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Mike M
06-21-2008, 07:27 PM
CRAP.

I forgot to select "multiple" selections.

Please chose either YTD or Same Month, but Same month is a little more helpful.

David Gretzmier
06-21-2008, 09:12 PM
Did not know I could post on year and month. I am up from last year, but the phone stopped ringing 2 weeks ago. i've done one bid in 3 weeks. I will be out of work except for 4 weekly mowings that I do in one day after next week.

Lite4
06-21-2008, 10:48 PM
I have 50,000 RSVP pieces hitting homes starting monday and a full page magazine add coming out in 3 weeks. So far I have just done a ton of 2k-4k jobs this year and nothing larger. I just bid two that were 15-20k, but we'll see. Sure would be nice to get some larger ones. I have about another 4 days worth of work on the books right now. Hoping for some response from these mailers.

David Gretzmier
06-21-2008, 11:17 PM
wow, 50,000 pieces of mail. that is breathtaking. I was struggling to find funds for 3x 1000 pieces. doesn't it cost like 25,000 bucks to mail/print out 50,000 items??

Mike M
06-22-2008, 06:25 AM
David, we have pages of this stuff. You must have been taking down Christmas lights.

RSVP: little cellophane-wrapped pack of high-end advertisers, your card is about 8 cents per, including print, list, and postage. Nicely done, much better than Valuepak. Top 25k upscale homes in a given market, I'm sure rates and circulation numbers vary. My price, about $1,750 for 25,000, discount for consecutive (quarterly) mailings. Not sure if you have an RSVP franchise in your market.

The same company also offers custom individual mailings as well, if you have the budget.

Lite4
06-22-2008, 09:52 AM
Yeah, Pretty reasonable considering the volume. I am paying about .05 per piece plus they gave me 1000 overrun cards for free that I can use as post cards or whatever. I am hoping for at least a .01% response. 50 calls would be tremendous, but I am not expecting that much. Who knows we'll see.

Pro-Scapes
06-22-2008, 10:13 AM
Slowed down a little here but still holding steady. I am in the process of prewiring a few larger jobs with the irrigation trenches so thoes should go in over the next couple months.

Summer months are traditionally slow for us on the lighting side. We will have a busy late summer and fall however.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
06-22-2008, 12:11 PM
Year to date sales are way up... 50% higher then 2007 already. Currently we are solidly booked with new installations until Sept. 15th with new leads coming in weekly.

2008 is going to be one for the record books here! :)

extlights
06-22-2008, 01:59 PM
For us the amount of new projects are down however the total gross sales are up. I'd personally rather have it the other way around to help meet year end projections but we'll see how it pans out. It's definately been a crazy year....seems like more people are shopping around rather than signing at the first meeting like years past.

Eden Lights
06-22-2008, 03:18 PM
I have 50,000 RSVP pieces hitting homes starting monday and a full page magazine add coming out in 3 weeks. So far I have just done a ton of 2k-4k jobs this year and nothing larger. I just bid two that were 15-20k, but we'll see. Sure would be nice to get some larger ones. I have about another 4 days worth of work on the books right now. Hoping for some response from these mailers.


I will take the 2-4K jobs all day long, just alot more leg work to keep them lined up.

Lite4
06-22-2008, 04:52 PM
I will take the 2-4K jobs all day long, just alot more leg work to keep them lined up.

Sorry, I shouldn't complain. I am thankful to have work.

Mark B
06-22-2008, 05:41 PM
Things are slower for me as well. I havn't had as many irrigation or lighitng bigger jobs this year. I havn't priced a lighitng job in weeks. I also live in a smaller town, so that might have something to do with it as well. I'm worried about the water restrictions this yr.

TXNSLighting
06-22-2008, 11:37 PM
yeh no calls except for one tire kicker from door hangers we did. i did my last job a couple weeks ago and gettin worried again.

Pro-Scapes
06-22-2008, 11:50 PM
I will take the 2-4K jobs all day long, just alot more leg work to keep them lined up.

