If you are a contractor and do not yet offer lighting for your projects, you may want to investigate adding it to your services. Before you embark on this new venture, here are some steps to follow that can help with your decision:
Find a mentor. A mentor can help you understand what to expect by sharing their professional expertise and offering guidance and recommendations. Professional organizations often have mentors available, as does the Small Business Administration.
Consider costs. If you are currently a contractor, your startup costs could be rather minimal. More than likely, you own many of the tools to get started. Adding lighting to your website and truck logos would be a minimal cost. In the startup phase, keep inventory low. Typically, your local distributor will have enough inventory on hand for you to at least start a job. Keeping your initial costs low helps you make profit faster.
There are many opinions on advertising, so these are just the tip of the iceberg. Social media is a great and low-cost option to get your name out there. You may want to investigate some local business groups, like Rotary Club or your chamber of commerce. By becoming a member, you may have the opportunity to speak about your company and all your services.
Assess your competition. It is important to know who is performing landscape lighting services in your area. Research other lighting companies and check out their process and service areas. This can help you find opportunities and formulate a game plan.
It is a good practice to always show respect for your competitors. At some point, you may want to introduce yourself to them. There is always a possibility of becoming friendly competitors. You may need each other’s help some day.
Research licensing. Be sure to check out any additional license requirements. In many areas, an irrigation contractor’s license allows for the installation of electrical at 30 volts and below. Several states allow only a licensed electrician to install low-voltage landscape lighting, while other states have a special low-voltage license. This is the same license that Wi- Fi and communication contractors carry.
Because all states have different requirements, you should find out the license requirements relevant in your area.
Research certifications. There are several organizations that can help you become certified as a landscape lighting technician or a landscape lighting designer.
The Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals offers training and certification courses to become a Certified Low Voltage Lighting Technician or a Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer. The International Landscape Lighting Institute offers an intensive course created by world-renowned landscape lighting designer Janet Lennox Moyer.
Seek proper training. Seeking proper training is a great way to break into the business. Many landscape lighting manufacturers and distributors offer in-field and classroom training. Look for training that includes more than just product knowledge. While product knowledge is important, when you are new to landscape lighting it is best to find a class that offers the basics, as well as hands-on training.
A good training class will teach design and installation techniques. Some partners may even accompany you on your first night demo and installation.
The landscape lighting business is one of dedication and passion. If you are already a contractor in the green industry, consider offering landscape lighting to your clients.
Kevin Smith is the national technical support and trainer at Brilliance LED LLC, Carefree, Arizona, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.