Just as we plant seeds in the earth and work hard for them to grow, the same can be said for customers. Consider you “planted the seed” of outdoor lighting when you put in an outdoor lighting system for them recently. However, just as your plants need water and sunlight to grow, your customer’s relationship with their outdoor lighting needs help for it to grow into something that isn’t just a one-off project. It needs tending to and maintenance just like anything else in order to reach its full potential. We asked Kevin Adams, Regional Leader, for his insight on leveraging landscape lighting agreements for additional and recurring sales for your business.
From: Kevin Adams
Landscape lighting is one of the fastest growing segments in the green industry, which means more projects are being completed than ever before and ultimately more product is being put in the ground. Now that your customer base is growing in this category you need to consider offering Landscape Lighting Maintenance Agreements. Landscape Lighting Maintenance Agreements are often overshadowed and overlooked, but don’t get caught up in the simplicity of modern LED lighting and assume maintenance agreements are unnecessary.
1. Why Offer a Maintenance Agreement?
Landscape lighting components are like any other product used in the landscape when it comes to upkeep. There is simple wear and tear, adjustments, replacements and more which we will touch on later. With everything we do it is always better to be proactive in our sales and service approach to be efficient and productive. If you wait for the customer to call it will always be a rush and inconvenient for you.
The more efficient and productive you become, the more profit and revenue you produce. By adding Landscape Lighting Maintenance Agreements, you start to diversify your company and you become a full-service contractor for your landscape lighting customers. When this happens, your customers know who to call when issues arise and you better position yourself during economic downturns. Landscape lighting maintenance agreements add another source of steady residual revenue to your company. That is sales you can count on year after year, much like spring and fall cleanups, irrigation startups and winterizations, your weekly mow and blow, etc.
So, I already know what you are thinking. Adding another source of revenue seems great, but I’m already struggling for staff and the current schedule my team is taking on is completely full. How can I possibly find time to add landscape lighting maintenance agreements to my portfolio?
2. Execute During Regular Visits
The beauty of landscape lighting maintenance agreements is the time it takes to complete the task as well as the timing to perform the tasks fits in with your existing schedules. You don’t need to hire anyone, buy another service truck or buy any tools. To add landscape lighting maintenance agreements, you should piggy back on your existing residual tasks and contracts. I have seen landscape lighting maintenance contracts come in many shapes and sizes and depending on your team and their skills you can work them many ways:
• Irrigation Companies – Offer a twice a year visit and coordinate those with your spring startups and winterizations (assuming your market deals with freeze and thaw). Warm climate irrigation companies pair them with your existing maintenance agreements.
• Spring and Fall Cleanups – Whether you are a full-service landscaper or mow and blow company, spring and fall cleanups are the perfect time to add lighting maintenance with your cleanups.
• Maintenance Companies – If fertilization or lawn maintenance is your specialty you have lots of options. The two-visit option is still available or due to your frequency of visits you could do much shorter visits 3-5 times per year.
3. What to Include in Regular Maintenance?
Now that we have figured out the why and the approach, let’s talk about time and money. To understand the time spent on these preventative maintenance calls you need to understand the tasks being completed. These tasks are extremely simple and quick, but crucial to the upkeep of the landscape lighting system. Below are nine items to add to your maintenance checklist:
- Check each light to make sure they are working
- Replace LED/Lamps if needed
- Clean lenses and remove them of any debris
- Straighten the fixture and shrouds
- Confirm the timer is working and accurate
- Check wire connections if necessary
- Trim trees/shrubs around fixtures (plants do grow…every year)
- Compare current voltage and amps to the original install
- Complete any necessary repairs and parts at additional cost
A typical 20 light one transformer system shouldn’t take more than twenty to thirty minutes assuming annual visits are taking place. When it comes time to price the maintenance agreements there are a lot of factors. I have seen landscape lighting service agreements range from simple single visit transformer checks for $50 all the way up to monthly visits with multiple transformer sites up to $1000+ annually on residential properties and even more for commercial sites.
4. Determining Packages & Price
First you need to determine what package best fits your customer base and utilizes the labor force you already have at your disposal. Here are some factors to consider:
- How many visits per year?
- How many transformers are on the site?
- How many fixtures are on the site?
- How large is the site?
- Did you install the system?
- Will you be offering discounts on service work to customers with Maintenance Agreements (these raise the price)?
Once you have pieced all the information together you then need to go out and sell. The easiest sell is to the newly installed homeowners. These customers have just made a large investment in their landscape lighting and need to protect that investment. Many contractors will not even install a lighting system without an annual maintenance agreement to ensure that the work their name is associated with always looks great. When selling a maintenance agreement:
- Explain the need of regular maintenance by reviewing your checklist
- Discuss and explain how and why issues arise
- Describe what unresolved issues can mean for the operation and efficiency of their lighting system
This is also a great time to review the warranty of the products and explain how regular site visits with a maintenance agreement will help ensure that you are more likely to catch any issues within the warranty period.
Another great sales opportunity is to reach out to your existing customer base who knows and trust you. I recommend sending information with your spring contract renewals—this allows you to showcase more of your services at one time and it makes for an easy add-on to your annual contracts.
Lastly, an excellent opportunity for showcasing your lighting services is by leveraging social media. Lighting is very visual and perfect for this medium. Show before and after photos, share tips and recommendations for lighting design, and offer how-to’s for preventing issues with regular maintenance. This will help establish you as an expert and allow you to continue to build your brand and name.
Rely on Central to help, whether that’s getting you back to basics, helping with an audio or lighting demo/installations, or sharing insight and recommendations on the newest technologies or design styles. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!
About Kevin Adams
Kevin Adams began his career in the Green Industry working at the counter and meeting with customers on the jobsite. During this time, he gravitated toward lighting and began participating and hosting lighting training and design–even traveling the Midwest giving hands-on training to industry professionals and contractors so that they could learn lighting basics, design, and selling to their customers. Now more than a decade later Kevin is an expert in the category, and well versed in the industry as a whole. Whether it’s a technical or design question, or helping source the right product for a special job, Kevin is ready to help you make money and grow your business.