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NewLeaf
10-11-2007, 07:45 PM
Hello all!
Thinking about buying some Spools of lights & deco, for the christmas holiday.
Has any one done any Christmas decorations, ie: hanging lights, etc.
If so please advise on how to bid these types of jobs.:cool2:

David Gretzmier
10-16-2007, 02:33 AM
using bulk spools and lights, I charge 6.50 per foot sold, installed, taken down and I store at my warehouse the 1st year. includes everything. the 2nd year cost is half that for installed, taken down, and stored.

NewLeaf
10-16-2007, 10:55 AM
Thanx, I was thinking along those lines:clapping:

turf hokie
10-16-2007, 07:56 PM
Sell it as a service, same price every year. You own the lights. If they dont sign next year then use them somewhere else. $4-5 per foot per year. Install service, take down, store.

NewLeaf
10-16-2007, 08:48 PM
OK! Now what about having to go back & replace burned out lights, or strands have blown down....etc.? Do I include that as a service within the deal or not?:confused: :confused:

hotrod1965
10-17-2007, 08:42 AM
Our price includes going back and fixing any issues. We leave some spare bulbs for easy fixes. We get $4 per foot and charge 70% the next year. We also charge a $35 delivery/gas charge.

turf hokie
10-17-2007, 06:11 PM
We include all service calls.

David Gretzmier
10-17-2007, 10:09 PM
we do 6.50 per foot first year, 3.25 per foot 2nd and 3rd year, etc. service calls are included first 3 years, and all broken and burned out bulbs are included at time of install. service calls in year 4, 5, 6, etc, are $85 for first 30 minutes for 2 guys. all our per foot charges include install, takedown, storage at our facility, cords, clips, timers, everything. the c-9 cord should give you a 20 year life if put up after Oct. 1st and taken down before Feb. 1st. good bulbs should last aprox 3000 hours, but we break alot at install and takedown. Don't buy c-9 cord from Action Lighting, the sockets fail alot even in first year.

(wi) Roots
10-20-2007, 11:19 PM
The understanding of power is the first step. Second, Insurance! Need I say more?

NewLeaf
10-21-2007, 05:33 PM
The understanding of power is the first step. Second, Insurance! Need I say more?

Ahhhhh.......What?:confused:

(wi) Roots
10-21-2007, 06:10 PM
Ahhhhh.......What?:confused:

OK, My apologize, I understand you want to get into the Lighing business and I don't knock you for it, if fact I encourage it. It is and will be a good way to grow your business and give you some cash flow for the fall season. However, It would be in your best interest if you've never done it before to talk to an electrician or someone who's familuar with installing them. It's good and all to get advise here and by all mean do. But, be sure you have enough support to help you during your difficult time when the breaker box keeps tripping and you find yourself wondering why? This is all but, a simple sinarieo but, unless you know how to trouble shoot you'll find your self chasing your own tail. And if the customer decideds after you completed your job to install there own light to the line that presently supplies power to your line then what? Insurance, I mean enough to cover your own A** if because of you or them putting too much on the line to get it hot has the potential to cause you more trouble than the lights you've put up!

Dhouse
10-25-2007, 04:43 PM
Our price includes going back and fixing any issues. We leave some spare bulbs for easy fixes. We get $4 per foot and charge 70% the next year. We also charge a $35 delivery/gas charge.

Hey hotrod where do you get your lights in michigan?

hotrod1965
10-25-2007, 05:25 PM
We don't. We order everything in bulk. I offer 10% for referrels if you are interested....

Dhouse
10-26-2007, 08:04 AM
This is our first year. I will let you know, we are still new at this and experimenting with a few customers. I appreciate the offer.

hotrod1965
10-26-2007, 05:12 PM
Just shop around online and you'll fine lights at good prices.

BrandonsLawnAndSnow
10-28-2007, 03:49 PM
What is the difference between the c9 and the c7? If you had a cheap job, would holiday lights from home depot work? How much should i charge per foot?

1MajorTom
10-28-2007, 05:44 PM
c9's are larger than c7's.

hotrod1965
10-28-2007, 09:33 PM
Brandon,
I wouldn't use Home depot lights. You can only hook 3 sets together because they use cheaper wire. Plus the bulbs wont last as long. When you quote a job the main cost is the labor, not the light cost. Because I buy lights in bulk, I spend less per foot on lights than the cheap Home depot lights. Plus I can cut to a specific length, which looks professional.
I would be more than happy to pay you 10% if you refer your business to us :) And I pay it year after year if they become repeat customers... You can call 734-619-1201 for more info.

David Gretzmier
10-28-2007, 10:32 PM
I agree on the store bought lights. go with bulk, stay away from action lighting on spools and bulbs ( stake lights and plugs are ok ). c-9's are larger and are 7 watts, sometimes 10watts, c-7's are smaller, 5 watts sometimes 7 watts.

hotrod1965
10-28-2007, 10:36 PM
Dave,
Who do you buy your spools and bulbs from?

BrandonsLawnAndSnow
10-28-2007, 10:55 PM
Where is the best place to buy bulk lights on spools, and bulbs?

David Gretzmier
10-29-2007, 11:57 PM
I get my c-9 cord from Holiday Bright Lights and my bulbs from robert martin at Bright Ideas Inc. up in chicago.

hotrod1965
10-30-2007, 08:16 AM
I get my stuff from HBL as well, I was wondering if there is a place to get good bulbs for less money.

E.J.
10-30-2007, 10:33 AM
New to the forum everyone; this is my 2nd year doing lights. I work year round as a personal concierge.

David- if you dont mind me asking, why do you use a diferent manufacturer's bulbs from cord? Price, quality, service, etc.?

By the way, are we able to PM on this forum?

Michael J. Donovan
10-30-2007, 10:48 AM
By the way, are we able to PM on this forum?

once you have been a member for 10 days and have made 10 post the PM feature will become available to you

David Gretzmier
10-30-2007, 08:53 PM
HBL's bulbs are fine, I have been buying from bob up in Chicago for a few years now. Chrome plated base, good life and few broken bulbs in shipping. less expensive on purchase and shipping than HBL.

E.J.
10-30-2007, 10:36 PM
Interesting. I will look into that.

Seeing as how this thread has such a general title, I assume it's game to talk anyting related to Christmas and Holiday decorating.

- Is there a computer program, besides the one Christmas Decor has, that will enable me to enter simple information and receive a detailed quote for clients on the spot. I have found my quoting ability to be a slow process; too slow.

- Also, biggest thing I am trying to overcome is the fact that a lot of my larger home wants want theri roof-ridging lit up this year; they have tile roofs though. I have considered hot glue and face upward on ridge line. I hear walking on tile roofs is hard because you will break tiles easily. How would I go about these ridge line installs?

hotrod1965
10-30-2007, 10:46 PM
Holiday Lights Designer is a nifty program. It will count out lights for you.

We just do a quick measure and ball park it and tell them we bill for how many lights we actually put up.

As far as tile, I have zero experience, we don't have roofs like there here. I have heard that all in one clips will clip to them. I bet Dave can shine some light onto that for you.

David Gretzmier
10-31-2007, 10:49 PM
tile,concrete, and slate roofs are dangerous for a couple of reasons. they do break very easily. they are slippery with dew and even humidity. there is a clip sold by Holiday Light Source out of texas that will work on thicker roof substances, will work on wood shakes as well.

hot glue and silicone will work as well. although I don't normally use hot glue/silicone on residential asphalt roofs, I will on hard surface roofs, but not wood.

