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View Full Version : What's this year like for you?


The Lighting Geek
05-06-2008, 09:56 AM
All of a sudden my phone has been ringing off the hook. Most of the time it is based on local stuff like marketing, weather, economy. Everyone has seen a difference this winter. But now that the season is in full swing, what are you seeing? My questions are:


Have you seen any difference this year in what kind of jobs you are getting calls from?
Is it smaller jobs or bigger jobs?
Are the clients closer to your target or not?


For me it has been a mixed bag. I had a very slow and tough winter up until around the beginning of April. It was very hit and miss up to May and now recently the calls have increased dramatically. But the type of calls have been great. Higher end residential and ready to go! I am not getting the "I am shopping' attitude at all. I am booking 8 to 10 weeks out right now, but I was only 2 days out only weeks ago. CRAZY! I am curious what have been your results?

TXNSLighting
05-06-2008, 10:55 AM
this year has started off well. were still a very new company trying to get the name out as much as possible. advertising accidently dried up, but i got right on that. Its so hard with advertising in this business cuz its very expensive to market to our client base. but i keep findig it somewhere. were startin to average 1 job per week. so im pretty happy bout that. haent been in business quite a year yet, but im still loving this biz and everything i get to do. hopin to get to 2 jobs per week then 3 and so on...just working as hard as possible, and doin as many demos as possible! The jobs are getting bigger to, this year started off with a 85 light job! very exciting!

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-06-2008, 06:20 PM
This is the busiest spring I have ever had. The winter was average for here, but this spring is blowing the doors off in terms of early season sales. Not a lot of cold calls coming in, everything has been referrals, which is great as there is so much less selling to do.

Interestingly enough it is not just my business that is overly busy. Most everyone I talk to here, landscapers, electricians, roofers, plumbers are all saying the same thing: "Busiest Spring they have ever had."

As for the "R" word... seems only the media and the enonomic think tanks are the ones worried about it.

Chris J
05-06-2008, 06:36 PM
As for the "R" word... seems only the media and the enonomic think tanks are the ones worried about it.

As well as Florida residents.

ccfree
05-06-2008, 08:40 PM
I will put my two cents in. As some of you know, I come from the distribution side. I have been selling lighting for 10 years now in the Dallas TX market. This is the busiest I have ever been in my career! I don't have a clue what the "R" word means.

dwightschrute
05-06-2008, 08:48 PM
The "R" in my business is reams, as in how many more reams of paper I can sell to show my boss Micheal I am the best salesman, not Jim or Andy

Chris J
05-06-2008, 10:07 PM
I will put my two cents in. As some of you know, I come from the distribution side. I have been selling lighting for 10 years now in the Dallas TX market. This is the busiest I have ever been in my career! I don't have a clue what the "R" word means.

He means recession Craig. And as far as your quote (as well as the others) I just don't understand it. Everybody here (and I mean EVERYBODY that has anything to do with home construction, or home improvements) is really feeling the pressure. Not a day goes by that I don't hear about another company going out of business because of the lack of sales/work. Why is it that other areas of the country are stroking right along, while N.E. Florida (perhaps all of Florida, I don't know for sure) is hurting so much? At first I thought I was losing my ability, but know I know that it's everybody and not just me. There has to be a logical explaination for this as I really don't understand how sales can drop so dramatically for Florida businesses, yet can still be booming for other states.

ccfree
05-06-2008, 10:42 PM
I don't know Chris. Texas has dropped off dramatically with the production new home industry, but the high end custom builders are still going strong. Texas is booming in the oil and gas business so that is helping. Yes alot of people are going out of business, but alot are prospering more than ever before. I believe if a lighting contractor has aligned their company in the high end sector of the market, they are going to continue to grow their sales. The best opportunity to expand and grow sales is in a recession if that is actually what this country is in.

Chris J
05-06-2008, 11:28 PM
Being that you are in the distribution business, I take that to mean that you deal to all contractors big volume and not so big. If you say your are really busy, this gives me the impression that your entire market is strong and not just the contractors who aligned themselves with the high end sector. Of course, if the majority of your business comes from a few "high end" guys, then I understand where you are coming from.
Also, could you please explain what you mean by a recession being the best time to grow a business? That's not making much sense to me. Again, it's not the entire country that has this problem. Just a few select states or regions thereof. This is what I really don't understand. Thanks for the input!

ccfree
05-06-2008, 11:51 PM
Being that you are in the distribution business, I take that to mean that you deal to all contractors big volume and not so big. If you say your are really busy, this gives me the impression that your entire market is strong and not just the contractors who aligned themselves with the high end sector. Of course, if the majority of your business comes from a few "high end" guys, then I understand where you are coming from.
Also, could you please explain what you mean by a recession being the best time to grow a business? That's not making much sense to me. Again, it's not the entire country that has this problem. Just a few select states or regions thereof. This is what I really don't understand. Thanks for the input!

