Mr. Bill Locklin, the inventor of 12v landscape lighting, used to deliver seminars on his craft. During the design portion of his seminar, his instructions were to always ask ourselves “Why light?” when visiting a potential client.
Why light? Why did the client call me here? What are we trying to accomplish? In most cases, the potential client has no specifics on what they are looking for in a lighting system. I am sure you’ve heard it many times, “I do not want my property to look like Disneyland” … or “like an airport runway!”
One of the biggest mistakes a contractor can make is to just drop off a lighting manufacturer’s catalog and advise the client to “pick out what you like and I’ll install it”. We’ve all done it, but clients need our guidance. In our eagerness to make the sale, we forget to ask, “Why light?” While the fixture install may go smoothly, the result is not always acceptable to the client—because we forgot to ask what they were looking to accomplish.
Our advice to you: carry a notepad and pencils, ask “Why light?”, and keep the client talking until you have a clear understanding of their lifestyle and how they plan to use outdoor spaces once they are professionally illuminated.
Is the client looking for lighting to beautify an area? Are they looking for safety and security? Are the spaces public or private? Are there special lighting needs for this client? These questions (and others) are all important to ask before a true lighting system is to be designed and installed.
Public spaces such as front yards may need more dramatic illumination to show off the architecture. Backyards are typically more private areas, and the client may ask for a calmer and warmer effect. Lighting can create the mood or destroy it.
Your client will tell you how they feel about light if you ask them. This will set you apart from the “10 light set” installers. With your skill, you should have no trouble designing a lighting system if you are asking the right questions.
Finally, you can also consult with your lighting manufacturer of choice for additional lighting design expertise and product guidance if needed.
Remember: Always ask “Why light?”