View Full Version : new sales 2009

David Gretzmier
10-21-2009, 08:23 AM
just thought I'd start a thread to see how guys are doing on closing new customers and new add-on sales to existing/rehang customers.

For me, probably 10% of existing customers are adding on this year, examples would be adding wreaths, adding sides of thier home, mini-lights, etc. Those sales have been good.

I have only closed 2 brand new customers so far this year. That is not completely unusual, I have only done a few bids at this point. my close ratio in October is usually 50%, as folks that call for Christmas lights before halloween are pretty serious. I also prequalify on the phone, so I rarely meet with people that have not heard the range of prices I charge. My goal is 50 new customers this year, so 2/50 I am only 4% of the way to my goal. I have 4 bids scheduled in the next 5 days, so hopefully I will double the number of new customers on an update next week.

Still, without checking for 2-3 hours how many bids and how many dollars of closed sales I did in the last few years, my gut tell me I am running a bit behind on new customers, and a bit ahead on add-on sales. That tells me I need to put out more signs and do more postcard marketing.

Also a bit of good news is 2 customers this week which were storage only last year have come back to hanging thier lights. I don't really consider them new sales, but maybe I need a new category, "recovered" or something.

10-21-2009, 09:08 AM
I've got one closed and have done a handful of bids, which I am pretty sure one will sign up. This is good for us. We typically are not this busy this early.

10-21-2009, 11:41 AM
Question, what are your average bids so far? Are people cutting back?

10-22-2009, 06:23 AM
I have had a big fat zero. I had the one bid that I mentioned a few months or so back, but that has been it. For dollar figures:

3000 graphics on truck
2000 direct mail through HBL
1600 direct mail through chamber of commerce
350 in yard signs - waiting till the end of the month to put some of them out
600 in apparel

All in all with membership fee, some additional stock flying out to Omaha etc I am 20k into this. Right now seems like I threw away a ton of cash that could have gone some place else.

turf hokie
10-22-2009, 06:49 AM
It's early, we have only sold 2 and both were below our average, lost 4 and all were above my average......phone started ring a bit more this week as advertising is hitting as I type. It is early yet.

Don M.
10-22-2009, 09:07 AM
I've received 9 request for estimates so far. Today I have to meet with some owners in a small subdivison. There are 20-25 houses and apparently they all get done. The guy that used to service them moved away. I know the first estimate I gave on Monday, I almost threw her into a heart attack. She thought it was only going to be around $200. She had 150 ft of roofline, 60 ft of that was 40 ft in the air with a 10/12 roof.

David Gretzmier
10-22-2009, 10:34 AM
I agree that it is still very early, but got a call from a bid yesterday, she wants it. so I am up to 3 new jobs.

addicted- We have had a dozen or so yard signs out for 2 weeks now. They need to be out at intersections with stop signs or stop lights near really nice houses. if you put them out on friday around 6pm, they won't be picked up by the sign police until monday morning. get those out now if you want calls. This is why I reccomend cheap yard signs, so you put them out more than the high dollar ones. call the newspaper and tell them your story. call them and tell them you are decorating your home or business if they want to run photo's of folks installing a wreath or garland. offer to write a short piece on how to install christmas lights without overloading breakers, fuses, etc. call the local TV station and ask who is thier Christmas Light expert, let them know you install lights, are certified through HBL and have had training. and can do a short segment on Christmas light safety, ladder safety, roof safety, etc.

all of those things above cost you nothing but some time( since you already paid for the signs).

David Gretzmier
10-22-2009, 10:56 AM
I also did a bid similar to above a few years back. the lawn guy in the neighborhood did so many houses in the neighborhood that they just added it to the POA fees and did them all, about 60 houses in a small subdivsion. he moved away, and they had a budget of 12000 bucks and about 10,000 of these walmart 25 foot strand c-9s and mini's. so each homeowner paid 200 and got the front of thier house done and maintained. several folks told me he and a helper started in mid-October when the grass slows down here and he'd finish right before Thanksgiving. most siad it took a week for him to take them all down. They also paid for any materials he had to buy, strings, bulbs, cords, timers etc. none of them were cut to fit, he just put up 25 light starnds of c-9s and they ended where they ended.

when you look at it from a lawn care perspective, he probably made 2 grand a week in revenue mowing thier lawns, and made 2 grand a week hanging lights. he simply bought a ladder and extended his revenue season by a month.

