By Constantine Pergantis, Nite Lites, North Potomac, MD

There are many ways to convince your client that he or she would benefit from outdoor landscape lighting. Most people have seen some form of landscape lighting at someone's home, exotic resorts, vacation or theme-park settings. Pictures are also good tools, but as they say, "seeing is believing."

When I first started in this business, l did not have the luxury of driving potential customers by very many of my jobs, so I was forced to bring samples to their homes and demonstrate the effects at night. It was difficult to work all day and then do demonstrations at night— but it finally paid off. I have never had to take back a fixture after the client saw it perform. I have had to add light, as most of you have done, because the customer found more places to light.

By showing the effects, you get away from the how-much-does-one-fixture-cost syndrome. Remember to stay with the idea of a systems approach installed by a professional. When the client starts to visualize the full effect, you can give a combined price for the whole job. It sounds so much better to say $ 1,000 to $3,000 for a system, rather than $75 for one light.

Some helpful hints:
Have a 300-watt transformer (to operate five to 10 lights) and 100 feet of low-voltage cable to properly demonstrate a few fixtures simultaneously: a couple of path fixtures; MR 16-spot; par 36-spot; and deck fixtures, if needed.
Great items to keep in your truck at all times are paint-color samples. Contact any fixture manufacturer. I am sure they will send you samples. This is usually better than looking at a picture. This will also help you be more creative and keep your installations different.
Have a variety of wattage lamps. Sometimes just changing the wattage or beam spread will make a major difference in the effect.
Make sure it is pitch dark—not dusk—when you do your lighting demonstration. This will enable you to get the full effect. Turn off all other lighting, if possible, so the client can see that your low-voltage is strong enough to do the job.

When you get the correct placement during the demonstration, use a marking flag (inexpensive and great advertising) to mark the spot for installation. It also helps to use the flags during the day to help visualize the quantity and placement of the fixtures.

After you sign the contract (with a deposit, you hope!), make the customer aware that you will need to adjust the final installation. You might need to fine tune it by adding, or even removing, a light or two. Leave some time in your estimate for nighttime positioning and extra fixtures if needed. And don't forget the insect repellent!

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