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View Full Version : Things to do to prepare for 2009 sales


David Gretzmier
01-17-2009, 01:36 PM
Things I'll be doing next week now that takedowns are done to help 2009.

I'll be continuing visiting with each customer asking how we did this year and ways to improve for next year. I find this is also the time that customers will mention they'd like a wreath, garland, etc. many are also willing to prepay for new product next year, and I count it as a sale when I have the money in hand. Waiting til March or April cools off customers too much.

Also, many of my Christmas bids and Christmas customers expressed interest in Landscape lighting, so I'll call those too. I missed a few Landscape light sales last year becasue of lazyness- they told me they were interested but I waited til April to call, and by then they had already dropped 5, 10k on lighting with someone else.

Collections. I hate it, you hate it, the customers hate it. but I gotta get this money in now before folks forget the lights being on thier home. My buddy Jamey talks it up this way-In December the lights are beautiful and worth every penny, In January they only use the phone to ask when the lights are coming down, not when you call to collect, and by February they had problems with thier lights back in December( although they never called in December) and it was not worth what you charged them.

marketing costs- what did I spend and what did it bring me? I realized this week that my yellow page advertising is getting close to 10k per year for 3 books. although I get some pretty good Landscape lighting jobs and Christmas light jobs from yellow pages ( probably 75-90k in sales), at 10k That is getting pretty expensive. To put in perspective, You could easily print ( got print.com ), address ( your laser printer) and mail ( if you get a permit and do carrier route saturation mailing) 3000 6x11 super jumbo color postcards front and back every month for 12 months, and have enough left over to buy 6, 4 foot x 12 foot full color coated adhesive vinyl graphics for enclosed trailers or boxvans( you'd have to put them on yourself) for the same money and just do simple listings in the yellow pages . which would build brand value/recognition and get you more sales? Although the postcards and graphics on trucks require way more work on my end, and the yellow pages are easy, just write a check, I think I may go more the postcard direction this year and much less yellow pages. Probably just 1/2" listings for me.

get my building up and get it spray foam insulated. I've detailed this in another thread, but will probably start a new one when construction begins. I am really excited about this for my business. My goal for this building has been refined. By the time this new building is properly full, I better have enough sales to afford the property I really want and need- a place on the interstate with a Christmas light showroom. Once this building is built I won't have space on the property to build another, so I have to get this current one big enough to get me to the dream. That may mean finding another 3-4 grand to get this one right. we'll see.

turf hokie
01-18-2009, 02:59 PM
Collections. I hate it, you hate it, the customers hate it. but I gotta get this money in now before folks forget the lights being on thier home. My buddy Jamey talks it up this way-In December the lights are beautiful and worth every penny, In January they only use the phone to ask when the lights are coming down, not when you call to collect, and by February they had problems with thier lights back in December( although they never called in December) and it was not worth what you charged them.



Holy Cow do we have the same customer base??

David Gretzmier
01-18-2009, 04:41 PM
I think folks are the same all over. a minimum number of folks want to pay you so bad, they bug you to take a check before you can even make out an invoice.a modest number will happily pay when presented an invoice.a modest number of folks pay the bill the same day they get it in the mail. the majority of folks get your bill and pay it within 30 days, and a modest amount make you bug them 3-6 times and sometimes you have to go visit these folks 45 days after you mail them an invoice. some pay 69, 90 days late. and a few folks never pay.

A buddy of mine does concrete. when he is done, they pay. period. when they say they don't have the checkbook, or whatever, he says let's go to the bank, they'll give me money if you have it. If it is a business, he gets it in writing he gets paid the day he finishes, no exceptions. He's a rather gruff fellow, and has only had one person not pay him in 15 years. That's a pretty amazing track record. I have 3-4 per year.

turf hokie
01-18-2009, 08:31 PM
So far in 4 years, I have a lien on one house and I have one person that manages to write a $50 check every 3 months and still owes $450, Just enough to keep themselves out of court or collections. I figure that is decent so far.

But you are right, some people it is like pulling teeth. My favorite though is when they write you a check 3 days after the install in late November and still think they should take the prepay discount that was due Oct 1.

David Gretzmier
01-20-2009, 06:39 AM
Yeah, funny how people view discounts. I have folks that have had us install early and prepay us one year, then not like it that thier lights are up so early, so they go back to november install and we send them a bill after install because they forgot to prepay. boom, price goes up 25% from last year. Then they complain. It is always an exercise in patience for me to argue a 250 dollar price difference with someone who drives 2-3 very new 75k SUV's and lives in a 500k plus home.

I had a guy tell me this year, of course AFTER the lights are up and down, he must have been on crack when he agreed to my price for install in 2007, and rehang in 2008. Don't people read? Is thier signature on a contract worth anything? This of course, AFTER his wife asked us to change the bulbs in thier soffit lights with thier bulbs, and AFTER his wife asked us to clean out thier gutters while we did the install. This gentleman , on January 13, claimed he had 20-30 bulbs out, AND the soffit lights that we changed the bulbs out for his wife, well one of them is out now. So he won't pay the bill. Never called in November or December when the lights were up, waited til we started calling to collect in January.