E.J.
11-01-2007, 08:44 PM
Thanks HR and Dave.

What is an average roofline and ridge measurement (in feet) for you guys in your areas? The last 5 houses I measures came up with rooflines around 180-200' and ridges around 220'-250'. Dave, that's nearly $3,000 (@ $6.50/foot); I tried it and the E.R. Doctor about died! haha

hotrod1965
11-01-2007, 10:24 PM
I agree! I think it's awsome that he gets that kind of money!

David Gretzmier
11-02-2007, 12:41 AM
Some of this thread may sound preachy, but here goes-

the reality is you only have about 30 days to add new customers in this business. I added about 30 last year, and did about 100 bids or so. everyone will say yes at 2 bucks a foot. those guys go out of business, and they can't sell thier business, they don't make enough money. at 3 bucks you are really breaking even on many roofs. the easy ones are the ones you remember, but the harder ones are just too dangerous to be making so little. I charged 6 bucks a foot 7 years ago and closed jobs, so 6.50 is less than a 10% price increase over 7 years. 7 years ago there were 6-7 guys doing Christmas lights at 2-3 bucks a bulb in my area. they are all out of business. one of them had over 400 customers. He did not make enough to hire good help or hire a manager to run his business. that should be the goal.

many guys rent out the bulbs at 3 bucks a bulb or so, but they don't get the first year flush to cover the cost of all the stuff and the fact it takes twice as long in year 1.

I would much rather close even 10% of my bids at 6.50 per foot than close 50% of my jobs at 4. this business builds over time and really provides a nice income around year 5 or 6. but if you book yourself full the first 2 years, it is really hard to add crews at 3 bucks a bulb.

I promise you this- that ER doc probably makes around 3-4 grand a week or more. he is at very little risk of getting killed or hurt at work. If you fall from a greater height than 8 ft, your chances of dying in a fall go way up.

I fell 12 foot last year onto concrete. 1st fall in 25 years on ladders/roofs. I had 3 guys fall that worked for me. 1 went into the hospital for 3 days and 6 weeks rehab. Ask yourself some really important questions. how much money is it worth for you to get seriously hurt or die this season? will you feel it was worth it when you have an employee die or get hurt?

we've already had one non-injury fall this year. I simply refuse to make less becasue of the risk involved in this job.

newbie35
11-02-2007, 01:28 AM
Good post David. I am having a hard time getting people to take the bid at $3 per foot but I guess I am still trying to build the business. This is the second year. I think it is awesome though you can get those prices where you live b/c cost of living is much cheaper than here in Colorado. It sounds like you have a great business with great clients.

hotrod1965
11-02-2007, 08:50 AM
I agree. It's hard getting people to bite. They see $5 sets of C9's at wal mart and wonder why we charge so much...

You do have to make safty #1. If you are walking a high roof you better tie yourself off. Use a lift instead of a 30ft ladder. I use gorilla and little giant ladders because they are so stable.....

E.J.
11-02-2007, 11:19 AM
David-

Thanks for the info.- I had bid most my jobs not including the extension cords, clips, timers, etc into the price and have come to recognize the need for a more simplistic way to quote. That's why the Price per foot is ideal.

I have become offended and eager when someone doesn't go with me for lighting; so in return, I will try and get a neighbor to bite. Around here it causes the "Jones" to look better than the "Smiths", so the "Smiths" want in (I make it sound like it works all the time, but it's happend three times in two years- but I am still going to market this way and see what happens).

One more thing I have come to understand is that the "disposable" signs on the wire holders equal about 1 call per sign before they are removed. My mailings have done nothing at all for me.

firefightergw
11-03-2007, 12:44 AM
David,

Thank you very much for the informative post. You really seem like you know what you are doing. We've been doing lawn care/landscaping now for 3 years. We've grown to a level that I would like to be able to keep the employees on all year and also have income coming in during the winter months. Therefore, this year we are going to start Holiday Lighting. I traveled to see the guys at Brite Lites this year up in Omaha, Nebraska. Took the training course that week. In additon, bought the contractor packet from Village Lighting. Have you ever heard or used these two companies?

Again, I really appreciate your advice. You make a lot of sense.

(wi) Roots
11-03-2007, 07:33 AM
It's important to note here that the reason the person responsible for lighting it 400 customers no longer lights is because, although it can be quite busy, the lighting business can consume your existing business to the extent that you begin to lose your existing or primary customer base because of it. Christmas business must fit the company who's off season compliments the existing business. Or make an easy transition into it with minimal disruption to existing business. Example: Mowing, landscape, and irrigation would be a good fit. But for a spraying chemical company it was a nightmare. Although I enjoyed the season I didn't enjoy the juggling of the two businesses. The franchise stated don't treat your Christmas lighting business as a step child, but in essence that's what it came to be. Christmas lighting when done properly can help any business keep employees through out the off season which was a good way to train future employee. But, don't expect them to stick around after a couple of years because of the dislike to it. I've found the number 1. complaint was the weather. Some folk just rather not get wet or stay cold. As far as pricing? Your thread has mereit and I can agree with the dangers of roof lighting, but it all in the shoes. Gummy shoes, I've even used golfing shoes on some of our then customer who has wooden roofing shingles.
It's been awhile since I've made my way NORTH!!!!!!!!!!!............! Knowing the market then was important. Now I see thing have deffendately changed, changed enough, it might be worth my while to make another trip!

BrandonsLawnAndSnow
11-04-2007, 10:21 AM
How much would you charge to instal c9 on a roof which is 247 feet if i bought everything?

Also what should i charge to put up 375 feet on a gutters with minis if they supplied everything?

turf hokie
11-04-2007, 08:18 PM
I hope everyone realizes how much info and help David is giving in this thread. Some really precise and accurate info on how this business works. His pricing structure, and reasons are about dead on, as I am sure his methods.

I am higher on a few items and lower on others. But if he and I were to bid the same job, it probably would come down to presentation. Which is all any one could ask for. I hate losing work b/c someone either low bids it or just wants to "keep their guys busy"

Christmas Decorating is not easy, and such a niche market with an extremely tight schedule that you need to get your price. Dont worry if you feel you arent getting sales at $3 per foot on C-9's. You will get them, and get them at higher prices. Just weed thru the tire kickers.

E.J.
11-04-2007, 10:54 PM
I found David's post to be very encouraging! I gave some bids over the weekend and didn't budge a whole lot on my price from where I wanted to be. I received a response from a lady telling me I am, "completely off mark from what she had anticipated spending" haha. As I looked around to see His & Hers Harley Davidson's. the big Mercedes SUV, a prettu old, completely original Vette (sitting on a lift in his home garage) with jet-skis parked under it; I thought to myself, "these people might actually be able to walk their talk about big plans with lights and decor. I had to tone them down a little because of electrical constraints. haha

Bid was a deal at $3,500 I thought. They expected in the $500 range- I didn't read them well at all! haha

Turf Hokie- Are you comfortable disclosing how price you items? I have heard you guys use the GKI/BETH line. I deal with the manufacturer's Rep who is an hour away from me.

hotrod1965
11-04-2007, 11:22 PM
People are funny that way! Just make sure you aren't they guy who inflates his prices because of what they have in thier garage...

hotrod1965
11-04-2007, 11:43 PM
How much would you charge to instal c9 on a roof which is 247 feet if i bought everything?

