So is the low end market dead?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by TPnTX, May 4, 2008.

  1. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,776

    We are a landscape company.
    Maintenance commercial and residential.
    Design and installation.

    As far as lighting, I've been promoting and will continue to promote outdoor lighting. I do know that the potential client for this service is the high income category. Easy to target, look at the property value.

    However I have a lot of service clients that are below that. Some of them are willing to pay for premium service. But none of them are willing to spend 2000.00 - 2500.00 for lighting the front of their house. None.

    Is accommodating these clients a race to the bottom? I doubt it. Income is income. Someone is going to do it. Might as well do it right.

    We're in a group called housewarmers. We have a small package that goes to new residents. I get a lot of calls from it. Over and Over I turn down the low end lighting. For the sake of what? not degradating the industry. Hey I'm all for maintaining an image but really if I'm going to be in the service business, turning down work isn't the best strategy.

    I was talking to a new client the other day. She asked if I did lighting. I said yeah, I do "High end Low Voltage Lighting". (Thats my slogan BTW) She asked about price and of course her eyes popped out.

    She asked whats wrong with Mr. Neighbors lights. I said well, I let him tell you in a couple of years.

    Okay so I turned down more work. Just like I turned down Mr Neighbor. He's my client too and his eyes popped also he went the DIY route. The fact is, relativley speaking his house looks good at night. Hell of a lot better than nothing.

    What to do? I'm not trying to compare to full time lighting. I know where I need to be with that. I'm looking at it from a added value point of view just like pushing mulch, seasonal color and weed control. Just like the resturant business. It's all about the check amount not the amount of food on the plate.

    I've going to solve this and stop turning down the work. This isn't about being a scrub. It's about making money.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Bill S

    Bill S LawnSite Member
    Posts: 184

    Set the people up with a multi phase plan where they can stay within their budgets. Install one, two, three zones at a time. Once they get a taste of the buffet they may just find themselves going back for another helping!
     
  3. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,207

    The issue here is this, these people will forget all about the low price they paid when things start going wrong and who will they blame and bad mouth at that point? Maybe they can pay you as a consultant for design and installation and do the job themselves? That way you're not turning down work and they get cheap lighting.
     
  4. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    I am with Paul on this one.... If you do choose to install 'value oriented lighting systems' then I would open a seperate business to do so. When the fixtures, sockets, finish, lenses, etc start failing the clients will have forgotton about the low price they paid and they will come looking for satisfaction from you. Keeping them repaired and happy will become a full time job. You don't want that associated with your 'high end systems' or reputation.

    Phasing in a top shelf lighting system is a great strategy. Others out there are offering financing, which can be attractive to some.

    Personally, I would rather walk away then install sub-standard or value oriented systems.
     
  5. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 581

    TPnTX,
    I think installing a low end lighting system is inviting a lot of problems. You can't guarantee it. If you do guarantee a cheap lighting system you will have more headaches than the job was worth. A cheap lighting system will not last long and then you will be associated with a lighting system that doesn't work. I don't see how someone can make a living at installing "affordable outdoor lighting systems." The materials aren't cheap and there is time and expertise involved. The bottom line cost is what it is, and we have to make a profit. If you know a way of providing quality affordable lighting systems let me know, I would love to be able to charge less for my work and still make a living.
    ~Ned
     
  6. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 875

    I am in agreement with Ned here. I think Paul has some good advice concerning consultation, with no warrantees of course. I don't do work for less money, either from lower price or cheaper cost. It does turn into nightmares.You don't want that associated with your 'high end systems' or reputation.

    You have to consider the effect it may have your target high end client when they see you doing lower cost work. They might think you will use substandard materials in their job. James is right, just something to consider.
     
  7. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,776

    I agree with all of that from the perspective of an Outdoor lighting company.

    But from a maintenace company, there has to be a solution other that I will install one light and you can add another in two weeks when you get paid. Or worse yet, no can do-ski.
    It may be difficult but it isn't impossible.

    What is the least expensive manufacturer? Other than Malibu? Can you take the big box M16's and wire them up in a T Hub or Loop and get more life out of them. What is the point of failure

    I don't think this is cutting in to anyone business. Come on how many people make a living off installing lighting in 150k houses. anyone?

    Vette or Cobalt.
    GT or a Fucus.
    Limited Manu Warranty or Lifetime Warranty.

    As the CEO of a major maintenance company I ask you my lead salesman. How can we provide a low cost solution to people that otherwise will not buy anything and you tell me it can't be done? Your fired.

    Knowing that what would you come up with?

    lol Im going to get my ass kicked I know but really I am just comtiplating openly.
    I really rather all these people mow their own yards but I'm not there yet :)
     
  8. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,207

    I would say that the next worst thing than Malibu would be one of the knock offs like Lightcraft or Advantage. I guess you could try those.
     
  9. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    Don't let these knuckle heads steer you the wrong way TP. There is money to be had with these lower cost homes, and someone has to lower their ego enough to take on the projects. The best thing I have heard so far, however, is to create a separate entity or business to handle these customers. High end "lighting only" companies only want their name and reputation associated with quality and extreme customer service. I, for one, would not want my company to be known as the company that can do low or high quality. However, I will not turn down any business just because it is not a "prestigious" property or homeowner. Again, there is a lot of money to be made in an un-tapped market. Everyone else is chasing the same people, and if you live in my area and make >200k/year, you are being bombarded with solicitations for your lighting business. I say go for it! Find decent quality fixtures and transformers without the "brand name" attached to it, and create lighting packages for the less fortunate. Who knows? You may be the company that blows everyone else away with gross profit figures! No one else here can even give you an educated opinion on this subject because none of us have ever tried it!
     
  10. Desertdweller

    Desertdweller LawnSite Member
    Posts: 159

    I think the main problem is you can't be everything to everybody. If you actually want the "High End" then stick to it. If you want the low end then do that. There is market for every contractor, you just need to decide who you want to do work with. The Vette buyer isn't going to Bob's Used Cars to buy his car. The Focus guy isn't walking into the Lotus dealership. The focus will get you around town without all the fancy stuff. It may last as long too but the Vette guy doesn't care. He wants quality, service and the ability to turn heads. The Malibu system if designed properly will last for a while and can look decent, it just isn't going to have the WOW factor. It won't have the warranties or flexibility and will be replaced much sooner. If that's fine with you and your client then go for it but don't try to sell yourself as an expert if you are OK with HD lights. Money can be made in a number of ways. You have to decide what's best for your company.
     

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