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JimLewis
12-29-2008, 05:20 PM
Hey all. Long time no see.

Well, I see to be finally getting a decent amount of calls about lamps going out finally. Since I really just started to get into lighting a few years ago, I haven't had a lot of calls for this in the past.

This got me thinking that it's definitely time to establish some sort of service contract for the lighting systems we install.

The dilemma I have is this; Do we replace every lamp each visit? Or just the ones that are out? I realize there's other maintenance to do at this time too. But in regards to just the lamp replacement, what do you all do?

It would be fairly expensive to replace every lamp each visit. Not to mention wasteful. The brand I use most of the time is Unique and at least with their path lights, they have a Xelogen lamp that is said to last about 3 years at the amount we use them here. Plus, they're more expensive than regular halogen lamps. So replacing them every 3 or 6 months would just be a total waste. Plus, that's a huge selling point I use is that our lamps last so long. So if they last so long, why would the customer need me to switch them all out every visit?

On the other hand, if I don't switch them out every visit, we could have lamps go out the next week and have to go back. That costs someone money - probably the customer. So that's not so good.

So it seems to me either we do inexpensive visits every 3 months, where we just replace what's out and do some cleaning up and straightening of the other light fixtures. Or we come out just once a year for one expensive visit and replace every single lamp.

What do you think?

Mike M
12-29-2008, 05:42 PM
The guys that have installed lots of systems here will tell you their opinion, and it's a cool topic that comes up every couple of months.

You'll find a few hundred bucks each year or every two is what the customer finds value in, if you present it that way. Your system needs continuous service to keep things aimed, moved away from growing plants, un-bonked from landscapers' feet and equipment (yeah, the decks reach inside those beds, hehe) cleaning calcium deposits and junk off the lenses, replacing bulbs, etc.

I learned that the bulb should be replaced before it goes out, anyways. They decline in performance, lose their effectiveness (less lumens, mirrored finish wears off and it gets washy, etc.). You wouldn't think it, but it's very noticeable after you service the lights.

Anyways, do the math, and your frequent visits should cost a lot more than an annual contract.

You know that your clients can afford it, so just explain to them the value of routine maintenance, and let them know what they get out of an annual contract. If you are using Unique, tell them in the initial contract, that you will honor a lifetime warranty if they have an anual service agreement with you.

These are the same people that found value in your design and installation rate, so it shouldn't be a big deal.

I learned this from the best (here!).

David Gretzmier
12-29-2008, 10:27 PM
I'm a big fan of using the Ushio bulb that has a rated life of 5000 hours. The color and brightness seems to last a full year unless folks burn them all night long. even then, I rarely get calls on replacements before the year is up as I tend to never go above 11.5 on voltage. I replace all bulbs every year and charge 10% of the installed price when we put the system in. it's aprox. $20-30 per fixture. we also grease o-rings, clean all the bugs and cobwebs out the transformers, wash the lenses, reposition and trim back shrubs from the lights. on systems with digital timers, I put in a new battery.

Once done, I also extend the warranty for another year on everything once this service is performed wire, sockets, bulbs, lenses, etc. when the system is under warranty, I charge no labor or parts, just fix it and move on. The only thing not covered is lightning damage and that is covered under thier homeowners insurance.

the xelegen lights I have used and the other 10,000 hour bulbs out there I've tested seem to be either yellow or dimmer than the 5000 hour ones. I find myself using 35 watters when I normally would use 20's, 50's for 35's, etc. and using much more wire and bigger trans.

I also seemed to have to come back at the year and half mark and change a bulb or 2, and then have to do all the things I do at the yearly maintenance anyway.

doing yearly maintenance builds your companies value substancially in the event you want to sell your business. recurring revenue is worth alot. one time installs are worth basically nothing. My theory has always been if I can get 10% ( and I do 99% of the time ) each year, that grows into serious sales in year 8 or 9 . if you get to 250k constant per year in landscape light sales and recur 10% of that every year, your sales double by year 10.