My brother tends to look at his Christmas light business this way. he already does lawns and his season is wrapping up about now except for leaves. he charges about 1/2 what I do, and he is happy with the 40 or so customers he has accumulated over the past 4-5 years and the 20,000 extra he gets from hanging those jobs from now until thanksgiving.

I really can't fault my brother or this other guy, but my overhead is just not set up that way. the vast majority of my revenue for the year comes from this business, and once you get beyond your truck, yourself and a helper this business gets crazy expensive.

a couple of recent examples- This week I need 2 more 32 foot extension ladders, 2, 6 foot little giant ladders and 2 more light testing units purchased before Nov. 2. Yesterday and today i just replaced 2 front tires on one of my commercial boxvans. total - 2500 bucks for the ladders and tires. and I have to spend this money or we can't run all the crews, period. you just cannot sustain that kind of capital outlay and overhead recovery if you only get 2 grand a week for a crew on Christmas lights.

10-22-2009, 12:14 PM
18 so far Most are repeating customers, few are new, But with the new customers, I have closed them on more than just lighting, Pressure Washing baby! lol

10-23-2009, 12:27 AM
This is my 5th year installing lights and I started running Google CPC ads in early September. I got a few calls right away and I signed up my first customer on September 12th. I then got 2 more customers within 2 weeks of that. I had 3 new customers (average cost of $1,500 each) before the end of September. That was already 10% of my expected new customers.

I thought things were going to get started really early this year and I would be able to take advantage of installing first week of November. Well, since then I have had no more new customers and only about 5 more quotes. I have had 7 reinstalls sign up already for this year. Things look good there.

I hope things start to pick up really soon. I am already in for about 4K in expenses this year.

Holiday Light & Decor

David Gretzmier
10-27-2009, 10:01 PM
I went ahead and bit the bullet and did my research tonight. I wish I hadn't. last year as of Oct. 31 I closed 7 new jobs and two of them were way above average large jobs. In 2008 I closed all but one of the bids I got in October. That is crazy high, but true as far as I can tell on the paperwork I have from last year.

I am going to Lousiville for the GIE expo tomorrow morning, and I have no bids scheduled for the next week as of now. I usually get calls while in louisville, and I remember closing one or two while there over the phone. so I hope that happens. but the reality is I have to do far better in November than I did last year just to equal last year.

my response to this is to essentially go crazy on the yard signs as of now, and plan on two more rounds of postcard mailings.

I did 80 bids last year and closed 40. The vast bulk of my bids are dated between Nov. 10 and Nov 30. That 20 day stretch I average 3 bids a day.

10-28-2009, 10:53 PM
Got two now.

Like David, most our bids come from the second week of Nov. to the end of Nov.

David Gretzmier
11-05-2009, 02:06 AM
kinda getting nervous. I'm still at 3 brand new customers, out of about 12 bids so far. maybe I have lost my closing mojo. a run of 2500 postcards hits tomorrow, friday, sat, so I am hopeful. we are on full yard sign push, and another 2500 postcards next week. I am not going down without a fight. I cannot believe I started this year thinking I would have an additional 15 or so new commercial sales brought in by a commissioned sales person, and easily close 35 or so new residentials.

I'm sure most of you guys have read the disaster the sales position was, but I really though the economy was way better this year along with the stock market being way up compared to last fall as well.

I am still hoping for a great year, but again, nervous.

turf hokie
11-05-2009, 06:59 AM
2 sold out of 16 appintments so far....not good
....lost 25% of existing customers and 10% have reduced displays...really not good
....still have not heard back from 30% of my customers after a letter and at least 2 calls...really really not good.

11-05-2009, 01:35 PM
Not to be the doom and gloom person... I think this year will be worse than last year because a lot of people have lost their jobs and have had to take pay cuts.

Also, the low ballers are killing us more than ever, because there are more of them now than ever.

We just all have to keep doing our thing and we will win in the end!

David Gretzmier
11-05-2009, 11:11 PM
Ok- good news today. closed a new customer to take me to 4 new ones, and added 2700 bucks to an existing customer, and booked two very promising appointments on properties that I have done work for them in other ways. I really feel like those folks will buy. It is amazing how good it feels to close a sale and deposit the checks. even though I know I am way behind, at least it feels like I am bailing water again. yesterday I felt like I was just watching the boat sink and going down with it.

Don M.
11-05-2009, 11:44 PM
Not to be the doom and gloom person... I think this year will be worse than last year because a lot of people have lost their jobs and have had to take pay cuts.

Also, the low ballers are killing us more than ever, because there are more of them now than ever.