If we break it down per hour we make alot more on the 2-4k jobs than we do on the 20k+ jobs. It is alot more work and alot more clients to deal with tho but it takes alot less planning and usually alot less stress.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
06-23-2008, 12:37 AM
My experience has been the exact opposite. I find that smaller jobs result in a much lower net profit then the large jobs. When I have analyzed this I have found that the smaller jobs tend to:

1: require more time during the sales process. (clients are less eager to sign up)
2: generally require at least one or more edits to the original proposal
3: generally require at least one extra trip to site to close the deal (travel times are huge here)
4: require about the same amount of time to prepare and issue purchase orders, procurement, inventory control etc.
5: require about the same amount of time to get to site, prepare, tidy, clean, and depart from
6: regularly result in a longer amount of time to collect the final amount owing and sometimes require more then one reminder notice.

Besides all of that, the sheer volume of systems you need to install in order to make a comfortable living is much higher, which does nothing but cost you money in terms of operation expenses per system installed.

Finally look at the difference in your marketing expenses... I would suggest that those of you focused squarely at the $2-$4K lighting systems are spending a much larger percentage of revenues on marketing then those focused on the $25K - $100K systems.

As for quantifying stress levels... I would also say that smaller systems generate more stress per dollar earned then larger jobs... generally because you are working 'under the gun' of time constraints and the sometimes unrealistic expectations of clients who are in this category. The larger jobs are much less stressful as you have the confidence of the client to completely take care of the project, have the ability to schedule as much time as you need to achieve the project and have complete design and implementation control. Besides all that, any unexpected costs (contracting out a concrete cutting job when you find 5" of old driveway buried under 5" of #1 crushed granite gravel! True story) are much easier to accept and deal with in large jobs, thus lowering stress and disappointment levels.

From day one I have been focused on attracting, finding and landing the "large scale" outdoor lighting jobs. My rationale then, as it is today, is:

- so you land a $2k job, install it and the client loves it... they have a party and invite all of their peers over. everyone loves the lighting. many ask how much it cost. several people call you to do similar work at their home. Now how many of these systems does it require for you to bring home $100k at the end of the year? (a: Hundreds)

- so you land a $30k job, install it and the client loves it.... they have a party and invite all of their peers over. everyone loves the lighting. many ask how much it cost. several people call you to do similar work at their home. Now how many of these systems does it require for you to bring home $100k at the end of the year? (a: about a dozen)

If you were selling cars, would you rather sell Chevy Aveo's or Ferrari's? Which car do you think generates more Net Profit per unit?

extlights
06-23-2008, 01:43 AM
Alot of people seem to forget that a service business is worth nothing in the end without consistant working incoming revenue from existing customers. The more you have the higher the value of a business will go. Look, there IS a difference between being self employeed and being a business owner. Bottom line, if you're not working on developing a very strong high volume client base that generates consistant revenue year after year then you are cheating yourself on your time and effort in the end. If I needed to choose between 100 5k jobs to reach 500K gross a year or 25 20K jobs I would take the 100 5k jobs without even thinking twice about it.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
06-23-2008, 02:55 AM
I don't understand your logic there at all Dave.

I don't see how, in your comparison of 100 $5k jobs vs. 25 $20k jobs, that you would be achieving a higher net profit at the end of the year. Sure the Gross sales are the same, but the cost of doing business is different. The more time you spend on marketing, selling, procuring, and collecting... well it has to be accounted for in some way, and it is.... on the bottom line.

Large jobs are going to consistantly supply you with more maintenance and service work then small jobs are. Year after year the clients who originally drop $30k plus are going to want their investment maintained. However, many clients who drop $3k will be apt to replace lamps themselves or not call for service when required / not be interested in maintenance agreements.

Besides that, what will happen to your operational costs if you do capture 100% of the service on all those small jobs? I would rather spend a full day servicing one large job then have the costs associated with coordinating, servicing, invoicing and collecting on all those smaller service jobs.

Then someone will undoubtedly say that there is not a lot of high end work in their marketplace... to which I will say: "hogwash!" I don't care if you work in a major urban center, or the middle of the great plains, or the top of the Rockies, or deep in the woods... where ever you are located there is a "top 2%" of the market. Those top 2% have friends... and so on and so on and so on.