Also what should i charge to put up 375 feet on a gutters with minis if they supplied everything?

It depends..... I don't know how much you are paying for your lights and I don't know how difficult it is to get on the roof. So you have to consider those things.
As far as the mini's.. why are they buying them? Is it because they already have them? If so, you just need to figure out what your time is worth to put them up..

You just have to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze. You may make a couple bucks now, but you have to remember you have to fix any issues and you have to take them down too....

David Gretzmier
11-05-2007, 12:51 AM
To answer the guy way back when, Holiday Bright Lights and Brite Ideas are two of the big three and they are Both in Omaha Nebraska. I have bought from and used both. since you said Brite lites, I don't know which one you meant, but I use Holiday Bright Lights. Once you look at thier product line I think you will find it is the best. The training from both does not even begin to compare to the third of the big three, Christmas Decor, but it can get you started.

I would say 90% of the folks I meet with are thinking 3-500 bucks. Once they see the Light Link I bring in the door, hear the presentation and see the garland and wreath I try to show them, I can usually bring another 20-25% of the folks my way. So I close about 25-35 % of the people I meet with. I try to pre-qualify sometimes on the phone by saying I have two salespeople, one for jobs from 350-1500 dollars and one for jobs over 1500 dollars. which one should come? both will be me, but at least I eliminate the folks who are thinking it will be less than $350. and when they say it will be over 1500, I close almost all of those.

It is very rare that you will convince a person to spend 2 grand when they think 500 is reasonable for a 4000 square foot home. but it happens.

Things to help convince folks you are a professional- Khakis, no ballcaps, nice sweater or jacket with embroidered logo. Shirt with buttons with logo ( no hoodies) embroidered. professional color 2-part bid forms, and color literature from your supplier. I bring a small square box of dove chocolates as a gift for just letting us bid. It costs me maybe 75 cents, but every client I do a bid for will remember me. use a laser pointer, green during the day and red at night to show on thier house where you reccomend lights, wreaths, garland, etc. use an aluminum clipboard/ bid holder with a calculator on top. get logo pens and leave them attatched with your card to the bid.

good luck guys- the crazy days start tomorrow.

hotrod1965
11-05-2007, 08:32 AM
You do have to dress for success!! I'm a realtor so I have lots of presentation experience, so that helps a ton. You have to bring your A game everytime and be prepared just as David says or no one is going to buy you. You are selling yourself after all...

The crazy season is starting! The day after Holloween our phone just blew up!

(wi) Roots
11-08-2007, 07:18 PM
Plan tee shirt, blue jeans, no ball cap! Believe in what your selling, and know what it is your taking about! I don't bring anything with me when making my presentation. No garland, No lights, Nothing..................If you want what I'm selling we will do business, other than that move on if you don't! My work make the talking for me. Nothing represent your work better than your abilities and when you do get the job, prove it!

turf hokie
11-08-2007, 07:52 PM
Plan tee shirt, blue jeans, no ball cap! Believe in what your selling, and know what it is your taking about! I don't bring anything with me when making my presentation. No garland, No lights, Nothing..................If you want what I'm selling we will do business, other than that move on if you don't! My work make the talking for me. Nothing represent your work better than your abilities and when you do get the job, prove it!

If it works for you keep it up. I go in jeans or khaki's (whatever is clean:hammerhead: ) a golf shirt. But I always bring my portfolio and bag of tricks. Just makes the sale easier when they see how big the c-9' are up close and that the garland we use isnt 4" but 14" inches.
It's also nice to show them the tricks of the trade, like the shingle tabs, window clips and blackout caps.
When you walk into million dollar + houses 4 or 5 times a day it is always best to act like you are.
Arrogance will only get you so far, sometimes it helps to have a picture to back it up. Not everyone has seen one of our houses.......

(wi) Roots
11-09-2007, 07:08 PM
Thanks for the tip. One thing that I've done different this year than any other was when I came across an extremely busy individual who whats an eval. I ask for an e-mail address. Then I take pictures with my digital camra of my proposal of Ideas that would compliment their home. Then I down load the pictures on to my computer and highlight areas. Photo copy any other nescessary info and e-mail back. I've found this to be a very valuable time saver when you don't have a lot of time to draw up a plan with a simple piece of paper. And then have to give price. A much clear effect! When you can show them their own home!

turf hokie
11-09-2007, 07:18 PM
I know guys that have a printer set up in the truck. Take a photo and walk in with it. Hi-lite it in front of them so the understand the fascia vs ridge etc. Then go back to the car for 5 minutes and print out a copy of the estimate.

I am looking into it for a few reasons. Excel spread sheet so no math errors and a legible estimate instead of my sloppy handwriting when my hands are frozen from standing out in 35 degree weather trying to draw a map.

Venturewest
11-10-2007, 09:11 AM
using bulk spools and lights, I charge 6.50 per foot sold, installed, taken down and I store at my warehouse the 1st year. includes everything. the 2nd year cost is half that for installed, taken down, and stored.


Thanks to all of you who have shared your pricing structure. It benefits the entire industry. I haven't been charging near enough. This is my 4th year doing lights. I am a small shop preferring to work alone or with one other reliable guy. I have always thought :hammerhead: , that I was making pretty good money at $1 to $2 labor per foot depending on height etc., and materials at cost on C9's.

I do a really nice job, and I could have all the business I wanted, (if I could keep up). Now at $1 per foot it is obvious why.

Here is why it seemed reasonable. On most houses where I am outlining the front gutter, and fascia I may have 200 feet of C9's. So I charge maybe $290 since it is a smaller job. I can do that install myself in 2 hours. It takes 1 hr and 15 minutes to take down and pack. I end up with a total of about 3 1/2 hours in that job. That comes to $82 per hour. That always seemed pretty good. Hiring one guy brings my per hour up some.

BUT....I have seen the light. I can never support a crew with this pricing. It is reliant on me being very fast and knowing each house well. I had six new customers call me in the neighborhood I am working in yesterday for bids. If I had a crew I could make alot of money. But I don't, and I only have 8 working days until Thanksgiving.

Thanks again for the great information.

Also.....what do you guys charge per string of minis for shrubs, trees etc. I am charging $2 per string and it is taking too long.

turf hokie
11-10-2007, 09:40 AM
I dont send guys on the any roof for less then $400 anymore. Just not worth it.

As far as the mini's we charge per bulb. Sounds crazy but when you tell a customer we are putting 3000 lights in that tree it sounds more impressive. I dont tell the customer we are charging by the foot or bulb I just tell them x amount of lights in the tree and it will cost x dollars.

But if I were to break it down per strand I would say we are b/t 25 and 35 per 50 light strand depending if we are doing shrubs, canopy or branch wrapping.

LED's are more if they want to go with them or have power concerns.

Venturewest
11-10-2007, 09:57 AM
But if I were to break it down per strand I would say we are b/t 25 and 35 per 50 light strand depending if we are doing shrubs, canopy or branch wrapping.

LED's are more if they want to go with them or have power concerns.

Holy Cow!! I just bid a house yesterday with 100 Strings of 100ct minis. That is 10,000 lights. It would be equivalent of 200 strings of 50 ct and at $25 That is $5000 dollars. Am I calculating that right? These are just going mostly on shrubs on the ground. I was figuring I would charge $200 for that and it would take 2 hrs.

