15 Jun Don’t be fooled by deceptive sales propaganda when searching for PROFESSIONALLY DESIGNED AND INSTALLED CUSTOM LANDSCAPE LIGHTING
By Mike Gambino
My colleague and friend Mark Carlson and I often discuss how lost as an individual stand alone industry the outdoor lighting business seems to be. Much of it has to do with the lack of identity today’s landscape lighting designer builder specialist has in the marketplace and how due to conditions created within the industry itself the designer’s value, importance and relevance seems to be waning.
This is due in part to many factors including manufacturers and distributors of product that don’t necessarily care if their product is properly used or installed in the application but their primary concern is that it is specified over their competitors products and gets purchased. This is unfortunate but true in today’s heavily competitive landscape lighting industry. Too many products (especially overlap or same products) and too many people selling them and not enough buyers. This sets up a desperate and dire situation for some and compels a sell at any cost just to survive mentality.
This is important enough that the consumer who is looking for a design build contractor to perform landscape lighting services on their property should be aware of. They need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff during their search.
Here are a few of the marketing messages which I feel are bad for the consumer and the industry itself because they don’t represent the reality of things.
Everyone deserves great landscape lighting- That was the exact quote I read from a known landscape lighting designer builder on their facebook page recently where they stated that their goal was to make quality landscape lighting available to everyone. This is pure hogwash. I have seen many come and go over the past 25 years I’ve been doing landscape lighting with this same mentality trying to build a better mousetrap cheaper that would appeal to the masses. All have failed miserably. Landscape lighting is not a right but a privilege. It is not something that is ever offered as standard equipment with the purchase of a new home. It is a high end amenity that is an acquired taste like artwork that is appreciated by some not all the same way. Quality Custom Landscape Lighting never comes cheap. If it does then you can be sure it won’t last because to make it cheap corners have to be cut and that occurs at the product and installation level. It is a scenario I have seen way too often over my career where unsuspecting property owners have bought into this cheaper mousetrap. Don’t be another victim.
Landscape Lighting is a simple do it yourself project- Some product manufacturers and distributors would like to make you believe this by making their products readily available to anyone with a credit card without qualification. Perhaps this type of project can be pulled off successfully by select few do it yourselfers however I have seen very few examples of this. If someone is sufficiently motivated, with much study, experiment, trial and error and expense (calculate time lost from work that one is normally paid for and time lost from loved ones and what that’s worth) I guess that it can be done. Kit sets have been around forever and are designed to fail and fail in short time and in addition will not perform well. All of the chemicals are commercially available to make your favorite floor cleaner but that doesn’t mean that it is advisable or practical to go out and purchase them mix them up in your garage and use them to clean your floor. Sometimes it’s just best to leave things to the pro’s who do this every day.
Free Consultation, Free Design, Free Demonstrations- There is no such thing as a free lunch never has there been never will there be as there is always a cost to pay for everything. Think about what this tells you about a service provider if they must offer everything for free to get a response. It says loud and clear that they are not successful or busy. And they are probably not successful and busy because they are not any good. Otherwise why would they need to give away what they could sell and get paid for?
I recently saw a new designer builder’s facebook page where they were promoting free design, never a consultation fee and package pricing of $2,014 for a 9 fixture system which was reduced later in the year to $1,999. I guess they believe that $15 would make the difference between getting contacted or not. I can guarantee that with a strategy like that they won’t be around for long. The last service provider you’d want to hire would be a service provider that is not successful and busy and most probably broke. If something goes wrong where are they going to get the money from to make it right? Lots of luck there.
It’s the light source (light bulb or LED) that actually does the lighting and not the fixture- This is true however it suggests that the fixture or lamp or LED holder is not important and should not be of importance. The truth is that although the actual light source determines the brightness and intensity level, light spread and color per se. The type and construction or make up of the fixture can and does have some influence on the overall look of the light by influencing light color and spread as well. Not all lighting products are created equal neither will they perform and last at the same rates. There are a huge disparity between low cost low quality products and higher cost higher quality fixtures that perform better, require less maintenance and last
Any service provider can install an LED Landscape Lighting system- True that LED lamps are less stringent with their voltage requirements and are more forgiving and less technically demanding than the halogen systems that we used to install yesteryear. But LED lamps do nothing to improve the design capabilities of the designer which the art of lighting makes up probably at least 50% of the system equation. The product sellers place a huge preference on getting non specialized trades to purchase their products and use them on their non landscape lighting specific projects. In other words they encourage landscape lighting as an add on service to landscapers, electricians, masons or anyone who already has a current project with a live client because it’s an easy sale for them. This generalizes and lessens the importance of landscape lighting . Add ons or afterthoughts of primary projects are more prone to fail because of the following reasons.
Smaller available Budgets because landscape lighting is the last to go in.
Lack of planning due to short lead times.
Lower quality products because choice is restricted to whatever is available now on distributor shelves which is not always the best for the project but what is most cost effective and what sells the most of on these types of projects.
Less thought and importance goes into design and implementation because it’s not the primary project.
Little or no follow up maintenance and care services because the original installer is not a specialist or set up to perform those services.
Less care on the part of the installer because they don’t need that job to get their next.
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 28 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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