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View Full Version : Extreme Slow Period


Chris J
08-10-2007, 09:06 PM
Are any of you experiencing significant decreases in sales at this point in the year? Florida's home sales market is very soft, but I don't know if I am ready to blame this market for our 2nd and 3rd quarter decline just yet. I've talked to some other lighting contractors in the Florida market, and they are telling me the same story....very slow these days.
My instinct tells me that it is just the extreme amount of "so called" competitors coming into the market. Companies such as landscape maintenance, Irrigation, Landscape installation, etc.. While these companies are not true competitors relative to services given for the investment paid, the vast number of them still eat up a big portion of the market here and leave us professionals gasping for air.
I'm curious to know if these soft home sales markets are affecting you guys as well. Our service programs keep us going strong, but the new installs are really down lately which is really a bummer. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

High Performance Lighting
08-10-2007, 10:10 PM
Probably not what you want to hear but I'm so busy that I had to pass on a 92 fixture $27,000.00 Install because the client waited 2 months to give me the go ahead and then wanted the work done by the end of this month for a party. I'm running 3-4 months out for new installs. Home sales have come to a grinding halt but the prices have not come down too much and owners are still making major capital improvements to their property. I don't have a crystal ball to tell you what next yr will be like but right now things are booming.

Chris J
08-10-2007, 10:40 PM
Man, I know what you are saying! When it's slow, it's slow. When it's booming, people want you to get it done yesterday. It is frustrating when you give someone an opportunity to have your lighting system only to have them procrastinate for weeks and then want it "right now"! I have had this situation before, once with really bad results (explanation to follow).

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-11-2007, 09:52 AM
Chris. Slow times happen for a wide variety of reasons. Every market is different and will have their own sub-climates for business cycles. A Couple of years ago I had a 28 day slump in July of all months! In retrospect, I chalked it up to the fact that we had perfect weather that month and people were not too interested in doing anything other then enjoying their cottages. (Business is always better here when it rains)

In my market I have 16 weeks a year in which to sell. If I dont fill my cup in those 16 weeks then winter can be a pretty bleak. The one good thing about slower periods is it gives you some motivation to expand and perfect your marketing efforts. Build that network, get out into the community and dontate a lighting system to a charity, get some PR working and get into the local media, etc etc etc.

Slow periods are going to happen... Its the way that you handle them and what you do during them that will separate the lazy business from the real entreprenuer.

Have a great day.

Chris J
08-11-2007, 10:52 AM
I understand what you are saying because I've been in business now for 7 years and have had the opportunity to experience all of the fluctuations as the months pass. This business has always been a roller-coster of sorts with very strong peeks of business, then slowing down for a couple of weeks, then spike back up to more business than I can handle. This year, however, it's a bit different. It seems the spikes are gone, and although the steady stream is still there it is coming in at a slower pace. I've also noticed that more people these days are telling me that they are getting multiple estimates. This is very frustrating.

Lite4
08-11-2007, 11:57 AM
Chris, I seldom if ever get installs at new homes. Those are usually installed by landscapers "throwing in some lights". My market is homes that are 5 years or older with more established landscapes. These people seem to be more quality concious. I have noticed a general slowing in all the construction done in our area though. I have been picking up a lot of maintenance contracts and repair jobs to fill the gaps between new installs. Currently working on rewiring a 100 light vista job installed about 5 years ago, one of those "thrown in systems". Most lights undervolted by 3-4 volts at the last half of the daisy chain as well as a lot of corrosion in the wiring. It's a drag digging for new wires through the extensive root systems of these established plants but hey its keeping me busy.

Pro-Scapes
08-11-2007, 07:29 PM
its semi slow but still steady here. Just finished a small job today. Still waiting on playing phone tag with some larger jobs we will be doing but with this 100 degree heat I dont even want to think about em.

Landscape work has slowed for us. Maint work is plugging along as always. Lighting work is about the steadiest its ever been for us with a few more additions just waiting for me to get to em (aka when it cools off a tad)

I just found out some stats. In an elite community here there is over 200 homes for sale. Many on forclosure. Seems when the market boomed the last few years some of the young people with good incomes bought more house than they could afford.

Still working on my next marketing move which will hopefully involve doing some theatrical lighting work for the local theater.

High Performance Lighting
08-11-2007, 08:12 PM
The key to staying busy is to book yourself out for several months in advance. This gives you the ability to be very selective about which work you will take for the price you will do it for. It's called supply and demand. When the supply or availability is up the price is down and vice versa. It's the simple law of economics. Now you're gonna ask how do you go about creating such demand that you are booked out for that lengthy period of time?
If I was to stick around here I could possibly help you with that but since I have one foot out the door unfortunately I can't. I know two female service people in my area who are so spectacular that people wait on their list for up to a year to have work done. One is a faux painting artist and one is a landscape designer/contractor. They have such great word of mouth that they are paid top dollar and basically write their own ticket and make as much as they want on a project. That is truly an enviable position to be in.

High Performance Lighting
08-11-2007, 08:39 PM
Chris, I seldom if ever get installs at new homes. Those are usually installed by landscapers "throwing in some lights". My market is homes that are 5 years or older with more established landscapes. These people seem to be more quality concious. I have noticed a general slowing in all the construction done in our area though. I have been picking up a lot of maintenance contracts and repair jobs to fill the gaps between new installs. Currently working on rewiring a 100 light vista job installed about 5 years ago, one of those "thrown in systems". Most lights undervolted by 3-4 volts at the last half of the daisy chain as well as a lot of corrosion in the wiring. It's a drag digging for new wires through the extensive root systems of these established plants but hey its keeping me busy.

To avoid the owners who are content with "thrown in lighting" you must get in with the high end home market. The architects, designers, home builders, etc. who are dealing in the multi million dollar projects. Seldom do their clients want anything "thrown in". Focus on those willing to pay for quality. They are not difficult to find. Just observe their home and lifestyle. Of couse this is no guarantee that when it comes to lighting that they are going to want the best. But at least you have a fighting chance to get them if you can prove your value.

David Gretzmier
08-12-2007, 02:58 AM
This seems to be the slow time before the rush. since it is still light here at 9pm, most folks are not that concerned about lighting. come november when it gets dark about 5:30, and even dark when folks go to work in the morning- that is when the phone rings. Fall is also the best time to be sending out postcards, I plan to do a big push in November and December to book folks for Feb and March installs after Christmas lights are done.

NightScenes
08-12-2007, 02:36 PM
Chris, didn't you say before that the summer is your slowest time of year? Here, we really never do slow down. It really picked up in the fall of last year and has picked up steam from there. The housing market here is very strong and it's all high end real estate that's being built. We'll have to get together pretty soon and talk shop.

Chris J
08-12-2007, 06:44 PM
Summer is not our busiest season, but we have always done relatively good. It's not that business has completely stopped this summer, it has just slowed to a less hectic pace. It seems as soon as school lets out, everyone goes on vacation and forgets about doing stuff like lighting. Here in the next week or two is when we usually start packing it in all the way through Christmas. If this doesn't happen, I'll know something is definately wrong with this market. If history repeats itself, I'll do almost more business in the last third of the year than I do for the first two thirds put together. At least I hope so.

extlights
08-13-2007, 01:25 AM
The slowest part of the season for us is mid July until the end of August. It seems to me that a lot of families are getting in their vacations during this time because the kids are going to be getting back to school. Also because it gets dark so late, I think a lot of people don't think about outdoor lighting as much. September and October are by far the busiest months of the year for us.