We just all have to keep doing our thing and we will win in the end!

there is a guy in stl advertising install and take down for .50 a foot.

I've been on a lot of bids, but no takers. I bid 175 ft of c9s on a 2 story today for install
maintain takedown and store for 950. Got told I was way higher than anybody else.
Posted via Mobile Device

11-06-2009, 08:25 AM
0.50 per foot! There is no way this guy is insured..etc.

11-06-2009, 06:16 PM
Things are looking pretty good for us. This is our second year installing. Last year wasnt too bad I guess, we started super late but still closed 5 jobs. This year we have had 5 estimate and closed 5 jobs so doing great. Like stated in another thread we gained a huge job this year. All LED and some pre lit trees. We are super excited.

David Gretzmier
11-07-2009, 12:27 AM
I remember back in 2001 we got 12 jobs that year, and in 2002 we closed a few more than that and lost a couple. I was so happy with that. Now with all I spend just to run this monster, my expectations of new customers are probably spoiled based on what I have done the last 4 years. I know this, even if I had 24 new jobs right now closed, I would be pretty much booked for the season. we had 55 jobs to get to as of this morning, running 3 crews. including today we had 20 days to get it all done before thanksgiving. It is going to be tight if we get any bad weather.

Of course my guys ( and me ) will be wanting another 10 days or so of work after thanksgiving day, and I need to have it closed and the product here to do the work. and that is about 24-30 more new jobs to get by then. to make it happen, I have to close more than one new customer job a day til then, and keep that pace til Dec 1. I have done it before, several years in fact, but just typing it in sounds hard. most new customers over the next 2 weeks will want the lights up before Thanksgiving. I can only promise a few of them that and be truthful, unless we have absolutely no bad weather days from now til thanksgiving.

David Gretzmier
11-08-2009, 10:12 PM
Well, The phone rang a little this weekend. Sunday night, and I have 3 appointments tomorrow and one tuesday that all look very promising. I really would like to close some serious new work this week and start booking up Thanksgiving week. One appointment came from a neat two punch marketing hit- She got a postcard, then looked us up on our new website, liked what she saw and did a website inquiry that hit my email. Set an appointment.

given what I spend, I hope to get more leads from the postcards and website. But at least one call lets me know it works.

David Gretzmier
11-09-2009, 10:38 PM
closed 3 new ones today, and did 3 extra bids, booked 2 more bids for tomorrow for a total of 3 bids tomorrow. customer count puts me at 7 new customers for the year. one closed job in particular today was a good one, 6k, and all items for that job, and the upsold below, are in stock from my container load I bought last year. upsold an existing customer 2k today.

Very good day. a few days in a row like that, I can regain some serious hope for my lofty goals this year.

Marketing stuff -

several calls and bids done and to do from my recent postcard mailing, we'll see how that plays out. the 6k job, even though it is very near several other jobs I do, came from the yellow pages-phone book.

gotta love that- This year I spend more money on signs, website, Radio, truck graphics, and my biggest job closed this year came from the marketing medium I decreased spending on by over 50% .

David Gretzmier
11-10-2009, 11:40 PM
Another new one today, 4k, and another add-on, 1k, and tomorow has 5 appointments and thursday 2. Ended up squeezing more ppointments in today but really only closed one new customer. still, up to 8 new customers for the year. 15 days til thanksgiving.

11-11-2009, 04:30 AM
Great Dave, CONGRATULATIONS!! I actually signed the first contract and picked up the deposit last pm, signing the second today and receiving the po, then we do the first install on Sunday. We got the big job with the wreath issue I mentioned, that will be the contract signed today, no wreath, but we will be doing everything else. Got 3 estimates left for this week, and the next round of mailers goes out on the 18th. I am really stoked to say the least!!!!

Thanks again to all the guys who have guided and encouraged me through this process. Bryan I haven;t forgotten to call, just been flat out running my but off with finishing up the first house in this new development, delivering firewood, and lighting estimates. Got to call a new member back in Lousiness yet too. Busy as can be, but I love it.

turf hokie
11-11-2009, 07:03 AM
Not a problem^^^ I have been crazy here myself. Trying to finish up the lawns (freakin' leaves everywhere) and trying to get the phone to ring.

11-11-2009, 11:50 AM
I'm glad it's starting to roll for you! Keep up the hard work! Once you get your first couple jobs up and people see your truck out front, you'll get some more calls!

