Undesirable Landscape Lighting Inquiries

Undesirable Landscape Lighting Inquiries

By Mike Gambino

Rosenfeld-1Two types of clients — or perhaps non-clients — have long been a thorn in the side of landscape lighting design build businesses.

First, there are the property owners who buy products from the Internet at a lower cost, then want a local professional to design a scheme around their products then install them and warranty them.

Web buyers

Property owners roll the dice and forego the built in vetting process of the equipment procurement that is already done for them when they buy through a professional landscape lighting design builder. When a complete system is purchased as a package through a reputable professional , that is everything is supplied through the builder. Not only will the most suitable products be chosen for the task but the property owner will be saved the hassle and time by having to handle warranty claims on their own when the need arises.

Some professionals have responded by boosting their hourly labor rate if the client didn’t buy the equipment from them.

“If they’re willing to pay me full profit on the job, then I’ll do it,  explains one service tech who didn’t wish to disclose his name. “But generally they don’t want to do that, because the whole purpose of buying online was to circumvent the markup that the retail outlets and service people are getting.

In addition to the price of the parts themselves, some will collect a fee for finding them. Like an interior designer. Chasing equipment may take many hours, and they charge for that time.

And second undesirable inquiry comes from a Do it yourselfer who plans to complete their installation or repair by using the free help of a friendly landscape lighting design build business.

Free Advice

Even the most accommodating professionals agree that no advice should be given over the phone to a cold caller. Instead, callers need to schedule a fee based service call or design consultation.

In addition, it’s not a good idea to tell property owners how to perform anything that could possibly cause a liability claim.

At least once a week I get one of those phone calls or e-mails from someone we have never done business with. They’ll say “Some lights just stopped working, I put in a new bulb but still nothing . What do you think I need?” I can’t answer that, I have no idea. Or, I’ve had people call where they bought a product at Home Depot and then ask me how to hook it up. I tell them, ‘I can’t help you because I don’t know what color wires or what voltage they’re talking about.”

However you approach it, many professionals agree that it’s wise to try to work with almost everyone if possible.
My suggestion is don’t walk away until you’ve taken a good, close look at the situation.
So as a professional how do you identify these types of inquiries and prevent them from wasting your time and sharing your ideas and expertise for free.

Very simply they must pass through a few layers of your process to go from suspect to prospect before you can help them.


In a phone call or e-mail exchange ask several questions-

If its technical repair or troubleshooting

What exactly is it that you need from my company? (if it is not something you can do or care to do then the conversation ends there)

What were the circumstances leading up to this problem

How old is the system, equipment

Has it been maintained on a regular basis

When do you want it repaired

If it cannot be repaired to OUR standards are you open to the possibility of replacing it


If it is for a new Design Build System

When are you wanting this completed

How long have you been contemplating this

Why do you want custom designed and built landscape lighting

Do you have a system now

If so what do you like or not like about it

How did you hear about me

If they will not take a few minutes to answer these questions and just want to forge ahead with free information then it’s your call whether you want to pursue this lead or not. My experience has been that those who do not wish to cooperate and try to help you to help them very rarely turn out to be good clients. They care about their needs only and none of yours which makes for a very frustrating and unbalanced relationship.

On the other hand once you have received satisfactory answers to these questions you can move on to the final step.

Paid Service call or Design Consultation

This is where you will find out for sure how serious they are about having their problems solved.

There are those in this business who falsely believe that every contact to their business is a potential client. This is just not remotely true. There are some who will not only not hire you but hire no one or various other conditions which make it impossible for them to hire you all that are out of your control. No matter how good of a sales person or trades person you think you are there is no possibility of doing business for some or all of these reasons:

Died in the wool do it yourselfer

Cannot afford you

Timeline for completion is not compatible with yours

Why Charge a Fee?

Because your Time is worth it!

Here’s the ugly truth:

Those who get free advice from me don’t use it.
Those who got a free copy of my book never read it.
Those who pay me always listen carefully and apply it.

And then of course they get results, which makes it all worth it.

As a consultant with the sobering responsibility of guiding the decisions and lives of your clients, you must find a way to light a fire under them so they step up and take the right action.

It’s not enough for them simply to know, they must also do.

And forcing them to separate from their hard-earned cash in exchange for your explicit direction on why and what to do next is a tried-tested-and-true way to get them deeply motivated.

You owe it to your clients to charge them more. And then give them more.

Facebook-ice-256This 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 .

Blog articles may be published with permission on other websites without editing or removing links.





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