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extlights
04-06-2010, 12:54 AM
I was curious on what guys have to give the potential client on a meeting. I know most of you have portfolios that you show the people, but what do you leave behind besides a business card and an impression? Do you spend the money to get full color brochures talking about you and your company? Do you go all out and create folders with a bunch of information for the customer to hang on to? I've been considering going in a new direction with this and was just curious on what you guys do.

RLI Electric
04-06-2010, 07:40 AM
I like the simple brochure although the one I have is pretty weak. I think it is a good idea to have something like this with a few shots on it of work you have done. Lighting is essentially intangible until they can see it. You can talk about it all day long but until someone sees the actual thing, parts can be lost in their imagination (or lack of with no disrespect meant). For what it's worth, I made my own brochure and although I like parts of it, professionally done it would have been far better. Next time though, right:rolleyes:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-06-2010, 08:12 AM
I just came off of a busy sales week... I called upon four new prospects that I have never met before. 2 Were referrals and 2 were 'cold calls'. All four new prospects were left with a positive impression, my business card, and a 'mind's eye view' of what we would be doing for them and my word that we will get back to them within a week. Nothing more. All four jobs will close with an installation agreement, with one of them being a reduced scope due to budget constraints.

Fancy brochures, condensed portfolios, and other forms of print literature are fine. I have seen several that were very impressive, but they are not necessary. Having a website that communicates all of that information is much more effective than a bunch of printed materials. Communicating your experience, passion and control of your craft is 100% necessary. Listening to your prospect's needs, wants, desires and tuning into their style and aesthetic is also 100% necessary. Do that and you will quickly gain their trust and their commitment. The pretty photos and information can stay on your website where it can be referenced by all, at any time.

Pro-Scapes
04-06-2010, 09:47 AM
I was curious on what guys have to give the potential client on a meeting. I know most of you have portfolios that you show the people, but what do you leave behind besides a business card and an impression? Do you spend the money to get full color brochures talking about you and your company? Do you go all out and create folders with a bunch of information for the customer to hang on to? I've been considering going in a new direction with this and was just curious on what you guys do.

Dave, Drop me an email with your mailing address and I will send you one of my brochures. I spent the money to have a nice trifold done and printed up about 3000 of them (that was the expensive part but vista print is reasonable)

I also leave behind... our list of distinguished refferences... a card... and the brochure.

David Gretzmier
04-06-2010, 08:12 PM
I think I have closed more jobs for substantially higher prices than the folks I bid against by my printed materials for 2 reasons- it distances me from the 2-3 other guys that may show up and bid. more importantly it shows I am not just a truck and a shovel. While I meet with the female on most of my bids, I would say the husband has some degree of approval on 75% of the bids I do, later after I leave. And what he sees is his impression of me.

All my bids are done on full color carbonless 2 copy bids with me keeping the yellow copy and the customer getting the full color top copy. all bids are put in a full color front and back and inside folder that has 8 large professional photo's of my work on the front, back and inside. The bid goes on the right with a referring quad fold 11x17 color brochure behind it. on the right flap of the folder is a double slit for my business card that is a folded full color card that has 3 photos of my work. On the left is a 3 tab cut full color front and back pages with headings of our triple protection warranty, our referances/reasons to hire us with quotes from folks, and our product page with color photo's of stainless trans, bronze and brass spots, paths, pucks, and features/benefits and purposes of each lights, along with an explanation of what our maintenance of each light each year consists of.

I throw in a postcard sometimes if I have them handy.

cost? we get 90% of our stuff from gotprint.com. you can check out what all that stuff costs, but the folder is around 1.30 if you buy 1000, or 50 cents if you buy 10,000. The 3 tab are around 6 cents each per page, and the brochure that gives referrals to other contractors we work with- electricians, plumbers, roofers, handymen we work with, etc, cost 12 cents each. folding business cards are like 6 cents each or 60 bucks for 1000. The full color carbonless bid forms are a buck each. so on every bid I spend maybe 3 bucks each on printed materials. I did 100 bids or so for Christmas lights last year and another 50 or so Landscape lighting bids.

So while it may have cost me 450 bucks for the whole year, It gives me absolute credibility with every husband, and with the wife as well. In my area I have very aggressive franchise competitors over on the Christmas side from Christmas Decor, Brite Ideas and Holiday Bright Lights. They all have excellent printed materials, and if I don't, I am at a disadvantage to the decision maker I do not meet. Over on the landscape lighting side, It easily helps me close jobs at higher prices over guys who just leave a business card and a handwritten bid on a piece of notebook paper.

Gr1ffin
04-06-2010, 09:55 PM
spent the money to have a nice trifold done and printed up about 3000 of them (that was the expensive part but vista print (vistaprint.com-- online printing co) is reasonable.

I see David also bought his printing online. I find this interesting (and a smart thing). I came from the printing industry and printers and sellers of printing services (print brokers) made a lot of money. Then came technology and the Internet. It made sourcing printing efficient-- people started buying printing online and saving. Printing prices went way down. Many printers went out of business, but the industry was more efficient and consumers benefited. The relatively few co's (like mine) that embraced technology and the Internet made it through, the rest floundered. Enough about that (sorry I couldn't resist, it was an area I owned several businesses and spent 18 of my 42 years).

