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View Full Version : got a new gig for 2002/ holiday decorating


yergus
12-04-2001, 08:32 PM
When I first found out about this sight, the first question I asked was, Does any one do holiday decorating, and I only recieved one reply, and that was saying it was a good idea, and if i found anything out, let them know.
Well I did some research, located a wholesale light company that deals with a lot of lawn care companies, and I contacted them.
I was told that since I will be buying wholesale, to add 40% to the price of the lights, guestimate how long it will take to install, take down and repackage. the profits is tremendous.
I have a new weekly cut, first cut next march, and he asked if i did holiday decorating. i advised him at that point no, but i would be getting into it next season.
he said that he had a lawn care company do his house last year, and he would like for me to do it this year. of course he still had the lights from last year, so that will save him money.
i measured the house, figured how long it would take and sat and did my figures. the company that did it last year paid less than two hundred dollars for lights, extension cords and hangers, and the rest was labor. it cost him eight hundred dollars, for two and a half hours labor (2 men) to install, one hour to take down, and fourty minutes to repackage and hand them to the owner.
i quoted him 195 to install, 225 to take down and repackage, and he jumped at it as if i would be changing my mind. he has all the lights, extention cords and hangers. all it will take is two hours, or less to install, two hour to take down, using myself and one other worker. now i ask this question? how many of you will be offering holiday installation next year?
:blob4: :blob4: :D

Henry
12-04-2001, 08:42 PM
Just did my 1st one last week. A new cust. that moved up from FL told me the same thing about her lco doing it down there and asked if I would do it. It was just a string of c-7 lamps across the roof line. With these I was able to do the whole length, 90',in one run. Brand new $1.5 million house. She didn't even ask how much, just do it.

GLS
12-04-2001, 08:50 PM
I have done this quite a few times. You can make some good money with this, especially since there isn't any mowing to do in the winter. A lot of people see my house and ask if I could do it to theirs, but I also have clients ask me.

wolfpacklawn
12-04-2001, 11:00 PM
I started doing lights this year and have done 8 houses so far. It helps keep me busy during this time of the year. I just charge by the hour ($35) and I have the customer sign a "hold harmless" agreement. I would recommend doing this because if something goes wrong with their lights and causes property damage your liability insurance probably wouldn't cover this as a lawn care provider. My hold harmless agreement basically says that I am hanging the lights as directed by the home owner and that I am not liable for anything that may go wrong with the lights (fire damage, electrical or whatever) after I hang them.

pyrocare
12-04-2001, 11:51 PM
I was looking at maybe doing this with in a couple of years and I couldn't decide whether if I should just go out on my own or if I should go with a franchise.

Brite Ideas => $14,900, no roalties
Christmas Decore => approx $13, 000 and roalties

I just was wandering if any of you have used either of these.

MOW ED
12-05-2001, 07:46 AM
Wolfpacklawn,

I was thinking about the hold harmless agreement and I do agree that a guy should have something like this if you are working above the board.
My question is did you run this by your attorney?

Reason being is that basically you are running electrical cords and there are standards for outdoor wiring (GFI,outdoor rated wiring).

I know that most of us aren't electricians but I sure would hate for someone to come to a house and use the cheapest electrical cords, overload a circuit anc cause a fire. If you are paid by check amd/or they signed a hold harmless agreement that isn't enforceable it is very easy to prove that you were the one who wired it. If you did something outside of the electrical code for your area, you are sunk.

I certainly am not trying to rain on the parade as I know there are lots of guys doing this quite profitably and safely. I know that there are franchises that advertise Christmas lighting also and wonder what there procedure is.

Happy Holidays

wolfpacklawn
12-05-2001, 12:22 PM
MOW ED

Yes, I had my attorney write this agreement and all the work is "above the table". I feel that it is very specific in its wording about my liability. I will attach part of it for those who may be interested. Obviously when I hang the lights I try and make sure that nothing is going to overload the cuircuit or cause any problems but the agreement is more about covering my "posterior end" in case if something goes wrong.

jdwilliams1
12-05-2001, 12:36 PM
yergus, I have done quiite a bit of research and have gotten many names from the internet for purchasing christmas lights wholesale. I would never do christmas decor franchise, no need to spend that money, this isn't rocket science. Would you mind sharing the company you will be purchasing from. I have gotten a lot of info but my local Lowes is offering better prices than some of the wholesale companies, it sounds like the company would suit us LCO. If you don't mind that would be great.

walker-talker
12-05-2001, 01:27 PM
I have not done this before, but have seriously been thinking about it. I have a simple question. On the new installations that you have to put the hangers on, do you generally leave the hangers on after the season is over? Also, what are the names of the wholesalers where you purchase your lights? Are they over the internet?

yergus
12-05-2001, 03:09 PM
the company that i found that i will be doing most of my business with is
www.upnorth-lighting.com
you might want to add them to your list as well

