14 Feb How we set expectations with new landscape lighting clients
By Mike Gambino
Before any project, whether it’s a landscaping lighting job or other, one thing between the client and the contractor should be clear: their expectations. Both parties should know exactly what the business will provide and what the client will pay in return. If everyone has upheld their end of the bargain, then they’ll all walk away pleased with what they did and what they got.
As such, expectation setting is a vital part of any landscape lighting project since we work so closely with clients and their personal or commercial properties. Not only will it help us complete the job as promised, but it will also serve us to maintain our work and our relationship with the client for years to come. Here’s how we do it.
- Agree on the level of service required
Not every landscape lighting project is created equal. We have some clients with grandiose plans for their yards that will cost them tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Others will want routine system maintenance and perhaps a few additional fixtures added or alterations made each year.
We don’t treat these clients any differently, of course, but we match the level of service we offer with the price they pay. For instance, we may strive to make high-paying clients’ timelines work, even if they’re short. In other words, their expectations will be high if they pay a large amount of money for their project, and we have to work to match that in our quality of work and speed.
For more routine jobs like a ongoing maintenance care package, we are being clear about what all that’s included in that. The last thing we want is a client assuming it includes a service that it doesn’t, and then they are disappointed when we don’t provide.
- Build a highly qualified staff
Since we are working amongst and our subjects of enhancement at night are growing living things trees, shrubs, flowers and lawns. our employees should and they do have not only electrical know how but a Green thumb as well. We all come from various landscaping backgrounds. Our work will be what proves our clients have, indeed, set the right expectations for the project. We have built a talented team that has the proper landscape and electrical training, as well as the creativity to pull off bigger, more artful projects.
Our employees perform better when they’re motivated. As such, we limit our hiring pool to those who have a genuine interest in the job, rather than on-boarding those who just want to work.
Ultimately, we know that our crew and staff will be a reflection of our company culture, an extension of our business and what we’ve promised to the client. Without the right people on the team, you would be setting unreasonable expectations since they wouldn’t be able to deliver.
- Think about future maintenance
A landscape lighting project doesn’t end once the last piece of conduit and cable is buried in the ground. Instead, the property owner will have to maintain your work themselves or hire someone to do it for them. Sometimes, they’ll do the latter, but most times they will leave that to us as they know they can count on us to reliably offer maintenance services.
Even if we’re not the one responsible for maintaining our work, we make it easier for whoever’s in charge to do it. Equipment is strategically placed so they’re not too hard for gardening crews to work around. We provide original manufacturer replacement parts, and our clients thank us for it, whether by hiring us for another project or referring us to another of their friends in need of a similar service.
- Always be honest
Perhaps the best way to set expectations is to be honest about what we can and cannot achieve with the size and skill set of our operation. Even with a great team on hand and all the proper tools and equipment for our business we can’t always create what our client has in mind or meet their unrealistic timeline or budget.
If we promise to do it anyway and find ourselves unable to deliver, we’ll fail to meet their expectations. This won’t bode well for our reputation or future referrals. We only promise what we know we can provide and work from there. It’s unfair to our team, our client and our business’ reputation if we’ve oversold our capabilities.
- Build a strong relationship
With expectations set, we can fulfill our end of the agreement and make our client’s vision a reality. They’ll trust us for future jobs, and they’ll have no problem referring us to others in need of a similar service. Expectation setting and fulfillment will allow us to cultivate lasting client relationships that can guide us to more jobs and an even more respected reputation in the future. It’s worth being honest and working our hardest. Our Clients and our business is better for it.
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 30 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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