I really wonder if some folks in 500k plus houses handle all transactions this way. They dishonestly try to get out of paying for most things.

hotrod1965
01-20-2009, 03:07 PM
Why don't you take thier lights down if they dont pay? I have it in our contract that the other 50% is due within 5 days or the lights come down, unless different agreements are made.

turf hokie
01-20-2009, 04:48 PM
Why don't you take thier lights down if they dont pay? I have it in our contract that the other 50% is due within 5 days or the lights come down, unless different agreements are made.

True, my wife wanted us to do takedowns on DEC 21 on a few.

You take them down early, you are NEVER gonna get paid and DEFINATELY lose a customer.
I already spent the labor and materials putting it up and will at some point have to take them down any way. I'd prefer to fight with them and not give them any reason to not pay.

The way I figure it is the downside is far too great in taking them down early

David Gretzmier
01-20-2009, 05:27 PM
I, of course assume everyone will pay, even though some will not. Further, all rehangs this year have paid in the past. If not, I would not hang them. So I take down primarily for that reason. The other obvious reason is I store thier lights at my warehouse, and if they do not pay, at least I have thier lights to resell if they never pay to recoup something.

M&N Maintenance
01-20-2009, 08:31 PM
I wonder why they do not complain till they have to pay the bill. It is amazing how leaving their lights up till they pay works. By the way Dave great posts.

M&N Maintenance
01-20-2009, 08:35 PM
I have another client that wants their full amount of money back, due to the amount of popped GFI's. Yet we went out on every service call in a couple of hours from when the call came in. We had one of the worst Decembers in history in terms of snow, ice, rain and thaws.

David Gretzmier
01-20-2009, 10:15 PM
I have some other thread on my hatred of the GFCI, and why. we try to not only go out and reset, but take a few cords and try to rebalance load to other outlets. sometimes you get the same amount of rain but it will not pop because you move the load to the garage, the back deck, etc.

turf hokie
01-21-2009, 08:25 AM
I have some other thread on my hatred of the GFCI, and why. we try to not only go out and reset, but take a few cords and try to rebalance load to other outlets. sometimes you get the same amount of rain but it will not pop because you move the load to the garage, the back deck, etc.

I agree, we had one customer we almost lost for this very reason. We switched to LED but still had issues. Split the job up even more than we needed, and made sure all extension cords were taped and all splitters were at least 6 inches off the ground. It seemed to work as we only had one call after that and that was due to 2 inches of rain in 12 hours, not much to do with that.

hotrod1965
01-21-2009, 12:52 PM
I, of course assume everyone will pay, even though some will not. Further, all rehangs this year have paid in the past. If not, I would not hang them. So I take down primarily for that reason. The other obvious reason is I store thier lights at my warehouse, and if they do not pay, at least I have thier lights to resell if they never pay to recoup something.

I am only talking about new customers on taking thier lights down. rehangs I don't worry about, and don't typically have issues with. But, you have 50% of thier money, which should cover all your material costs, then you can pull them down and resell them that year if it is early enough. I will say, I have never had a new customer not pay.

The problem with you selling thier lights that you store for them, is that they are not your lights to sell. You would have to have them agree to the fact that you get thier stuff if they don't pay. (in your contract)

hotrod1965
01-21-2009, 12:56 PM
I have another client that wants their full amount of money back, due to the amount of popped GFI's. Yet we went out on every service call in a couple of hours from when the call came in. We had one of the worst Decembers in history in terms of snow, ice, rain and thaws.

I bet I know what goes into your contract next year.....

I will say that talking with you guys over the last year, really made our contract a little better. I would recommend that everyone reads through these threads and makes notes. You have the opportunity to learn from others experiences and really be ahead of the curve!

David Gretzmier
01-24-2009, 04:00 PM
I agree, my contract should allow for selling customers lights when they don't pay, I've always wondered when customer lights revert back to me. 1 year, 2 years? 5? I've followed the 2 year rule. If they don't pay in season 1, by the befinning of the 3rd year, those lights are available to sell. I have applied a used wholesale cost against what folks owe and have never come out ahead.

turf hokie
01-24-2009, 09:12 PM
I bet I know what goes into your contract next year.....

I will say that talking with you guys over the last year, really made our contract a little better. I would recommend that everyone reads through these threads and makes notes. You have the opportunity to learn from others experiences and really be ahead of the curve!

We also state that we will be by to service the lights on a schedule, but we will service a property that has a significant problem as they arise, however, as it is impossible to service every single bulb that may burn out please wait until you have at least 4-5 bulbs out to call for a service visit. This is not exact wording but you get the idea. There is no such thing as too much detail when it comes to terms and conditions because there is always someone looking for a loophole.