If I charged $5 per 50 ct that still seems like a huge amount of money. That would be $1000 in 2 hrs. Now obviously if I was in a lift wrapping branches that would make perfect sense.

turf hokie
11-10-2007, 10:29 AM
On a large shrub only job like that we would be less than the 5k amount. Probably 20% less without seeing it and it being only shrubs. But 2 hours for 10,000 lights is moving even for shrubs.

Keep in mind our price includes the material (lights, cords, timers etc), install, service, takedown and storage.

(wi) Roots
11-10-2007, 07:03 PM
I've got a file full of folk who wanted there lights placed up. But, unfortunally because of the price, a majority of them pass. Which leaves those who do. What happens to the market then is after a few years word spread how much it takes to light a job that it become a status symbol that separate the folk who have from those who do not. This is why I say take it or leave it. Christmas Installation in my area is well saturated that most folk around know it cost $$$$$$ to install. So if your new to the neighborhood this might be someone to hit. Other than that your going to start from scratch. If you thread this site long enough you'll begin to understand why we like Christmas this time of the year. But, from me you'll never get what I price. You just never know who's on the other thread. Some trade secrets are worth their weight in Gold! And best kept to yourself!

Dunn's
11-10-2007, 07:54 PM
I've got a file full of folk who wanted there lights placed up. But, unfortunally because of the price, a majority of them pass. Which leaves those who do. What happens to the market then is after a few years word spread how much it takes to light a job that it become a status symbol that separate the folk who have from those who do not. This is why I say take it or leave it. Christmas Installation in my area is well saturated that most folk around know it cost $$$$$$ to install. So if your new to the neighborhood this might be someone to hit. Other than that your going to start from scratch. If you thread this site long enough you'll begin to understand why we like Christmas this time of the year. But, from me you'll never get what I price. You just never know who's on the other thread. Some trade secrets are worth their weight in Gold! And best kept to yourself!

Definitely agree they won't get your price NBL. But this guy is talking about putting out 10,000 lites for $200.00 :laugh: :laugh:

I'm sorry I know it is mean but that is like the lowest of the lowballers.

Dunn's
11-10-2007, 07:58 PM
Thanks for the tip. One thing that I've done different this year than any other was when I came across an extremely busy individual who whats an eval. I ask for an e-mail address. Then I take pictures with my digital camra of my proposal of Ideas that would compliment their home. Then I down load the pictures on to my computer and highlight areas. Photo copy any other nescessary info and e-mail back. I've found this to be a very valuable time saver when you don't have a lot of time to draw up a plan with a simple piece of paper. And then have to give price. A much clear effect! When you can show them their own home!

Yeah we do the same here but with our Landscaper pro software.

Venturewest
11-10-2007, 09:29 PM
Definitely agree they won't get your price NBL. But this guy is talking about putting out 10,000 lites for $200.00 :laugh: :laugh:

I'm sorry I know it is mean but that is like the lowest of the lowballers.

That is why in my original post I stated that the information some contractors have shared on this thread is extremely valuable. I have no desire to lowball. I like to make money just as much as the next guy. When people are transparent as professionals everyone benefits.

I know now that even if I can haul butt and make $100 an hour with my pricing, it is still way below market value. What that tells me, is that I need to raise my pricing.

I would be interested to hear a logical argument for safe guarding one's pricing structure on something simple like Christmas lighting.

(wi) Roots
11-10-2007, 09:55 PM
The logical argument for safe guarding one's pricing structure is if I'm not charging you then why am I telling you? $$$$$ make the world go around, so if I'm not making $$$$ for my info, there's no insentive. But, if I have a repor with you I'll more than likely let you know what's up! But, in the mean time, You will have to do your own research! If you find that those here have the gumption to express what they would do it for then go for it! But, if your in my neighborhood Good luck, I'll eat you alive!

Dunn's
11-11-2007, 12:26 AM
Hey NBL you want to trade links with our aroundthehomeandgarden site?

(wi) Roots
11-11-2007, 05:43 PM
I don't know what you mean? Sorry. I'm not at all computer savvey So excuse my ignorance.

Dunn's
11-11-2007, 06:21 PM
If you have a website you would put the link for aroundthehomeandgarden that is in my signature on your links page of your website and we would put your website on our links page of it.

David Gretzmier
11-12-2007, 07:27 AM
I'm very transparent about my prices, mainly because i know my competition have thier friends get me to do bids so they know how much I charge. hiding anything just costs me time in the long run. I charge $25 per 100 light strand to install, takedown,and store the first year on the first 2000-5000 lights. beyond that you start to look at volume pricing, probably down to $18 per strand when you get above 10,000 lights or so or 100 starnds. timewise mini-lights can kill you.

I recently did a job with 16,000 mini-lights, all on shrubs/ground and some in trees with poles, and it took 2 guys a day and a half to do the mini's. I charged 18 dollars a strand for new and 15 for existing lights. that worked out to around 2800 bucks for 2 guys for 1 and a half days, but it will take them probably 3/4 day to takedown. so 36 man hours for 2800 bucks is good money, but once you figure in the cost of cords, timers, and lights, maybe just 65 per hour or so. If you use high dollar 6-12 bucks per 100 light sets, you really need to be at 25 per strand and up.

on rehangs I sometimes go to 12.50 per strand and sometimes have lower cost part-timers go ahead of the roof guys and mini-light the place. they will use thier car and can come and go. The roof guys for some reason prefer not to do mini-lights.

whatever works.

(wi) Roots
11-12-2007, 09:48 AM
Sound like the hatred effect is beginning to set in your roofer. Actually, you have to have a good temperment for mini's which is another reason I couldn't hold on to good folks but, then you have those who simply don't like to be on the roof then there lies another issue entirely. There's no occurance in your treads that tells me you don't know what your treading about, but there's is one underlying useful piece of information that continues to reoccur that I find of use? You know your market. Which is why I have nothing against any statement you may thread about, I fact I encourage it. Continue please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(wi) Roots
11-12-2007, 05:04 PM
If you have a website you would put the link for aroundthehomeandgarden that is in my signature on your links page of your website and we would put your website on our links page of it.

Sound good, but well have to wait until my tech guy completes my web site. Which looks like around possibly January, Hopfully. Sweet thing about my web guy is he's my Step son who is going to College and majoring in Web Design. Smart Kid! Works cheap! well for me anyway:laugh:

TPnTX
11-15-2007, 07:22 AM
well I'm way way WAY... off.

No one has ever accused me of being cheap so lowballing is not intended ever.

Last year I did one house for a friend/customer. I think it was 550.00 or so. I only did it for the experience. I've never hung lights even at my house.

So this year I had every intention to educate myself for holiday lights. But business is good and I had no time literally and haven't been too worried about it. Every mow company in town has a magnetic sign on their truck.

So I'm going to put up my friends lights again. I don't know what I'll charge him. Probably just cover my time. I'm making a lot of money off him this year anyway.

I was at a customers house who lives in a 6000sqft 1.5mil home. I noticed he had his lights up. I asked if I could guess at the price which included 4 or 5 trees. It's not a bigtime light job. Just Ridges facia bushes and trees. I said 750.00. He replied "close...550.00" Not sure if he already had the lights.

