Not sure how many of you got to "read all about it" in your email today. A link to this piece was sent to me today. This was written by Chuck Link (a guy who has been doing a lot of direct email marketing to sign up people to his newly founded lighting training program - and clearly hopes to drum up more business with this 'news') and is directed to a diverse group of electrical contractors, mostly people who are not currently involved in outdoor lighting. Take a read and see what you think. Personally I think this piece over simplifies our trade and profession. Just what we don't need any more of IMO. A Business Opportunity That Is Brighter Than Ever! Outdoor Lighting Despite the economy, the opportunity to profit from the outdoor lighting business has never been easier or better than it is today! The technological advances in low-voltage and the outdoor lighting products are moving forward at lightning speed. This is not the same industry as it was a year ago and, the fact is, in another two years it will have been re-invented completely once again. The outdoor lighting industry is growing rapidly; sales are at a whopping $3.2 billion plus annually. This growth is being fueled by the huge demand for more economically efficient systems, and the push for a greener carbon footprint. So what does this mean to the Low-Voltage contractor no matter what your current product and service offerings may be. Three important things: 1. If you are a licensed low voltage contractor and do not already provide outdoor lighting services, there is no better time to enter the market than today. If you are selling alarms systems, audio video equipment, or providing any other products or services for which you are required to be licensed; and you are not providing lighting services, you are leaving wads of money on the table each and every time you visit your clients. Whether its using lighting as an up-sell on new job opportunities, or going back to your previous and current clients, there is a load of profit just waiting at your fingertips. 2. If your client base consists of homeowners, home builders, architects, landscapers, commercial property managers, it doesnt matter. They all need and want outdoor lighting. Due to the recent and ever-changing advances within this industry, design, installation and the efficiency of the latest and greatest products make lighting installation far more profitable than it was just a short time ago. 3. Installation methods and products that were state-of-the-art two years ago are basically dead. If you are a low voltage or outdoor lighting contractor and are not using the most up to date techniques and products, not only are you leaving money on the table, but you are doing far more work than necessary. You should get educated, get ahead of the competition, and avoid being left in the dust. By now youre probably saying to yourself, This all makes sense, but Chuck, how would I go about getting started in low voltage lighting, or taking my existing lighting business to the next level? And thats a fair question. One that many contractors struggle with Here are a few suggestions for you and some important points to take into consideration: First off, let me tell you that with the rapid changes that have taken place recently (and the changes to come which will happen even quicker), you need ongoing training and a regular flow of concise and up to date information. And if youre like most contractors, you probably dont have time to take on the additional job of keeping an eye on the industry on a weekly basis and still do your job of making money as a low voltage contractor. As one option, you could always purchase a franchise. Most franchises do a pretty good job of staying informed of the changes within the industry. However, even though franchises do have some benefits, there are the drawbacks. Franchises are expensive, and you are required to pay royalties on each dollar you bring in. In addition, even though there might be better products on the market, you are often forced to use the products available through your franchise company. Thats a big limitation. One of the most popular comments I hear when asking franchisees about the benefits they receive is quite simply the opportunity to network with other contractors, and have someone to call for technical help when needed. Those comments are often followed by comments such as, but we only have one meeting or convention per year. Many contractors choose to stay up to date by attending free seminars or workshops, which usually take place at a local lighting distributors location. These can be very valuable (especially since they are free), and there is typically some worthwhile information shared, and these events also provide the previously mentioned opportunity for networking with like minded contractors. However, there are some drawbacks to relying on this type of training and ongoing education as well. For one, the events more frequently than not are sponsored by a particular product manufacturer. This being said, the education is geared toward selling that manufacturers products and is not a true representation of what the other companies are doing. Ive even witnessed these events turn into nothing more than a sales pitch fest for the products. Another drawback is that when attending an event at a local distributor, you are most likely attending with your competition since these workshops usually draw the locals. As you can imagine, the networking that takes place locally is usually much quieter than those events where you may be attending with other like minded contractors from around the country, but who are not your actual competitors. Finally, what I believe to be the most viable option is to rely on an unbiased source whos primary focus is to keep up with industry on a daily basis, and gather the pertinent industry updates and changes, and then put it to a concise and easily absorbable format which is distributed on an ongoing basis. There are numerous consultants in the industry as well as several national group memberships available. These models are not free for the obvious reasons, but usually cost only a fraction of the typical cost of a franchise. In some cases, these programs include monthly tele-seminars and newsletters, multiple live events each year for coaching groups, and most recently even live demonstrations and trainings via webinars. More importantly, these types of programs will typically offer the latest and greatest information from throughout the industry, not just what a single manufacturer has to say. My hope is that you find this information helpful. More importantly: that you will take a look at how you are doing business as a low voltage contractor. And dont forget: Despite the economy, the opportunity to profit from the outdoor lighting business has never been easier or better than it is today!