View Full Version : Taking the lighting business full tilt

05-17-2009, 05:31 PM
Hi guys been a bit since I popped in here, reading and rereading the entire thread, just finished number 4, but I seem to pick something up each and every time I got through it. I have gone over everything that Mike has sent me from HBL numerous times as well, got a close friend talking to the BOD at the country club he belongs to, trying to get my direct mail rep to understand where I am here, I want to have all of this ready to hit the ground running when we come back. However;

I had an epiphany a few weeks ago, have any of you guys given the idea of taking the holiday lighting full tilt; meaning going after event lighting and such. I was actually meeting with my graphic artist the other day as we are trying to come up with a logo that is not only particular to lighting, but for the time being will incorporate my landscaping business logo as this will be a service added to eliminate me from having to obtain separate insurance (per the agent) and tax numbers and such right away. Also by being recognized under it's own identity with just being done by the landscaping business will give me the ability to break it out down the road, if you guys think I am off here please let me know. with the idea of event services, I have decided to refer to the lighting as "Celebration Lighting by Loiselle Associates" for the time being.

I find that I am all fired up, but am running into times where I feel like I am spinning my wheels and getting no where as I don't want to start pushing the lighting to much until after we come back from the training seminar for a couple reasons, I truly want to know what I am talking about, and I don't want to create any bad habits so to speak by not doing something the "right way," not to mention actually getting my hands on the products itself. Dave, I know you are a fan of the HBL products, would you suggest purchasing the sales kit they have assembled for showing to potential customers? It seems a bit in the high end of things, but if it is worth it, then so be it. I was also considering as I have read others have done with purchasing some of the big box store items and having them to compare to. Unfortunately the plane tickets are booked, the hotel reservations are made, so I really can't do to much more until we get the training accomplished, I don't think any how. I am planning on writing a summary and description of the lighting to be added to my website, so maybe that would start increasing exposure or at least the idea of it.

Any how, if you guys could give me your thoughts on the event lighting idea that would be fantastic.

Thanks for all of your time and patience.

05-18-2009, 10:08 PM
I want to comment on the HBL questions. This will be my second year in holiday lighting. Last fall I booked my tickets and hotels in Omaha and made the journy from Texas. I had no idea where to even begin until I met with Mike and Scott. They got me pushed in the right direction. I got started really really late. I ordered 500 trifolds and just sent them out to high-end neighborhoods. My first year with very little marketing and a late start I got 7 jobs. While I was in Omaha last year they showed us a demo of the sales kit that was going out this year. I think it will be key in landing sales. The customer get get a picture of what a light link will look like and its all in a handy case. I am working on this years direct mailer and hope to get tons of business this season. Best of luck to ya!

05-18-2009, 10:41 PM
Hello and thanks so much for the reply.

I have to say that the reason I ended up going with HBL was reading the site, seeing how strongly Dave feels about HBl and knowing that it is a professional opinion. I actually contacted the three companies, HBL, Christmas Decor and Bright Ideas. Unfortunately, I had a bit of sticker shock to Bright Ideas and Christmas Decor, and the big turn off outside of price for me was the Franchise fee. I have read and reread this forum and will continue to do so, each time I get something new out of it, and I consistently note that Dave states very clearly that the Christmas Decor training is outstanding.

When I talked to Mike on the phone the first time, I think remembering the conversation he was checking for the seriousness in my quest to gain information and move forward, and the honesty and integrity he met me with on the phone was bar none, his willingness and encouragement - not the salesman type but actual experience cinched it for me. when I was on the fence at the last minute, I called him again and he spent another couple hours with me answering question after question and when it came time to discuss the costs involved, he actually recommended the mid range program for me and we worked out a payment plan as I suddenly had some unexpected expenses come up. I don;t think it was a week nad I recieved the first shipment from HBL, which I could not wait to tear into, I have played with the design software several times, and am starting to get a good feel for it, I am so excited about this that I even bought a new laptop to run the software efficiently and be able to bring it to customers and create designs with them right there, then on the back side of it, I know that there is a program that enables you to create a contract and retrieve signatures right then and there while they are still all fired up about the design and at the heart of the excitement. I figure that it will enable me to process contracts and orders much quicker than the old style I was using, and see it as a wise business advance or upgrade. I have noted each time I have read the descriptions of the items guys bring with them and that is what got me interested in the sales kit - thanks you for reaffirming that.

