By now you’ve heard many success stories from boutiques that have partnered with other nearby businesses to mutually expand their clientele. There are obvious opportunities – such as cross-promotion with kitchen and bath galleries or interior design firms – but at the recent ALA Conference, award-winning lighting designer and featured speaker Peter Romaniello, LC, of Conceptual Lighting shared a lucrative collaboration that has considerably bolstered his business.

“High-end clients are a market that not enough lighting showrooms pursue,” he told his seminar audience. “I hear a lot of concern [from lighting showroom owners] about pricing, but when you’re working with [upper-end] clientele, if you can demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about, and they believe you, they will pay for that expertise.”

The best plan of action is to partner with other contractors who attract those types of clients. “I’ve been doing a lot of [lighting] education for high-end integrators of AV systems,” explained Peter, who also attended an AV convention this year to stay on top of what is trending. “They understand about selling from a systems approach as well as selling intangible products,” he noted. Both lighting and audio-visual products are about the effects that they provide rather than the product themselves.

Even more important, according to Peter, is that AV integrators are seeking training in lighting and are beginning to sell lighting as add-ons to their business. “Not only do they understand how these systems work, they’re enthusiastic about it.” When selling AV systems to clients, the integrators bring the customers into a room where they can experience the benefits for themselves. This is another reason why Peter has been emphasizing the importance of retooling or revamping lighting labs in showrooms to do a similar demonstration with examples of color-tuning and lighting effects.

“The AV industry is like its own island because it’s so technical, but guess what, lighting is also technical,” he points out. In the audience was an employee from manufacturer American Lighting, which exhibited at the CEDIA Show (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) several months ago. “The interest in our product there was overwhelming,” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of growth in that category.”

Peter asked the seminar attendees, “How many AV firms or architects in your area know where your showroom is or have walked in?” With a lot of these AV and electronics systems becoming integrated with other aspects of the home (i.e. smart devices), lighting showrooms would be wise to seek out these specialized, high-end professionals to offer lighting expertise and collaborative opportunities. Learn more about smart products and the market opportunities they present in this issue.