Is FREE, Really FREE?



You receive offers all the time with that amazing one word attached to it: FREE. It’s so enticing! Everyone wants something for nothing, but are you actually getting something for “free”? You are bombarded with offers every day and probably ever hour if you really think about it. Some might include, ‘buy one, get one free’, free 30-day trial, free tickets, free gym memberships, free sample, free design, and more. But have you ever wondered why you are always requested to purchase something before or after utilizing the ‘free’ product or service? This process and marketing tactic doesn’t normally mean ‘FREE’ literally. In other words, to determine if a product or service is really free, as the consumer, you would not be required to purchase anything in return from the provider. However, if you do make a purchase, the cost of the ‘free’ product or service would be included in your purchase.

Usually when the word FREE is used, it is meant to serve as a catalyst for a customer to purchase something this is NOT free. It helps draw customer’s interest into your service offering and from there learn more about what you are actually offering. A free estimate or consultation may actually be free, but a Free Design, probably is only” Free” if you choose to move forward with the project and implement the plan. Our parent company Southern Exposure Landscape Management explains Why do quality landscape and lighting companies charge for their designs in our blog?

As a customer, I know how much I’m affected by the word Free and have put some thought into what we could offer our customers along these same lines. I quickly realized we are actually giving a lot away for free: 20+ years experience, advice, design tips and consultations, how to and troubleshooting blogs through our website, and more. I understand our market is becoming more competitive by the day and my competitors and advertisers utilize virtually any tool they can to promote sales. There’s no shame in offering more to your customers as long as there’s not a “bait and switch”. Treating our customers fairly and giving them more than they pay for has always been our goal.

In the outdoor lighting industry, the commonly offered ‘free’ services include demonstration and consultation. And what amazes me is the fact that some property owners actually believe these services are actually free. A ‘free’ consultation, involves discussing several topics in detail such as the actual design of the lighting system which is not a 10 minute conversation but much more time consuming. A ‘Free’ demonstration, can include the use of a good amount of materials such as transformers, wire, fixtures, connections, and more to give clients a good understanding of the quality equipment the lighting installer plans to use and what actually makes them different than every other landscaper offering landscape lighting. The time and effort this takes to go through the dog and pony show for every estimate greatly cuts into your time selling and installing new systems. So, do you think that lighting installer added the cost of that free design or demo into the estimate they’ve provided you? You better believe it. If a lighting company is to continue offering labor extensive services for Free, how long will it take for them to either realize they are putting themselves out of business, or just greatly reducing their profitability? Hopefully not very long.

Obviously, there is no other way to bill for these so-called ‘free’ demonstration or ‘free’ consultation than through adding additional cost into every new sale. A portion of that purchase price goes towards those free services and is applied to the cost of the new system. In other words, the actual cost of the free demonstration has been converted into the cost of installing a landscape lighting system. So is free really free?  You be the judge.

Located in Summerfield, NC Southern Lights- Architectural and Landscape Lighting serves properties and property management companies throughout the state of NC including Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Charlotte, High Point, Jamestown, Burlington, Reidsville, Oak Ridge, Brown Summit, etc.

Southern Lights has installed hundreds of outdoor landscape lighting systems and carries more certifications than anyone in the state. With attention to detail and a solid knowledge of design, Southern Lights is the leading outdoor landscape lighting firm in the state of NC. See why our clients choose us. Contact us today by web (online form) or phone 336-451-4969.

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