Try it, you'll like it!

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
06-23-2008, 03:26 AM
Alot of people seem to forget that a service business is worth nothing in the end without consistant working incoming revenue from existing customers.

Actually Dave, if you really want to build value in your business, with the goal of creating something that can be sold to others in the future, you want to systematize your operations. Of course a long standing history of consistent revenue from existing customers will help, along with consistent new sources of revenue, but ultimately if you want to build value to your business, you need to be able to offer someone something tangible to buy. A system is a great way to do this.

One of the best ways to do this for a small service oriented business like ours, is to systematize and record everything. (the McDonald's model) You want to create systems that are easily understood and duplicatable. This way, the future owner of your business can refer back to your system and move forward beyond an obstacle. By systematizing your business you are creating something that is transferable and thus has value, far beyond the client list alone.

Have a great day.

extlights
06-23-2008, 10:31 AM
What do you consider the "top 2%"? Around here we can have a 5 million dollar house on 1/2 acre, thus making it difficult to install anything larger than a 5K system on that property. To me there is no more effort doing a bunch of average jobs instead of 1 large job. Everyone does business differently...we stock most of our product. Usually we'll have 200ish or more fixtures, 20 or more transformers and 15 rolls of wire in stock at any given time. Give me 6 20 fixture jobs and they will all be done in the next 6 days. I don't rely on anyone who isn't on my payroll (like a supplier) to get me my product on time. Now I know a lot of guys might not have the working capital to do this, but for us it rids a lot of unnecessary headaches thus allowing us to be more efficient in our day to day business practices and make scheduling and coordinating a breeze.

Now as far as building value I'll add this. If you think your business is going to be worth something mainly because of a "system" and not so much a strong client list then you might want to think about filming an infomercial. The proof is in the pudding and most business investors are buying the pudding. My father in law sold his lvl business almost 2 years ago. What is the very first thing the buyers wanted to see....well the books of course! He had over 1300 customers with yearly working capital from something like 360-ish of his existing customers on maintenance plans, which isn't too bad considering we work 8 months out of the year. Now If I were wanting to by a business I'd have to say that whatever "system" is being used probably works because of the numbers. Finally I'll add that the 20K-100K jobs are far more likely to dry up much faster than the 4-6K jobs are no matter how great your system is.

Lite4
06-23-2008, 12:36 PM
When I was doing landscaping. We would always make a lot more money when we were on a larger job for a simple fact. Less mobilization from job to job = less time wasted and more money in your pocket. When you are moving trailers or getting setup for a different job you are not making $. I have not yet been able to quantify this in lighting as I am not moving skidsteers and dumptrucks to job sites and I have no other employees standing around. I do know I spend a lot more time and put a lot more fuel in my tank when it comes to chasing down jobs. I would rather drive to and close a 30K job than to take the time and gas and chase down 10 - 3k jobs, which could be spread across our valley. You can figuire about 45 minutes to 1 hour to drive across town here. I think I would rather use that hour to be installing.

extlights
06-23-2008, 02:08 PM
Geographical location will definately make a difference. Sure gas, time and everything else comes into play. Most of our work is 5-20 miles from our shop so there isn't a ton of window time. We just finished a $18k job last week..by far our largest of this short season and I'm not saying that I don't like those. Our business model just doesn't include targeting only the large jobs...in fact we don't target them at all, but if they come along that's great! Our average project last year was $3800 when combining all the new installs we did....(that doesn't include the add-ons from existing customers).

Now with volume of work their comes a lot of other benefits. First off the more customers we have the more referrals we get thus lowering our advertising budget. Also with those referrals you're not really "chasing" work because 98% of the time they sign right away. We spent 13K on direct mail this year....down from past years, and I'll expect it to be lower next year. Also every year we sign more maintenance plans. Just as everything else it's a growth pattern that we work on. Although nothing in business is certain it's nice knowing at the beginning of the year about how much revenue we will have comming in from pre-scheduled maintenance plans alone. I see too many small business owners that have nothing comming in and struggle because they don't concentrate on truly growing the business in all facets.