Okay next came a residential maintenance customer of mine. He asked if I do lights because his chem-lawn guy gave hime a quote. I told him about my deal regarding lights and if he wanted me to I'd do his house. I went over and looked at it and without measuring, I told him 450.00. He said the other guy was 375.00. So I said okay, let me price the material and I'll let you know.

So what I decided to do was take that 375.00 and use it to buy a 1000ft roll of c7-c9 wire, c7 bulbs, hangers, green lamp wire and plugs. That way I can do my house for free. I have a huge roof line and facia. Plus my employee will get some experience doing 3 houses this year. His will only take an 1 - 1/2 hrs.

So obviously I'm not in the holiday lighting business. And after seeing the prices I wasn't really too exicited about it anyway.

Now at 6.50 a foot, show me the way because thats some serious cash. However I could not imagine a fireman probably makes 65k, has a brand new 140k house with a builders landscape package spending 1850.00 for christmas lights.

I understand the risk. It has always bugged me comtemplating sending employees up on a roof. A lot of services involve that but few send guys up to scoot around quite as much. So it's really serious stuff.

There are a lot of houses and a lot of companies doing it at these lower prices. Simply another source of revenue now that the mowing season it over. When you say they'll be out of business soon, I have to wonder. They primarilly mow now they can keep a few guys busy past november. If their making money that otherwise wouldn' happen, unless something bad occurs what is going to take them out of the market?

So I'm sitting on the fence here. The market is saturated with companies doing it for $2.00 a ft. At least I assume all these yard guys are competeing with each other. Treating it as supplimental income it seems to attract a lot of business.

hotrod1965
11-15-2007, 08:44 AM
I'm seeing a simliar problem as well. We have a lot of people out of work in SE Michigan, so they go and hang lights for next to nothing just to make a couple bucks. However, the quality of work they do isn't that great, and the quality of the product they use isn't that great. So, you get what you pay for...
David said he gets about 30% of calls to sign up. We get about the same. The people that sign up tend to see the value in our products and service. Is some fly by night person going to come out in the blowing snow to replace a strand of lights that died? No, they arn't. Are they going to be able to light up a 35 foot tree? No, they can't. Are they going to have good relationships with light suppliers? No, they buy thier lights from sprawl mart. (Which get replaced every year) As you can see, after time these things will put them out of business.
You have to look at the big picture in this business. Maybe this year you didn't grow as much, or didn't make a ton of cash, but where will you be in five years?

TPnTX
11-15-2007, 08:52 AM
I might add, a local irrigation supply company is who got me interested in this along with LV lighting. So the lights and stuff I'm using is Village and Cast for the LV. I am about to do my first two LV jobs and this guy from the irr supply co. is very helpfull to the extent that I feel very compfortable about the quality of service and material for both LV and Holiday. At least village is a step up from Home Depot.

Consider this. I'm a rookie at this obviously. I would sell no jobs in your average neighborhood if I'm quoting numbers like 6.50. So if I did choose to compete using quality materials, at least I'm learning the business on a small scale.

Of course on the flip side if I landed one good size job, I'd make more that several small ones.

Can anyone who gets the top dollar reflect on how they started up their business.

TPnTX
11-15-2007, 09:06 AM
while we're at it. I actually got on the roof to measure ridge lines instead of guessing. lol is there a better way?

TPnTX
11-15-2007, 09:25 AM
lol I'm wearing this thread out....

Here is the house that I'm talking about but no one laugh because I know it's worth more that 375.00 Just shoot me straight. It's 280 ft of c7.

hotrod1965
11-15-2007, 10:35 AM
We use Holiday Soft software to estimate the lights we need. $375 for 280 ft is cheap. We would bill at least $800. It would cost around $180-200 for the supplies to do this job.. Does this price include taking them down as well?? Does it incluse all the extension cords and timers.... I would bill around $800 and that includes timers cords, and take down... SO we would bring in $600 for about 4-5 hours of work.

One thing to remeber to is if that is a $140K house, you live somewhere very cheap. That looks like at least a $300K house where I live....

Dunn's
11-15-2007, 10:45 AM
Yeah and probably 400k house or more here.

Dunn's
11-15-2007, 10:50 AM
Also none of us ever said their where not lowballers out there. Just wait until one of these lowballers employee's or themselves go off the edge of a roof. Don't think it can happen keep dreaming. Look at that pitch on the house in your pic very dangerous to be up on in the cold or ice.


What will happen is 1 of 2 things. Lowballers employee goes of the roof. Employee now owns the company from lawsuit.

or lowballers themself goes off the roof and now owns customers home, plus can never walk without a limp again, plus can never get any new customers and will lose half of old ones. Because word got out and it was on the news how he sued his customer and took there house.

But hey who cares atleast they got a new house for doing nothing as they seem to think hanging lights is.

TPnTX
11-15-2007, 10:52 AM
no way. They are building neighborhoods like this all over the place. Its from 140-180 max. Welcome to DFW

I would never send a "worker" on that house. I got up there myself and I ain't coming down without a ladder.

Plus it's 80 degress here or was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Dunn I don't know where you live but houses are that cheap here. A 3000sqft house here is 350k avg unless your in the wealthy areas closer to downtown.

Dunn's
11-15-2007, 12:58 PM
no way. They are building neighborhoods like this all over the place. Its from 140-180 max. Welcome to DFW

I would never send a "worker" on that house. I got up there myself and I ain't coming down without a ladder.

Plus it's 80 degress here or was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Dunn I don't know where you live but houses are that cheap here. A 3000sqft house here is 350k avg unless your in the wealthy areas closer to downtown.

We have some of the lowest house prices in the country for a major city. And they don't build 3,000k houses in poor areas. Maybe 3,000k for a two story, but not a 3,000k single story only the wealthy can afford that.

DUSTYCEDAR
11-15-2007, 01:02 PM
be carefull about pluging in to much to one outlet i had problems with the new houses not have enough places to plug in

hotrod1965
11-15-2007, 01:09 PM
Make sure you figure out how many plugs you need during the estimate. You don't want phone calls related to breakers popping. Again, another thing that sets up apart from the low ballers....

I would also recommend a roofers harness. I think it's worth the $150 to get caught falling of a roof.... No one ever thinks it's going to happen to them....

TPnTX
11-15-2007, 02:19 PM
thanks, there are two outlets on each side of the house located in the soffits.

I only climb valleys and ridges. You slide off anywhere else on that pitch. Again I ain't comming down without a ladder and I take no risks. My helper is on the ground or on a ladder. If he falls we already agreed that he's fired before he hits the ground. I will get a harness though. Not all houses will be this accessable.

Dunn I'm not sure what you mean.
The house in the picture... it's not 3000sqft A. and B here is the builders website. www.georgewelchhomes.com so you might want to call and let him know want you think in terms of comparing Dallas suburbs to where ever...Missouri or something. Move on down everyone else is :)

TPnTX
11-15-2007, 02:29 PM
oh wait Dunn now I see where you get confused. See you find a lot of 3000sqft single story houses around here. And relatively speaking they are not in the weathly districts.

When I say weathly here I mean the miles and miles of neighborhoods that are extremely wealthy. Countless areas of wealth that you can't even figure out what all these people do. It's really mind boggleing.

hotrod1965
11-15-2007, 02:30 PM
I wish I could fine houses with outlets in the soffits!