Great Dave, CONGRATULATIONS!! I actually signed the first contract and picked up the deposit last pm, signing the second today and receiving the po, then we do the first install on Sunday. We got the big job with the wreath issue I mentioned, that will be the contract signed today, no wreath, but we will be doing everything else. Got 3 estimates left for this week, and the next round of mailers goes out on the 18th. I am really stoked to say the least!!!!

Thanks again to all the guys who have guided and encouraged me through this process. Bryan I haven;t forgotten to call, just been flat out running my but off with finishing up the first house in this new development, delivering firewood, and lighting estimates. Got to call a new member back in Lousiness yet too. Busy as can be, but I love it.

turf hokie
11-11-2009, 07:02 PM
I'm glad it's starting to roll for you! Keep up the hard work! Once you get your first couple jobs up and people see your truck out front, you'll get some more calls!

Phones finally started ringing based on this above statement. 2 trucks out, guys are all uniformed up, lawn signs on each job, leave them lit for 2-3 days after install to make sure they are working properly (and so everyone sees them)

I have 7 estimates tomorrow thru Sat so far -- all off existing jobs, all in neighborhoods that we just finished putting up houses. That is more qualified leads than I got off the thousands of advertising dollars I spent so far.:hammerhead:

David Gretzmier
11-11-2009, 08:44 PM
number 9 new customer today. icicle links, garland, mini's. Also doing tons of bids next to jobs we are doing. normal price shock is occuring because I am a purchase guy, I wonder if you rental guys do better with that ? Also upsold another new customer on 1000 or so more new product, and added another 400 bucks or so in blue mini-lights to another. 5 appointments tomorrow and 2 friday.

11-12-2009, 10:21 AM
Im doing pretty good. Sold a couple this week and going to sign on two more this morning. Had an estimate at a local meeting hall that do tons of weddings and parties and such. She wasnt too happy with the cost of everything. She told me she could get the same mini lights at Wal-Mart for $2.00. She still wanted a formal estimate for about 200 ft of garland and some starbursts so we will see. I upsold $3,000 to a second year customer and sold $7,000 to a new one.

David Gretzmier
11-12-2009, 09:27 PM
glad other folks are selling too. yeehah, number 10 tonight. finally in double digits. gotta love multi-color c-9 jobs. I bought out some new c-9 9 watt multi's from litesource in lubbock, they are cool and going on this house and one other larger job . garland, 2 wreaths. added up all add ons and new customer sales and I am not so glum on this year on the 12th of November. I may give myself a free pass tomorrow on the getting a new customer a day thing since tomorrow is friday the 13th.

i really,really wanted 50 new customers this year, but I have reset that to 40. Even if I average one close a day, I would have to keep that up til Dec 10 to get to my goal. not likely. My wife and I discussed what would essentially be a bad, neutral and good year. looking at what customers I lost this year, bad would be I think, anything less than 20 new clients is basically a shrinkage for me. somewhere between 20-27 new customers I would consider a good neutral prep for next years loss of customers. I would say 27-35+ new customers would be a good to very growth year and could sustain us for capital expansion next year.

11-13-2009, 09:45 PM
Keep your head up guys, we are a small company averaging @ 30 customers, lost 12 this year due to economy but the ones that stayed still spent more which took us over the total revenue from 30 customers last year. 14 new sales this year so net gain of 2 however revenue is up over 40k from last year. Good luck lots of time left!

11-13-2009, 09:50 PM
What type of advertising are you using?

11-13-2009, 09:56 PM
Word of mouth, have not spent a penny on advertising this year. In fact we are being stopped on the street almost daily by someone wanting work done.

11-13-2009, 10:12 PM
Wow -- that's awesome. Last year our phone rang off the hook. This year -- totally different story. We have gotten some good jobs -- but they've been thru referrals. Our advertising has not worked as normal...and people seem to be scared of the prices this year. We try to stay away from C9 jobs...but looks like we'll be doing some to fill the calendar after Thanksgiving.

David Gretzmier
11-13-2009, 11:33 PM
After thinking I would give myself a pass today on the one job closed per day thing, on friday the 13th, today, I closed 4 new customers, and a 1000 add on for an existing. I am not sure if I have ever done that many in a day before. I have to give a big shout out and thank you to God, as my wife and I have been doing some praying. I also don't know if this will continue, but I am thrilled that I am closing jobs right now. I have 3 appointments tomorrow and none scheduled for Sunday. I'm at 14 new now. 12 working days til thanksgiving.

