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Mike M
12-02-2008, 06:50 AM
I'm so flipping bored. That's the worst part of an economic slowdown. What do we do now? I'm rigging spare parts from my garage and putting lights around my yard. I should pull them out and put them back in like once a week just to stay in shape. I should do mini crop circles with lights in the back.

Lawns are dormant. Snow removal not in high demand.

I have an install later this week, I should spread it out to one fixture a day ("these things take time, mam").

worx
12-02-2008, 07:41 AM
Your normal vocations may be some what slow, but there are opportunities out there. Consider the oldest business known to man.......or in your case, known to woman.:dancing:

There may be some integration opportunities on the same street corner you are gathering at for the window squeegee business.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-02-2008, 08:49 AM
Mike, sounds to me like you haven't whole heartedly embraced my advice...

"Use what you know to your advantage."

Get out of your garage and into the faces of the commercial property owners. Show them how a lighting audit and efficiency retrofit program can reduce their operating expenses NOW, and provide them with a monthly return on their investment in the near future.

You do know a thing or two about lamp technology, energy efficiency, basic math, etc... right?

Have an interesting day.

Mike M
12-02-2008, 11:00 AM
You do know a thing or two about lamp technology, energy efficiency, basic math, etc... right?

Not really. I just like the artsy creative side of the business.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-02-2008, 12:16 PM
Ahh ok, you might just be snookered then Mike... Unless you find a nice, rich, benefactor who is willing to bank role you as you fine tune your 'craft'. :)

Enjoy.

NightLightingFX
12-02-2008, 01:51 PM
Mike,
I hope I don't offend you too much, but dude you HAVE got to stop embracing this so called "Economic Slow Down." If one was to go back and look at your post I bet the majority of the post would be some kind of whinning about the economy. I don't think anyone can be successfull about focusing on negative things.
~Ned

TXNSLighting
12-02-2008, 02:26 PM
Mike,
I hope I don't offend you too much, but dude you HAVE got to stop embracing this so called "Economic Slow Down." If one was to go back and look at your post I bet the majority of the post would be some kind of whinning about the economy. I don't think anyone can be successfull about focusing on negative things.
~Ned

Very good point. Its only as bad as you make it...

Mark B
12-02-2008, 03:08 PM
Get a gun and hunting. That is what I am doing as I type this. Another good use for the iPhone. I just got a small 10 fixture job.

When I get bored I try to cram my nose into busness readings. I also like to read a magazine called sucess this month was good. Gotta get back to waiting for bambi.

Mike M
12-02-2008, 05:32 PM
Ned;

It's okay, I know what you mean. But if you look at the activity on this board the last month or two, you will see a slow down in overall participation. I have posted a lot about diversifying, etc. In all seriousness, we need to plan for the changes in the market. I'm very curious how others are doing, and what strategies they are using to keep themselves busy.

Sleepy has my philosophy, go with the flow and the energy, if the market is a little stagnant, find something else to occupy your mind, try getting work opportunities down other avenues if you need too, etc. Hunting and fishing is how I survived some slow times in my life in PA.

I have an install this week, but nothing for next week. I can see the tumbleweeds rolling through my town.

NightLightingFX
12-02-2008, 07:25 PM
"I'm so flipping bored. That's the worst part of an economic slowdown. What do we do now? I'm rigging spare parts from my garage and putting lights around my yard. I should pull them out and put them back in like once a week just to stay in shape. I should do mini crop circles with lights in the back.

Lawns are dormant. Snow removal not in high demand.

I have an install later this week, I should spread it out to one fixture a day ("these things take time, mam"). Quote:
Originally Posted by INTEGRA Works Lighting
You do know a thing or two about lamp technology, energy efficiency, basic math, etc... right?

Not really. I just like the artsy creative side of the business."


Again, it looks like a bunch of whinning to me. It has gotten slow for some people but you are the only one dwelling on it.

For me personally, I have been struggling for 3 years in this business. Ever since this "Economic Slow Down" occured I have had the most consistant work and the busiest since I started my business. I finally have other professionals recognizing my work and recomending me.

Changes in the market??? James has a great suggestion. What more do you want?

I suggest you ADOPT Sleepy's philosophy - That means when the market is stagnant don't come whinning to us - do what he does.