Mark
12-05-2001, 03:36 PM
I decorate a few clients and the money is very good, on the three story homes i double the price i charge. I have a friend who ran a mowing crew for many yrs,last season he sold his business and all he does now is Holiday Decorating not just Chirstmas but for partys and alot of other Holidays he told me hes doing twice the money. I reckon, there is not a bundel of overhead or repairs and way fewer headacks,he only has one helper,and was paying three when in the mowing business. He is a Prudue graduate and right after collage he started mowing-go figure.Oh well one thing we can say the money in this is very good. Marks Mowing Service

yergus
12-05-2001, 04:10 PM
hi, i am the one that started this conversation. the reason i asked the question to begin with was that last season on the news they interviewed a man that did nothing but holiday decorations, no other job than that. and he wasn't a retired older man either.
he stated that he had over 1500 return customers each season and has at least 25 call per week asking for estimates. now the way i see it, if i could get lucky enough, and worked hard enough, then i would be able to keep my company working year round, thus keeping good employee, because everyone knows that when the season usually ends, the following season it's like starting all over again.
thanks to all that responded, but i wish you would have responded months ago when i first responded, then i would have been full force this season, but as of now i have all intentions of adding the job to my resume.
still wish to hear from others that have done it in the past or still doing it. every little bit helps. again, thanks

jdwilliams1
12-05-2001, 04:46 PM
what percent do most of you think, you will be supplying the lights to the customer? Or will you usually be putting theirs up. Then there is the issue of storage. For an additional fee you can store the product for them, or will you just leave it for them to deal with after you pack it away.

yergus
12-05-2001, 07:16 PM
The first time customer. i will recommend new lights, however, if they want their own hung, i will charge extra for any work needed to get them operating properly. i will charge $35.00 per season for storing it for them, and if they do not want to keep them, i will buy them back at 1/2 the price i paid, i am also considering renting the lights out, which in all actuallity will be the price that they cost originally.
there is good money involved here if someone did more research, and i am working diligently on it.
i can't ask the man from st louis how he operates his business, he would be a fool to tell me, so i won't immbarass my self by asking.
i will keep everyone informed as i find more out, and i request the same from others as well.

:blob2:

Henry
12-05-2001, 09:23 PM
I would stay away from hanging the clients lights. I can just picture them dragging a big box of tangled mini-lights out of the garage. You don't know what you're gonna get into.

All the houses I've seen around here that were done by Chistamas Decor had the larger C-7 or C-9 lights. I will also recommend these since you can hang longer runs than the mini's.

Offer some ideas, and give them a set price for the lights with installation and take down. If your gonna offer storage $35 may not be enough. If a client has a large house your talking a couple boxes of lights, clips, cords etc. If you get 20 jobs you better have a big garage.

LAWNGODFATHER
12-05-2001, 10:23 PM
I was going to offer it but who would want to stay after dark and hang lights after picking up leaves for 8 hours.

wolfpacklawn
12-05-2001, 10:46 PM
I have no problem using the customer's lights even if they are a tangled mess because I just charge by the hour ($35). In fact today I did a job with all kinds of broken bulbs and tangled cords and the job took about 5 hours total. I probably spent about 1 1/2 hours just untangling and fixing bulbs. The customer didn't have a problem with that and was happy to pay the price.

I would be reluctant to sell lights to the customer because I would have to get a license to sell things and then you have to deal with the whole sales tax issue not to mention the liability that goes with selling a product that may cause problems. To me is seems easiest and the less trouble to hang their lights.

LAWNGODFATHER
12-05-2001, 11:38 PM
Do you buy other products and sell them to customers?

Fert

Mulch

ETC.

You pay taxes already on it when purchasing it. Then you charge more then put them up and they pay you, then you pay uncle sam. You are not reselling it with sales tax.

Read how this works under elaments of business forum.

wolfpacklawn
12-06-2001, 12:35 AM
LAWNGODFATHER

Selling a customer Christmas lights is not the same as applying fertilizer and mulch and then charging for the cost of the material as a part of your service charge and i'm sure your states sales tax division would agree. You would need a resale license and then have to collect sales tax especially if you are buying them wholesale without sales tax added.

Phishook
12-06-2001, 02:56 AM
Just started putting a plan together for next year. Doing 4 houses this year (family and one employee). This way I can get a feel of how long it will take and how many lights the customer will need.

As soon as i can get a good camera for taking night pictures, I'm going to get pamplets made and leave at all the local Christmas tree farms.

Don't forget the other holidays. Halloween and thanksgiving did well for me this year. Set a bail, of straw some pumpkins, maybe a gord or two, scare crow, and a stack of corn stalks, BAM $100.00

bruces
12-06-2001, 10:09 AM
Originally posted by wolfpacklawn
I have no problem using the customer's lights even if they are a tangled mess because I just charge by the hour ($35). In fact today I did a job with all kinds of broken bulbs and tangled cords and the job took about 5 hours total. I probably spent about 1 1/2 hours just untangling and fixing bulbs. The customer didn't have a problem with that and was happy to pay the price.



I think this is a service that should yield premium pricing.