TPnTX
11-15-2007, 03:15 PM
Im not in a wealthy part of town and my house is 3000sqft...almost. I built it for 140,000 back in 2001.

Dunn's
11-15-2007, 07:00 PM
Im not in a wealthy part of town and my house is 3000sqft...almost. I built it for 140,000 back in 2001.

That is a $450 -600k home here. $450 for a home that is in an area that wasn't nice 20 years ago when the house was built but has now went to crap.

Dunn's
11-15-2007, 07:07 PM
So I guess if your houses are that cheap there then you can afford to be cheaper. I will post a pic of our house in a little it is worth $125-130k and it is in a lower middle class to upper lower class area.

turf hokie
11-15-2007, 07:29 PM
I would not do that roof for any less than 1200 and that is after I got beat up. I would start at 1500-1600 with that pitch. And also since parts can only be done off a ladder which will slow you down.

But then again those houses that you guys are showing pix of would go for about 800 and only be on .40 acres if your lucky.:cry:

David Gretzmier
11-15-2007, 11:23 PM
NICE house for 140k back in 2001. was that with land included? even 7 years ago that sounds like a deal.

I hear from customers talking about other cities that have very cheap prices for Christmas lights, and all I know is this- my payroll this week was over 5 grand for 6 installers and my assistant, and did not include me. if I was charging 2 or even 3 bucks a foot I cannot imagine covering that and gas, my payment on the shop ( which is only 750 per month ) insurance, etc. we do make money on rehangs at 3 and 3.25 per foot. That is just labor. but I have to have that first year to cover the costs materials and doing this thing called running a business.

since everyone that used to do it that cheap ( 2 bucks a foot ) here went out of business, I can only assume that if they were doing well financially at that price someone would have bought thier business and carried on thier business. not the case.

a mature Christmas light market may look light a mature lawn market- lots of lowballers.

what saddens me is my first job paid 200 bucks install back in 1982, and looking back it was around 150 feet. takedown was 75. so close to 2 bucks a foot 25 years ago. they provided the c-9's from wal-mart. they actually were heavy cord back then, 16 guage and lots of copper in the sockets. some of that stuff is probably still around and working.

we are booked til Nov. 28th at this point running 3 crews at 60 hours per week or so. I am hoping to pick up another 15 jobs or so, book it out til the 5th or 6th of December at most. I usually will close 10 jobs between the 20th and 30th of November. another 3 or 4 in the first 5 days of december. and then it is usually over unless some unique opportunity comes along.

good luck guys, really only about 15 days left to sell work. try to max it out.

TPnTX
11-16-2007, 07:30 AM
Turf hokie just to be sure, your talking about the house I drew the lines on not my house right? wow.

David, that was just to cost to build the house. Back then building materials had been on a 10 year long high resulting from hurricane Andrew. Then it dropped and dropped big time and we took full advantage of it. Pure luck. So anyway I already owned the 14 acres about 40miles east of Downtown Dallas. That may sound far but considering the DFW is 4000 square miles its really just the outskirts. I sub'd everything but some of the interior trim and the landscape. I know thats not a fair comparison to home prices but it is a comparison to building cost. being around 50.00 sgft is good. real good. 75.00 is probably where you'd be these days.

Now fast forward 6 years and the town I live in has exploded. My street and all the pastures around us is developed or being developed. I don't know what my place is worth. Probably 450 - 500 but I really don't know. I'll just sit tight and wait. But thats how a guy like me can afford a big sprawling "mini ranch" as the newcomers call them.

So anyway sorry to get off topic again but this really is a big city but with that many square miles there still a lot of area between each community. Now however it's beginning to fill in and you see these tract home communities popping up. A young couple can get in a new house for 1000.00 - 1500.00 down and they aren't bad. The older neighborhoods of smaller homes in densely populated areas? well that is where the Hispanics typically live. Theres no other way to put it. Farmers Branch made national headlines for the city trying to boot out all the undocumented immigrants. If they did that it would be a ghost town! FB, Irving, Garland the list goes on and on. Don't shoot the messenger, I've live here all my life and this area the caucasians trade up like they trade cars and the lower income(hispanics) take the pre-owned. African americans are another story.

The reason I say all this is because I'm trying to get my arms around this niche business. Next year we are going to back off on the Landscape Installs and concentrate on the commercial and residential maintenance. We're aggressively pursuing contracts now and in the spring we'll hit the residential. My step-son(25) who I've raised since he was 8 or 9 years old is working with me. Once established Justin will take it a run. I will go back to design and construction landscape.

So the holiday lights is something we need to figure out by then meaning do it or don't.

I thinkg the market on these typical homes is 2-3.00 a foot. I havent confirmed it. There are so many homes and these people are two incomes families. They are not going to pay 1000-1500.00 to put up xmas lights. If you look at it like anything else and double your material cost, it seems you can do this in volume. The difference is the risk involved.

I figure once you get the experience, you can then be more creative and capitalize on that. Getting more money by referrals and such. Entering into the market however, I feel the mid-income areas are the ones to go after if for no other reason proximity.

Believe me there are tons of high income areas to sell the big jobs. You still have the hispanic worker card though. Not to be confused with cheap labor. The hourly wage is way above minimum but you can throw a stick and get someone to work for 8 - 10.00 an hour. You see it all around here. 5 - 8 guys hanging lights in an hour and they move on down the road.

TPnTX
11-16-2007, 07:46 AM
BTW I'm not ignoring what you guys have said. If I were to bid high and land 30% of I would be very happy. My gut though tells me around here that # would be much much lower.

TPnTX
11-16-2007, 08:40 AM
You guys probably think I'm crazy but I have something else to add. I swear I'm not on speed. Coffee yes speed no.

I have a bad habit of figuring things out for myself.

You guys David, Turf, hotrod and the rest have been there done that. Some of you are franchised and have had formal training not only in lighting techniques but sales and business training as well.

And here I am reflecting on two or three quotes I know of as if I know what the market will bare. I really don't know squat other than there are a ton of guys driving around slinging up xmas lights.

So I'm probably just a typical example of who you talk about in business training. What not to do or who not to worry about in terms of competing for business.

I just want to say, I want to be optimistic about this. Perhaps my best bet is to not solicit business in the countless areas that cannot pay the higher prices.

I guess I'm really just doubting my abilities because I have not had the training and I lack the experience.

So I just wanted to follow up all my rambling with this. I will take your advice and try and run with it. I got another call a referral that would make 4 houses this year.(counting mine) Next year I'll attend a seminar from village. Probably buy the training kit and try like hell to learn as much from others like you guys as I can.

Simple put. Numbers don't lie. David look at you. I'm sure Fayetteville is a real nice place but clearly it's economy is't even close to major cities like DFW & elsewhere and you get top dollar. I guess what just occurred is that it easily to lean toward the downside. Instead I should set my sites higher and listen to you guys.

later
tp

David Gretzmier
11-17-2007, 01:37 AM
The reality is that in larger markets lawncare service companies are already hitting lights big time. like everything else lawn care touches, they beat the profit right out of it. If lawn care got into home theater installation, everyone could have an awesome dolby surround sound entertainment system installed for 35 bucks.

I have watched the 2 and 3 buck people come and go, and right now they are coming back again. I met with a lady last night who has hired two different companies in the past 3 years to do her lights. 300 bucks each, one never came back to take them down, and the other was a roofer who now won't call her back. 200 feet. she refuses to pay my price, even to rehang at 650. she admits she has the money, but thinks it is ridiculous to spend that kind of money. so she would rather spend less money and be frustrated, than spend a fair price and get a great service.