Dave and Bryan have been very kind and helpful with suggestions of equipment and offering advice, there aren't words that can describe how heartfelt I am with the assistance that guys that are successful even on the smaller side of this service have been. It is kind of strange to be one of the guys asking for advice, U am accustomed to being one of the veterans so to speak with landscaping, but I want to do this the right way and only the right way.

I can not thank you enough for the insight, encouragement and experience that you have shared with me. I hope to some day be able to do the same for others. As I mentioned before in an earlier post, this site is fantastic, so much information, and the people that are willing to help you get the information and offer advice there just aren't words. Thanks again.

05-27-2009, 05:19 PM
To answer your event lighting question.... yes you can easily spin off on this. I've done a few jobs, but I don't activiley go after them. The hard part will be competing with the tent people who just sell packages that include all the lighting... etc. You may be wise to see if any of those companies would want to team up with you. Also would be in your best interest to contact wedding planners and party planners..etc.

05-27-2009, 05:24 PM
Thanks alot for the feedback. I was considering doing exactly as you mentioned here with the event and wedding planners as well as the rental companies. My thought process also included the banquet halls, country clubs etc. I think I could make the lighting a full time business once I am able to get a market established or get involved in the one that may already be in place - but I can not find any evidence of. My thoughts were along the idea of LED's with dimmers and such, create a shadow effect as well as direct lighting.

David Gretzmier
06-08-2009, 09:54 PM
Thanks for all the compliments. honesty will get you everywhere.

we've done a few weddings and had tons of calls for events, but you have to completely reshape your charges from Christmas lights to get those jobs. most folks just are not willing to go more than a few hundred bucks for wedding lighting, and they want spectacular for that price, and that includes set up and take down. I'd love to do more, but the dollars folks are willing to pay just don't justify the hours spent doing the jobs. Perhaps in large cities of 1 million or more there are larger events that will pay in the 500 and up range for a days work for 2 guys, but around here it is rare.

06-08-2009, 10:18 PM
Thanks for all the compliments. honesty will get you everywhere.

we've done a few weddings and had tons of calls for events, but you have to completely reshape your charges from Christmas lights to get those jobs. most folks just are not willing to go more than a few hundred bucks for wedding lighting, and they want spectacular for that price, and that includes set up and take down. I'd love to do more, but the dollars folks are willing to pay just don't justify the hours spent doing the jobs. Perhaps in large cities of 1 million or more there are larger events that will pay in the 500 and up range for a days work for 2 guys, but around here it is rare.

Hey David, do you have any pictures of the weddings. I have one to do in October for a buddy and would like to see your set up.


06-12-2009, 03:18 PM
Thanks for all the compliments. honesty will get you everywhere.

we've done a few weddings and had tons of calls for events, but you have to completely reshape your charges from Christmas lights to get those jobs. most folks just are not willing to go more than a few hundred bucks for wedding lighting, and they want spectacular for that price, and that includes set up and take down. I'd love to do more, but the dollars folks are willing to pay just don't justify the hours spent doing the jobs. Perhaps in large cities of 1 million or more there are larger events that will pay in the 500 and up range for a days work for 2 guys, but around here it is rare.

I'd agree you have to find the higher end weddings to make it worth it. Weddings can also be stressful as well, so you really have to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.

06-12-2009, 07:58 PM
I love the juice and squeeze cliche. I am just considering trying to figure out a way to increase market exposure and gain residual income so to speak. I definitely do not want to count on it as a primary or sole source, but the idea of some LEDs with dimmers etc, seemed to make it plausible. I really appreciate the feed back you and Dave have provided me all the way through this venture. I actually fly out to Nebraska on the 24th for the training, a very good thing as I feel like I am just spinning my wheels right now, but just stepped into a 5 house subdivision I have all the work on except pouring the foundations and setting the mods, so at least the site development is taking off, gets my mind off trying to figure out how to do the lighting until I at least have some actually training.

Thanks again guys, I will try to make some updates as tings start to take shape.

David Gretzmier
06-15-2009, 10:16 AM
We don't really have a setup for weddings, as they all want mini-lights everywhere. in trees, in bushes, an arbors, inside, etc. I have bid probably a dozen of these and done a few. They all seemed shocked by the price. On rehang, I get 12.50-15.00 per 100 lights at christmas time, and wedding folks always want 1000's of lights. We make it look beautiful, but even wealthy folks don't seem to like the price.