11-14-2009, 04:08 AM
Congratulations Dave!! I have obtained two for sure - have paperwork on, a third that has said OK, and I want to add more, a fourth that is undecided which light links they want to use on their store, a fifth that I was at last night that is definitely going to do something, going up when the sun opens it;s eyes this am and take pictures of the house, huge. Got a call from a local law firm last pm, request to email and will without doubt make an appointment with them for hoping Monday, another one that is looking at the time crunch for the Victorian Stroll Event. I came close to losing the big commercial job I have so far this year, ended up having to buy a workman's comp policy yesterday, $1k a year, but I figure what the heck, it is a 3-4k rehang, so $1k seemed to make sense. All is good now. Phew.

One of the things that is concerning me, HBL is running out of things left and right. I was going to bring in a roll or two of C-( bulk and Clear and transparent colored this order, they are out if I am reading the email from Mike correctly. I got a screaming deal on leads yesterday at Lowes, 40' singles 16/3 fo6 $7 and 20 three ways 16/3 for $7. Both are UL rated. Any body got any suggestions on who to deal with for C-9 and slider plugs??

I want to bring in some extra material on the next shipment, but not quite sure what to bring in as I don;t want to sit on it until next season either. Any suggestions?? I was going to definitely go with 2 more cases clear incandescent mini's, probably 2 more cases of jumper cords. I don;t know which Light Links to look at seriously, as we all know big numbers to have sitting collecting dust until next year.

David Gretzmier
11-14-2009, 07:13 AM
a couple of spools of c-9 cord and a couple of cases of clear bulbs, and all in one clips are always good to have around, as you will sell jobs soon and have to wait for product to install them. I run 3 crews, so I get real nervous from here on out if I don't have double that amount on hand. cost wise it does not hurt too bad, but I get you on some of the higher dollar items and links. I have some new links and several various new items I still have not sold from 2001. My unsold inventory last year at the end of the season was probably 4 times what it had ever been, but I knew that going in when I got a container load from HBL. I had to fill it, so I loaded up on garland and the custom true 5 foot wreaths that I had made.

The tough part of this biz is just around the corner. I know for a fact I will lose some folks that will want it up by thanksgiving and I am at the point of not being able to do that. The tougher one is meeting with folks who want it up by tomorrow. or in 3 days. If you do not have product on hand, that can be a 2000 buck and up loss. I try to get up all my rehangs by Thanksgiving, but many of them are fine with a few days after. I can move some to close a new sale and get the new one up.

Also, don't forget-

SHIPPING on the week of Thanksgiving is a bear on freight items. UPS and Fedex ground is ok, but the less than truckload folks seem to disappear on the friday the week before and reappear the monday after. I swear there is a 10 day funk of freight companies around thanksgiving. so be careful what you promise customers on things like 7 foot wreaths and oversize items that have to go freight from HBL. I have closed sales on the thursday night before Thanksgiving ( yes , a week before) on pallet freight items, and not seen them arrive til the tuesday after Thanksgiving. for you and your customers, that is an eternity. we usually put up everything except the missing items, so we don't get fired from the customer.

11-14-2009, 09:10 AM
Dave that is great, I am ashamed that I did not first give thanks to God because if you were to hear our story for this year you would realize that only God or a miracle could have done what has happened to our business this year. We are actually documenting it and possibly writing a quick read book on it. We are located right smack in the middle of the recession and unemployment is over 15% in our area. My wife and I along with our youth pastor prayed daily for 10-14 days for our business to grow and we are over 125% this year so far and still getting calls. Guys dont forget the reason for this season, if it werent for God we wouldnt be doing this. Good Luck!

11-14-2009, 09:42 PM
For sure we know we are blessed and give God the glory for everything in our business. He truly takes cares of us. I like the idea of praying daily specifically for business growth.

I signed one today and collected deposit. My husband closed one and will collect deposit on Monday. And for sure we have gotten some very good jobs this year. But I guess the phones had me spoiled last year..they just aren't ringing like they did last year. And people seem alot more concerned about price than in previous years.

11-14-2009, 11:58 PM
We are getting more contacts this year, but are also seeing the gun shyness on price.

People are just more careful with their money these days. I don't blame them!

For sure we know we are blessed and give God the glory for everything in our business. He truly takes cares of us. I like the idea of praying daily specifically for business growth.

I signed one today and collected deposit. My husband closed one and will collect deposit on Monday. And for sure we have gotten some very good jobs this year. But I guess the phones had me spoiled last year..they just aren't ringing like they did last year. And people seem alot more concerned about price than in previous years.