I am starting to hear from folks i bid in the past years, and it is funny- they all want the same price they paid the guy that went out of business. Don't people get it? To purchase vehicles, shop, insurance, pay a fair wage and install a top notch product and have a profit left over, can't be done at 3 bucks a foot. I don't care if you prove to me the lights and bulbs cost 50 cents a foot, I just paid 5 grand in payroll for this week, and that alone means you gotta generate a grand a day to cover LABOR cost to install, much less takedown.

I am sticking to my prices until no one will buy. we are booked to November 28th because we are very good at what we do. you can buy a toyota yaris for 12 grand, or a lexus ls460 for 70 grand. both get you to work. I am positioning myself as the lexus.

turf hokie
11-17-2007, 06:59 AM
The reality is that in larger markets lawncare service companies are already hitting lights big time. like everything else lawn care touches, they beat the profit right out of it. If lawn care got into home theater installation, everyone could have an awesome dolby surround sound entertainment system installed for 35 bucks.

I have watched the 2 and 3 buck people come and go, and right now they are coming back again. I met with a lady last night who has hired two different companies in the past 3 years to do her lights. 300 bucks each, one never came back to take them down, and the other was a roofer who now won't call her back. 200 feet. she refuses to pay my price, even to rehang at 650. she admits she has the money, but thinks it is ridiculous to spend that kind of money. so she would rather spend less money and be frustrated, than spend a fair price and get a great service.

I am starting to hear from folks i bid in the past years, and it is funny- they all want the same price they paid the guy that went out of business. Don't people get it? To purchase vehicles, shop, insurance, pay a fair wage and install a top notch product and have a profit left over, can't be done at 3 bucks a foot. I don't care if you prove to me the lights and bulbs cost 50 cents a foot, I just paid 5 grand in payroll for this week, and that alone means you gotta generate a grand a day to cover LABOR cost to install, much less takedown.

I am sticking to my prices until no one will buy. we are booked to November 28th because we are very good at what we do. you can buy a toyota yaris for 12 grand, or a lexus ls460 for 70 grand. both get you to work. I am positioning myself as the lexus.

Very well said. David has been doing this for a long time. I am only entering my 3rd season. I will admit we started at 2.75 per foot on the c-9 2 years ago to get into the market. Did not know what it would bear. We sold 15 out of 25 estimates. 2nd season we went to $4 per foot. Finished with about 50 residential and commercial customers. Sold approx 35 out of 60 estimates. I felt these closing rates were too high. Sounds crazy, I know. But now I am in the David range of 5-6 and sometimes higher per foot and closing about that 30% mark. We too are booked thru the 27th and took 30 calls yesterday alone.

I will have installed as much by thanksgiving as we did all last year. I would rather sell 30% and have somewhat less stress than sell 50% at lower margins and go crazy trying to get it all done.

I guess my point is, and it may sound like I was tooting my own horn. But go for it. Find your market, get into it, make your name and continually raise your prices to find what you can get for your superior service. I actually lost a number of my first year customers and really almost dont mind b/c I can replace them with a higher margin job.

I know some of us have formal training, support, etc. But you still need to get in the field and get the experience. There is no substitute.

Good luck.

TPnTX
11-17-2007, 08:50 AM
very gracious guys and it's much appreciated. Thats pretty much leaves one thing that hasn't been mentioned which is Commercial properties. What is the pulse on that side of the business?

I have a grid that use as part of my commercial bids. A lot times when I talk to someone about maintaining thier property, you can see their eyes glaze over when you try and explain all the different services. So this grid really helps illustrate to them what your talking about. I can see that that I'm missing an potentially important service option.

Why not add it in and let them spread it out over the 12 months. Just a thought.

E.J.
11-19-2007, 08:55 PM
It's been absolutely off the wall the past week! Business is great, but more importantly, listen to this DRAMA. I was installing lights on a pretty decent sized oak tree and the neighbor came over. This is a neighborhood considered to be very, very upscale. Long story short, I didn't have time to give the guy a quote that day so I told him I would come back the next day with a quote for him. Left him a message that morning and we played phone tag the next day. House burns to the ground day after. No one has any clue how or from what.

I decided to subscribe to Dave G.'s and the other veterans and formally trained decorating business owners have preached; stay true with fair pricing. I have received some decent jobs, but can't seem to get people to bite on the really large deals. I priced out the job using a combination of GKI & Wal Mart lights (different applications for light spacing readily available along with C-9 bulbs for a few other applications). Lady literally told me I was "highway robbery" and her husband wants to sell his Animal Emergency clinic to make as much money as I do hanging lights (they have a very beautiful home on the intercoastal waterway here in Florida. They said her husband will do it. It was three separate properties for $6,285. Everything was priced at a small discount because I was working to get them for my concierge business. LOL back fired big time. haha

Anyway, figured I would add a couple interesting stories. I took tonight off for mental sanity reasons. haha

Off to bed; finishing a sic palm tree job and going for the up-sell on some more palms near a 60' custom sport fishing yacht- cant wait to get you guys pics.

hotrod1965
11-19-2007, 11:10 PM
I guess the guy should have waited to have you put up the lights!! Then he wouldn't have burned his house down! That is a crazy story though! But at least you get to work in Florida!

E.J.
11-19-2007, 11:31 PM
No, I didn't put lights on his house, it was a little freaky to me how our schedules didn't match up for a couple days and then all of a sudden it is gone.

David Gretzmier
11-19-2007, 11:48 PM
Most selling books will tell you your close ratio should be around 25-35%. any higher than 35% and your prices are too low, any lower than 25% then your prices are too high. I bumped to 6.50 a foot this year after being stuck at 6 bucks since 2001.

Along with 3 new hungry competitors this year, that has got my close ratio at 27% right now, down from 35% last year. 12 jobs closed and 44 bids so far this year. completely booked on appointments tuesday and wednesday. I am still hoping to get 15 more new jobs this year between tomorrow and Dec. 5th. still well short of my goal of 35 new customers.

good luck guys, 11 days of prime selling left. the phone will die around Dec. 5th.

turf hokie
11-20-2007, 07:33 PM
Taking 10-20 calls a day and booking 4-5 appointments a day. Except when I go out in the field. Snow and rain killed us yesterday and today. Gonna have some peeved customers at the end of tomorrow. But what are we gonna do? Tell them we will be there on Friday and hope for the best. Looking for 10-15 more jobs to finish the year. Which after taking account for lost customers would put us at about a little behind on the total customer growth but ahead on total sales. which I will take any day of the week.
Good luck all
I am ready for this to be over all ready. Had a customer call today, LED roof 250 feet she has one bulb out and wants us to fix it tomorrow.:hammerhead:

David Gretzmier
11-20-2007, 11:13 PM
we preach a 48 hour service guarantee, but customers want it now. I put a message on voice mail last year on December 24th at 7pm. we are closed for Christmas for time with my family, we will begin takedowns 26th, If you have problems we are sorry, all our crews have went home to be with thier families too. I had one customer leave a nasty message that her lights were out and she could not believe we would not come out on Christmas eve. she did after all "pay a lot of money for these lights" .

