Getting the Most Out of Client Consultations
When initially developing a landscape lighting plan for a client, the most important step is to identify their goals. This requires a bit of client education so they can make an informed decision. Educating a client on the different lighting effects often results in a better sale for you and a more satisfied client. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your client consultations:
First, ask why they want landscape lighting. Is it for safety, entertaining at night, or street appeal? Learning these important priorities gives you an insight into how to satisfy their needs. If you don’t ask the right questions, you may miss important aspects of a person’s daily life. What if they strongly desire ambiance, and you focus safety? The backyard may have the bulk of the landscaping, but what about street appeal and ease-of-access? Are there interesting architectural features that should be highlighted? Or areas of the yard, such as a shed, that do not require accentuation? Sometimes what we do not illuminate can be just as important as what we do illuminate.
What about the budget? Remember, it’s not just the initial installation and material cost that needs to be considered, Maintenance and energy costs are also very important factors. For example, the 70-80% energy savings that comes with LED fixtures can save a lot of money in the long run, and increase what a client is willing to spend up front. Once you gain all this valuable information, a plan can be developed that balances budget, maintenance costs and desired effects. Don’t be afraid of offering a reasonable “phase in” process on a job that may exceed their initial budget. Identify the most desired feature and satisfy it first. Many clients add to their systems over time as they enjoy the usability of their nighttime landscape and the compliments from their friends.
Here is a quick checklist to help:
· What are the specific goals of the landscape lighting?
· Is there an area or object that has to be emphasized or deemphasized?
· What is the initial cost expectation?
· What are the expected maintenance costs?
· How important is energy cost?
· Would phasing in the project help close the deal?
As we help our clients enjoy their outdoor living spaces, remember that the easiest sale is a referral. And nothing leads to referrals like a well done landscape lighting job.