PDA

View Full Version : Need help pricing lighting


jslawnscape
07-06-2010, 07:44 AM
Hey,

I installed a lighting system for a good customer of mine, first we went the Home Depot way which I insisted was not going to give her the results she wanted. Turns out she was not happy and I removed that set-up and we went with a Volt System. 12 walk lights around the pool, 5 up lights on trees and grass plants near the pool. Total wire length if all connected would have been around 200ft. We are re landscaping the entire area so we were down to the dirt, no mulch no plants. So as far as running the wires it was fairly easy, had to remove some pavers to run wire under neath. The transformer was mounted next to the pool filter, heater, lighting, panels. I didn't keep track of the hours but if I had to guess just for installation of wires lights and transformer we had 12 hours. Just curious what you guys charge, the supplies all said and done were around $1800. I did not up charge any of the supplies. Also does any install in conduit? Thanks for your help

steveparrott
07-06-2010, 09:10 AM
At this point, since you separated the materials from the service, the best you can do is to estimate your hours and charge an hourly fee.

Moving forward, I hope you take the approach most pros use; that is to bundle materials, labor, and expertise to produce a single project estimate.

jslawnscape
07-06-2010, 09:45 AM
I do not typically install lighting and took the opportunity to do so. Its not rocket science to install the lights. ILL BE MORE SPECIFIC WHAT DO LANDSCAPE LIGHTING INSTALLERS CHARGE FOR AN HOURLY RATE. If you don't charge hourly forget that I separated the materials and labor and give me an estimate of what you would charge for a job of same size. 12 walk lights, 5 up lights, a Volt 900 watt transformer(yes too big for job left room for future lighting in other areas), 200-250ft of wire ran. Approximately 12 Hours for installations. I usually up charge and "bundle" my services but this job did not allow, sorry to hurt the pride of all you "pros" out there. I know I know its people like me that ruin the business for everyone else. Thanks for your help.

steveparrott
07-06-2010, 10:01 AM
I do not typically install lighting and took the opportunity to do so. Its not rocket science to install the lights. ILL BE MORE SPECIFIC WHAT DO LANDSCAPE LIGHTING INSTALLERS CHARGE FOR AN HOURLY RATE. If you don't charge hourly forget that I separated the materials and labor and give me an estimate of what you would charge for a job of same size. 12 walk lights, 5 up lights, a Volt 900 watt transformer(yes too big for job left room for future lighting in other areas), 200-250ft of wire ran. Approximately 12 Hours for installations. I usually up charge and "bundle" my services but this job did not allow, sorry to hurt the pride of all you "pros" out there. I know I know its people like me that ruin the business for everyone else. Thanks for your help.

Sorry, didn't mean to offend, and I don't think you're ruining anyone's business. Bottom line, this is your customer - every contractor should be willing to bend the rules to help retain good customers.

Still, I don't think your question should be answered directly in this forum. Many homeowners end up here and revealing pricing strategies complicates and confuses the bidding process.

The CAST Training Manual has a section of pricing, PM me if you'd like a copy. Also, if your register (http://www.cast-lighting.com/register/) then login on the CAST website, and go the business articles (http://www.cast-lighting.com/learning/articles/8). You'll find many articles on sales and marketing strategies including pricing.

jslawnscape
07-06-2010, 10:08 AM
Perfect I will do so. I do mostly mulch, stone, plantings and landscape installs and after years of busting my back and body, I think that this could be a good thing for me to get into. A friend of mine does Audio/Visual installs and I was astounded at his hourly rate, and people are willing to pay. There are not many lighting contractors in my area, although there are hundreds of landscapers, mowers and mulchers. Which drives the price so low that unless you have the right clients, in my mind its not even worth working.

steveparrott
07-06-2010, 10:46 AM
There are not many lighting contractors in my area, although there are hundreds of landscapers, mowers and mulchers. Which drives the price so low that unless you have the right clients, in my mind its not even worth working.

This is why landscape lighting is such a great profession. It's providing a service that enhances a homeowner's experience of what landscapers provide. It takes landscape design to the next level.

After a skillfully implemented lighting project, it's very common for homeowners to say they like the appearance of their property better at night than during the day. Never underestimate the value of this transformation - and never underestimate what homeowners are willing to pay for that experience.

Of course, not every homeowner sees the value at the outset, especially if they live in a region where professional landscape lighting has not become popular. Expect that only the top 10% will even consider the investment. Don't waste time on people not willing to pay at least $2,000 on lighting -set that as your minimum.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
07-06-2010, 07:58 PM
There is a lot more to a professionally designed and installed outdoor lighting system than the sum of its parts + some money for labour.

