Profit Boost Guide: Landscape lighting

Supplement - Profit Boost Guide

Artistry with light improves any home and business budget.

March 5, 2013
Peter Hildebrandt

Virginia Outdoor Lighting owner, Jason Holder finds people either want outdoor lighting or they don’t. Lighting is the sole work that Holder does.

He works with other landscapers who allow him to work with their clients because Holder has been an expert in the landscape lighting business for eight years. “Their jobs go much better with my help,” Holder says. “When my clients – who are all high end – want something done landscaping-wise, I refer them back to the guys that have helped me.”

This is a win-win situation. Holder is involved with the latest technology so the other landscapers defer to him every time. “There is also a lot of artwork to this,” Holder says. “Your paintbrush is your lights so you have to know what light to use where and how, as well as when to use softer lighting.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea to defer to an expert regarding landscape lighting; an expert at lighting does that best and a landscaper does the work he does best. This mutually benefits each of them. There is a lot more to this than sticking lights in the ground and driving off.”

Holder has three full-time lighting employees; that’s all they do every day. “I would think that a homeowner would want an expert doing this work,” Holder says. “I don’t want a general practitioner doing my root canal work. I want a lighting guy doing my lighting work.”

A huge beautiful house is not required for landscape lighting. Trees and landscaping can be done with lighting. Holder considers this artwork but he doesn’t need a big canvas.

Darrin Selking, owner of Landscape Illumination in Valparaiso, Ind., has been in business so long that a lot of his business comes from referrals. They do some home and garden shows every year, some direct mailings in targeted areas and some ads with Google Adworks. Their business serves the Chicago area, northern Indiana and up into Michigan.

“Our lighting is usable year round,” Selking says. “The wintertime is the darkest time of the year. With people leaving for work when it’s dark and getting home after the sun has set, the lighting becomes not only aesthetic but also useful for security. The lights burn the snow off. Lighting in the snow is unbelievable; it really makes everything sparkle.”

If lighting is done right, you can handle security issues with aesthetics. The view from inside the house at night extends the view out into the distance. “Lighting can take the ordinary and make it extraordinary,” Selking says.

“A lot of people feel that they can’t afford it, thinking it’s more for expensive houses. But we do an awful lot of work on basic houses. Lighting can really take it to the next level. Basic landscaping and five lights can actually be quite dramatic.”

Landscape Illumination works with other landscapers as part of their business, but they also stand alone too. Not everyone is getting their homes landscaped every year, so this service can fill the gap.

They do work with several large landscapers including one of the best in the area. “With our company, we stand alone in that maybe they did their landscaping five years ago or 10 years ago, yet they’ve always wanted lighting. We can fill that void.

“With word of mouth, 13 years in the business and a constant stream of new technology and new designs, we’ve made our business work. In the normal part of the season, we have seven employees and we also do holiday lighting from October through December.”

They start up their regular lighting work in February and March and then are solid through the rest of the year. Everything they use is LED, which is mainstream and will use virtually any power source as well as having a 15-year manufacturers’ warranty.


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