A good printed piece won't hurt, but its not a big deal either. I think the focus as James said, should be on your website over a brochure.

This certainly is going to be a tough time for all and there is no easy answer. I don't want to say it, but it's a reality. I've seen it almost exactly before. There will be less of all of us in this industry, much like the printing industry. You are going to need to be creative and adapt in many ways and its a good that these questions are being discussed.

Tim R.
04-07-2010, 07:24 AM
I have a nice folder and inserts much like David's. I have to say if I was the husband coming home and didn't get a chance to meet the contractor, leave behinds and my wifes impressions are all I would have to go on. It sure can't hurt.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-07-2010, 07:51 AM
You guys must live in a different world down there! When has a hubby ever vetoed the desires of the wifey when it comes to enhancements around the home?
All kidding aside, meeting with both is preferable but not necessary. For the most part people have decided they want outdoor lighting before they met you. Your job is to impress upon them that you are the person for the job. If you can only meet with one side of a couple I would meet with the Lady of the Home any day. They are more focused and in-tune with style design and aesthetics.
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Mayor_tx
04-07-2010, 10:44 AM
One thing you might try is to barter with a local printing shop. I submitted my photos to a local printing company and he told me he would like some lighting. They did a great job on the design of a trifold brochure, printed 5000 of them and we just put a few lights on his property. Saved me a bundle.

seolatlanta
04-07-2010, 09:29 PM
I actually am running it so lean that i went to Staples and bought some basic carbon proposal forms and then went and had a rubber stamp made and stamp each page before I use it.

I have to say that James hit it on the head for me as well. I leave with a positive impression and I also go back with them again my ideas before I leave so the proposal makes sense.

Billys idea of leaving behind a client list is a good idea I think. Really a good idea , I am working on that one now.....

I used to spend a fortune on direct mail lists , homeowner lists , stationery and envelopes , folders and proposal forms and I have found esp in this economy people dont seem to notice and dont seem to mind. Most of my leads are good / referrals so they are waiting to meet me already.

I have found especially with Christmas that if you know what you are talking about and can convey that you dont have to spend the money on leave behind stuff. BUT , if you have something working for you that includes a leave behind , by all means , lol.

David Gretzmier
04-07-2010, 09:40 PM
probably the number one reason why 60-70 percent of my bids do not close is the reason of the husband ( that I rarely meet ) will not spend that kind of money. It does not matter if the bid is 1500, 3500, or 17000. I hear it on Christmas lights and landscape lights. Maybe it is a southern thing, but husbands do tend to have veto power down here. I would say that 1/2 the time that family does end up hiring someone, usually a much less expensive competitor, that to be fair, always does a lousy job.

ok soapbox moment here-

when will I find more than one other person than me locally that knows how to do lighting?

I have said it before , and I will say it again. why folks that live in multimillion dollar homes hire folks that install lights ( and I am talking Christmas and Landscape lighting here) from Lowes or Home depot is beyond my understanding. why they also save a few bucks and settle for landscape guys that buy expensive fixtures and install them completely improper is another matter entirely, but it still burns me.

extlights
04-07-2010, 09:49 PM
I have 2 concerns really. First off with the economy still unstable you really have to pay attention to your bottom line, which means cutting out a lot of the regular things a company is used to having. A lot of contractors in all trades have had to close their doors over the past couple of years because of this nations financial crisis.

My second concern however is that these days most companies can't afford to leave business behind like alot of them did years ago because they were so busy. With that said, the competition could possibly become even more fierce between the ones left standing. Couple that with consumers being more aware of what they are spending money on....chances are that the customers we could have signed on the first meeting might now decide to get 3 or 4 estimates no matter what.

So because of that I want to find a way to really stand out from our competition. Yes a website is nice, but I think I would also like to have something nice for the customer to read after the estimate. People don't always log into the internet, but a nice looking brochure sitting on the counter always gets a lot of looks.

Pro-Scapes
04-08-2010, 06:27 PM
My advice is play your own game. Every moment you worry about the so called competition is a moment you could have spent concentrating on your own game plan.

I used to worry about the competition but now I took the higher road. Maintained my prices even thru the bad times. I dont want to jinx myself but 2010 is going to be an outstanding year on the books.

Dave, I sent you my brochure. I think it is pretty informative without melting someones brain with info. Alot of people do not care if your going to use x or y. They want results and if you can assure them and show a proven track record of delivering these results things will be just fine.

Yes people have gotten smarter with shopping and sure they may have 2-3 bids but they will still make smart decisions. David, When you meet you should make sure that all decision makers are present. Chances are all that husband is gathering from the equation is Landscape lighting....$XXXX.XX and all he is seeing is his wife wants to spend more money. I had a funny situation the other day where a female client went to pay me then I got a text from her husband asking if she paid me... She had not paid me in full and I told him this in my reply and his reply was "What? Why did she not pay you in full. I hope she is not out of money already"

All of the decision makers and everyone to be involved with the design/project/purchasing should realistically be present for the consultation.