To each their own....I don't tell people how to run a business, but I do have an MBA in business and have had a lot of large corporate management experience before getting into lvl. Business models and plans will always vary...it's just up to the owner to stay on track in what they are trying to achieve and truly know their own marketplace in order to put those practices in place.

David Gretzmier
06-23-2008, 03:48 PM
Any business broker will tell you two very important things about the value of your business.

# 1 of your sales makeup, how much of your sales is repetitive, and how much is a one time buy. The more maintenance sales you have that are the same customers year after year for rebulbs is worth 10 times the value of install. it's guaranteed revenue next year verses revenue you gotta replace next year. Ask around. a 2 million revenue install company can be had for 200,000. but a 2 million maintenance company goes for a million plus if run properly.
# 2 is the size of jobs you do. the company that has much larger jobs is at a greater risk than the company that has a smaller job size. the larger of a market for your products, the more your company is worth.

both of these facts lead me to the conclusion for my business to strive for the revolving rebulb/christmas rehang revenue. you can pretty much count on 90-95% of it year after year and it is sales you don't have to sell every year. I keep my job size in the 1500-20,000 size, although I have done and would not turn down larger jobs.

Although I love LED flashlights, when LED's get perfected for landscape lighting it will kill the selling value of this business. a 10-15 year old lighting company with 300-400k in revolving rebulb revenue will lose 3/4 of it's worth when you take away those year to year guaranteed sales.

Eden Lights
06-23-2008, 07:49 PM
Leds will not cut into anything except Lamp sales for me: Growing plants, Wheelbarrows, Mulch, Landscapers, and etc. will always cause a need for LV lighting maintenance contracts.

Lite4
06-23-2008, 07:52 PM
I agree with you guys on the yearly maintenance. That is a great source of additional revenue as well as a great way to stay in touch with your clients and keep them happy.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
06-24-2008, 01:41 AM
Although I love LED flashlights, when LED's get perfected for landscape lighting it will kill the selling value of this business. a 10-15 year old lighting company with 300-400k in revolving rebulb revenue will lose 3/4 of it's worth when you take away those year to year guaranteed sales.

This is simply not true. Just because the LED lamps outlast the Halogens by 10X does not mean that no service is required. Things grown, things move, things change, zones need to be revamped over time, fixtures need cleaning, treelights need maintenance to accomodate growth, and not all fixtures are LED lamped and thus require re-lamping. (there are no wedge based or bi-pin LEDs running on AC yet).

And the Net profit you make on the original sale of the LED lamps covers the profit you would have made on a halogen re-lamp MANY times over. I have worked this through... being on the supply side of leading edge technology can be a very attractive position.

Have a great day.

niteliters
06-24-2008, 03:54 PM
My experience has been the exact opposite. I find that smaller jobs result in a much lower net profit then the large jobs. When I have analyzed this I have found that the smaller jobs tend to:

1: require more time during the sales process. (clients are less eager to sign up)
2: generally require at least one or more edits to the original proposal
3: generally require at least one extra trip to site to close the deal (travel times are huge here)
4: require about the same amount of time to prepare and issue purchase orders, procurement, inventory control etc.
5: require about the same amount of time to get to site, prepare, tidy, clean, and depart from
6: regularly result in a longer amount of time to collect the final amount owing and sometimes require more then one reminder notice.

Besides all of that, the sheer volume of systems you need to install in order to make a comfortable living is much higher, which does nothing but cost you money in terms of operation expenses per system installed.

Finally look at the difference in your marketing expenses... I would suggest that those of you focused squarely at the $2-$4K lighting systems are spending a much larger percentage of revenues on marketing then those focused on the $25K - $100K systems.

As for quantifying stress levels... I would also say that smaller systems generate more stress per dollar earned then larger jobs... generally because you are working 'under the gun' of time constraints and the sometimes unrealistic expectations of clients who are in this category. The larger jobs are much less stressful as you have the confidence of the client to completely take care of the project, have the ability to schedule as much time as you need to achieve the project and have complete design and implementation control. Besides all that, any unexpected costs (contracting out a concrete cutting job when you find 5" of old driveway buried under 5" of #1 crushed granite gravel! True story) are much easier to accept and deal with in large jobs, thus lowering stress and disappointment levels.

