Little Things that Make a BIG Difference

When it comes to running a successful business, we often focus on the big things: beautiful designs, quality fixtures, friendly and prompt customer service, etc. However, as important as those things are, there are also small things you can do to help your business thrive. Consider implementing these 5 little ideas, and see the big difference they can make in your business!

Develop a Marketing Strategy

Websites, magazines, direct mail, social media, AdWords… trying to decide when and where to advertise can be overwhelming! And, let’s face it, if you said yes to every marketing agency that called you, you wouldn’t have any money left. Be smart and develop a marketing plan. Figure out when you want to advertise and how much you want to spend, then stick to it. Consistency is key! If you’re only marketing when things are slow and stop marketing when it gets busy, your sales cycle will experience the roller coaster effect. Start marketing today and you’ll bring in those sales you need months down the road.  

Answer the Phone

Think about how much you spend just to get a single call to your business. With that in mind, it’s critical that you have someone there to answer the phone when it rings. You can have the best marketing plan in the world, but if you’re not able to handle answering the phones, you may be throwing away thousands of dollars every year. Consider hiring a receptionist or using a third-party answering service. It will be well worth the investment.

Follow Up

Never underestimate the importance of good communication. Follow up with your clients after your crew has completed their installation or service call. This can take a while, but every time you put yourself or your company in front of your client, it only strengthens that relationship. And following up with every sales call is a must! If you typically give a bid and wait for that potential client to call you back, chances are you are losing sales. Follow up as many times as it takes until they give you a firm yes or no.

Show Your Appreciation

After your work is completed and everything is done, go the extra mile and show your customer how much you appreciate their support. Consider sending gourmet chocolates, Edible Arrangements, a bottle of wine, or some other gift, thanking them for their business. These inexpensive gestures can go a long way.

Ask for Feedback

These days it seems like every receipt has a survey on the bottom. Customer feedback is a great way to help you improve your business, and reviews promote your business and build better leads. You can even use a third party company like Reputation Loop to generate online reviews, fast. The concept is simple: After you complete an installation, your customers receive a quick, easy survey. They respond to questions about their experience with your product/service and, if it’s positive, they’re asked to post a review online. So many customers check reviews before deciding which product or service they’ll go with, so don’t overlook the importance of good reviews!

Simplicity is the Key to Successful Lighting Design

If you’re in the business of outdoor lighting, you can sometimes feel like the man with the spinning plates at a carnival. In any given job, you have to balance an overwhelming number of variables: the exact placement of each and every fixture, the style of the lights, the installation team’s work orders, marketing and advertising for your business, providing customer service, trade alliance management, and more! The last thing you need is an unnecessary complication that screws up a simple task. For instance, we can all relate to how frustrating it is to send a service technician on an hour drive across town to fix a minor issue, only to have him turn around because he doesn’t have the right part.

When we used a variety of insert LED bulbs, that problem would happen constantly. To suit our homeowners’ needs, we had to carry three different types of 200 lumen bulbs – narrow, wide, and very wide beam spread. We also had three bulbs for the 400 lumen bulbs, and we were brave enough (or dumb enough), to have a 600 lumen LED bulb that had three different types as well. That meant that each truck had to be stocked with a minimum of 9 different LED mr16 bulbs at all times. We then had to deal with updating inventory whenever manufacturers upgraded the bulbs, which was an additional challenge.

To complicate it even further, we also offered 3000k, 2700k, and 4500k bulbs. Our trucks looked like the light bulb aisle at Home Depot! Couple this with the fact that many of our homeowners needed halogen bulbs, the G4, bayonet single and double contact, and a variety of other specialty bulbs, it was all too easy to slip up and send a guy out unprepared. As a business, we needed to focus on providing great service and landing new jobs, so the amount of time wasted on these repair trips was maddening.

Our solution to this nightmare was to simplify. We did this by creating a fixture that was as close to perfect as possible. We spent many long nights with our engineers designing an LED fixture that does not fail, and we are very proud of how well it performs. However, we all know that there will be times when a service call is needed, but those service calls are a whole lot easier with this ideal fixture. The SL01 Up Light LED insert has five different brightness settings and five different beam spread settings. That’s like carrying 25 different LED inserts in a single box! With a long-lasting bulb and an incredibly versatile replacement insert, we accomplished our goal of simplifying a complicated issue in a way that would make repairs easier for lighting technicians.

What we didn’t expect was that this simplification didn’t just make repairs easier, but it also made installations easier. In the past, when we had a homeowner who wanted their system a little brighter after the install was finished, we would have to change out every bulb. We then ended up with tons of spare light bulbs rolling around in our trucks. Now, we’re able to make that change with the flip of a switch inside the fixture! How much simpler can it get?

This solution is also a win for homeowners. When we’re consulting on a design, we can comfort them by explaining that we can easily change the brightness or beam spread after the install. We can even adjust brightness over the years as their trees grow and the appearance of the lighting system is altered.

In business and design, we always try to keep things simple, so you can focus less on service calls and stocking your trucks and more on growing your business and providing excellent service to your customers.

Patrick Harders