David Gretzmier
11-15-2009, 12:55 AM
got 2 more today, so at 16 new. Added on 1500 to a rehang while guys were there hanging job. making out the schedule for the next 11 days is gonna be critical. with great weather I think I can squeeze a few more in , but 70% chance of rain on monday. I have one appointment for tomorrow and one scheduled for monday morning. I have one service magic lead that has not yet called me back ( ug, cost me 20 bucks ! wished they would call back at least ). and one other that went through the answering service today that has not called me back.

11-15-2009, 04:45 AM
Similiar here, got about 6 I am playing cat and mouse with so to speak, phone tag a couple days, then got nothing back from them, about half dozen of them or so all together.

Putting the first one up today, stopping to pick up another deposit this afternoon, aiming for that install for Friday. Got to tell you, I am having a blast with this.

Going to add to this next order quite a bit, couple rolls c-9 as you suggested and a box of clear and colored transparent, I think a couple cases each of blizzard, and icicle light links, coouple snowman, maybe a santa claus, maybe a toy soldier, ornament cluster. I have 2 4' mixed noble wreaths, 2 3' Sierra series wreaths, 2 cases mixed noble garland and a case of mini's clear on hand, gonna order more mini's as well. When I made the first order, I figured I would be sitting on them, have had to order three more since then. Also have some 12", 18" and 24" starburst on hand as well. does this sound like a good variety??

Thanks for all the help and guidance guys. It is an honor and pleasure to be amongst the pro's learning how to do this business the right way.

turf hokie
11-15-2009, 07:45 AM
We hit 9 new today, but looking at the numbers they only account for 1/2 the dollar volume we have lost, so we are still down and going to be making more stops to reach last years numbers (if we get there at all).

Have a good number that are "still thinking about it" We are almost booked thru Thanksgiving. Meeting with a commercial prospect on Monday that if it goes well will bring us back to even in one shot.

People seem to want to do it, but are spending about 40% less than what they usually would.

LOTS, and LOTS of exising customers cutting back

Good selling all.

David Gretzmier
11-15-2009, 10:26 PM
addicted- I would hold off on metal frame stuff-blizzards, snowman, etc, unless they are ordered. you might get lucky and sell them, but those are personality items. I have tons of them on hand and love it when I sell them, but mainly because I have accumulated so many over the years and I hate to carry inventory. I'd hate for you to spend the money on them and then they gather dust. you will sell mini's. you will sell c-9's, noble garland, 3,4 and 5 foot wreaths ( although I would stay in the same noble foliage family). cords, timers, etc.

sold # 17 today. I am officially at the point of not shrinking as far as rehang dollars lost this year verses the rehang dollars I have picked up on the 17. property number wise I need 8 more, as I lost a total of 25 properties this year. not really fair, I had one person that controlled 9 commercial buildings, and they are not officially out as I am storing currently, but still, I ain't hanging them, so i ain't getting paid what I did. They basically strung me out with "I don't have an answer yet" to this day.

11-16-2009, 05:20 AM
Thanks Dave, I was having the same thoughts, but wioth what we were talking about for the holiday shipping issue, I thought maybe it would be a decent idea. I had been having the thought of the mini's and such as you mentioned, I will stay with that. Do you think it would be advisable to get some of the light links on hand??
Got the first one accomplished yesterday, 5 out of the seven 3D gift boxes have broken frames. Called Mike, they are even open Sunday's amazing. Then as we were leaving, the bow on one of them went out also, so up I go today with the buzz box and some spares. We checked the fuses last night in the set and it did not fix it, so has to be a bulb issue. My son did one of the trees with mini's 7' Yew and then highlighted it with LED snow flakes. I worked on the 40' Blue Spruce. all together, 230 sets of contractor mini's and 30 LED snow flakes. My tree has a great naturalization look, Colby's has an awesome net effect. The snow flakes standout for a huge distance, it really looks nice, and the owner is thrilled. Got three more calls to make today, one a law office that called Friday night, and two more calls from yesterday. Have the next install scheduled for Friday, then unless something jumps after that, we start again thanksgiving and go through that weekend. the next round of HBL mailers is due out the 18th, so I am sure it will pick up again.

David Gretzmier
11-16-2009, 08:27 PM
no closes today. 1 $700 add on to a new customer. I got spoiled. I only had one appointment today and only one scheduled for tomorrow. I wonder why last week was so busy with bids and this week is kinda slow? it is actually colder this week, so I thought the phone would ring more. oh well. 9 working days left til Thanksgiving. aprox 30 rehang or new jobs to do . I have already started thinking of who gets bumped to the day after thanksgiving, etc. I have a few who are ok with it.