From day one I have been focused on attracting, finding and landing the "large scale" outdoor lighting jobs. My rationale then, as it is today, is:

- so you land a $2k job, install it and the client loves it... they have a party and invite all of their peers over. everyone loves the lighting. many ask how much it cost. several people call you to do similar work at their home. Now how many of these systems does it require for you to bring home $100k at the end of the year? (a: Hundreds)

- so you land a $30k job, install it and the client loves it.... they have a party and invite all of their peers over. everyone loves the lighting. many ask how much it cost. several people call you to do similar work at their home. Now how many of these systems does it require for you to bring home $100k at the end of the year? (a: about a dozen)

If you were selling cars, would you rather sell Chevy Aveo's or Ferrari's? Which car do you think generates more Net Profit per unit?

I would rather design, install 20 $50,000 jobs than 200 $5000 jobs

Chris J
06-24-2008, 06:29 PM
Not me. I'll take them large or small. I understand the theory of 20 x 50,000 vs. 200 x5,000, but seriously, how many 50,000 job will you do before you run out of customers at that level? Demographics will have a lot to do with the answer to that question. In some areas, there just aren't that many 50k jobs to be had. And when you do run across them, how long does it take to design them? Keep in mind that you may not even get the job after spending that time to design it and sell the customer. Meanwhile, I can do ten 5k designs in two days or less. Just my thoughts......

Lite4
06-24-2008, 06:55 PM
Man Chris,
That is smokin fast. Is it because of the sandy soil that you can move so fast, or do you have a crew that helps you? I work alone and can do a 3k job in a day if all the conditions are right. I couldn't imagine plowing through 5, 5k jobs in 2 days. you and your crew must work very fast.

Chris J
06-24-2008, 07:05 PM
No, No! I said ten designs (estimates). I can usually install a job of 35 lights or less in one day, but you are correct. The soil is usually very soft, and I do have employees. If they were very small jobs (12 lights or less) I could see pulling this off, but only in the cooler months. Definitely not now!

niteliters
06-24-2008, 08:28 PM
I don't think anyone would turn down the a quality job large or small, but as James noted, as you do larger jobs those friends and guests see that and want a similar job for their home. I have seen it in our business over the last several years. Another point, these clients freinds that come to visit aren't always from our little town. You take the work that comes your way and falls at your door step while trying to find 5, 10, however many clients, to do larger projects for to start the ball rolling for the next year and the next etc. Think it can't be done. you just wasted the last 7 seconds of your evening.

Mike M
06-24-2008, 11:59 PM
Someone with a search knack please re-post that thread by Dave a while back, about the personality of an artist. I think it was Dave.

freedom

extlights
06-25-2008, 12:25 AM
I don't think anyone would turn down the a quality job large or small, but as James noted, as you do larger jobs those friends and guests see that and want a similar job for their home. I have seen it in our business over the last several years. Another point, these clients freinds that come to visit aren't always from our little town. You take the work that comes your way and falls at your door step while trying to find 5, 10, however many clients, to do larger projects for to start the ball rolling for the next year and the next etc. Think it can't be done. you just wasted the last 7 seconds of your evening.


So because someone spent big bucks on a lighting system that means that all their friends have that kind of money to throw around on one as well? I'd be willing to bet that if you do a real nice 4K system on a home in a subdivision that's filled with 500-700K homes you'll get a better referral list.

Chris J
06-25-2008, 12:44 AM
I don't think anyone would turn down the a quality job large or small, but as James noted, as you do larger jobs those friends and guests see that and want a similar job for their home. I have seen it in our business over the last several years. Another point, these clients freinds that come to visit aren't always from our little town. You take the work that comes your way and falls at your door step while trying to find 5, 10, however many clients, to do larger projects for to start the ball rolling for the next year and the next etc. Think it can't be done. you just wasted the last 7 seconds of your evening.

