per fixture pricing revisited

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by David Gretzmier, Jun 12, 2010.


Do you price per fixture and tell the client?

  1. Yes, I price per fixture and tell the client

    4 vote(s)
  2. Yes, I price per fixture but do not tell client.

    1 vote(s)
  3. No, I do not price per fixture.

    6 vote(s)
  4. I just the per fixture thing as sort of a guide and adjust.

    5 vote(s)
  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I have always used the per fixture method to kind of multiply and check and make sure I am covering labor, costs, and making a profit, but I never really told the customer where my numbers were coming from. and I adjust accordingly for fixtures way out and the like. This year I decided to be open with the customer about this, tell the customers how I do bids, and something fairly amazing happened this year. I closed far more work, and got larger jobs, as customers added or subtracted fixtures based on thier wants and budget. I had about half my new jobs add several fixtures, even 8 or 9 on one, and I had maybe 25 % reduce the fixtures, but I closed the jobs and they are very happy with the result. the other 25% pretty much just went with what I reccomended and did not change up or down. But I think empowering my potential client to change the price up or down has netted me not only more jobs but larger average revenue per job.

    so I'll put this poll out there to see what you guys are doing.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2010
  2. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 512

    I bid per fixture but do not tell the client. In the past, when I say this fixture costs XXX installed, I usually see severe mouth droppage because the client do not understan what is involved in the install. So I learned to bid it as a package price and inform the client that this price can be adjusted to a certain point. Either they want it or they don't.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    This is the first year I have told clients an x per fixture price, with exceptions for single fixtures run to trees, drilled through walls, etc. I am quick to say it includes the fixture, bulb, waterproof connections, labor, wire, transformer space, and 1 year guarantee. That helps with the jaw dropping thing.
  4. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    If you are in the business of selling fixtures then by all means price by the fixture. If you are in the business of selling Lighting SYSTEMS then doing so is not doing you any favours.

    A properly designed and installed lighting system requires far more than recouping your time and materials IMO. Also, if you design a "perfect zone" of lighting, and then allow the client to pick and choose which fixtures to go with, you will be compromising the design, sometimes significantly. Rather than dropping fixtures from a zone in order to meet a client's budget, I find it much better to provide Per Zone pricing. That way the client can drop a whole zone and still get the full package across the rest of the property. When you do it this way, it provides the client the opportunity to add the dropped zone at a later date. Most often, when this occurs, we will install (for example) 4 of the 5 zones. When the client sees the results they will quickly find the money and add the last zone to complete the property.
  5. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 439

    We don't really price per fixture, but at the end of the project we usually do the math and see where we are per fixture. More often than not on "average" projects the price per fixture is pretty close on all the jobs.(which is to be expected). On larger projects however, there are way to many variables to simply price it out per fixture. When you have to account for more wire, labor and all the other expenses you need to make sure everything is covered. With that said though, you still have to be competitive in todays market.
  6. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    James, I like the zone choice idea. It reminds me of my irrigation install days. We discussed zones on another thread and In that I thought you tended to think of a zone as a full transformer, and I tend to think of a zone as a home run on one wire. I don't really give clients much of a choice on which fixture I use, except maybe on finish. I tell folks what they should use where, and then I put it in thier court.

    I have always been a stick in the mud about doing less lights than I wanted, but this year I came to the conclusion that I was always willing to add more paths if folks wanted more light, and if folks wanted more uplights on trees, or wanted more moonlighting than I wanted, I was always happy to take more of thier money because, well, that was what they wanted and they were willing to pay more for it. But going with less lights and less money bugged me, but really, it is thier money in that case too. I am not saying I am willing to go down to one 500 watt halogen fixture mounted on a 20 foot pole 200 feet from the house, but If I want 16 uplights on a home and they want 12, I can sleep at night.

    but I do like the idea of doing a zone right or not doing it at all.

    But doing it "right", I am learning more and more, not just among customers but pro's on this forum and not, can mean 6, 7, 9, or 11 fixtures in one given zone or home run.
  7. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Ok how about looking at it this way: You are about to hire an artist to paint 4 landscapes for your home , one for each room of the house. You are talking to this particular person because you have seen their work and liked the final product. They deliver a quote to you that is above your budget. Do you then try to talk the artist into using fewer strokes, less paint, and less time per painting? Not something I would do. Instead you decided to do only 3 of the paintings and you can always add the fourth in the future.

    In this way, you are not impacting the final outcome of the paintings, the artist will be happy to do the work as their vision and experience is being respected and not controlled and everything will look as good as the first art you saw by this person that led you to call them in the first place.

    Is one way right and one way wrong? Of course not. Each market, each client and each contractor will handle such things in a different manner. The "zone pricing" system is a powerful and effective sales tool. It generally results in full systems being installed as per original design and often leads to repeat customers who add zones later in the year and into the future.
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    james, I agree with what you are trying to communicate, but although my work is beautiful, customers do not view me as an artist. I am, at best viewed or compared to an interior decorater. and many folks will do what you say, let's do it right what we can and leave the rest for later. I would say that 90% of folks have a number in mind and they want to stay close to it. they have things that are important to them in lighting. for some, safety is a priority over aesthetics. for some, deck lighting is more important than paths, or architectural. so zoning would allow them to choose and stay in budget. but most do not want a black area. and I have yet to meet a wealthy person admit they cannot afford to do it all. they would rather appear to be able to , and then just not hire me at all.

    probably when I reach the point of being able to turn away work I will raise my standards to only doing zones properly or not doing them at all. but that leads me back to a nagging point I am still wrestling with. If 5 lighting pro's with 10 years experience each would light the same zone with a different number of fixtures, who am I to say they are wrong and I am right?
  9. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 439

    Pricing is too complex to really discuss. The "per fixture" method has been talked about a lot and some use it and others don't. What is really comes down to is business and how well you can manage your own. Pricing is never going to be exact among contractors because there are too many variables to take into overhead etc.

    The one thing I've learned over the years though is that just because someone is good at a craft, doesn't always mean that they are good at business. I've seen some good contractors go under because they simply just didn't know how to manage a proper business plan.....and that includes pricing.
  10. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 447

    I believe everything is a shade of gray and you need to adapt to each situation.

    However in general, I am against the "pricing per fixture" model for lighting contractors. I feel it creates price shock. As soon as a contractor says a per fixture price it makes it seem very high because it is too hard to understand all the other costs. it also reduces you to commodity mentality.

    I believe in the project cost model or zone model is better, but in general there should not be steadfast rules.

    Instead maximize each situation. That means NOT having hard rules. Fact is some people can afford more than others, some have different tastes and needs. Some yards may need a lot of light fixtures and others can get a way with minimal. To me the most important thing is reading the customer and listening to there needs. From there price accordingly.

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