Where once there might have been a rivalry for business, today there are more mutually beneficial partnerships.
If a lighting store has talented lighting designers on staff, a good electrician can become a savvy business partner. According to business consultant Allen Ray of Allen Ray Associates in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, showrooms that seek out the electricians used by the large custom home builders or even the large tract builders have a solid opportunity to increase their margins.
With planned communities and those built on spec, the amenities that are chosen to outfit the home could make or break the sale. Therefore, consulting with professional lighting designers is a practice that is mutually profitable for both the builder (who can command more for his houses) and the showroom (which receives steady business from the builder and presumably the end-consumer over time).
In the luxury home sector – which is nearly 100 percent comprised of small and local custom builders – the home buyers have a lot of input into the lighting fixtures throughout the entire house. Sitting down with the builder to go over the minute details of the plans is expected and a consultation with a lighting designer to determine their needs and wants for the lighting is more common.
The developments in LED lighting are occurring so rapidly that even people in the lighting business have trouble keeping up. Builders have so many different materials and structural concerns to keep track of that anything more than perhaps switching out incandescents for CFLs is often beyond their expertise. Electricians also have a tough time staying abreast of the latest breakthroughs in LED lighting and all of the various ways it can enhance residential use beyond recessed lights (i.e. under- and inside cabinets, toekicks, niches and coves, artwork, media rooms, landscape and outdoor entertainment areas, color-changing capabilities, controls via smart phone apps, and the difficulties that can arise with dimming). “You can do a lot of with LED that you can’t do with incandescent – particularly if the homeowner wants to achieve certain effects,” Ray explains.
Encouraging the homeowner to sit down with a lighting designer who can explain the cutting-edge products and expertly present them with a lighting plan that truly enhances their quality of life in their new home pays off for the builder, the electrician, the lighting showroom, and the consumer.
In addition, all of the attention being paid to energy efficiency and “green building” has created a market for energy-conscious home buyers, according to Ray. In many cases, energy audits can be done an entire home before the builder has even broken ground. Either way, lighting showrooms can provide the information that consumers need to do a cost comparison on how much energy can be saved by opting for certain lighting choices. Light bulb manufacturers can easily supply lighting showrooms with data that the home buyer can keep for reference.
There is ample opportunity for builders, electricians, and lighting showrooms to work together in providing their customers with custom-tailored home plans that will add value to their new home while being profitable for everyone involved.