06-17-2009, 12:43 AM
That is sort of what my thought was, I was going to purchase LED's and dimmers to be able to control shadows etc, and then I was leaning towards the landscapers lights as they will enable many more to be strung end to end. My mind has been running wild with this idea, my thoughts were even a little is better than nothing. I am afraid it is going to be a tough road to establish a market here, so thought that it was a way to try to get out there and still make something back so to speak.

Thanks for the feedback Dave. We fly out next Wednesday for the training, so I imagine I will become a real basket full of ideas that will need to be toned down somehow. When I get a chance to sit and think, my mind takes off like it is on Jet fuel. Hopefully I will get a dose of reality so to speak with the training and it will slow me down some, I get tired just thinking about it with all the different ideas that go screaming through my head. I get a little to excited, sometimes sleep isn't an option with the excitement I end up with.

Thanks again.

turf hokie
06-18-2009, 09:11 PM
I still get that excited. and this will be my 5th season. I have been researching halloween stuff for 2 months now to put my house over the top and cant find what I want so I will be customizing a lot this year. I found some sites for addicts like me that walk you thru some of the processess. We are also already starting to put together our renewals and advertising campaigns. People think I am nuts sometimes but they will never know how early you need to start to make it work.

Give me a call when you get back from training if you dont mind. I cant go this year but we installed last year and would like to trade in field experience for your classroom education if you are up for it.

As far as weddings. I have had a few calls but have not done any yet. Mainly for price. But also, they usually seem to find us after they have already set up with someone else and are looking for us to take it that extra mile. When that happens I tell them we cant give them the look they are looking for because it will literally wash with the lighting etc the other guy is doing. Most are back yard receptions and they already have the tent, and safety lights ready to go and what will do would get lost.

I am looking more for the mall and gaming centers, etc for year round display changes. I think that is where we will truly become a year round decorating company.

06-18-2009, 10:54 PM
I fully understand the excitement aspect, without doubt. I was actually calming down a little bit, and after talking with Mike yesterday for a little while - was at work and once again out we went for another call - I was all fired back up again, and when he was telling me about the new catalog and some of the new product ideas, I went off the charts once again.

We actually just got back from buying the luggage and will hopefully have all the other logistics in order prior to leaving, I want to be able to focus fully on the training, today was productive in getting some of the issues out of the way, my new machine is scheduled to be shipped from North Carolina, got a great deal on that, tomorrow with any luck it will be dry enough here to finish this weeks lawns as I have a 9 acre one that is almost a week overdue that we can;t get to due to the terrain and the constant rain then a drainage and hydro seeding job to finish up, and then we should be good. Monday and Tuesday next week are long days as well, but with any luck it will sry up some I know it is supposed to be down right hot while we are gone, here and there, so hopefully not only will things here dry up, but the heat will kick everything back into gear. I usually move everything to 14 days in July, and have been there since early May, so with any luck, things will straighten out.

Then of all things, didn't we get a call to redo a majopr job that another local company did, that is currently tied up in litigation, and is honestly going to take a good solid month. The biggest positive so far is that Mike said they just finished going through a direct mail program that is going to be available and that is awesome as the rep I have been dealing with here from IDEARC doesn't seem to be remotely interested in doing anything any more, so at least that will remove once again another thing from the list, the graphic artist that was supposed to be working on our logo still has not produced anything and that was supposed to be done by now, going to meet with the guy that HBL uses while we are out there, need to figure out weither to advertise in some of the high end magazines and cost factor there, seems to never end. Then when I actually settle down, my mind takes off with the holidays other than Christmas, and then I start thinking about the events such as weddings, graduations, retirement parties etc, and then go rushing back to advertising all at the same time as planning a subdivision that we have to do all the excavation and finish landscaping on. If I could figure out a way to make them all fit together it would be great, did I mention that firewood is right around the corner as well, and we have over 100 cord in stock that has to be processed as well. THen take into consideration getting to actually see and feel the products so to speak, and it starts all over again. I actually laid in bed the other night going over different lighting ideas for over to hours before finally dropping off to sleep. MY mind is frazeled.

I have babbled so much I would be surprised if anyone can follow any of this, but I will definitely give you a call when we get back.

Thanks for the feedback, it help to know I am not alone when it comes to getting all fired up.

David Gretzmier
06-23-2009, 10:43 PM
it is actually good you are a liitle A.D.D. as it works to your benefit in this business. You'll love seeing the product and the new HBL catalog is to die for. I got one last week, top secret hush hush. I will have to miss HBL convention this year because of mission work I'll be doing in Honduras, so they sent me a copy.

My marketing is spread around, but I get jobs from Yellow pages, yard signs, truck graphics, and post cards. I do my own post cards and use quotes from actual clients. gotprint.com is crazy cheap on printing them and other stuff too.

I have gotten one nice Christmas light job with my listing on Servicemagic.com.

I've never done much magazine stuff, but we have been featured on the cover and with Christmas safety articles in several business section magazines that come with the local newspaper. and we don't advertise with them. we also are the "Christmas light safety" guy on our local channel on TV.

Those other things above give you credibility, but I honestly don't sell many jobs from them.

I'll launch a website soon and hook it up with all the search engines, and maybe do some sports radio spots for a couple of months to push the website address. I'll let you guys know how many jobs come of that.

I tried TV spots back in 2001 and 2002, and no jobs came from it. a waste.

In the end, I really don't buy into the educating the public thing when it comes to spending money on advertising. If I don't sell jobs off of a particular medium, I don't spend any more money on it.

06-23-2009, 10:58 PM
Hi Dave:

Mike was describing the catalog to me a little bit and mentioned it again when we talked today, sound like more of a book than catalog, should be awesome. We take off at 654 tomorrow morning, and should be arriving in Nebraska at about 1200. Needless to say I am just a tad bit excited.

I can not wait to actually see and handle the products, and the actual field experience that Mike wa telling me about is in of itself going to be awesome, to actually see how the products get installed and actually do it.

I am actually hoping to speak to the graphics guy they use out there, mine here has really dropped the ball, and needless to say I am less than impressed and don;t think I will ever be returning. I was supposed to have design choices to choose from no later than this past week, as of today, still nothing.

I understand they have just aligned with a direct mail company as well, and while describing the program I am running here with IDEARC, Mike estimated being able to knock about 400 or so right off the top, and actually put a mailer together I will like. This sounds great as well as the guy I have been dealing with here also dropped the ball.

I was playing with the idea of radio as well as postcards/direct mail. The toughest part of it is going to be getting the market established, there is absolutely no one here that I have been able to get any information on that is doing holiday lighting, it truly amazes me. Once it is established, we should be set, I want to try to get the idea established to as everyday as landscaping or lawn care. It will take a little bit but I think it will be great once there. I really think it needs to get a boot in the pants so to speak asap, as it is unheard of here. I would like to get some mailings out in the end of July, August at the latest.

OK, well got to go pack. As usual, thank you so much for the insite and advice.

David Gretzmier
06-23-2009, 10:58 PM
I'll also add something I think will benefit all your aspects of everyone's business year round.

BNI is Business Network International, and you have to pay to be a member. You can visit for free for a few weeks, and witness the volume of referrals and dollar amounts of work that is completed by these referrals. they track all that. weekly attendance is mandatory. each person there has an exclusive right to be the only member representing thier field. we have an insurance agent, a banker, a marketing/web person, a lawyer, a chiropractor, handyman service, etc.

I joined BNI around March 1st, and in 3 1/2 months I have gotten about $11,500 of landscape and landscape lighting work from my group. I suspect I will pick up Christmas light work as well. It cost me 330 bucks for the year, 10 bucks a week to pay for the breakfast at the meeting, and around 100 for the intro materials. I am certain there are several groups meeting near you. find one without a landscaper and tie down the landscaper/Christmas light category.

I am no way financially benefiting from BNI other than the referrals I recieve and the work I do on those referrals. This is just advice from a friend.

06-26-2009, 03:07 PM
You are giving up SO much business not having a website. Even a single page "we are here and we do this" webpage will bring you in business.
Over half of our business comes from the web. We even get call from people all over the country for various xmas lighting things from our website.

David Gretzmier
06-26-2009, 05:58 PM
HALF? seriously ? I am missing out. I mainly set it up this year to feed landscape lighting, and will just do some Christmas here and there. maybe I've got it backwards. I had a few leads over the years tell me they did not think I was legit because I did not have a website. it should be up in a month or less with more added pictures to come.

turf hokie
06-26-2009, 08:17 PM

Hot Rod is right about the website. We just put ours up this spring and have not seen how that response will be, but the Christmas Decor site has generated some of our biggest clients and our internet lead average sale is about 30% more than even our referral sales. We also close well of 80% of our internet leads as they seem to be a more informed consumer.

And give some juice on the new HBL catalog I am not up on the food chain like you and have not gotten a copy yet. I could not go to conference this year. With the economy and the rain now, it was jsut too much. I am not even going to the Christmas Decor conference. Which I am really disappointed in, this will be the first one I miss since I started.

I have sold 5 figure commercial and residential accounts from web leads.

06-27-2009, 11:19 PM
HI guys

We just got back tonight from the HBL training seminar, to sum it up, wow. As for me, I found a lot of the instruction that Mike provided was in the training manual and DVD, but for me, I am planning on making this work, and for the most part have essentially memorized the training manual. A Lot of what I needed was the hands on aspect, and Mike made sure we got that, we roasted our buts off as it was 90+ when we were in the development going over the estimating process, and then the marketing pointers. WOW all in all a lot of information in a couple days, I have been through the dvd several times as well as the training manual and it was still a bit overwhelming to me. It was fantastic to actually see the product, handle it etc, I really needed that. For my girlfriend or now I should say my fiance - that happened while we were stranded in Chicago, was gonna do it at the show room but the time just did not seem right, any how, it really got her fired up.

We actually found the Brite Ideas show room while we were riding around Omaha in the off time, God is that City big. I never anticipated it to be half of what it is. Any how, they have one hell of a display in their showroom. When we actually were able to go through it after the training finished up with HBL, I saw first hand that I believe we made the right decision going with HBL, no question there. Don;t get me wrong, they have some products that really caught my eye, a LED tree that progresses through different colors, set up like a flowering tree, really cool, but to the tune of about $2600 retail, wow. I also picked up an information package on being a distributor from them, and their cheapest package is $5900 and includes nothing but the training, no product no nothing. I bought into HBL for $3500 and have a pallet of material coming, and with Mike on my side for guidance, a great company to be part of. One of the closest examples I can compare are the light links to the linkables. The light links are available in multiple configurations, and do not have to be bents or physically altered to achieve the position of the roof line, the linkables are very limited in the designs and rigid, requiring them to be bent and physically altered and as a result damaging the powder coat finish, and a severe limit as to their application for straight roof lines IE ranch houses and limited again for dormer application. I did like their LED availability, but I believe that the industry as a whole will move to LED significantly more as time goes by.

The new catalog is unbelievable. Anybody that is a HBL member, or uses the product in their business that does not obtain the new catalog will without question be dis-servicing themselves; it is awesome, and the images are incredible, let alone the fact that it is 150+ pages. As was mentioned, there is no doubt that this will be just as good a tool as the software, i am convinced, that coupled with the knowledge that you can get from the training and the successful helpful guidance here, that anyone can make it, the degree of success depends on determination. There is a complete marketing program that has been put together; contains everything from graphics to direct mail, uniform apparel etc. HBL is creating static websites with direct links to the members off the main HBL site, and our site will also get a page dedicated to the service with pictures of product. We actually went through some different neighborhoods just on the way home that I know are the keep up with the Jones type, and with HBL's new direct mail program, the website exposure etc, we are going to pummel that area and will without doubt get into that area. I have to agree that web customers seem to be more informed, but I don;t know if I would say in this area it is imperative for success, we have had our site for a little while, and aren't really gaining much off of it, though I believe it does and will assist in establishing credibility as there are actual pictures of projects we have posted, not a lot of the projects but some, and they are at different stages. I think the site is necessary for me to have my customers see our work as opposed to Johnny Landscapers which we are up against.

As for our current plan of proceeding, we are going to add the HBL logo to the trucks, a picture I will post once completed, when we know how much room is left on the pallet of product we got for becoming members we will fill it with different product such as a few c9 and c7 sets, mini's and leds to show for comparison, add a case of shirts for credibility and presentation to potential clients - really hammer home that professionalism and credibility to gain their interest and trust and start targeting and contacting commercial clients. While this is all occurring we will be setting up the trailer for installation, got some awesome advice from Dave on what to include in that - thanks so much for all of your advice, Mike and Chad say hello. I can not thank you all enough for all the advice and direction that you have given to me, the whole picture is really coming together fast now, the pieces of the puzzle are all starting to fit together.

Dave, Hotrod, turfhokie, thank you so much for all your encouragement and advice, I just hope to be able to help someone out in the future the way that you guys are all helping me.