Principals I Have Followed To Build A Successful Landscape Lighting Business

Principals I Have Followed To Build A Successful Landscape Lighting Business

By Mike Gambino

In the past 30 years since I started my landscape lighting design and installation business, the public interest has grown and landscape lighting has continued to be a growing trend in the outdoor living lifestyle and is considered a valuable addition to the landscape.  While this is a niche market, it can be highly profitable when it is operated as a business and not a hobby.  Here are a few key principles that I have followed that has insured my continued success.  These principles are:

No free estimates to prospects. Prospects are people who have never done business with you. While it’s certainly possible to provide a price range for a serious and qualified prospect over the phone for a landscape lighting system, chances are the client is going to need something more concrete to make a purchasing decision on such a costly but worthy home improvement which will require a site visit meeting.  As a professional, you should respect your time and trade, and insist on working with clients that feel the same.  Every job you do is unique and your time is valuable.  When you do a design consultation, you’re providing value for that client even if they do not hire you.

Get Good At Saying No

Once you have a solid flow of new leads and jobs in the pipeline (and even earlier if possible), it’s time to start saying “no.”

Say no to jobs that aren’t profitable. Say no to unreasonable customers. Say no to anything that takes time and doesn’t bring results.

Most home improvement business owners are terrible at saying no – myself included. Our helpful nature makes us want to help all customers. However, the idea that we can help everyone, or somehow create more time to fit more jobs into our already booked schedule is an illusion.

The counterintuitive reality is that in order to help the most people, you need to say no MORE often.

You must say no in order to create time and space to actually work on our business instead of just in our business.

The problem with saying no is that it goes against our natural psychological tendencies.  We all fear missing out on an opportunity. It may even seem like a bad financial decision to say no. But, this is a scarcity mindset.

In the long run you’ll have more customers and jobs to choose from because of saying no. And, the customers you do work for will be happier because of the great service you provide.

Follow a systematic and duplicable sales, design and build process. When you build your landscape lighting projects using a system that can be replicated on jobsite after jobsite, using the same installation process, it takes the mystery out of the process and lets you teach and train crew members on the steps and procedures.  This is important so you can run your business, find more jobs, and focus on growing the customer base.

Put Quality First

Even if you have to redo a job. Even if it puts you behind schedule. Even if you lose money on the job. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS put quality first.

From my experience, the best clients place a very high value on service providers who consistently get the job done well.


Because hardly anybody does. Most non specialized who offer landscape lighting as a sideline landscapers, , electricians, handymen and others are in a hurry. They underbid and in an effort to stay profitable, they cut corners. Underbidding a job is not the clients fault no matter how much downward price pressure they put on you, it’s yours as you can always decline and walk away, and if you operate that way, you will lose money and your good reputation.

Your reputation is everything you have and what will precede you and pay off big in the long run, not having the lowest bid.

Work with the landscape, not against it. Highlight its positive features and downplay the negatives.  As a professional, it’s your job to let your client know what will work and fit with their landscaping plans. Sometimes clients can have some unrealistic ideas and wishes.  This brings us to the next point.

Give your clients what they want, not what they ask for.  We’ve all had the client that thinks they can’t live without certain features in their design.  This is what you get paid for, to give advice.  If you’ve listened to their expectations of what they are seeking to achieve, you should get a good picture of the finished product you can provide.  You’re the one that has solved the same problem for several previous customers.  Clarify their desires,  ask the right questions, then show them the solution you’re going to provide and then provide them.

Be Honest

Equally, and arguable more important than quality, is trust. The best clients want somebody they can trust, and are willing to pay more for it. In fact, great customers likely won’t even hire you unless they trust you.

I find the hardest times to be honest are when customers ask me about stuff I don’t know. I don’t want to look dumb and want to pretend like I know everything, but that’s just dishonest. Customers can smell a bullshitter a mile away.

The crazy thing is that when I’m just honest and say “I don’t know,” I gain instant trust. They suddenly realize that I’m not going to compromise their home just to make a quick buck. People crave that raw authenticity because it’s so rare.

Sure, you may lose that job, but once you have that trust they will come back again and again, because you are now a trusted adviser and confidant. You become their most trusted advisor for one of their most valuable assets.


As you can see from the tips above, great clients aren’t just found – you actually create them.

First you have to find them, then turn them into great clients.

The bad news is that it takes work. The good news is that it isn’t rocket science and anybody can do it with consistent, strategic effort.

By running your business with a clear intention behind each action instead of just taking what you can get, you will slowly separate yourself from the pack, grow a list of amazing customers you love working for, and make more money than you ever thought possible in this business.

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 . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .

Blog articles may be published with permission on other websites without editing or removing links.

No Comments

Post A Comment