Keeping the passion

A nighttime adjustment for focus, a grand reveal and walkthrough, as well as a prepared maintenance plan are essential when installing a new landscape lighting system.

When I first began my interest in landscape lighting in the mid-‘90s, I ended up being called a “lighting weirdo” by my bride. I was always bringing home some new fixture or lamp to try.

Even on family vacations with the kids, I always found a way to sneak in some demo equipment just in case I found different plant material or architecture to light. I would try different lighting techniques at many of the motels, rest areas and campgrounds we visited. Sometimes I was even aided by our children. If I saw a tilted path light or an up light facing the wrong way, I found myself reaching for my multitool for a quick repair. I developed a true passion for landscape lighting that is still with me today.

Most of us in the industry have been very busy the last two years. The need to expedite installations may have led you to adopt some time-saving protocols to get the job done. That daily grind can numb us from the passion we had when we first got started.

When you share your knowledge and experience, you can change someone’s life for the better.

Get out of your comfort zone

It can be easy to get complacent. Maybe we get used to working with the same product or the same design aspects. To get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself to gain new knowledge.

I can recall when I first started in this business, I visited a contractor on a job site. He showed me his down lighting applications and there was a light blue lens in the fixture.

He explained that this would take the warm halogen look and create a cooler, moonlight effect. I found this very intriguing and had to try it myself. I liked it so much that it became a part of my design arsenal. During the halogen days, I experimented with many different lens styles and incorporated them in designs.

In the last 6-7 years, smart lighting and controls have become more popular. Setting up these systems is different than standard landscape lighting systems. The effects of these systems can be incredible and can set you apart from competitors. Learn how to apply these systems from the manufacturer of your choice. Most have proficient tech departments to provide the correct information on how to begin offering these systems to your clients. Consult with Wi-Fi and smart home professionals for guidance. While these systems can challenge your skills, they are extremely rewarding.

Public speaking

Having vast experience in your field is something to share. You can also gain high-end clients. Years ago, a young contractor told me that he was having problems selling new jobs. I suggested that he advertise for offering landscape lighting maintenance and repair services. A few nights later, he attended a chamber of commerce member mixer. As a new member, he introduced himself and shared with the group how he specialized in maintenance and repair of lighting systems. He ended up getting 20 calls a few days after. If you are not familiar with public speaking, a good way to educate yourself is through Toastmasters International.

Educate others

Many people today are looking for an interesting career path and yearn for something other than an office job. I know of many contractors who have taken other people under their wing and taught them the business. When you share your knowledge and experience, you can change someone’s life for the better. You are also doing a tremendous service to your community.

A good way to start this is to investigate the Job Corps program. This program helps young people get on a career path. Who knows, you may find the person you can sell your business to in the future. Coaching someone only helps the industry improve and it keeps your legacy alive.

Your passion is what makes you remarkable. Sharing it will keep you out of life’s ruts.

Kevin Smith is the national technical support and trainer at Brilliance LED, Carefree, Arizona, and can be reached via email.

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