David Gretzmier
11-17-2009, 10:38 PM
600 buck add on today, but still at 17 new customers. I have an oral committment from one appointment tomorrow, and another that is the 2nd appointment that I will try to close. we'll see.

Don M.
11-18-2009, 01:38 AM
Well...we hang our first one on Friday. And I am okay with that. I just want a handful this first year to learn everything. Next year I can go crazy with it. I still have several estimates to do later this week. The phone just kind of blew up out of nowhere.

11-18-2009, 08:48 AM
Our phone and email is going crazy as well.... but most folks looking for cheap work.
Only have 5 new deals closed this year, but have been quoting more than we ever have....

turf hokie
11-18-2009, 08:29 PM
Our phone and email is going crazy as well.... but most folks looking for cheap work.
Only have 5 new deals closed this year, but have been quoting more than we ever have....

Phones are ringing crazy hear to but nobody wants to spend more than $500 on anything.

We have sold 14 new ones, lost 9. BUT those 14 new only equate to 25% of the dollars we lost on the 9.

Lost my biggest commercial account today. Dropped my price 30% and still got underbid.

David Gretzmier
11-18-2009, 11:46 PM
got 18 and 19 today. 3 appointments tomorow. no add ons. sounds like some folks are closing some stuff. I know that Christmas Decor here is door hanging and postcarding hard. one of the closes I got today showed me and let me take home Christmas Decor's bid packet. I will elaborate in another thread my reactions to what I have looked at so far. I have not seen thier bid stuff for about 2 years or so. all I can say for now is pretty slick.

11-19-2009, 04:07 AM
I have a meeting today with the President of the local AAA, interested in doing 2 offices. She told me she had no idea people did this "stuff." mentioned to me point blank a tree, and I am thinking I am going to push a couple wreaths and we will see what else.

David Gretzmier
11-21-2009, 12:18 AM
watch out for the drunks at those 12 step meetings.

no bids today, did 4 yesterday. no closes, and one 900 buck add on for an existing customer. 2 bids tomorrow scheduled and 2 sunday, 1 monday.

soapbox moment.

Even though I know, I KNOW they do this every year since 2005 or so, I am still getting into that crabby spirit where I get irritated with folks who are just plain rude. i go to bid thier house and spend an hour talking about product, service, referrals, etc. I mean I make a connection. friendly, fun appointments. They know people I do. They love houses I have done. They even are referrals from some folks. etc. and they never call back, answer thier phone, or return messages. I just do not think i will get over this simple fact of life- People expect you to come to bid and give them an hour of your time. They want you to have answers to all thier questions, and they want you to be respectful to them and thier time. however, they absolutely, almost without exception, 90% of the time will not give you one minute of thier time to tell you no. They just ignore you until you go away. they do not answer thier phone when you call. They KNOW it is you. It is hilarious to me how quick these folks answer the phone and call you back when they want a bid, and then are completely done with you then.

I have even reached the point where I am making fun of them in the moment before I show them the numbers. I tried this with the last 3 bids, 2 days ago, and I am not making this up. I say "repeat after me"- and then "I have looked at your bid, and my husband and i have decided we cannot afford your services. we will be hiring someone else, or not doing it at all. but I appreciate you taking your time to give me a bid." I then ask them to please either say that or call me and tell me yes.

They all 3 laughed and thought and said it would be crazy not to call you back. we will call you and tell you , blah, blah. not one called back. At least they know that I know they are being rude.

off the soapbox til next time, dave g

11-21-2009, 04:35 AM
I had the same thing happen. I went and put a bid in on a house, and same. SHe told me when I was working it up, "if it is to much we just won;t be able to do anything. She wanted 4 4' mixed Noble wreaths mounted on the house, a case of mixed noble garland, two trees wrapped, a noel wreath on the door, out back 2 Santa characters on the shed roof, again 3/4 a case of mixed noble on the shed around the doors, 65' of clear incandescent colored c-9 on the shed and shrubs almost 600' of leads and timers as there was only 2 plug and they were out front and the c-7 candles in her windows, and it done right after thanksgiving. SO I fire out the bid, emailed it, with the design from the software and never heard a word, I sent a couple follow up emails, called and nothing. Oh well. Then I had another one I drove an hour to get to, show up exactly on time, new catalog in hand as it was a 3m house, and it wasn't convenient for her to meet with me. I called back 4 times, nothing. Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking.