Well Chris, I actually didn't waste any seconds on this thread. You were agreeing with a clown, so I took the time to be entertained. Thanks for the laughter. :laugh::rolleyes::laugh:

David Gretzmier
06-25-2008, 03:04 AM
I think we all want the security from relamping and maintenance over time. I think on a 50k job with a 5k relamping maintenance, you are more likely to lose it than 10 $500 relamping maintenance. I have not sold many LED's, but I'm not so sure I can mark them up enough to make that residual profit off relamping every year. Since James has more experience with LED's than anyone, perhaps he can shed some light on this, but costwise, I know what LED lamps cost and what mr-16's cost, and the markup on LED must be huge for relamping revenue to go away and still come out ahead.

irrig8r
06-25-2008, 09:55 AM
Someone with a search knack please re-post that thread by Dave a while back, about the personality of an artist. I think it was Dave.

freedom




You mean the one about artistic temperament? That was me. It was in the "Role Call" thread when we were discussing Mike G. and Pete S....

I think a lot of us might recognize parts of ourselves in some of these descriptions... found by doing a Google search on "artistic temperament"...



"The Artist"

The following ten traits and characteristics are typical of the Artistic personality type.

Mood swings. Those of the Artistic temperament tend to experience a greater range of emotion than those of any other type. They are very emotionally reactive.


Artistic inclinations. The Artistic type is the most inclined of all the types to be involved with the fine arts, music, or literature (Keirsey, 204). They take an artistic approach to all aspects of their lives.


Independent work. Like "the majority of poets, novelists, composers, and to a lesser extent, of painters and sculptors," those of the Artistic type "are bound to spend a great deal of their time alone (Storr, ix)."


Relationships secondary. Those of the Artistic temperament "are quite likely to choose relationships which will further their work rather than relationships which are intrinsically rewarding, and their spouses may well find that marital relations take second place (Storr, 107)."


Great productivity. Persons of the Artistic type are highly disciplined, gifted with superior powers of concentration, and capable of producing great quantities of high quality work; they also enjoy frequent periods of recreation and inactivity.


Disinhibition. They are hedonistic and impulsive; "they live Epicurean lives in the here and now, and as gracefully as possible (Keirsey, 204)."


Keen perceptions. The Artistic temperament is especially attuned to color, line, texture, shading - touch, motion, seeing, and hearing in harmony. The senses of Artistic individuals seem more keenly tuned than those of others (Keirsey, 205).


Kindness (Keirsey, 205). Although those of the Artistic type may adopt an aggressive, tough exterior, they are remarkably gentle, kind, and generous.


Extroversion and introversion. The interpersonal conduct of those of the Artistic type alternates between the greatest extremes of sociability and social reticence.


Love of nature. In many individuals of the Artistic type there "may be found an instinctive longing for the natural, the pastoral, the bucolic. They are quite at home in the wilds, and nature seems to welcome them (Keirsey, 206)."

This description owes a debt to several ideas of Cory Caplinger (Lifexplore), especially the names of the first two characteristics.

niteliters
06-25-2008, 09:27 PM
Well Chris, I actually didn't waste any seconds on this thread. You were agreeing with a clown, so I took the time to be entertained. Thanks for the laughter. :laugh::rolleyes::laugh:

I always try to do my part my friend. Especially simce all the comedy shows are in reruns.

niteliters
06-25-2008, 09:37 PM
So because someone spent big bucks on a lighting system that means that all their friends have that kind of money to throw around on one as well? I'd be willing to bet that if you do a real nice 4K system on a home in a subdivision that's filled with 500-700K homes you'll get a better referral list.

I'd be willing to agree to the possibility. I would venture to say that is why there isn't one correct way. There is the way that you or I use that has brought us success. "That" is the right way. Different methods bring one to the same end... gratification in ones work, new leads, which are the most important thing no matter the amount, which leads to renumeration that can support ones lifestyle of choice...happiness.

NightScenes
06-25-2008, 10:28 PM
We had a little slow down for a while but it seems to be picking back up again.