Done right, this is a profession and an art.

Done right, you can assure your client of a transformational experience that will last for years.

Done right, and combined with a passion and commitment for that which you do, you can build a pretty nice business for yourself and enjoy a decent lifestyle.

jslawnscape
07-06-2010, 08:21 PM
Man oh man you guys are pretty brutal on here. You wouldn't believe it but what I did was I went out ta ma shed n gathered up ma old grandaddy tomata stakes and I drove em inta the dirt, n thru paver side wit my big old boot....da da da den I ran da whires acccrossss tha concret surronda pooo n I connecteddd them wit my duc tape found behin the sit of truck under the shut-gun beer cans n skoal tins. when da lady cum out da house I...I...I... spit at my chewww n toda herrr Id dooo ittt forrr forr freeee i was fixin ta ta turn on daa transfrmer n da all da wires caught fira. I prolly went a little over board here, but come on they are lights they illuminate, you "design" them in a manor that puts an elegant yet funcuntional illumination around the pool(walkway, house whatever), and if ya brain works you up sell some up lights to highlight the trees and grass plants. Ha Well thanks again for your input but you were no help, If your on here to make your self feel good and tell everyone how professional you are, do your self a favor and keep it to yourself. This is supposed to be the Design and Build forum, where people can ask questions, further educate themselves, and build their businesses. Im sure that some of you are reading these and thinking mannn this JS Lawn Scape fella sure is sensitive, but really im not. I just thought I could ask a question and get some sort of an honest, question answering reply. All you have told me is that you can make a good living, from installing lights. Thanks for your input

jslawnscape
07-06-2010, 10:37 PM
Just want to let anyone know, Im not trying to be a prick, I asked for help on pricing and the replies I get are, if done right, if done professionally. I operate my business in a professional manor and I am happy with where my business stands. All I was hoping for was a few other happy business owners that would help me get started in the right direction, by giving me insight to their prices. Im not trying to steal work from anyone, nor am I a home owner trying to get the best price possible. I have made mistakes before by under charging certain services. That does nothing but hurt the industry, so before proclaiming your professionalism and expertise, think twice about how many low ballers you want out there taking business from you and driving your bottom line lower. Many of you will think the oh well I don't bend my prices, but in certain instances like this one, "setting and industry standard" on the hourly rate or base line price will in turn help everyone out. I know I am making a big fuss over this pricing deal, well my honestly my customer has already been charged and she was completely fine with the price. All I want to do is see where I stand with the rest of the industry on my price, so that the next job I know what my price margins will be. Sometimes you bite the bullet to get the ball rolling(in this case giving a loyal 7 plus yr customer a good deal), I will guarantee that I will get at least 3 more lighting referrals from my first job, and those ones will be for as much profit as possible. Thanks for anyone who is reading and understands where Im coming from.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
07-06-2010, 10:44 PM
I would suggest you figure out your own pricing model. All the rest of us here have done so. Every market is different and every business is different. There is no magic "price per fixture" for this business. There are just too many variables for it to be that easy. Where most newbies go wrong is not accounting for their 'soft costs' of operation and not understanding the value that they add to the client's property / lifestyle. If you are thinking that doing lighting is "Easy money" then I would suggest you stay away. If you have an interest, understanding, passion and commitment to the business you are much more apt to be a success at it. (just like anything in life)

David Gretzmier
07-06-2010, 11:56 PM
I would have to agree with james here. I have no clue what the costs of running a business in NY, workman's comp in NY, or costs of living are in your area of new york. I would think that lighting prices for the install that you describe would vary wildly even within your own state based on the cost of living on housing alone.

I would say the range of prices charged to a consumer on this job could run from a landscaper low of materials plus 35-65 per man hour labor ( but would expect no warranty or voltage consistancy) to probably lighting franchise guys in high competitive markets around 2800-3500 or so, to lighting pro's in more expensive cost of living areas from 3500-5000, possibly more, to even 6k-7k in Canada and extreme expensive cost of living areas. lighting pro's would warranty all work for at least a year parts and labor and get voltage very tight.

honestly, the lighting pro that has been doing this longer and has a reputation for excellent work and service, and just plain business longevity can command a substantial premium price, just because consumers trust them more. no offense, but experience in this field does affect pricing, because The first lighting work I did 25 plus years ago was nearly free, because I had no idea what I was doing. The work I did today is leaps and bounds more valuable to a consumer than even what I was doing 10 years ago.

none of these charges are necessarily wrong or meant to offend. they just vary based on the cost of doing business, and expertise levels, all over the country.