Is there no line in the sand anymore between my time and when customers can demand I come to thier home and fix thier problems?

turf hokie
11-21-2007, 06:47 AM
David, I am beginning to think that the "I pay a lot for my lights" line trumps any common sense. I have a customer that used that line and wanted me to plug in the lights thanksgiving morning b/c she did not want to "mess" with the cords and timer. Mind you the timer is set and the cord is about six inches away from the timer. My instructions were complicated. Pick up the extension cord and plug it into the timer or wait until Friday(she doesnt want them plugged in today, that would be craziness)

We also preach a "within 48 hours" service rule unless they lose an entire section of lights or a timer fries in the snow or rain. Then we will try to get there within 24 hours of the call. But we also tell them that we usually wont run a service call for one or two bulbs on a roof. But it usually goes in one ear and out the other.

hotrod1965
11-21-2007, 03:16 PM
I thought you needed to be a lisenced Christmas Light installer to plug in timers :)

turf hokie
11-22-2007, 12:41 AM
I thought you needed to be a lisenced Christmas Light installer to plug in timers :)
The timer WAS plugged in, we went around the license for the homeowner. The hard part is plugging the cord that connects the timer to the lights.:hammerhead:

David Gretzmier
11-22-2007, 03:06 AM
Alot of my customers don't want to touch the cord, but for different reasons. They don't want to be held responsible for "messing with it" and have to pay for a service call because they plugged it in wrong. truthfully, this can happen in a double gang outlet situation. we can have 4 photo-call timers going to the same double gang ( 4 places to plug in, 2 separate 20 amp breakers) outlet box. some plugs might be loaded to 8.1 or 8.2 amps, and plugging in the two heavier ones might cause the one side to trip, but not likely.

keep going guys, return those phone calls, 8 more premium days of selling left. we're still booked a week out with three crews, but I am hoping for 10 more new jobs. we'll see. Happy Thanksgiving !

E.J.
11-22-2007, 09:33 PM
I just booked up December 6th & 7th for one job; but will be working on it the majority of the time by myself (three of my guys are involved in the same function). I am use to working alone though. I envy you who have reliable, solid crews. I might have just found a great guy to work for me again next season if he is still around.

Looking forward to two huge palm tree jobs coming up soon. Doing a couple decently big Canary Island Palms (requiring me to rent a lift). I am definitely under on the price, but I really want them for my portfolio; the pics. from one I did last year got lost in my hard drive crash.

One bulb- I would have had to work hard to replace her the following year...that's all I know. I have one customer who did that to me today, but it was my neighbor. She is crazy, but I did it so both their house and mine would look great tonight.

TPnTX
11-26-2007, 10:00 AM
no good deed goes unpunnished. As I mentioned I did that house and basically gave it away. But I did get experience and it paid for enough c7/c9 wire to do my house.

So then the builder of that house asked if I would do his house. I knew where this was going. I went out yesterday and looked at it. I guessed 600ft counting the ridge lines.

So I call the guy this morning. Now like I said this guy is a home builder for one, and he knows what I charged for the other house because him and that guy are friends. And to really mix things up. I do maintenance on this homebuilders spec homes until they get sold.

So I knew if I went in at 4-5 or 6 a foot he'd think I'm out of my mind. So I told him 3.00. I knew he wouldn't go for it. I'm just trying to get out of this and save as much face as possible.

He's said "1800.00!!!" for xmas lights. I said "I know I know". Look the spread is 2 - 4 per ft around here.

He then asked if I charged Robert 900.00 I said "No I took that job matching another bid and I'll never do that again."

So he told me he wants someone to do it for around 400.00 and I said I don't blame you keep looking and you'll find them but it ain't me and I'm just shooting you straight. I think I came out of it alright and hopefully he will still do other business with me.

Here is his house. 400.00 ahhaha stop!

E.J.
11-26-2007, 10:36 AM
How do you take that guy seriously. I mean he is a home builder and if anyone should have an idea, it would be him. I stopped giving deals this past week. Really, if people don't like the price, then they will have to do it on their own.

I have quickly learned a lot and this site is very helpful. Thanks to all the experts here!

hotrod1965
11-26-2007, 12:58 PM
wow. I wouldn't give a deal at all. Look at those roof lines! I'm not sure $400 would even cover your costs once you count in ext. cords, timers, plugs, gas, bulbs, wire, clips.....
We would get at least $2400 for 600 feet.

I always ask folks over the phone what thier budget is, then I have them give me an idea of what they want. Then I give them a rough price. This usually weeds out 50% of my 70% I don't close...

I guess I could see someone taking $400 for just the labor to put them up and then a little less to pull them down....

turf hokie
11-26-2007, 06:33 PM
There is a lot of that roof that cant be done from the roof. Ladder work is time consuming.
Even the $2400 would be a deal.

TPnTX
11-26-2007, 08:21 PM
home builders are the worst customers to begin with. And the photo shows how much effort i put into it. I didn't even lower my window :)

Really what I've learned from here changes everything. I'll begin again next year and see how many jobs I can get with top dollar prices. Hell one job would be better than several priced too low. You can swing a cat around here and hit a yard guy doing it.

E.J.
11-26-2007, 11:46 PM
Yeah, I am really glad you didn't take that job for the price! I am sure everyone else is too.

What is the reason for people not placing pics of their work on this site? Hokie, David, etc? I am working on getting some pictures to post for at least some critique from you guys.

turf hokie
11-27-2007, 06:38 AM
I will get some pics. Honestly, it is b/c I lost a good portion of my portfolio pics due to a computer prob and a failed backup. So I am in the process of redoing the pics as we speak.

Also, trying to get caught up on intalls. We have had 5 lost or partially lost days to rain in the last 3 1/2 weeks. I did not plan on that many lost days. So we are scrambling a bit.

hotrod1965
11-27-2007, 07:04 PM
Here's a roof line pic. No lowers do to hungry dogs!!

E.J.
11-27-2007, 10:01 PM
I am going to post some pics within the next week or so. Laying it all on the table and will see what everyone has to say. Stringing lights in 85 degree weather hasn't been fun the past few days. Northerners, PLEASE send us some cold weather ! haha

Hoakie, I know the feeling of being behind. I am about 3 days behind schedule from messing up my back. I have to be thankful though; my friends working for me are really picking up the pace and learning quickly.

My problem now is the fact I have completely run out of inventory and still receiving calls and clients doing their own up-selling (which is good, but not sure what I am going to do about materials). I started taking all the lights down from my roofline and oak tree tonight to use spread over a couple other jobs.

John Zaprala
12-10-2007, 12:33 AM
Interesting. I will look into that.

Seeing as how this thread has such a general title, I assume it's game to talk anyting related to Christmas and Holiday decorating.

- Is there a computer program, besides the one Christmas Decor has, that will enable me to enter simple information and receive a detailed quote for clients on the spot. I have found my quoting ability to be a slow process; too slow.

- Also, biggest thing I am trying to overcome is the fact that a lot of my larger home wants want theri roof-ridging lit up this year; they have tile roofs though. I have considered hot glue and face upward on ridge line. I hear walking on tile roofs is hard because you will break tiles easily. How would I go about these ridge line installs?

PRO Landscape has holiday lighting in the program and let's you design and quote from the photo rendering you make.

Mowerboy04
02-05-2008, 09:20 AM
Here's a roof line pic. No lowers do to hungry dogs!!

hey i remember that job :dizzy: