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David Gretzmier
07-15-2009, 12:02 AM
I think I have shared that around the 4th of July I send out a pre-pay and early bird discount newsletter to all my residential clients to give them an opportunity to save money, and to help us manage cash flow for the upcoming season. It also helps us pre-sell items like wreaths, garland, etc, and on our clients that have been with us 6, 7, 8 years, to sell them on rebuilding or replacing items that are near the end of thier life.

This year and the next 2 are really going to inform me what happens to clients that have lights that are going into the catastrophic burn out stage and thier willingness to replace or rebuild. C-9 rebulbs are pretty easy sells, as are small wreaths and garland, but I really wish I knew some guys over at Brite Ideas what the selling rate is on rebuilding or replacing the light links and luminaries. The light sets for these are not cheap, so rebuilding these links cost some folks close to 1/2 what they paid new 8 years ago installed, or 1/3 what I charge now for new links, and then you still need to rehang these items.

I would rather switch folks over to the new link design from HBL anyway, as they install and store easier, and are brighter bulbs anyway, but then that is more cost to me and the customer. My thoughts are the greater this cost is over thier normal rehang price, the more likely they will just not do lights anymore. that is the case with a couple of clients over the past 2 years, but the number of clients I have with older stuff is starting to grow as my business added around 15-20 new clients each year in '02, '03 etc. It really worries me when I start hitting years when I added 35-40 clients like in '06-08.

Christmas decor guys are fairly insulated by this since they sell mostly c-9's, and rebulbing 250 lights (250 linear feet) is fairly easy and inexpensive, and most of them rent anyway. relighting 40 light links ( 160 linear feet) is 10 times the cost and 10 times the TIME.

Anybody have any thoughts on this?

turf hokie
07-15-2009, 06:42 AM
At what point do you just replace with a new link because of the labor involved in rebuilding?

Right now you have the ability to try to upsell those older customers onto the LED. Give them a chance to upgrade when they need to replace anyway. Cut them a bit of a deal, explain how much longer they will last, less energy etc.

I think you may have to take a hit on some individual customers in order to keep them. I agree that you are in a tough spot with all other factors that you have no control over. Then ask them to spend more this year for the same thing they had last year is going to be even more difficult.

On the flip side it is the life expectancy of the product. You should not have to front that cost when they new this was going to happen up front.

This would be the downside to selling product vs renting. I am not well versed in how to sell a customer on replacements as I have always rented except for a few specialty products. If something burns out we just simply replace it, let the customer know what we did and keep moving.

I will give it some more thought and see what ideas I can come up with.

PM me I would like to give you a call before it gets busy.

Bryan

hotrod1965
07-15-2009, 07:28 PM
I agree that you are going to have to upgrade them, or make them feel like they have been upgraded. Maybe you will have to re-design.
"Your lights are getting old, out-dated, would you like to update your design to this..." show them a different design. Maybe switch them from snow flakes to stars, or from links to C9's..etc. This way your customers feel like they are getting some value for spending the extra cash.

David Gretzmier
07-18-2009, 12:13 AM
Still fretting over this, as my goal has always been to grow the business to around 350-400 customers and just replace the 5-10% of customers that typically move on each year with new customers. You guys know I am a numbers guy, so really it boils down to this- what percentage of those customers are left when the product starts to die 6-8 years down the line?

2006 is the first year I jumped up to 35 new customers. been 40 each year after that. figure I lose 7.5% of those guys every year for 8 years. by 2012, in season 6, I've already lost 50% of them on a normal basis without talking to them about stuff wearing out. so that leaves 17 folks. I need to go through and see what mix of c-9 verses light link ratio I have. my guess is 60-70 % c-9 and 30-40 % links. so probably only 5-6 per year will have to make this light link replace or rebuild or quit decision anyway. but most all of my clients will have wreaths and garland that will need replacing.

What amazes me is what this foliage looks like after 8 years. pretty aquamarine bluish. I am noticing some of my HBL dark green pine foliage in the noble mix from 3-4 years ago getting decidedly blue spruce-ish. I've got some c-9 cord from 25 plus years ago that still works, but I think we all know the stuff you get today is nowhere near as good what they sold back then.

and yeah, on rental verses sold, again, I'm trying to figure out how to keep customers and sell them new stuff, you guys just pay for it and move on. I cannot imagine watching my budget every year going up and up and up replacing foliage, light sets, etc. but then, maybe you guys will experience a better retential of customers ratio as well.