The majority of my customers are high end which of course as you know is the business we are dealing with. This seems to be the year of the "big" jobs. Much more than in the past, which tells me that wealthy clientele are still spending their money freely on luxury items. In times of a "recession", most people who own businesses think they must cut back on their expenses. This is true to an extent, especially when it comes to buying new equipment. But if a company has their act together financial and runs a tight ship, this is the best time to expand. And that is however you choose to expand whether it be open a new office, or better yet, start marketing your company wisely and spending more dollars to reach potential clients. The key is, that alot of your competition will not make it through a recession, they will will fold. Now is the time to brand your company name in your market. It is all about branding. Think about Bud Light! In short, a recession is what you make of it. Less competition means better odds of you getting the work.

sprinkler guy
05-06-2008, 11:53 PM
He means recession Craig. And as far as your quote (as well as the others) I just don't understand it. Everybody here (and I mean EVERYBODY that has anything to do with home construction, or home improvements) is really feeling the pressure. Not a day goes by that I don't hear about another company going out of business because of the lack of sales/work. Why is it that other areas of the country are stroking right along, while N.E. Florida (perhaps all of Florida, I don't know for sure) is hurting so much? At first I thought I was losing my ability, but know I know that it's everybody and not just me. There has to be a logical explaination for this as I really don't understand how sales can drop so dramatically for Florida businesses, yet can still be booming for other states.


Chris,

I'm talking to guys every day who are hurting and some who are as busy as ever. California is a funky market, with some segments dying, and others pumping right along. I have two pool builders I do work for; one hasn't sold a remodel or new pool build in four months, the other is four months out on contracts. Go figure. Both do good work, but I think the busy guy markets himself better, and is a little bit higher end than the guy starving. I'm telling people 5-6 weeks out right now on a larger job, because of the backlog. The jobs I'm seeing are the higher end homes, and money isn't the biggest factor. The medium stuff has fallen, the $3-4K one day jobs in average priced neighborhoods. Most of what's on the board are 3-4 day gigs. I 'm sure there are pockets of wealth in your area that aren't as effected by fluctuations in the economy, but are they calling to get work done? If not, well you can't make the phone ring. If yes, is your marketing not reaching them? I'm a long way from your part of the country, so if I'm talking out my hind quarters, no offense intended.

Chris J
05-07-2008, 12:13 AM
Well, I've always tried to advertise to the high end, but maybe I need to try a different approach. I have been sending mailings to the higher valued homes, but I've been thinking of getting a list of the highest "income earners" in the area. I don't know if this will make much of a difference, but I'm going to give it a try. There is no reason why the ultra high-end client should not have me as their contractor. I provide superior design and I know for a fact that my customer service ethics are second to none.
Craig, you are absolutely correct with your analogy of a recession forcing the "part-timer " out of the equation. This has already happened numerous times, and I'm hoping that I will be the only one left after a few more months! I hate to wish that on someone, but my market is full of people who should not be doing this. If they have to go out of business for me to rid myself of their repair work, then so be it. I'd rather install ALL the jobs correctly than have to fix everyone elses problems.

ccfree
05-07-2008, 12:27 AM
Well, I've always tried to advertise to the high end, but maybe I need to try a different approach. I have been sending mailings to the higher valued homes, but I've been thinking of getting a list of the highest "income earners" in the area. I don't know if this will make much of a difference, but I'm going to give it a try. There is no reason why the ultra high-end client should not have me as their contractor. I provide superior design and I know for a fact that my customer service ethics are second to none.
Craig, you are absolutely correct with your analogy of a recession forcing the "part-timer " out of the equation. This has already happened numerous times, and I'm hoping that I will be the only one left after a few more months! I hate to wish that on someone, but my market is full of people who should not be doing this. If they have to go out of business for me to rid myself of their repair work, then so be it. I'd rather install ALL the jobs correctly than have to fix everyone elses problems.

Exactly Chris. I feel the same as you do in the respect that you are best lighting contractor bar none in your market. You should get these jobs because you are the best. That is exactly how I want to be viewed in my market and I strive for it. I want companies like yours to do business with me in my market because I feel I am the best in the lighting industry. Even though we are on opposite sides of the business, our philosophy is the same.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-07-2008, 12:27 AM
Chris I would suggest to you that 'advertising' is a very poor way to attract high-end and "ultra high end" clientele. These people are very savvy, and from what I know they do not spend a lot of time looking through or responding to traditional advertising when they are making purchase decisions.

Try something totally different. Take your entire print advertising budget and stop throwing your money away. Instead invest it.... go find the most exclusive country club in your market. Make them an offer they cannot refuse. Invest that money into installing an amazing lighting system on the clubhouse grounds, near the entry and patio areas. Then the members will surely notice, and they will inquire as to who did the work.

This has worked VERY well for me here. In fact, I would say that I owe a great deal of my success in capturing the high end market to this technique.

The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different outcome. Don't be insane... try something different.

Have a great day.

ccfree
05-07-2008, 12:36 AM
Chris I would suggest to you that 'advertising' is a very poor way to attract high-end and "ultra high end" clientele. These people are very savvy, and from what I know they do not spend a lot of time looking through or responding to traditional advertising when they are making purchase decisions.

Try something totally different. Take your entire print advertising budget and stop throwing your money away. Instead invest it.... go find the most exclusive country club in your market. Make them an offer they cannot refuse. Invest that money into installing an amazing lighting system on the clubhouse grounds, near the entry and patio areas. Then the members will surely notice, and they will inquire as to who did the work.

This has worked VERY well for me here. In fact, I would say that I owe a great deal of my success in capturing the high end market to this technique.

The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different outcome. Don't be insane... try something different.

Have a great day.
In a sense, isn't that a form of advertisement/marketing too? By the way I talked to John Meadors from Tulsa OK, and he talks very highly of you James. Thought you would like the compliment.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-07-2008, 12:54 AM
Yes Craig, it absolutely is a form of advertising and marketing.... only it is not traditional, it is instead REMARKABLE. (in that people actually notice it and remark about it.)

In fact, you can take the money that you spend on installing such a system for the purposes of generating new business and account for it in your 'promotions & advertising' expenses just as you would any other type of advertising.

Don't think of this as doing a 'freebie'. Instead just think about it as a very effective way to promote and sell your services. The top end of this market responds very well to real time experiences and seeing things they like for themselves. Print marketing is pretty much lost on them. (unless you have the ad budget of a company like BMW)

I used to spend $12 to $20k per year on print advertsing in periodicals. Now I put those resources into getting my services into the realm of experience of my target market. The return rate is through the roof when compared to the advertising.

Have a great day.

David Gretzmier
05-07-2008, 06:13 AM
getting this thread back to answering the question- my phone is ringing just in the past week. winter was pretty slow, did jobs as they came, but I am 2 weeks out right now. I'd rather be 4, but lots of demo's coming up.

trailboss
05-08-2008, 12:23 AM
Chris I would suggest to you that 'advertising' is a very poor way to attract high-end and "ultra high end" clientele. These people are very savvy, and from what I know they do not spend a lot of time looking through or responding to traditional advertising when they are making purchase decisions.

Try something totally different. Take your entire print advertising budget and stop throwing your money away. Instead invest it.... go find the most exclusive country club in your market. Make them an offer they cannot refuse. Invest that money into installing an amazing lighting system on the clubhouse grounds, near the entry and patio areas. Then the members will surely notice, and they will inquire as to who did the work.

This has worked VERY well for me here. In fact, I would say that I owe a great deal of my success in capturing the high end market to this technique.

The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different outcome. Don't be insane... try something different.

Have a great day.

Are you able to advertise in any way when using this technique? Or, do you find that people will actually inquire about your company?
I appreciate your tip.
So far this year its been the busiest spring I have ever had - but I am always looking for a new approach.
Thanks Again!

Pro-Scapes
05-08-2008, 07:30 AM
been VERY stable here as well. I went thru the sam dry spell as Chris but mine was last year.

The smaller projects hve been there just as much as the larger ones for me. We are about to start on a 5 day project on monday.

I am not 100% sure with all the retired people there the income demographic will be accurate. I know ALOT of people in Fla that have smaller homes there and a low income but alot of money

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-08-2008, 07:39 AM
Are you able to advertise in any way when using this technique? Or, do you find that people will actually inquire about your company?
I appreciate your tip.
So far this year its been the busiest spring I have ever had - but I am always looking for a new approach.
Thanks Again!


Other then leaving behind a stack of Business Cards with the Mgmt. You might want to ask for the ability to leave behind a site sign for a few weeks, but I have not done this as I think it looks a bit cheesy, esp. at a place like Oviinbyrd.

You definitely want to ask the owners/management for a letter of reference. Then include a copy of the letter in your proposal packages to remind your prospects of what you are capable of achieving. It also doesn't hurt to casually bring up the fact that you are responsible for the lighting at a well known, desirable location.

The whole idea is to get away from traditional techniques of advertising and lead generation which, except for those with very large budgets, is becoming increasingly cluttered and difficult to elicit responses from. "Network Marketing" is so much more rewarding, intriguing and fun.

Try it, you'll like it.

bmwsmity
05-08-2008, 10:51 PM
Well, I've always tried to advertise to the high end, but maybe I need to try a different approach. I have been sending mailings to the higher valued homes, but I've been thinking of getting a list of the highest "income earners" in the area. I don't know if this will make much of a difference, but I'm going to give it a try.

You might see some difference segmenting by income as opposed to home value. I've been astounded at some of the home values I've done nice jobs for... $300k value homes, but they make big bucks and are just not the types to buy a huge house. Granted, one in particular had 5 Lexus' in the drive, so I guess cars were their thing.

Personally, I've seen much better response rates by doing mailers that give a percentage discount offer, rather than just one saying that I'm the best guy for lighting.

As for my year thus far, I've seen a higher volume of sales, but at lower prices so far.

Chris J
05-09-2008, 07:54 AM
After talking with a marketing friend, we both agree that doing a list based on income might not be such a great idea. Here in FL, the retired folks are a big part of my customer base. As such, these folks do not have a "high income" anymore, but may be very much my target customer. I'm at a loss for ideas right now, so I'll have to give it some thought and develop a new plan.

Mike M
05-09-2008, 08:13 AM
Chris, don't forget direct mail services can target home price ranges and income, if you want.

Pro-Scapes
05-09-2008, 09:36 AM
Thats gotta be tough there Chris. Here some houses that have been purchased for many years are severly under values when it comes to lists. The last house we did the people have lived there 12 years. The home value is assessed at 350k... Market value of that home now is several times that. Since Katrina our market really jumped. My house alone went up 50k after Katrina.

Why not bite the bullet and do a commercial ? :) I could just see you guys now in your button up silk shirts sitting on a deck cocktail in hand with some dramatic lighting in the background and some ladies enjoying a dip in a hot tub

Chris J
05-09-2008, 01:25 PM
Thats gotta be tough there Chris. Here some houses that have been purchased for many years are severly under values when it comes to lists. The last house we did the people have lived there 12 years. The home value is assessed at 350k... Market value of that home now is several times that. Since Katrina our market really jumped. My house alone went up 50k after Katrina.

Why not bite the bullet and do a commercial ? :) I could just see you guys now in your button up silk shirts sitting on a deck cocktail in hand with some dramatic lighting in the background and some ladies enjoying a dip in a hot tub

You know, you might just be onto something! I'll have to ponder this and see what can be done. TV advertising is very expensive though, and from what I've heard from some colleauges further south it really doesn't have a great ROI. What Tommy is doing with the DIY channel will create credibilty. Simple TV ads I don't think will go very well. However, it would be fun to be a TV star! Heck, maybe I can convince the E! channel to do a reality series on outdoor lighting guys. They could put 10-15 of us up in a home, then watch us fuss and argue on how to design and light it. :laugh:

Lite4
05-09-2008, 02:00 PM
Now that would be entertaining!

JoeyD
05-09-2008, 02:09 PM
Get You Chris, James, Paul, Tim, The Lighting Geek, Pete Scalia, The Professor, Dwight Schrute, Mike, hmm who else? We could call it Lawnsite Lighting Pimps!!

Pro-Scapes
05-09-2008, 07:36 PM
im offended Joey

Mike M
05-10-2008, 05:43 PM
Billy, at least you didn't come after Dwight Schrute.

Mike M
05-10-2008, 05:44 PM
Wait, worse yet, you got cut right after me.

dwightschrute
05-10-2008, 06:32 PM
at least I work until 5:00

JoeyD
05-12-2008, 10:10 AM
at least I work until 5:00

Selling Toilet Paper keeps you working that late? Wait until you start doing lighting!!