How Trusting Relationships Build Better Custom Landscape Lighting Projects

How Trusting Relationships Build Better Custom Landscape Lighting Projects

By Mike Gambino

Like most businesses, the custom landscape lighting industry is a relationship business. The best work is typically done when a project is viewed as a partnership between a client and custom landscape lighting design build specialist. We have been fortunate to have great partnerships with hundreds of clients throughout the years on work ranging from private homes to high end exotic resort properties, thanks to the negotiated contract process.

Jackson-12For us, this arrangement is far more preferable to the common competitive bid process. Of course, we understand the desire to keep costs low, but giving custom landscape lighting work to simply the lowest bidder can lead to plenty of problems.

In our experience, we have found clients who care about producing the best custom landscape lighting projects are more likely to engage in the negotiated contract process. Sure, the costs may sometimes be a bit higher, but clients know their custom landscape lighting project will have the best quality of products and be delivered on time. By negotiating and locking in a fee up front, clients will have the peace of mind that their costs are fixed, and, they will feel like they are working with their selected custom landscape lighting design build contractor in partnership. In the competitive bid process, clients typically write the smallest check possible up front, but if things go wrong during landscape lighting construction, as they often do with low-quality non specialized contractors, costs can come back to bite them in a big way.

Here are the top three reasons to work with custom landscape lighting design build contractors in a negotiated contract process.

  1. Setting expectations. In the competitive bid process, the contractor’s most important expectation to meet is the price—and in this case, it’s making sure it’s the lowest qualified one. In the negotiated process, expectations are set differently. Clients and custom landscape lighting design build contractors work together to define the most important aspects of a project, which allows the specialized design build contractor to identify where and how much money should be allocated. For a estate home private residence project it might be the lighting in the backyard for entertaining; for a commercial resort project, it might be creating a feeling of safety and traverse around the property after dark.  By defining expectations, the design build specialty contractor will undoubtedly deliver a better final product.


  1. Identifying the right Contractor. By setting expectations, the specialist landscape lighting design build contractor will have a better idea of which materials and installation techniques would be best suited for a project. If safety is key to your custom landscape lighting project, then we might decide to allocate more of your budget toward general area lighting around the building and perimeters of the property. Of course, in the negotiated process, the client has final approval of all aspects of the project as well. This process delivers another level of relationship, as the specialized landscape lighting design build contractor will typically have a good collaborative working relationship with the property owner. In the competitive bid process, a good general non specialized contractor relationship is rare, as contractors are chosen solely on price.  Problems can arise, and often due, in these instances, as poor quality contractors show their true colors once a custom landscape lighting project begins. In fact, subpar work can actually end up costing a client more money. So there goes the low competitive bid, and a client’s budget now needs to increase.


  1. Potential project savings. While a competitive bid may allow for the lowest price possible at the onset, a negotiated contract has the potential to save clients money while still delivering the highest-quality possible. In a negotiated bid, a generalist contractor will actively seek ways to save costs for clients. This could be by suggesting different materials, construction methods or project schedule. All of which can reap significant savings. All of which can also create significant problems down the road and they usually do. Generalist contractors and subcontractors simply do what was put on the bid sheet and nothing more. If we are working in a partnership, we know the project’s highest requirements and can work around it to find savings where clients need them, helping them to accomplish goals in a less expensive way.

Stone canyon-16For all of these reasons, take a look at the negotiate contract process before simply trying to save a buck on landscape lighting through competitive bids. It attracts better more qualified specialized landscape lighting design builders, makes for better projects, and with established partnerships, makes for long-lasting business relationships.

facebook logoThis landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all 20160627_004632146_iOSrights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 27 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .

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