If your normal hourly rate is $35 per hour, I would be looking at 60 and up. After all, when your feet leave the ground, your rates should go up.

Seems to me the going rate in this area is $300 per house and up.

I don't have a feel for how long it takes, but I'll bet it is not over 2 or 3 hours.

Scape Sculptor
12-06-2001, 11:19 AM
I have heard $500 per house and up.

mklawnman
12-06-2001, 12:11 PM
I cant comment on the pricing and whose lights to use but i know in this area their is one company that does lights and decorations in the holiday season for customers. This Landscaping company is the biggest in the state, and i know they do christmas lights/decorations for residential, commercial and also they take care of three indoor malls in the Milwaukee area of indoor decorations for the holiday season. They also will come to a house put up a tree, decorate it, then take it down when the season is done, all for like $1000 thats what i heard from a friend of mine. Thats just for one real tree up and decorated in a house. The price may not be totally accurate but its close to that.
You can make good money by doing decorations in the winter time when their is no snow to plow. I've thought about it but im too small to get into that kind of service.
Matt

LAWNGODFATHER
12-06-2001, 05:53 PM
Originally posted by wolfpacklawn
LAWNGODFATHER

Selling a customer Christmas lights is not the same as applying fertilizer and mulch and then charging for the cost of the material as a part of your service charge and i'm sure your states sales tax division would agree. You would need a resale license and then have to collect sales tax especially if you are buying them wholesale without sales tax added.

Why not, it's still a "PRODUCT". I guess you didn't read the entire post I wrote.

Then I guess you need a retail license to RE SELL fertilizer, mulch and other products.

Once you pay sales tax on an item/product you DO NOT charge TAX again. Well maby you do.

Yes you need a retail license to sell an item/product to the public, but if you buy the product from the distributer and pay sales tax on it already you do not need one.

Do you charge sales tax on your services? I don't. I pay sales tax on all product bought. Otherwise I need to get a retail license. I get my products from suppliers, and I pay sales tax.

wolfpacklawn
12-06-2001, 10:41 PM
LAWNGODFATHER

I did read your entire message and I still think you are wrong but am willing to stand corrected if I am wrong. I will ask my accountant and maybe you could ask yours and we may get the right answer. I do not charge seperate for the fertilizer when I do an application; it is part of the price of the service. I do not list the fertilizer as a sepearte item on their statement although the cost is included. For instance I may charge $50 to fertilize a lawn and the fertilizer may cost me $10. I do not bill $40 for labor and $10 product it is just listed as $50 to fertilize.
You ask the question- "Do you charge sales tax on your services?" Of course I don't; service is not something that is subject to sales tax, only products are and then not even all products (groceries for instance).

I'm pretty darn sure that if you buy lights at the Home Depot or wherever and then add on 25- 50% for your profit that your local sales tax collector is going to want his share. Now if you hung the lights and gave them a bid, say $500 to decorate their landscape with lights and included in the agreement that you would provide the lights then it would not be subject to sales tax. But the lights wouldn't belong to the customer either.

Anyhow. I'll talk to my accountant.

Happy Holidays
Wolf Pack Lawn

walker-talker
12-06-2001, 11:57 PM
It's called streamline bookkeeping. If you pay sales tax on an item, you do not have to charge the customer tax again. The LGF is correct.

wolfpacklawn
12-07-2001, 12:49 AM
bruces
You said-

"I think this is a service that should yield premium pricing."

"If your normal hourly rate is $35 per hour, I would be looking at 60 and up. After all, when your feet leave the ground, your rates should go up."

I agree with you that it is worth $60 per hour but I haven't seen that the market will pay that around here. I only got 8 jobs from my existing customer base of 90 lawn customers. At $60 I don't think I would have gotten any. I'd rather do some work at $35 per hour than no work at $1000 per hour.
:)

LAWNGODFATHER
12-07-2001, 12:52 AM
wolf man; now you got it like you said the the fist part of your post. Do it the same way as that, but mark up the product.

You are selling a product plus labor. Doesn't matter what that product is.

Walker-talker; didn't know what they call it, my accountant does that work for me, I just give him recipes.

You are not a re seller or a retailer, you are a services. You supply labor and sometimes products with your sevice. you pay the taxes on monies made quarterly

I don't need to ask my accountant unless they have changed those rules over the last few years. Otherwise he will CALL me.

mike9497
10-12-2003, 09:59 PM
what companies is everyone dealing with? i was going to go with christmas decor but thats just to much money to start up something with them

PetalsandPines
10-13-2003, 09:29 PM
I don't mind hanging lights in early December here in Buffalo, but you can't pay me any amount of money to get up on them roofs in January when it is 7 degrees outside, 30 MPH winds and sideways snow.... It's just too darn cold:dizzy:

MacLawnCo
10-13-2003, 09:42 PM
The Christmas Decor franchise where i work has already began hanging their properties two weeks ago. As said earlier about a diferent company, this franchise only does this and night time decor, assumably the same parent company as christmas decor.