1. Buy from reputable, reliable manufacturers. Reliable manufacturers have high standards of production. They respond promptly and accurately to all queries. Price lists and product specifications are clear and complete. They deliver on time. When the lights arrive on site, they are exactly what was ordered, in the right quantities and finishes, and not broken. Their products are legal and safe. They deal quickly and efficiently with aftersales issues. Spare parts remain available. Etcetera. Dealing with companies that are not reliable is guaranteed to lead to avoidable, and so unnecessary, problems (and time wasting).
In particular, additional costs will be incurred if there are problems when the goods arrive, or during their intended life. This erodes value for money.
2. Buy from reputable, reliable manufacturers, because their lights will almost always represent very good value.
Margins are so tight in lighting that even well-established companies have difficulty surviving. This is because:
a. customers expect lights to be cheap -- in the UK, the only places that lights can be bought are Ikea, department stores and DIY sheds
b. manufacturers expect intense price pressure, so they set low prices in the first place (which is why further reductions are difficult)
c. since all projects run late and over budget, and the lights go in last, any spending cuts tend to be made to the lighting (or that's how it seems to us!)
d. lighting manufacturers are small, and because of the low margins, their marketing budgets can only be tiny. So nobody knows the brands. Yet most goods that command healthy margins are purchased because of the brand -- cars, perfume, handbags, kitchens….
3. Go to the right manufacturer for a project.
a. If you are doing hotels in Japan, you want a manufacturer who understands the local cultural, logistical and technical issues
b. If providing the lighting for ships or yachts, there are so many issues (some obvious, some not so obvious) that we recommend only going to suppliers who have successfully done them before.
Getting these things wrong can result in considerable, costly delays and in unplanned expenditure = poor value for money.
Note: this series of posts builds up into a single Briefing, a PDF of which is downloadable here: A Briefing on Value for Money when Purchasing for Hotels.