Again, I hope I am not too offensive. "Snap out of it man!" focus on positive things not negative things. Lets see if you can go two months without
up-dating us on the economy - let the mass media do that.
~Ned

Mark B
12-02-2008, 10:57 PM
Since I got the full time job, worked that for 2 months. I got laid off. That really sucked. The good part is I got the job I posted about in the other post. That gave me bill $$ till Feb.
I just picked up a small job that I said in post above. I also read the mag I said above. I try to catch Donnie (I can't spell his last name) on TV. His show will get me fired up about life.

I'm also trying to start an advertising biz as well. If I don't make it I can't say I didn't try.


I just got a 20hr per week maintance job @ $16.00 per hr. I know it is not alot. BUT every little bit helps. I think it will work out good. Till things get better.

For it is easy to get depressed. I could dit around and start drinking majic hats#9s all day long. But I get out and try to find things to do.

That is my redneck .02

Oh for any of you that wants a good giggle. Checkout my page on myspace.

The Lighting Geek
12-03-2008, 12:19 AM
Sleepy, I think you have the right idea. You look as though you are loving life.
I think I will try a triathlon: Drinking, skiing, and falling down. Not necessarily in that order. :)

Mike M
12-03-2008, 09:23 AM
There is a reason I began this thread and have had the balls to talk about business climate and not pretend to be rolling in an endless flow of work.

We are entering lean times, and we must shape our businesses and personal plans accordingly.

I've gotten some great tips and feedback from those willing to share ideas. I'd rather get a part-time or full-time job, as others mentioned, before I get deeper in the hole, and before times get even tougher.

The point is to be proactive.

I brought up diversifying for this reason. Guys like Billy are brilliant. Last spring, while I was spending all my marketing dollars on lighting, Billy was marketing for year-round landscape service. He landed a big contract and he has work to carry him through the winter if his design/build lighting slows down.

Then there are guys like Chris J., his business is solidly built on service, and he has so many installs behind him, that he can survive off of service contracts alone if he needs too.

I realize I am over-doing the whining, but it's just my way of keeping a good sense of humor. I've been through a lot of personal and career issues the past two years, and the business climate was like getting kicked in the teeth for me. I will keep my lighting business out there, but I need steady income asap. My wife just landed a job and that is a major load off my back.

I really like hearing what others are doing, it gives me encouragement, helps reaffirm some of my decisions, and reminds me that we have to make necessary adjustments, which may need to be quick or radical for the moment.

James has a good business plan for himself, but I don't have the venture capital nor bread and butter job base to pay for my home and living expenses while I wait for another venture to take foot.

Keep the brainstorms coming! I like Paul's idea of tapping into our pre-existing client base for related services (holiday lighting, for example).

worx
12-03-2008, 10:03 AM
Mike it's good to maintain a since of humor in the tough times it certainly can't hurt. There are many of us concerned about the near future. I am sure there are many business owners in every aspect that are not sleeping well at night. I am not sure what will happen tomorrow but keep in mind bad things can happen in good times as well. Hopefully with the ideas generated from this thread all of us can prevail. Even if it means taking part time jobs and maintaining our business on the side. Landscape maintenance has helped me alot, a few light installs here and there and the fact I squirreled away some extra money from a previous job. I left a job making 65K a year with 5weeks vac. plus holidays insurance the whole 9 yards to spend more time with my family. I happen to make the switch in a less then desirable economy!!!!!!! But I have the time that I couldn't take back no matter what the economy. Am I scared.......sure, would i go back......no. All I can do is move forward the best I know how. I'm hoping this thread will inspire some ideas I have yet to discover, so let's keep it going!

NiteTymeIlluminations
12-03-2008, 11:20 AM
Alot of people talk of vacations and holidays and time with the family and doing yard work. I hear people talking of "word of mouth" business. When I was in the business I spent 60 hours working, less than 5 days off a year. I never complained when it was hot or cold. Never compained when building dropped to nothing. Never did my numbers go down from one year to the next; they always went up and I went through 9/11 with a few employees.

Slow times are the best time to wipe out your competition. The one who makes it through this will be around forever, the one who does better get a new job now.

