When client assumes the role of lighting designer

When client assumes the role of lighting designer

By Mike Gambino

Clients hire me to do creative work for them. They buy my expertise, skill, and of course my time and ability to deliver a finished product that they are going to be delighted with. They also hire me to bring that project in as proposed and on budget and if I don’t say so myself have done a pretty darn good job of accomplishing that for the past 22 years.

Rarely, but on occasion, I will get a client who assumes a very involved role not only in the project process but they end up acting as “lighting designer” the whole project through, right down to the nitty-gritty details of where the fixtures should be placed. And we become relegated to just obeying the orders even when they go against my best designer instincts!

This type of project is not the best use of our professional services however we will work for clients such as these but can’t guarantee that their job will end up featured in our portfolio or on our website. We will do as they say and deliver a system that they are ultimately satisfied with because after all they are paying for it.

And that brings up the reality of the fact that time is money. Changes, alterations, revisions made outside the scope of the original agreement will most always result in additional costs to the client. If a client wants to experiment on their dime then they can “knock themselves out”. However when we realize production delays due to client indecision and change  that’s when the timer starts on the proverbial extra cost meter.

This is something that some clients have a difficult time understanding and accepting responsibility for.

Recently we worked on a project for such a client who made it clear after the first day of work that they wanted complete creative control of the project. This particular client wasn’t particularly interested in my ideas or expertise regarding the design of their system. She knew what she wanted in her mind but wasn’t very effective in verbalizing those ideas to me. She also made it clear that she had a budget and that it was not to be deviated from.

I knew that things weren’t going to end well if I resisted so I decided that the best solution would be for us to place all of the fixtures in the locations where I felt they should be, lay all power cable on top of the ground and connect them to fixtures. Leave slack so the fixtures could be moved and repositioned and then load balance the system so it was working at the proper operating voltage.

I did this with the understanding and agreement from the client that once they found the proper configuration and positioning for the fixtures and they were happy with the effects after dark we would then make the installation permanent and install it as we had planned. Any changes thereafter would be subject to additional cost to them.

The outcome was a success. Although it’s not the type of project I really like to take on we did find a common ground and the end result was a satisfied client and we got paid what we originally agreed upon.

Bottom line is that we will work with all types of clients. I only ask that they state upfront all of their intentions and level of involvement in the project before we start work. This way I can adapt and adjust to the way we approach and implement the proper procedure for installing their landscape lighting system.

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 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 .

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