Sell the sizzle not the steak... which in our business means: Go out and sell a dynamic, outdoor living environment! Don't go out and sell a bunch of stuff, attached to a bunch of wire, installed by a guy who makes $xx per hour. (unless you want to of course.)

Enjoy.

The Lighting Geek
04-17-2008, 09:21 PM
Portrait artist? This is lawnsite. We're one click away from talking about chicken poop as fertilizer.

Mike, you crack me up. Remember we are portrait artists, we just use black paper. I agree with James, sizzle, man, sizzle!

Pro-Scapes
04-17-2008, 11:32 PM
Mike, you crack me up. Remember we are portrait artists, we just use black paper. I agree with James, sizzle, man, sizzle!

Dont give them the sizzle. Give them the full meal. The sizzling steak. A nice potato / veggies and a glass of nice wine.

The Lighting Geek
04-17-2008, 11:37 PM
don't forget the dessert!

I just had a customer call me because she now has a nice destination in her yard to sit and relax. She said, 'Tommy, thanks to you I drink twice the wine.'

I laughed so hard I cried.

Mike M
04-18-2008, 06:31 AM
That's a cool effect. I'd like to see an establishing shot of that property.

Mike M
04-18-2008, 07:11 AM
We refer to ourselves as artists, so...

Did any portrait artist ever go by a business name? "Facescapes" (Pablo Picasso), "Rembrant Outdoor Images, Architectural and Landscape Paintings", Goin Verticle (Michelangelo) etc...

As I listen to everyone here, it makes me realize our own individual personality and signature, work portfolio, work ethic, etc., is more important than the DBA that the bank notices.

So does anyone use just their name? The closest I see is Johnson, Gambino, and Eden.

Gambino even brands his hardware with just Gambino.

It's not a big deal, because as referrals happen and impressions are made, our clients and folks in the community come to know us as our real names, anyways, regardless of our biz names.

So my question is, should we be branding our names and marketing ourselves more personally? What I mean is, putting the emphasis on the talented designer/custom installer, and not on a landscape crew or "business."

If so, perhaps our personal names or profiles should be a part of our postcards and marketing.

I know this sounds corny, but what about displaying an image, and then using the caption: "custom design by (person name here), (bus name here)."

Also, "signature design" "lighting effects created by" "custom illumination by", etc.

JoeyD
04-18-2008, 11:01 AM
We refer to ourselves as artists, so...

Did any portrait artist ever go by a business name? "Facescapes" (Pablo Picasso), "Rembrant Outdoor Images, Architectural and Landscape Paintings", Goin Verticle (Michelangelo) etc...

As I listen to everyone here, it makes me realize our own individual personality and signature, work portfolio, work ethic, etc., is more important than the DBA that the bank notices.

So does anyone use just their name? The closest I see is Johnson, Gambino, and Eden.

Gambino even brands his hardware with just Gambino.

It's not a big deal, because as referrals happen and impressions are made, our clients and folks in the community come to know us as our real names, anyways, regardless of our biz names.

So my question is, should we be branding our names and marketing ourselves more personally? What I mean is, putting the emphasis on the talented designer/custom installer, and not on a landscape crew or "business."

If so, perhaps our personal names or profiles should be a part of our postcards and marketing.

I know this sounds corny, but what about displaying an image, and then using the caption: "custom design by (person name here), (bus name here)."

Also, "signature design" "lighting effects created by" "custom illumination by", etc.


This is a smart thing to do IMO. There is nothing wrong with a good company name, that is a good thing, but people should always recognize your name.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-18-2008, 09:40 PM
A very timely discussion as it turns out.... Having just come from a meeting with some of my biz. advisors, and about to embark on a couple of new directions, it would appear that it is now time to open another division of my business.

Recently I have been 'commissioned' to design and construct some pretty spectacular interior fixtures for a client. One is a 6'(h)x6'(L)x3'(W), three tier, wrought iron chandalier, and two others which will be crafted out of some pretty wild materials. These are going to be showpiece fixtures installed in a 6,000 Sq foot Log home.

I have also been asked to design and install a massive lighting system on a world renowned heritage property here in Muskoka.

So, along with my 10yr INTEGRA Works Lighting gig, and my new LED venture (a website that they wont let me promote here!) I am going to open another division using my name that will be focused on custom fixture design and the very high end property work.

If I had the opportunity for a 'do-over', I would have started my biz using my name as the Company name.

Have a great day.

Chris J
04-18-2008, 10:41 PM
I did it because "Johnson" was one of the most popular last names in the country. I figured people would have an easier time remembering my name than they would remember anything else.

Mike M
04-19-2008, 08:21 AM
I'm changing my biz name to Mike's Outside Light Bulbs. Bulb changing service available, just bring in your fixtures. New light special: buy a package of 8 metal lights (space age aluminum) with a power supply and get free assembly and installation (valued at $20).

Okay, I'm bored. But I am now thinking about putting my name in all my ads, as a designer, next to the biz name. Anyone else do this??

Pro-Scapes
04-19-2008, 10:30 AM
Most people remember us because we are a Husband and wife team. Works out well for us.

We had thought about using our names for the company but decided against it. Maybe it was a bad idea but i dont think so.

One client couldnt rememeber our business phone number but rememebered our names and looked up our number and called us at home.