Chasing down those maintenance contracts!

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Mr. Quik electric, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. Mr. Quik electric

    Mr. Quik electric LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    I was driving to an estimate last saturday in one the most exclusive parts of the Indianaopolis area and kept noticing house after house that had what appeared to be good quality fixtures, (Unique, some vista and kichler) but I noticed most all of them had fallen into disrepair. (hats on pathlights knocked off laying on the ground, crooked fixtures, fixtures mis aimed, lamps out, etc...). It got me thinking, I may not have done the install but these systems I am seeing desperately need some maintenance. Perhaps, I am thinking more about system maintenance lateley because of the Electrical service company I am working for that specializes in small repairs and electrical system overhauls. I often forget that the real money in landscape lighting is not in the installs but in the long term maintenance of these systems. MR Quik electric used to be soley an installation contractor but the revenues were mediocre at best. When the owner converted to primarily a service company, their sales and revenue literally went through the roof and they have been doubling their sales consistently every year.

    One of our on staff electricians was working on some internal work at a home and the homewoner asked about a landscape light that wasn't working and wouldn't work even with a new bulb. He called me up, I went over and 4 hours later had dropped in a new wire, new sleeve, rewired the hubs of a poorly installed Unique lighting system, lenses and louvers installed on the well lights and walked out of their with a nice profit for those 4 hours work. With things getting tight, I think this is a goldmine market to go after. I am going to a small piece just for this purpose. I will include it on our direct mail, TV and magazine adds, but I think a door hanger directly on the door of a house in need would be a good tactic as well directly for maintenance.

    There is revenue out there, just find a way to go after it and get it!!
  2. worx

    worx LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 252

    Would it be worth the price for a listing in the yellow pages advertising maintenance? How else could someone find a "landscape lighting" repair professional? If they received a postcard (probably trashed it) and a year later they need maintenance, how do they find you? Especially if your staring in business and you have yet to build a reputation. I have talked with realtors about lighting repair for homes that are going on the market, should they come across any.
    Just a few thoughts I had after reading your thread.......
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I have replaced many a system that needed extensive maintenance, but it seems to go in stages. I usually end up replacing everything in the end anyway. You start by replacing all bulbs and checking voltage. then you try to balance load and run a few wires and replace a few sockets or fixtures. Then you end up replacing several if not all runs of wire because of poor connections and corrosion in the wire. then finally the timer, photocell, and trans and fixtures. This all happens over the period of a few years. There are exceptions, but I'm open to this type of work if it presents itself. I really don't advertise it, as it is easier to just put in a system from the get go, but maybe folks are more willing to drop a grand here and there than a few grand at a time.
  4. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Tim I agree. Our home show is this weekend and I have about 4 people ask me to make service calls so far. One was an installed we did some of the lights and ours are working great but some of the additional lighting in a fountain that we did not install is inoperatable. She asked me just to take care of it and make it right.

    Another lady knew she had 10v at the fixtures. How she knows this I couldnt tell you but I promise I will be making a visit out there this week. Lot of quality leads from my main service area this year. We are prequalifying more and when we look thru the portfolio with them we let them know that this project went for this price and this project went for that price. I am getting away from that "systems start at around 2k" because what I have seen is you get out there and its obviously going to need 15k in lighting and they have 2k stuck in their minds.

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    We are talking 2 distintively different things here. Maintenance and repair. There are opportunities for both. There is a fly in the ointment though. Most calls I get from people asking me to maintain their systems (that I have not installed) are not in a condition to be succesfully maintained. They need complete remodeling at substantial cost.

    Unlike other trades that have standardized and accepted practices, and inspections to make sure that they are followed ie-plumbing, heating, interior electrical systems etc. Landscape LV lighting does not.

    Just about everyone who calls me and who has an existing system that has failed will expect that all I will need to do is to put in new fixtures and they will have a great system. Nothing could be further from the truth. Always, the cable is not viable, because the system hasn't been engineered properly, isn't enough of it or is of incorrect gauge and most of all connections haven't been properly terminated. Transformers, even if everything else were to be made right do not have the capability of delivering the goods etc.

    So these people are in for a rude awakening. It depends upon how much pain they are feeling, how bad they want it right and how much money they care to throw at it.

    I have seen way too many "recently installed" systems where there is not 1 part even salvagable. Total 100% loss of investment on the part of the homeowner.

    Most times it's their own fault for not doing due diligence and or being cheap.

    So, usually a significant investment must be made on the part of the homeowner regarding these orphaned systems before it can be put on a regular maintenance schedule if the system is substandard and most of what's out there is unfortunately.

    If you are able to land some of these re-do's and you can get them on your service plan they will become great customers and will bring a steady stream of income by way of maintenance and referrrals to you.
  6. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    Re-dos/ repairs/ upgrades are the mainstay of the lighting side of my business.
  7. Mr. Quik electric

    Mr. Quik electric LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    Mike, this is true. What I am speaking of are repairs to existing systems. It is an established fact that the customer is already interested in lighting, they may however now realize they made a poor choice in contractors to install. It just seems to me that it is worth going after. I have met with 3 people in the last week that had their system installed improperly only then to be left on their own with no one to reach about repairs and service. You are right though about it being painful for the homeowner to have to chuck down more $ on something that should have been done right to begin with. Perhaps spending the time to educate them on what was done wrong and how it can be avoided is worthwhile. From my experience, when I encounter systems that can be rewired, the homeowners just want them to be working again. I think they would rather just pay to get them working right rather than to scrap the whole thing - "if this indeed is possible". Some cheap fixtures are just too far gone.

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    Bottom line is the cost to re-do it. For the most part they don't really care what needs to be done to make it right because it's technical and even with your best efforts explaining they are going to have a tough time understanding. "So what if all the lights are one one cable, they come on". "I don't want to re-invent the wheel here" (meaning they want to go on the cheap and cut corners which is what got them there in the first place). It is really easy to tell the people who got unjustly burned from those that brought it on themselves with pinching pennies. Those that unjustly got burned are willing to pay what it costs to do it right the second time without cutting corners again and those that are not willing are those that brought it on themselves and deserve just what they paid for.
  9. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    we did one 2 months ago that was wired all wrong and failing. Client wanted me to just put new fixtures.

    It is cheaper and more cost effective to let me just install a new system rather than try to track down what joe blow did and spend days trying to figure out why he has 4 T's on the same 10ga wire and its looped back to a 12 ga with 500 w.

    I just tell people if I cant do it right I wont touch it. If they want a bandaid on an over loaded system they can call someone else. Im not touching it.

    Now I have reinstalled salvageable systems with pretty good results but came to the conclusion it wasnt much of a cost savings to the client once you factor in the additional labor of removing the old system and taking it home with you to clean it up then reinstall it again all while ordering parts and seals for a brand you normally dont use.

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    Bingo ! :clapping:

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