Experience centers

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by RLI Electric, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 381

    For those of you who have a garden center along with your lighting business, have any of you thought of putting in a Lighting Experience? Lutron has made Experience centers in a couple of cities. This allows clients to come in (by appt only) and see the lighting controls in a real world application. While we are all passionate about lighting, I believe it to be intangible. We can talk about it but if the client cannot "picture" it they may not feel the transfer of emotion. A large portion of people may really need to experience it. Lutron has a 98% close rate once they get the client inside their Experience Center. If you have the space you can double market your business'. Something like a Zen Garden that can be enjoyed day and night. Differentiation for sure. Just a thought.
     
  2. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    It is a great idea for sure. The problem in some markets is getting those prospects out of their comfort zone and into your "experience center". This is why I rely on my current clients to offer the experience to my new prospects (not all prospects that need that extra step of experience) Doing a site visit / walkthrough is an effective and efficient means by which to get your clients into the experience. It saves a lot of travel time for the prospects in markets where clients are spread far and wide.

    If you have a retail space that attracts a lot of walk ins, well then by all means, "experience it up"!
     
  3. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,109

    This is why many companies to lighting demos. So the prospect can "experience" the effects of the lighting at their own home.
     
  4. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    Right Tim... that is the obvious, but the thing that people who demo's seldom discuss is the relative inefficiency in terms of use of time.

    To do the demo you have to have the right equipment, you have to still do the design and planning, you have to go to site and set it all up, you then have to tidy up, change clothes etc to be presentable for the sales call, then you have to take it all down, pack up and head home. I dont care who you are, that is a LOT of time spent to get the sale.

    There are more efficient ways to spend your time, especially for smaller one man operations.

    We have of course been all through this numerous times here, and those who do demos will continue to because it works. I am not denying the demo works, I just don't see it as the most effective use of my time. I also truly believe that it projects a sort of quaint, "newbie" image to the customer. Does a top notch lighting guy really need to demo everything to communicate their service to the client? Other design pros and contractors sure don't.

    Demos work, no doubt about it. But there are other ways.
     
  5. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,109


    Exactly, that is why I rarely do them anymore.
     
  6. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 848

    I have to also go with James and Tim on this one. It seems that most high-end clients are pressed for time and its hard enough scheduling a time to even meet them at their own home. Most might have some input on what they want but mostly they rely on the pro's to show them what they should have on a quick walk through of the property. A happy and talkative high-end client is by far the best marketing tool on landing future work.
     
  7. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 439

    So how is dragging an entire family out of their home at night to see someone elses property any different than getting them to come to an experience center? Either way you're making them leave their home at night.
     
  8. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    Dave, if you can afford to have an "experience center" located in or very near the community that your client's live in, then hey go for it. The difference that you are asking about is that if and when a prospect asks to see your work, it is probably more efficient and effective to find a happy customer who is located close to where the prospect lives.

    Every market is different of course. Around here my "experience center" would be about an hour's drive (min) away from about 90% of my clients.

    Rarely do I "drag an entire family out of their home"... Rather it will be an interested individual or couple who request to see some of my work. I then mention that I have a job close by if they would care to go see. This happens a couple of times a year.
     
  9. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 381

    I don't mean to advocate going out and building this if it is going to put one out. I was thinking about that if you have a garden center in addition to doing lighting. If you have the property, plants are there already you may as well light a portion of it. In a previous post I had asked about turning your own home into a showroom. I still may do something like this. Granted it will take years, maybe even decades. I have a wooded lot along a stream that I was inspired to put in walking paths and clear out the scrub brush. Two and a half years ago if you had told me I would be excited about plants or peoples landscapes I would have laughed at you. Now? My head spins when I drive by well landscaped houses like someone cruising along a beach checking out the women (or men, sorry ladies:waving:). I would imagine not too many people are visiting garden centers in the evening anyway but it is different and I have only seen one zen garden before and it is almost a park next to the garden center. People go there and walk around even when they are not shopping for plants.
     
  10. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 439

    If the distance is that great and you have a customer close then I agree it wouldn't be worth it. It definately would depend your demographics.

    We did a "discounted" project for a landscaper who had kind of an experience at his place. He had a lot of different scenes set up that he does and we put lights in to compliment those scenes.( retaining walls, ponds/waterfalls, walkways etc). In return for the discount we were able to put up some signs around the yard for advertising purposes. We did that about 4 years ago and have probably gotten 8 jobs from it.

    Not a huge return, however anytime you can do something like that and still come out ahead then it's worth it. It's kind of like free advertising in my mind.
     

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