Why do you charge for an initial site meeting/design consultation?

Why do you charge for an initial site meeting/design consultation?

by Mike Gambino

I have been collecting a modest initial design consultation fee for about 10 years now. It has probably been the single most important business decision I ever made and has eliminated a lot of wasted time spent with those not serious about obtaining the highest quality landscape lighting system designed and built to last in Los Angeles.

Even though the fee is minimal, psychologically when a monetary investment is made, there is a better chance of having a focused and goal oriented person in front of me who is serious about doing something to improve their current condition as opposed to one who has to think it over and procrastinate about making a decision.

The fee has proven to be the best qualifier as it basically cuts right to the chase and exposes ones motivation or lack thereof. With all the free informational content, long list of testimonials from satisfied clients and photos of my work available on this comprehensive website, if someone is still unsure that I am possibly not the right person for their project and is not willing to pay a small fee to find out. Then that person is most probably not going to become a client and is probably not a good fit anyway. That doesn’t make them bad people just not a viable prospect for my landscape lighting design and build service and I don’t see a point in wasting both of our time.

Occasionally I will get someone who will ask.

Why do you charge a consultation fee I’m not sure if I’m going to hire you ?

My answer is simply:

If someone isn’t willing to pay for something, they most likely don’t value it and won’t take action on it.

And that is also true of calls I get requesting  that I come out free of charge and diagnose a problematic lighting system that was installed by someone else (who seemingly is unavailable or won’t stand behind their work) and provide an evaluation as to what is wrong  and what to do to make it right and prepare a cost estimate to fix it. All with no obligation on the part of the property owner to hire me to do the work or that they will even have the work done at all because perhaps the problems were much more serious and costly then they originally thought which is often the case.

Maintenance service and repair of  landscape lighting systems that I have installed are charged at a cost of labor and materials basis to my clients. It wouldn’t be fair to provide valuable diagnostic and repair estimate service for non clients for free when clients who have invested in one of my systems do pay.

Landscape lighting is not like the plumbing in your home that absolutely positively has to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now. It is a luxury item that is a really nice thing to have to enhance the lifestyle of the homeowner and provide a feeling of safety and security to the property. It is a luxury item and not an absolutely necessary function to keep the household running. That being the case it is not usually at the top of peoples priority lists when there are major repairs or replacements to be made to an old or problematic system.

I am always looking for new and interesting projects to design and install one of my lighting systems on.

We also do repair and replace poor performing or problematic systems for homeowners who value a high performance landscape lighting system and have the budget to successfully complete the project so both they and I are satisfied when its done.

If that is the case then I am always happy to hear from you. I can be reached at mike@gambinolighting.com

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