Dilemma - Switching to LED

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by JimLewis, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,830

    I'm pretty much planning to shift my emphasis toward Kichler LED lighting starting this year. In the past, I would mostly steer my customer toward Unique Lighting or sometimes FX Luminaire. But I'm kind of a big believer in the Kichler LED concept now. So I'm probably going to be selling or pushing that product.

    The dilemma is I just invested quite a bit of money in a Unique Lighting demo kit near the end of last summer. I have quite a variety of fixtures and a large number of them too. And at this point I can't really spend a few thousand more on a whole new demo set up for Kichler. Not that I can't. Just that it's almost impossible for me to spend that much money again in light of the fact that I just dropped so much last year. And that's money that is needed elsewhere in our company.

    But can you really do demos with one kind / brand of lighting but then tell the customer, "Well, we really don't use this brand anymore. This is just for demo purposes only. What you would be buying is this product, but it would look similar....." ????

    Anyone else out there have this problem? Did you totally re-invest in an LED demo. kit?
     
  2. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Posts: 1,836

    I tell customers that for the most part, the fixture is irrelevant, the effect is what we're selling. Done correctly, 90% or more of the fixtures aren't going to be seen anyway, so as long as you're giving them a product of equal or better quality, it shouldn't matter.

    The way you can spin it is to say that we invested in this demo kit before LED technology had matured but now that it is, we use only LED products because ... and this kit is just to show you the effects we'll be creating, not the tools we're going to use to create them.
     
  3. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 381

    I have to agree. If you are selling "fixtures" then it is just a commodity and anyone can do it. If you are selling a "painting" be it art or a painted family room, does the homeowner really care about if your brush is horsehair or nylon? As long as it puts paint on the wall or canvas and the paint stays there, they probably don't care. Just my opinion though. Hey, use the existing kit and then upsell to the LED. Sir/Maam, how bout we do the same composition with a fraction of the power? If you are an innovator, I have just the thing for you.
     
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,830

    Normally I'd agree. Just switching brands is no big deal, really. They should produce about the same effect. I think most people would expect them to. But the problem I see is that a lot of consumers don't have a lot of faith in LED lighting yet. I don't know if you guys are noticing that or if it's just me. But for the times that I have discussed LED lights as an option, I've gotten some pretty good blowback from customers when I suggested it. A lot of them don't believe the color is going to be similar. They've seen or heard of the little blue-ish white LEDs and have the impression that they won't be impressive....won't illuminate well enough.....won't have the right color. Am I the only person getting this kind of skepticism from my clients???

    So the real proof is when you do a demo. in all LED and SHOW them that the LED lights really do perform just as well as standard incandescent or halogen.

    I feel like if I do a demo. using standard lighting that once I get to the install people are going to be really skeptical. Like I did a bait and switch on them.
     
  5. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 439

    It's pretty simple actually. Order 1 or 2 of the LED's and add them to your demo kit. On a demo you can then show the customer the LED compared to the halogen. Tell the customer that you are now switching to LED and that the majority of your demo fixtures are for just that....a demo. It's used as a design tool to help the customer with the process so you can showcase your talents as a designer. Afterall seeing is believing right? Since you will have a couple of the Kichler fixtures with you, the potential customer will be able to actually see the fixture so they know exactly what they'll be getting.

    While I agree that you're selling the "effect" the fixture is important to many people. I have gotten many many jobs based on the fixtures along with the design. People are more savy these days with the economy and they like to know exactly what they are getting when spending that much money. (Even the wealthy)
     
  6. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Posts: 1,836

    I'd say mix in a couple of LED fixtures and ask them to tell you which ones they are from the output alone. They won't be able to do it and then you will have overcome that buying obection.
     
  7. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 381

    I do that with the LED's. I will mix in some with the halogens. I have to admit though, I think I only did one demo this past year. Granted I am not doing as many installs as the majority of you guys but I am also finding that I am having a better time "describing" what I am going to do. I have fixtures on my truck so I let them hold a big box brand and then hold a solid copper or bronze fixture and their tactile needs are fulfilled. I am no longer giving them too much of the technicalities of lamps, beam spreads, voltage drop or any of that. This will lead to paralysis of analysis a lot of the time. If they ask you technical questions, then answer them. They then have the proof you know your stuff. It has been said before and here it is again, LED's are not going away. There is not a solar option at this time.There will not be a CFL version of what we do. (That is a whole other subject and the bane of my lighting world:)) The other reality is, if you don't believe the LED has arrived, that is cool. If you don't believe in them, neither will they. Yet.
     
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,830

    RLI,

    Yah, I am a lot like what you just described. We haven't done a lot of demo's in the past. We've done a dozen or so over the years. And we got jobs most every time we did them. But most of the lighting I've done came from me just giving a description of what I was going to do, like you said. And like you said, I don't get too much into the details unless someone asks. Where I live in Beaverton, OR we do have a fair amount of engineers (Intel, Techtronics, Solar World, Nike Headquarters, In Focus, etc. Lot of big tech. companies here) and analytical types. So when I get one of those guys, I'll go into more detail. Half the time they're just testing you to see if you know more than they do. They throw out some comment that they think you'll be surprised that they would know that and I'll say, "Yes. That's true. Very important. And we account for that. But what's even more important is...." And then I go into a little more detail that I'm sure they probably didn't know and that usually stops the questions. I think a lot of time those guys are just trying to figure out if they know more about it then you do. Once they figure out that I actually know this stuff pretty well, the questions start to dwindle down.

    Otherwise, I don't get into all those unnecessary details unless asked.

    The reason we got the demo. kit was an attempt to INCREASE the amount of lighting we do. I love doing lighting. But it's still something that takes a back seat to stuff like paver patios, walls, new landscapes. It's still a small % of our overall business. And I'd like to make it a bigger %. It's very profitable and fairly unique too. In our area, not a lot of homes have really nice landscape or outdoor lighting. So when you do a good job, it really makes the house and landscape stand out. So it's very rewarding too. So the goal was that every time we install a new landscape - if lighting wasn't part of the job - that we would go and put the demo. kit out on the new landscape once we're done with the big landscape job. Then leave it there a few days to let them enjoy it. Then once they've seen how awesome it looks, leave them a bid. I think we'd sell a lot more lighting this way.

    It's also nice for people who are interested in lighting but looking at a few other contractors. It's a way to separate us from them. Most of my competitors who do lighting don't have demo. kits. So if I get the feeling that I need to do a demo. to help us land a big job, I'll bring it out for that as well.

    ExLights and BCG,

    thanks. I think that's what I'll do. I'll just buy a few LED fixtures and mix them in. I was afraid that you'd notice the difference. But for now I will trust BCG that I won't. I saw those photos you showed me in AZ where you had mixed them and I couldn't tell. The job looked great. So I'll trust that this will work. I guess maybe I'll try to build up more LED fixtures into my demo kit over the years as we do more.
     
  9. sprinkler guy

    sprinkler guy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 223

    Jim,

    I find that when I mix LED and Halogen, customers are able to spot the LED if I tell them there is a mixture. They look for it when they know it's there. If I don't say anything, they usually don't. IMO, because the LED is a cleaner and more evenly distributed spread of light, it can look different. The naysayers of LED are usually the customers that have seen the really bad blue-gray LEDs of yesterday. Show them the good stuff, even just a fixture or two, and they are usually sold.
     
  10. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 381

    I think Jan Moyers website has a picture called Apples to Apples. It is from the LLI class of 2009. See if you can spot the all LED tree in that picture.
     

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