by Lani Furbank
The phrase “buy local” is becoming a major buzz word in the food community: There are now more farm-to-table restaurants than you can count, and business is booming at farmers markets. This movement is great for the local economy, and we believe that it should extend well beyond food. We think everyone should buy local lighting!
Buying “local lighting” might sound like a foreign concept, but as a consumer, it’s important to understand that not all lighting companies are locally and independently owned. Many of them are franchises of a larger company with headquarters – including lead decision-makers regarding products and installation methods – far, far away.
We want to spread the word on why it’s better – for your wallet, your house, and your community – to buy from a local and independent lighting company.
5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Local Lighting
1. There’s no middleman.
When you do business directly with an independent licensed contractor, you’re cutting out the redundancies in the process. You’re hiring a contractor for a service, he gets it done, and you pay for it.
In the franchise system, the person you are working with has to go through a middleman to do the job. This not only results in a sharing of profits (we’ll explain why this is a problem later), but it can also result in inefficiencies or lag time. It’s much easier and more efficient to work directly with a local business instead of a branch of a franchise.
2. Better quality products installed with refined artistry.
In most franchise systems, individual owners are limited by the restrictions enforced by the franchisor. The biggest limitation is the choice of products. Franchisors set an approved list of vendors or product lines that their franchisees can use, and usually, this list only contains one or two options. Being limited to lower quality fixtures, is unfortunate for the franchise owner, but even more so for the consumer who has to the final product on their property.
Being stifled by these requirements made our owner Patrick (formerly associated with a franchise system) desire the freedom to choose the exact fixture and light source that would create the look and feel, appropriate for each unique project. He didn’t want to sacrifice quality. Patrick started Enlightened Lighting, and began researching and honing his fixture criteria and selection process. His devotion to finding the perfect fixture led to designing a new line of fixtures for Sterling Lighting, ensuring that the lighting schemas he created contained the highest quality and best designed fixtures made with precision.
3. More experience and expertise.
You might be surprised to learn that a franchise owner is often only required to go through two days of training before they can purchase a franchise and open for business. This means that anyone can take a 10-12 hour course to learn the basics of lighting design and then charge you the same price that a professional with decades of experience could charge.
Because of this, many franchise owners are learning on the job as they go. Everyone has to start somewhere, but as a homeowner, you probably don’t want your contractor to be using your lighting project as their guinea pig. Even if a franchise owner shows you his portfolio, you should still be wary. Any work done in the entire franchise system can be claimed as that individual franchisee’s work. So, the person standing in front of you may not have actually been involved in any of the pristine, picture-perfect projects that are displayed in the glossy pages of his advertising brochure.
Alternatively, when you choose an independent contractor there’s a good chance that he is passionate about his work and has years of experience working with other professionals to hone these skills and create artistically designed landscape lighting projects.
4. Your money stays in your community.
One of the biggest advantages of working with a local and independent business is that your money stays in your community. In the franchise system, 8-10% of every penny you pay is sent back to the franchisor, most likely in a remotely-located headquarters. What’s more, a franchisee relies on the franchisor for everything from marketing to distribution, so all of these services are being outsourced outside your local community. On the other hand, an independent business owner typically works with other local, independent businesses to accomplish their day-to-day operations. So, you can feel good about supporting your local business economy by patronizing an independent business.
5. More competitive rates, while compensating employees well.
When a business owner doesn’t need to pass along 10% of his profits to a parent company, the customers and the employees benefit. Franchise owners have to charge their clients higher rates – or use lower quality products – in order to stay profitable. Independent owners can do the same size project and use better quality products while simultaneously charging you less. An independent business owner can share benefits with his employees and can pay them more because his budget has more flexibility.
Just as you might choose to buy from a local farmers market or support a local artisan, you should keep your lighting business local, too. At Enlightened Lighting, we appreciate your business and we do our best to give back to the community that supports us!