What a jerk

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by bcg, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Posts: 1,835

    I know it's my own fault but...

    I did a bid for a guy last fall who lived down the street from the job I entered in the AOLP contest last year. Thinking that it being down the street from that job would pretty much make it a slam dunk, I decided to leave a copy of the design with the guy at no charge. Well, I'm working on a house across the street from it and doing the night time adjust this evening, I happened to notice that the house is lit and that although the landscape isn't even close to what I suggested, the architectural lighting is exactly what I proposed. It looks like they even used the fixtures and wattages I suggested.

    Lesson learned, and I charge for design proposals now, but it still pi$$e$ me off a little...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2011
  2. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 751

    Thats sucks. Its happened to me 1 time that I know of. Homeowner was i guess a diy type guy. Now my proposals no longer include fixture numbers. Only spotlight Not 15733
     
  3. AOLP

    AOLP Inactive
    Posts: 158

    Good for you, men and women in the sales are some of the only ones that give their time away, worse...you're costing your business $$$. Keep your design info to yourself as much as possible. Try not to spill your candy. What are your plans moving forward? How will you charge?
     
  4. emby

    emby LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 380

    What an awful experience for you Bernie.

    Although this scenario has never happened to myself I have thought about it previously. One of the ways that I have eliminated that issue from taking place, is that I charge the client a design fee before I begin the actual design. Once the payment has been made I proceed. In my initial contact with the client I explain that the original investment of the design will have to be payed up front.

    I have often thought about the whole process from the original phone call or email to the completion of the project.
    We are in business to make money (and for the love of landscape lighting) but generally your time is worth something. Your overhead costs should incorporate your associated costs such as gas and your hourly rate when first visiting the client. After my first year of business I reviewed my costs associated with meeting with clients for the first time and I was shocked at the numbers. I was not charging for this initial consultation. These numbers included my time and gas to travel to the site and sometimes an hour or two to proceed with the design. These numbers did not reflect any profit for my company so now I incorporate that into the design fee as well.
    In my opinion it is very important to question your clients very carefully when first contact is made. You can discuss a budget which determines how much detail you can incorporate into the design and then explain to them the costs associated with the whole process of a professional outdoor lighting system.
    Following this procedure allows me to quickly decide if this client is serious about investing in a professional outdoor landscape lighting system. This initial fee ensures that I will be compensated for my time, associated costs and a profit when providing the client with the design.

    This is how I have proceeded, but I would be very interested in hearing how others have dealt with this issue too.

    Ken
     
  5. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,876

    Ken and others, I am still studying and not yet ready to advertise or seek out clients for lighting. When I have met with clients concerning landscaping, I have mentioned to them the costs of producing a full-blown plan versus merely discussing the concept and the featured plants. (Bear in mind, these were smaller jobs, up to about $6000 to $7000.)
    Most of the clients opted just for the discussion and general sketch.

    Do you think this will work with lighting clients? Or, in your experience, would most clients want to know all the details of each and every fixture?
     
  6. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Posts: 1,835

    I'm going out to do the initial consultation for free where we'll talk about what they want, their budget (which I'm also trying to screen on the phone before that meeting) and how I'd go about achieving the effect they'd like. At that time, I'm giving a ballpark number and if it's in the realm they want to be in, I charge them $450 for the design, which I collect before leaving the consultation. I tell them the design cost will be credited to the job if they go with us.

    On the designs themselves, I've changed from specific fixture models and/or wattage and beam spread to generic terms like LED uplight, Accent Light, etc. to make it a little harder to duplicate my design.

    On the flip side of the first post, I guess I should be flattered that he thought enough of the design to shop it around until he found someone that would do it for his price. It's really kind of lame that he didn't give me an opportunity to quote just the part he ended up doing though, it would have probably been about 1/2 the original bid. Oh well, it sucks but not much I can do about it and I can take some comfort in knowing that whoever did it did a poor job of adjusting it so it doesn't look nearly as nice as it could with just a 30 minute tune up.
     
  7. cuttin-to-the-Max

    cuttin-to-the-Max LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,333

    Man that sucks! Thats why i dont let them have my designs unless i have some sort of percentage of the project or even a deposit.
     
  8. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,468

    Up here, we need the money up front before we hand over a design.

    The builders lien act won't help us get paid unless we have actually
    done some kind of physical improvement to the property.
     
  9. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,141

    Our initial contact is free, however, if the design is extensive we tell the homeowner up front about design fees. (usually just on projects of 50 fixtures or more). At the second meeting we review the plan and ask for the sale. If they hum and haw, I will either take the plan with me or I will offer to let them purchase it. We do the same with the landscape plans and it has worked out pretty well. To be perfectly honest, I have never had anyone ever present a competitors lighting plan to me for bid. Either it doesn't happen that often or my competitors don't draw up designs. Rarely when I meet with a prospect will they be shopping 2-3 lighting contractors. Usually it is just me about 75-80% of the time.

    How is everyone presenting their designs? I use autocad for my designs and as built drawings.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  10. niteliters

    niteliters LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 537

    hey Ken, when you're talking budget, how do you approach?
     

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