Fireguy97
07-07-2010, 02:22 AM
Moving forward, I hope you take the approach most pros use; that is to bundle materials, labor, and expertise to produce a single project estimate.
And that would include a profit on the materials. Or did the Landscape Lighting fairy magically appear with all of the materials? I don't think so. You had to go to the supplier, pick, choose, purchase, and deliver. Do you figure all of that time and expense should be given at no charge? If something was wrong with the materials, is she going to be responsible for getting it replaced? When you supply other landscape material, do you make a profit and/or charge for picking it up and delivering it, or do you do all of that for free too?

Mick

Alan B
07-07-2010, 12:20 PM
Just a concept to think about... in economics there are different models and approaches, but one agreeable concept is you should try and maximize profits, plain and simple. For items that are mass produced this may mean low price and volume (economies of scale).

However for one off/custom service work (where each job/project is different) usually the opposite is a better approach. You want to charge a premium, as much as you can and still get the job. Lighting is the perfect example of where each install is different, each design is different, the end goal of each design and install is different, but most importantly... EACH CUSTOMER IS DIFFERENT.

It is my advice that you price each job according to a combination of factors-- always include your materials, labor, overhead, a buffer, plus profit (all no brainers)... but most importantly on the last factor (profit) maximize it to what you gage you can command. Each customer, home, neighborhood and circumstance is different (that's what makes us people, entrepreneurs and businessman)-- you need to make the final judgment. Don't cookie cutter your pricing for a service where each job, neighborhood, home, customer is different.

Maybe you go lower for the first job in a nice neighborhood to 'Break in" and get referrals (and tell them that and use it as a closing tool). Maybe its a very demanding, picky customer with expensive tastes in which case you go higher.

Bottom line, never let anyone un-bundle your services or they can cherry pick the profit away. Do as everyone here has always recommended-- try your best to bundle your service and sell the whole project (don't price per fixture). Cover all your costs (hard and soft) plus a buffer plus profit but most importantly always try to get the most you can for each individual job. Read the customer, house, neighborhood to determine how much of a premium you can get.

Its much like landscaping... when I had a design, build landscape construction co throughout college I would always price each job according to the maximum I thought I could get and it was different for each customer, for each neighborhood, each job. (you can always go down but not up).

You are not selling mass produced items like I am. We are a manufacturer our costs and products are pretty much fixed and can work on the fixed price/volume pricing style. You are a custom service and in some cases an artist-- every job should be priced differently.

With a service they are buying YOU not a product. Don't sell a product, sell your talent, expertise and TRUST. How much can you get for YOU? That is what the customer is ultimately buying. If you are a pro you can command a price twice as high as a trunk slammer. In the first they are buying a top notch complete service they trust and have pride in. In the second they are buying a product (and they will equate you with $19 home depot fixtures plus a $25/hour labor wage to install-- you will get beaten down to no profit and be forced to used poor materials and poor install).

Very long post... sorry. Point is use your mind, every situation is different, sell yourself, don't sell on price.

One big mistake many make is that they don't realize mass production products have very different pricing models than services, especially one-off custom services.

Good luck.

Sincerely,

Alan

extlights
07-07-2010, 02:58 PM
Hey,

I installed a lighting system for a good customer of mine, first we went the Home Depot way which I insisted was not going to give her the results she wanted. Turns out she was not happy and I removed that set-up and we went with a Volt System. 12 walk lights around the pool, 5 up lights on trees and grass plants near the pool. Total wire length if all connected would have been around 200ft. We are re landscaping the entire area so we were down to the dirt, no mulch no plants. So as far as running the wires it was fairly easy, had to remove some pavers to run wire under neath. The transformer was mounted next to the pool filter, heater, lighting, panels. I didn't keep track of the hours but if I had to guess just for installation of wires lights and transformer we had 12 hours. Just curious what you guys charge, the supplies all said and done were around $1800. I did not up charge any of the supplies. Also does any install in conduit? Thanks for your help

I don't think you'll get any secure answers on here by asking a question like this. Anyone who runs a business and knows how to correctly run a business can tell you that just because contractor "A" installs the exact system that contractor "B" does...it doesn't mean that they will have the exact same price. Too many variables to take into account. You should know what your hourly "man hour" charge is. My advice is to go off of that and figure out a fair price. You can't do it for free.....however 12 hours to install that system seems like an extremely long time...(unless there were some other complications or it was just one person working).