1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Not to worry. Check out the archived thread of the Q&A with Ken Hutcheson, President of U.S. Lawns, and the LawnSite community in the Franchising forum .

    Dismiss Notice

Qualifying a prospect

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by High Performance Lighting, May 29, 2007.

  1. High Performance Lighting

    High Performance Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    from So Cal
    Posts: 326

    I've been asked in a private e-mail how I qualify a prospect. I will share this here for all to see.

    Who- I ask who they are and where they live, If they are familiar with my work, Have they been to my website. If so, do they like what they see and are they looking for similar.

    what- what are they looking for- malibu lights? Pro quality high end lighting with brass and copper fixtures? Do they have a a system on their property now- if so what's wrong with it. This is a good question because it agitates. It reminds them how unhappy they are and why they are calling me and that they need to take action to correct it.

    where-generally what part of their yard do they want to light

    when- will work begin? are their any other projects they must be completed first. Is there anything keeping you from deciding to go ahead with me if our meeting goes well?

    how- did you find out about me?

    I'd like to tell you alittle about how I work

    I am the owner and perform all of the work on your property. I work on one project at a time. Very Basic systems start around $2,500.00 but typically average around $6-8,000 for a small front and backyard tract home system. All projects are quoted on an individual basis and require a meeting with all decision makers on site . There is a $--.-- fee for a design consultation payable at the meeting which is credited to your project when accepted within 30 days of our meeting . My earliest availability to meet is------- at ----. my earliest availability to do the work is late August? (wait for objections if any)

    Is this ------ at ----good for you and your significant other to meet and discuss your project?
    Can you tell me who else will be meeting with us? and she is your?
    Excellent, Can you give me directions, I'm coming from......

    Thank you very much I look forward to meeting you and ---- on ---- at -----. Good bye.

    I call this the sale before the sale. If you can't sell the design consult you're going to have a tough time selling your system.
  2. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    That sounds a lot like what I do. If they are willing to continue the conversation after I tell them about the design fee and starting package of $2500.00, we will probably do business. It has saved me (I'm sure) days of time that I would have spent meeting, talking, and designing for nothing. I can spend that time actually doing these things for paying clients.
  3. seolatlanta

    seolatlanta LawnSite Member
    Posts: 176

    I am going to start with my consult fee today.

    I have a possible client ( he & I have never met except over the phone) who wants me to come over tomorrow night at 9:15 pm. He already has lights but likes what I did for his neighbors house and might want to add a few more. Now I dont know about you guys but the only time I go out at night is to do a walkthrough and pick up my check!

    I tried to tell this guy that I dont need to come out at night for such a call I am quite qualified to do the call in the day but he wouldnt have it. I have to be honest - I agreed to the appt. but it forces me to charge him a considerably higher rate and I am not even sure I have got the job! He insisted I see the house at night.

    I suppose the consult fee up front would have let me know right where I stand and made it worth my time. It is a very nice neighborhood but going out at night for a service call pisses me off.
  4. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    Hey there David, I usually give a one hour free consult (during the day) and charge a design fee of somewhere between $350 and $500. For that fee, I will come out at night if they wish but the cost of the project might reflect that (if you get what I mean). The main thing is that you get paid for your time.

    See you next week.
  5. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    we meet sometimes with qualified prospects at night efore installation. To us this would especially hold true if they are off a refferal and like our work. Let him know there will be a consult fee for evening consults (or all consults) due apon completion of the consultation and that you would be happy to apply that to any project.

