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Old 01-04-2014, 12:06 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Beaverton, OR
Posts: 6,800
Originally Posted by Lite4 View Post
I have never had an issue of folks shopping my fixtures, and here is why. This is just a suggestion and please don't be offended but, perhaps you should sell yourself as a lighting designer instead of a brand fixture salesman. Kichler has enough folks on the payroll doing just that already. Instead of listing every brand, model number, piece and part on your quote sheet, be simpler and more generic- I know my clients couldn't care less as long as they know they are getting a solid product- they are buying "ME". When you list brand and model numbers on your quote sheet you are opening yourself up to be shopped. When I sell, my clients rarely, (if ever ask me about brand), I just hand them a sample of what I will be using and am very general on my quote sheet. i.e...(8 spots, 7 mini wash, 4 path lights etc). This is a doctor patient relationship with your client- stop acting like a fixture peddler and they will stop treating you like one. There are doctors and there are pharmaceutical reps- which one are you going to be?
I hear you, here. I've often thought of this too. But there are some things in play here that are a little different.

For one, I think our clients, in the area we work in are really tech and consumer savvy. I have given bids similar to what you describe, where I didn't line-item each fixture and STILL had fairly wealthy people divide out the cost of the fixtures and come back to me with, "So I calculated this out and you're charging me $XXX.xx per fixture??? I went online and found XBrand fixtures for about $40 less than that. I feel like I'm kind of getting ripped off here." I have to be careful how I price things. We've just lost too many jobs from people who have done this.

Second, we're not a company who is trying to appeal to the top 4% of homeowners, who have $2mil homes. Sure, I like doing those jobs. But our company has always been a company who works for the top 25% or maybe even top 40%, depending on which service you're talking to. I cannot go to a good long term lawn care customer who has a nice, but modest, $380,000 home and say, "Hey. Don't worry about my high prices. I'm a 'Lighting Designer' and I'm worth it. Let me tell you why." In the end, they're still going to want to price me out and make sure they're getting a good deal.

We sell a lot to all sorts of income brackets. I don't have the luxury, as many in this forum do, of just appealing to the super high end customers. My customers vary from really high end down to fairly normal people. They are conscious of how every dime is spent. The whole reason I do break down my bids these days into an itemized fashion is not because I want to - but because the consumers we're working for often demand that kind of bid. So we just got used to doing it that way. To the consumer, it feels like you're being more fair to them if they can see what they're paying for every item. And as long as they can justify each item in their own head, they'll go ahead with the deal.

So I could just start going for only the high end customers who would probably buy my logic that we're a 'lighting designer' and be willing to pay more, but our volume would go way down. And I'd be alienating a lot of my other customers in the lawn care, landscaping, hardscaping, drainage, irrigation segments of my already existing business. I'm trying to cross-sell lighting to them as well as land the high end jobs. And we're doing all that very successfully. But I wouldn't be getting a lot of the work we do if I just marked up our product as much as I'd like to and just gave people a line about me being a 'lighting designer'. A lot of people would still just feel they're paying too much, once they checked on some pricing. But if I stay at the MAP pricing, I can still make a REALLY nice markup and still make a good profit and still land the volume of jobs that we land.

Anyway, I get what you're saying. I think that would work well if I had a lighting-only business. And we do use that approach to a degree, for sure. We're still more expensive in the lighting portion than most of our competitors. So I have to sell that to land jobs. But I also have the pressure of every 4th customer I give a bid to goes to the internet and sees what they're selling for on the internet. And if my price is a lot more, that customer feels like I'm gauging them. And I never know which client that will be. 3 out of 4 won't do that. But one of them will. And I don't want to lose that bid. I'd rather sell a product where I can mark it up a good portion and they can go to the internet all they want and not find it for less. Then they feel like our prices are competitive and we get the job! Works well for us.
Jim Lewis
Lewis Landscape Services - Oregon - Portland Oregon Landscaping Company

landscape design Portland Oregon
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