outdoor lighting perspectives

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Flow Control, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    Since I plan to franchise my Christmas Light and landscape light system some time in the future, I'll wade in-

    The argument that a brand is valuable only if it has name recognition is not true. I own a Brite Ideas Christmas light ditributorship, and 99% of folks have not heard of them or Christmas Decor, yet the catalogs and selling materials make it obvious that the potential customer is not only dealing with a local company, but also with a larger company that backs and makes those products. Studies show consistantly that when given a choice between a local only company or a franchise, whatever the brand, people overwhelmingly will pay more money to a franchised company EVEN if the customer has never heard of that franchise before. there is just a more comfortable feeling going with an "established" company.

    I've spoke with the guys who own and operate Light House and Nite Time Decor, and the training and marketing pieces are FAR better than I have seen from anyone. They know what marketing works and how much to spend on it, they know what your response rate should be and what to expect for sales based on your population. they know what your labor and materials should cost and what you should charge for your product. They understand uniforms, forms, in house paper trail and employee and sales training. You can reinvent the wheel all you want, but once these franchise systems hit 15-20 units, trust me, they have learned alot from thier mistakes and they correct most of them before you get there. many of us are still trying to solve at least a half dozen of these problems even after 10 years plus of doing this.

    we could argue about artistic and style verses cookie cutter all day long, but at the end of the day the better systems make money and allow you to stay in business to allow you some artistic style.

    most want 20 grand or so and 5-10% of your sales. most of us don't want to pay it, so, we bash them.
  2. Firefly Lighting

    Firefly Lighting LawnSite Member
    Posts: 98

    David- I would agree with your comments. I started out as a Nitetime decor franchisee 10 years ago. Before getting into the lighting business I worked for a company that owned a national franchise. You are correct that their training can be some of the best but that should be expected for 20K. Also if someone wants easy entry into a business but doesn't want to reinvent the wheel a franchise will do that. But, you are going to pay 5% min on your gross sales per year, their is also a national ad fund fee that is paid in at around 3%. The main key benefit other than nice marketing and training is getting materials at an extrememly good price, if you cannot give your franchisees the ability to purchase materials at a rate that the normal contractor cannot get to then you mine as well hang it up. Also, training and good material cost as well as advertising are not enough you have to provide the franscise with superier support in running the business. Just some thoughts.
  3. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    I would also have to add, that in this industry, it would not take long for the franchisee to see that better quality materials, of much wider variety, are available on the open market, and that by staying within the bounds of their agreements with the franchisor actually limits their ability to grow and diversify into these different and better product lines. So quickly the temptation arises for the franchisee to buy other materials... leading to the eventual collapse of the franchise agreement.

    I too have looked into the establishment of an Outdoor Lighting Franchise business, with the help of one of Canada's Leading Franchise Kings as an advisor to the process. Ultimately it just doesn't wash... At its core this is an artistic endeavour. Trying to corral and keep Artistic minded, Type A personality, Entreprenuers all in a line would be an exhausting and futile effort.

    Franchising outdoor lighting businesses might work for volume based, mass market, middle of the line product and services, but ultimately, those who would excel in the business are the very ones who will ultimately move away from the rather constricting confines of the franchise arrangement.
  4. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196

    Mike, you're right. My post was a bit self-serving and I probably should have held my tongue.

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Posts: 248

    It's no problem steve you are entitled to your opinion like everyone else and you also had some very valid points. It's just nice to know what the motivation is.
  6. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,535

    Steve... you're joking, right? Please tell me you're joking.

    I just reread your post to see what was self-serving about it....

    Nada that I can find.
  7. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196

    No, I wasn't joking. I'm acutely aware of the fine line between making comments for the benefit of forum readers and making comments that benefit CAST. They are often one and the same. Part of our vision statement is the betterment of the landscape lighting industry - this forum has the same vision. What to do?

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Posts: 248

    Betterment of the landscape lighting industry for who and according to whose definition and terms?

    Obviously this is highly subjective and I have to laugh everytime I hear this stated.

    This is the same slogan I hear from AOLP and I feel they are far from representing a cause that is close to resembling anything that is for the betterment of the landscape lighting industry as a whole. Maybe if you are a member if not then no. That is at least my perception.

    You have bd members who publicly advise not to buy from non member companies. Is this for the betterment of the industry?

    You have propaganda dessiminated that their members are the best in the industry implying that if you don't belong than you can't be one of the best:laugh: Is this for the betterment of the industry?

    I have heard that a major franchise operation was interested in becoming a member and they were turned down. Is this for the betterment of the industry?

    I have experienced personal bias because I don't operate my business within the traditional supply chain system that was set up by the powers that be manufacturer-distributor-contractor. Is this for the betterment of the industry?

    I make no bones about it. I am for the betterment of my own business and myself and family. I've tried to do my part to benefit the industry. Numerous times, Each time I've extended my hand it's come back a bloody stump.

    This is by no means a slight to you or the brand you represent Steve. So please do not take it as such. I'm just taking the opportunity to climb on my soap box.;)

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Posts: 248

    That being said I believe I have always been open to helping those who are deserving on a one to one basis. I like to think that I've done so via my website and postings on public message bds. Some may disagree. I'd say everyone is entitled to their opinion.
  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,196

    This is a great question - I'll start a new thread on this.

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