    I am about in the same boat. It was fun meeting with people and exciting but I got a feeling I will start charging soon. Our new hand picked post cards are slated to fly soon so this just might be the pick me up I need to have the gonads to start consult fees with everyone.
  6. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    I'm a little confused about your process, and I would really like to know a better way for myself. In the above referenced post, you state that you give a free consultation, but in your response to Mike G's post, you say that your method is a lot like his where you tell the customer that there is a fee up front....:confused:
    Could you please walk us through a typical phone call, step by step, of how you would handle a prospective client?
    Here is the phone call:
    "Hello Paul?" "This is Chris. My wife and I are interested in having some outdoor lighting done at our home and wondered if we could have you come out and give us an estimate?"
    Your response would be..............................:waving:

    Thanks Man!
  7. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    Sorry to keep badgering you Paul, but another thing that I don't understand is why you don't just go ahead and do the proposal while you are there the first time? Of course there will be some larger jobs when you will want to take your time and get a good design, but I'm sure the majority of your jobs are simple lighting plans that could be drawn out within an hour or so? At least this is the case with me. Don't get me wrong as I'm not criticizing at all. I just want to understand the other approaches. For me, when I schedule an appointment I will allot about 1.5 hours at that clients home. Before I leave, they will have a written proposal in their hand and I don't see any need to have to come back except to install the job. Are you saying that you give a consultation first, then you come back (if they have paid you) to give them a design proposal?

    Thanks for your patience with my questions.
  8. High Performance Lighting

    High Performance Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    from So Cal
    Posts: 326

    It has been around 10 years since I instituted the design consultation fee. I don't think that it's a coincidence that my business has grown substantially every year. What it has really done is given me better quality client's by eliminating off the bat those that are not predisposed to pay top dollar for a quality lighting system.

    I would rather do a million a year and work with 35-40 clients than do a million a year and work with 150 clients . It's really that simple. At this stage of the game I am looking for the cream of the crop. Those with the nicest properties and the largest budgets to work with. The design consultation fee does a beautiful job of helping me attain that goal.

    My unwritten policy has been to give freely of my time to paying client's. In my mind it never made sense to go and meet with a prospect for free. Come to their site, Share design ideas, educate them about landscape lighting. Especially if they , and some do, use your education and ideas to shop around and look for a "better deal" in their minds or a lesser price. I get paid to service a client's system. To me that just doesn't seem fair. Why give of my time and expertise for free to a prospect when an established client must pay for it.

    You can't be everything to everybody. My position has always been this with those that don't want to pay. Sorry I do not make exceptions. I am quick to respectfully say that if they are balking at paying a nominal fee to meet with me then it is highly unlikely that our meeting will result in me doing any work for them since money is obviously an issue. Perhaps a few would become clients. However like anything else in business you must go with the percentages. And absolutely more times than not if someone doesn't respect your time enough to compensate you for your travel expense then they are not serious buyers and you let them go. Focus on the ones that will, and most will pay if you are professional and present it properly.

    One call close- I almost always propose on the first meeting and do my best to close if i feel that it's right. I have at times refused to propose and have cut meetings short and left without asking for my fee in the following instances.
    All decison makers are not there when it was clear that they were going to be there and never called to say so or reschedule. This is almost a guarantee of a no decision and or no go anyway. I consider this disrespectful and a waste of everyones time.
    There is no chemistry
    The prospect is clearly not a prospect and has proven this by what they say and do.
    The prospect does not want to listen to my recommendations and has their own ideas on how things should be done. ie- re-use junk equipment, inferior transformers, old cable or they don't want a professional design but just 1 light in front of each tree etc.
    That's not what I do, does nothing to excite me and is a waste of my time. No need to hire me when anyone can do that.

    Some may say that this is a very independant way of doing business. I call it doing business on your own terms. This is what you do for a living and if you don't make the rules you will allow the prospect to make the rules for you. Your business will never thrive without a well defined set of procedures or systems that you follow on each and every contact.
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    I think Mike G makes good points.

    I am at the level in Christmas lights, where my reputation allows me to cherry pick clients from all the calls we get. I don't necessarily do the largest jobs, but the best jobs.

    In Landscape lighting however, I am trying to make a name for myself, So I am doing minimal pre-qualifying. If I can go into a neighborhood that is desirable and do some fixes, put my graphics to work, for me that is a big plus.

    Once I've been doing this for 7 or so years like the Christmas lights, I'll have a reputation that allows me some ability to qualify and charge for consultation.
  10. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 805

    Can you please define and or explain "propose" Do you get a deposit, design contract, design fee, verbal commitment, project budget, or what? What do you mean by close?

    Thanks for your reponse.

Share This Page