Selecting the right contractor for your projects' needs is not as easy as it seems. While there's not a shortage of companies claiming they are qualified for stage lighting design or installation, these same companies may not be equipped to handle the scope or size of your project. Let’s take a look at how to choose the right stage lighting contractor for your needs.
Search via Google & Investigate
The Search. The first step is to open up your browser and go to Google. Let's first understand what Google displays when you search a phrase. Google's results appear in 3 major elements— Ads, Places, and Organic. Ads are a paid way businesses promote themselves and are shown first to anyone searching for a product or service related to what they offer. Places displays the top 3-4 businesses in your area, known as local listings, and are based off distance to your location. Organic is a free listing area that appears because the business is similar to what you're searching for and/or has similar content to the phrase you have searched. They are displayed underneath the Ads and Places sections.
Okay so— you've entered the phrase "stage lighting contractor near me" or "stage lighting contractor (your town or state name)" and the results load. Check out the Ads area and scan over the businesses' descriptions. Keep in mind, ads aren't always relevant to your search. If you see a business that tickles your fancy, click on the result to open their website. If not, scroll down to Places.
Places displays the company's ratings, website, phone number, and location on the map. As previously stated, these are displayed in order of distance so the best stage lighting contractor may not be shown just yet. If you see a contractor with a high rating and a good amount of reviews, click the result to investigate more. To explore more options, click "More places".
If your search includes the phrase "near me", the organic section will most likely display digital marketplaces such as Angi, HomeAdvisor, or Yelp first. These are platforms that assist with home services near your location. While these may show you decent results, these are paid listings and sometimes may not even be relevant to your search. For example, when we search "stage lighting contractor near me", we see listings on these platforms for street lighting, outdoor lighting, and recessed lighting. Definitely not what we want!
The Investigation. You've selected a possible contender to look into further. Let's check out their Google Business Profile first. You can do this by clicking their listing in Places or by doing another search of just the company's name. Look at their images via their profile to verify they perform work in relation to your project and to see their quality of work. It's not a good sign when they don't update their images often since it represents their portfolio. If they haven't updated in over a year, maybe they aren't so busy. Red flag!
Read their reviews and see what the others are saying about them. Reviews help better your understanding of how the company is with their clients and also furthers their credibility and social proof. However, don't be discouraged if there aren't many reviews since this is a niche business to search for.
Next, click their website linked within their profile. If it's not there, red flag. Take into consideration your first impression of their website. A website is the online face of a business. Is it modern? Is it updated with new project images? Does it have a clear description of what they offer? Do they have testimonials? How's their grammar and writing? Don't forget to look around the site to find their electrical license or proof of certification. Many companies can pass off as stage lighting contractors without ever being certified in the electrical field. This is an absolute necessity. Lastly, it should be easy to contact them whether their information is in the footer of the site, they have a contact page, or if they have contact forms.
If you think you've found your company, reach out via email with a detailed description of your project to request a quote or simply give them a call. Remember, you don't have to reach out to just one and you don't have to accept the first offer!
The Lowest Price is Not Always the Best Deal
We get it. A company can offer everything you were looking for and more, but the price is ultimately the deciding factor. There are certain things you can cheap out on, but your stage lighting project is not one of them. High quality work and equipment can last up to 30 years, while low quality work and cheap equipment can last to around 3.
Review the proposal and equipment being installed. If you are purchasing a console, check to see if it's from a high-end manufacturer. ETC and Strand are state-of-art companies for these type of theatrical systems. A reputable stage lighting contractor will be a dealer for either or both of these brands.
The Highest Price is Not Always the Best Deal
You've received a few quotes. You don't want to pick the lowest because you want the best quality. But know you don't have to pick the highest for the best quality. Many contractors take advantage of those who aren't familiar with the industry.
Some contractors charge extra for services like the design and engineering processes. They outsource architects and designers and charge extra for their services while other contractors already have them as apart of their team. We advise you to break down their proposal and do further research on the cost of each line. We've had clients who told us the competitor's design fee alone was the total cost of our entire proposal.
As a lighting company for almost three decades, we have heard from our clients the good, bad, and the ugly truths of finding the right contractors. If you're in need of a stage lighting contractor with high quality service and equipment with budget friendly costs, give us a call. If you are not in our area of service, we'd be happy to guide you in the right direction.