Whether you’re a contractor or a homeowner, it’s often easy to think of LED lamps for landscape lighting as something that can just be picked up cheaply at the nearest big box store. But when it comes to the products on offer as well as supplier support, buying these efficient, versatile lamps directly from the manufacturer has plenty of benefits.
Buying from a big box might be easier overall on protecting your revenue, but the difference in quality and available options will be apparent to clients, says Tom Garber, CEO of EmeryAllen, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Garber adds that some contractors charge premium prices for fixture installation but use inexpensive lamps, which he says is the equivalent of buying a luxury car and fitting it with low-quality tires.
“It’s all what’s inside that counts,” says Garber. “That’s what you’re selling and that’s what the customer sees and all of that. If you’re doing a good job with your landscape lighting, people aren’t going to be able to see where the light source is coming from. People aren’t going to see the fixture; they’re going to see the effect. What are you doing sticking a substandard lamp in one of these fixtures? I don’t get it.”
One of the primary benefits of buying directly from the manufacturer or OEM lamps through distribution is the support that backs the product, says James Cervantes, senior product manager, lighting controls at FX Luminaire, San Marcos, California.
“You’re going to have that quality as well as that support, so you know exactly where those LEDs are coming from, you know exactly who’s making those,” he says. When lamps are specifically chosen for the fixtures and purchased directly from manufacturers, contractors will get a well-designed, efficient, consistent color output.
You’re going to have that quality as well as that support, so you know exactly
where those LEDs are coming from, you know exactly who’s making those.
– James Cervantes, FX Luminaire
One of the key things that many contractors would expect from working with a manufacturer is enhanced support for troubleshooting issues. Cervantes adds that support can come in many forms beyond just that.
“Support could be education,” he says. “For example, if a contractor says, ‘Hey, I have this particular application; which lamp should I use? Which color temperature should I use? What’s going to look best? What fixture should I use? With that fixture, what lamp type would go along with it?’”
Even with that education in place, an installation isn’t always going to go smoothly. That’s when having the manufacturer at your back will make the difference. If you’re having issues with the light not turning on or with design when it comes to voltage drop or area coverage, that goes back to choosing the correct lamp for the job, he says. Having that field support through the distributor and sales representatives can provide the needed details without more trial and error on the contractor’s part. “If there are any questions or additional support needed, you have our sales team there to help out the contractor.”
Other benefits include precision and quality that really separate OEM lamps from the competition, says Kevin Smith, national technical support and trainer at Brilliance LED, Carefree, Arizona. That precision is opening a whole new world of opportunity for landscape lighting contractors to really get down to the most specific illumination.
“I think what they’re [landscape lighting contractors] trying to do is get very precise with what they’re illuminating,” says Smith. The quality of OEM lamps allows contractors to achieve this.
“Before, some people would just take some light and they would take a 4-watt or a 5-watt lamp and throw it up on a wall and call it a day. Now, what they’re trying to do is they’re really looking into the facets of the job. It’s lighting up some certain smaller plants that lead to more dimension of the whole property. You have that professional contractor who’s really dialing it in and making the landscape look like jewelry, where the others are just installing stuff.”
Garber says the lamps really lend themselves to intentionality, a crucial element of any landscape lighting design. “We develop everything from scratch for a particular application,” he says.
When it comes to any apprehension that a client might have about shelling out a few more shekels on a higher-quality lamp, Smith says the key is always to help the client see value in what’s being provided.
“You have to sell them on the value,” says Smith. A contractor can tell the client that because of their relationship with manufacturers, the value of what they offer is similar to a white glove service. “Let’s say it’s a nice job on a moderate home. Obviously, those clients are going to have a little bit of money, but they could ask that question, ‘Why should we spend more?’” Offering a white glove service might mean offering system maintenance at a minimal charge or free before a party for the first year after installation, so paying for the more reliable system comes with the additional promise of extra service.
Smith offers a final thought on ensuring customers understand the value of offering the highest quality service, from the fixture to the lamp to ongoing maintenance.
“Doing the white glove is also thinking out of the box,” Smith says. “Everyone can get complacent. Everybody can get into a rut. Being remarkable is something that people are going to be talking about.
If you’re trying to make things better for clients, and you’re showing them that you care, it shows them they matter.