03 Jun Guidelines for Successful Client-Landscape lighting specialist Working Relationships
By Mike Gambino
It’s vitally important that you, as the client, to do your part in fostering a positive working relationship with your contractor. Embarking on a new project can be overwhelming, especially if it involves technical aspects (such as landscape lighting). That’s why you’ve hired an expert!
But in order to make your project a success, you need to develop a solid working relationship, and be aware of some basic “Guidelines” when working with a Landscape lighting specialist.
#1: Respect the landscape lighters Profession
Landscape lighters are often mis characterized as hybrids between landscapers and electricians who toil in the dirt all day. A trade any generalist can accomplish effectively. This is far from the truth. Most of us rare breed of specialists are experienced in our industry and take our job very seriously. Our livelihood depends on it!
We take pride in the work that we deliver, and we charge a fair price for our services. Don’t expect a reputable landscape lighting specialist to work on ‘spec’ or provide extra consultation free of charge. You wouldn’t ask for a free meal when you go out to a restaurant, would you?
#2: Trust the Lighter’s Expertise
There’s a reason why you decided to hire a specialist to meet your needs. They’re the expert! Let them do what they do best, which is to address your needs in such a way that positions you for the best chance of success with your project.
Don’t try to micro-manage your project or play the role of designer if you’re not one. It’s OK to offer your opinion and give guidance, but try and do it in the form of desired end-results. For example:
BAD: “Can you move those fixtures about 5 feet so they work better?”
GOOD: “We’d really like to bring attention to the oak tree. Is there anything you can do to achieve that?”
#3: If You’re Not Sure, Ask!
Creative and technical projects can often be quite complex. Always make sure you’re on the same page as the landscape lighter. Ask clarifying questions if you’re not sure about something. Stop them before moving on to another discussion if you’re not fully up to speed.
It’s the landscape lighter’s job to not only deliver the final product you’re looking for, but also to guide you through the process every step of the way. A good landscape lighter can clearly communicate all of the ins and outs of your project in a way that is easy to understand and covers all of the bases.
Let there be no surprises due to a lack of communication.
#4: Be Available & Punctual
Hiring a landscape lighter is not a ‘set it and forget it’ situation. Don’t think that since you’ve already paid your deposit that you don’t need to be in touch until final delivery.
A successful project will require regular contact and sign-off on milestones. If you want your project completed on time with the best results possible, then take an active role when reviewing the landscape lighter’s work in progress.
Be available for scheduled meetings, e-mails, etc. Expect to receive questions and updates from your landscape lighter. Check your email daily so that you can receive and respond to these inquiries. This will ensure your project remains on a steady pace and avoids a stop-go-stop-go routine.
#5: Respect the landscape lighter’s Policies
Landscape lighters should make all of their working policies clear up front: Their general working hours, preferred method of communication, payment deadlines, power requirements (such as where the main and sub panels are), etc.
Please respect these policies. For example, most landscape lighters don’t appreciate “urgent” last minute requests. We can’t possibly be available for immediate phone, email, or IM support all of the time. I assure my clients that I return all emails and phone messages within 1 business day (often sooner). This allows me to keep my workflow intact and avoid distractions.
I’ve even had clients who call me at 10:00pm on a Sunday night. Not OK.
Oftentimes during projects an initially small project becomes a larger one while work is in progress. Clients “see the light” so to speak, see the value and beauty and desire to enhance the project further or desire to illuminate other new areas of the property. This is usually not a problem as your professional landscape lighting specialist wants the best results on every project and want to make clients happy. If significant or notable changes are desired please be willing to pay extra for them and understand the possible work delays that may be created. In regards to changes requested to previously agreed upon fixtures be willing to pay for restocking charges and the costs involved in getting the new fixtures to the site in short time.
There is nothing more frustrating and costly to a landscape lighting designer than a client who cannot make decisions even on simple questions asked of them during the construction process. Experimenting on the site with mock ups takes labor time, extra materials and costs money and creates delays. Be willing to cover the extra costs as an owner if you must physically see it before deciding on it.
#8: Pay on Time
Every landscape lighter will tell you their biggest pet peeve are clients who don’t pay on time. This is an extremely unprofessional practice that happens all too often in client-contractor working relationships.
This comes back to rule #1, respecting the landscape lighter’s profession. Payment terms should be clearly defined on the landscape lighter’s invoice. Make sure you pay on time in order to avoid stopping work on your project or potential late fees.
This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 20 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to www.gambinolighting.com . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .
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