Slow times, if you are feeling one, is an opportunity of a lifetime.

If you arent working 50 hours a week right now and dont have enough to keep you busy the rest of the year, your competition has won!!!!

NightLightingFX
12-03-2008, 01:54 PM
These forums are a good place for ideas, but you can't lean on the forums to supply you with the next great idea that is going to save your business. Each business climate is different. YOU and only YOU have to reach within and figure a way to make it work. (I have some ideas I am working on when and if they succeed I will share them.)

I personally don't think one should make jokes about a poor economy - Is it funny??? Is your finacial well being something to make fun of??? I am not a stick in the mud. I think it is great to laugh at one's self and to poke fun at uncomfortable situations. I can't afford to let negative thoughts regarding the economy enter my mind - I am just focusing at the obsticals right infront me and what I have to do to make my business work.

I am done standing on my soap box and preaching, and beating this dead horse.
~Ned

worx
12-03-2008, 03:41 PM
Good points Ned and it is important not to let this economy form who you are or your business. We as business owners have a direct and immediate impact on what we become. Hopefully by sharing ideas we will trigger something that others can use to carry on.

Having said that....

What have you discovered (or anyone else) as for timing of your promotions. I don't just mean seasonal but more to the point. Do you advertise before home and garden shows or any other events for that matter? If you were going to 6 months of advertising would you run 6 months continuous or split the ad.'s during peak season's? Do you think a radio advertisement is an opportunity to explain what you can't on a post card? How would you pre- qualify radio listener's? Has anyone ever promoted at golf tourny's? Besides designing a booth for a show what other materials have served you well to have on hand? Has anyone ever surveyed past customers to determine why they sought out a lighting professional?

The Lighting Geek
12-03-2008, 11:28 PM
I have found just being consistent about your marketing is paramount. I might do little more before a function, but people need to see your logo consistently in order to brand yourself. There is no secret decoder ring. Making sure your message is hitting home with your target audience is also important. Trying to hit the right moment is like picking the right moment to get into the stock market.

Mike M
12-08-2008, 06:09 PM
If you get as bored as me, there is a great nonprofit "Go" server for the asian game (mostly Korean, Japanese, Chinese). Lots of aggressive vs. defensive strategies supposedly invented by a military leader to study/teach battle strategies. I find it like business--balance your aggressive strategies with defensive ones. GoKGS.com. There are lots of free online rules/strategies out there, they also have books at barnes-n-noble and amazon. Easier than chess to learn rules, but much more profound to play.

NightLightingFX
12-08-2008, 07:42 PM
What have you discovered (or anyone else) as for timing of your promotions. I don't just mean seasonal but more to the point. Do you advertise before home and garden shows or any other events for that matter? If you were going to 6 months of advertising would you run 6 months continuous or split the ad.'s during peak season's? Do you think a radio advertisement is an opportunity to explain what you can't on a post card? How would you pre- qualify radio listener's? Has anyone ever promoted at golf tourny's? Besides designing a booth for a show what other materials have served you well to have on hand? Has anyone ever surveyed past customers to determine why they sought out a lighting professional?

A promotion I mentioned on the AOLP site, which for me, worked great. It is something I stumbled upon. Last year, a couple weeks before my local "Home & Garden Show" I send out a Press Release about me winning an AOLP Lighting Award. I had a lot of people who I didn't know say they read about me in the newpaper. I am not going to claim that sending out that press release got me any jobs but I was amazed at how many people said they read about me.

worx
12-08-2008, 09:09 PM
About the timing,...I have an existing client that will let me do a lighting demo in a prominent neighborhood. I do the landscaping for them but most of the trees in the landscape have lost there leaves and alot of the plants are in a dormant stage. Do I go ahead with the demo or do I wait for everything to come back in season and do the demo then? I know the effects would be different with the landscape in full bloom. The house would be the same ofcourse but they have a nice landscape.

Pro-Scapes
12-08-2008, 09:53 PM
Tis the season. If you wait today your compeitetion may not.

TXNSLighting
12-08-2008, 10:25 PM
About the timing,...I have an existing client that will let me do a lighting demo in a prominent neighborhood. I do the landscaping for them but most of the trees in the landscape have lost there leaves and alot of the plants are in a dormant stage. Do I go ahead with the demo or do I wait for everything to come back in season and do the demo then? I know the effects would be different with the landscape in full bloom. The house would be the same ofcourse but they have a nice landscape.

