Jan. 16 2012 09:36 AM

When initially developing a landscape lighting plan for your clients, the most important step is to identify their goals. This often requires a bit of client education, so they can make an informed decision. Educating your client about the different lighting effects often results in a better sale for you and a more satisfied client as they enjoy their new landscape lighting system. So, let’s get started.

Why do they want landscape lighting? Is it for safety, entertaining at night, or street appeal? Learning these important priorities gives you an insight as to 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 intimate evening dining and you talk only of 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? Perhaps there are areas of the yard, such as a shed, that do not require accentuation. Those dark areas will disappear when the rest of the landscape is illuminated. Often, what we do not illuminate is as important as what we do.

Now, what is the budget? Remember, it’s not just the initial cost, you must also factor in maintenance and energy costs. Did you mention the 70 to 80% energy savings available by utilizing LED technology? Once you gain all this valuable information, a plan can be developed that balances budget, maintenance costs and desired effect. 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 use 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.

EDITOR’S NOTE: James Helms is product manager at FX Luminaire.