Man, trees without leaves look so awesome in our light!! Do it now!!!!!! Winter lighting is the best!

klkanders
12-09-2008, 12:29 AM
I agree. Light it now with an explanation of how great things can look in the winter too. Textures and shadows on tree trunk, limbs, etc. Go on to explain how you design your systems to look and perform excellant year round. Doing it now could get some neighbors attention earlier also. Good Luck!

Keith

irrig8r
12-09-2008, 01:37 AM
I ran into a friend who is a drywall contractor tonight at a restaurant who I hadn't seen for a while but have known since the fifth grade.

He told me he's hanging up his tools. The general contractor who was his main meal ticket apparently found another sub who does quality work for 25% less.

So, my friend is changing careers. He's been some day trading on the side for 10 years and will be taking it up full time.

worx
12-09-2008, 07:48 AM
OK guys I will go ahead with this.

Mike M
12-09-2008, 07:56 AM
Gregg, my wife took a job in radio but had to take a hit in pay, the whole staff recently did, too.

The Chicago Tribune is going bankrupt and CNN.com is saying the New York Times may go under, too. Both are billions in debt. That reminds me of how Carl Sagan wrote about everything in our generation going from millions to billions.

Heck, when the UAW says the auto laborers will accept compromises, you know things are tough.

(No, Ned, I'm not saying it's Armageddon, but I think you should begin clearing the shelves at the stores of Paso before the others are on to it).

So, do we make compromises, too? Where do we shave off some expenses? Where to we supplement our revenues? These are questions I have been researching and asking myself, and here, on lawnsite.

I have already gone from the Unique brass line and CAST bullet to the Unique copper line (awesome bullet, complete with brass knuckles (that sounds funny), 25' leads, greased sockets, and Ushio bulbs.

The reason I'm frigging around with different wires and transformers is to explore more economical materials and configurations for the future (and present) use of LED's.

Are we looking in the right places? Are builders/developers buying lighting to get an edge over other properties? (Or are they out of cash?) Are municipals looking at LED's to save energy? Should I be researching bigger venues, such as illuminating municipal structures and commercial properties with big LED's? (or, is everyone freezing growth?).

While business slows, there is an opportunity to invest time and energy getting educated in other areas. Like Napoleon Dynamite's uncle says, you may as well do something while you're doing nothing.

worx
12-09-2008, 08:22 AM
Mike in my area things are slow too, but the developers are still pushing forward. They are taking there time, but they are required to make good on all the permits they pulled when times were good or risk losing the current permit and being subject to tighter (costly) building codes. Some...., well most, are very cost conscious yet some are very aware things will turn and they want to have the "cream of the crop" developments. And as we all know this can't be done without professional lighting!! I think the opportunities are out there but they are tougher to locate. Just remember, all it takes is one, and the door could be opened!

Pro-Scapes
12-09-2008, 08:22 AM
With spending down alot of municipal areas are hurting a bit due to the lack of sales tax flow. This may mean going greener or living what they currently got. Going green is expensive. Obama wants to spend alot of money making things more energy effecient. This is good news.

Here it is not nearly as pronounced as alot of areas. I am still way up for the year but the smaller jobs are gone. I dont think I have done an install smaller than 5k since May.

A few add ons that were less but overall the per system price is double what it was last year. With that said I will also say I have made little to no comprimises. I do notice alot of clients are holding back the spending but i think that is only the ones that overly invested in the stock market and it has been a major rollercoaster.

I agree with Steve. While new construction has slowed here they are still building custom homes. Run of the mill homes have slowed greatly with little effect if any on lighting. It will pick up but like all the big guys on here told me for years ... aim higher. Just like flying in a jet... there is less turbulence when your in the high end of things.

worx
12-09-2008, 08:52 AM
Mike our county lists all permits being pulled on the county website. I check it often to find out which contractors are building and where. I get the builders name and owner and start calling or emailing. I look at the size of the home and location to see if it "pre-qualifies". Your county may offer the same thing or a neighboring county!