11-21-2009, 02:54 PM
They're embarrassed. That's what it really comes down to. You have something they want, they can't afford it, and it's embarrassing for them to admit that. So rather than say "I can't afford your services" out of shame they avoid talking to you.

It takes guts to admit to a relative stranger (even one as friendly as you Dave) that there isn't enough money.

Now I don't hang Christmas lights, but I do build high end decks. Some people will spend the up to $800 that I charge to get their dream deck designed and then avoid me. Just like your lighting clients. So I leave a voicemail or two. Then I mail them (yes, good old US Mail) a nice thank you card.

Dear (Customers name),

Thank you very much for allowing me to design your deck. I recently called you and have not heard back yet, I hope you're satisfied with your blueprints? If you are ready to proceed with construction of your deck please call me so we can make arrangements and set a start date. If you need some more time that's not a problem. If you need assistance with financing your new deck please give me a call and I can drop off a credit application. If you've decided to go with a lower priced contractor to construct your new deck please keep my number handy. If there are any problems give me a call and I'll be more than happy to help you out.


Or something like that. Usually I make the cards a but more personal.

It does work too. This year I designed a deck and the client pimped the design out on CL taking bids. Some random guy said he'd do it and they liked his price. The client had to pull the building permit since the random guy from CL didn't have a license. His bid came in for $32,000 less than mine. Can you see all the red flags?

Long story short, about 2 months after the CL contractor started he bailed. Out of money, deck not even halfway completed, code violations out the wazoo.

Clients called me back, I fixed it, financed them out the wazoo, made money. That's because I made it comfortable for them to come back. If I had hounded them with voicemails for weeks they likely wouldn't have called me.

If I can't get a client to sign on the spot, chances are they can't really afford it or they don't want to spend the money. Either way they're too embarrassed to say no. So I don't push the issue. Keep em happy, make it easy for them to call me again.

David Gretzmier
11-21-2009, 07:46 PM
hanau- and up a month house payment, trust me, you make some pretty serious green. I agree that they may decide not to do a 1500, 2500 or up bid, but that is their choice.

a few years back, I remember doing a bid for a lady in a 1 million plus house. gated community, very nice. She wanted a classy, beautiful display for an event party for her husband's emplyees. I had done the husbands business for 4 years at that point. I really thought it was a done deal. I met with her, and she was kinda stuffy, but said she had a budget of 50k for decorating at the party and wanted the inside and outside to look nice. It was a huge 10-11000 sqaure foot home and the bid came to 5-6 k to: do a c-9 front and sides fascia outline, mini-lights in a dozen or so shrubs, and 3 medium to large wreaths at peaks, garland around the door. I then gave her a card of a decorator I had met with briefly earlier in the season, I met him at another home he did work at and he seemed nice.

I did not hear from her for a few days and called her 4-5 times, as I really thought this one was a go. when I finally called her from my wife's phone, I was floored. she said the decorater I reccomended was doing an awesome job, and get this, HE bought some c-9s at wal mart and stapeled them up on herreal copper gutters. they looked horrible, and he charged her 60,000 for the whole inside and outside shebang.

Wealthy people often make outrageous decisions on spending money. cars, art, vacations, jewelry, the list is endless. but when the very wealthy among us make the choice to be rude, and not call back, then society at the highest level is losing something very precious. manners. grace. fairness. courtesy. whatever you want to call it.

turf hokie
11-21-2009, 08:14 PM
what annoys me is I usually give them several "outs" at the end of my presentation.

1 you dont have to take it all, pick what you would like done.

2 I understand budgets, if this doesnt fit yours just let me know.

3 talk to your wife/husband and let me know if you want to do anything at all.

4 call me either way so I know if I should put you on the schedule or not.

I will follow up 2x after that I assume that I am no longer important to them and they either (A) found some one cheaper (B) did it themselves (C) did nothing b/c they had no idea how much this cost.

And I can tell you this, after going 10 for my last 10 and hitting 60% close rate, my prices are going up until I get push back. Apparantly I played with the numbers a little too much to get rid of existing stock.:hammerhead:

David Gretzmier
11-21-2009, 11:50 PM
I have cut a few deals myself. only sold a 120 add on today. one appointment today. 2 tomorrow and 2 on monday. have not closed a new customer in 3 days.

did a 5 foot 3-d noble wreath with a 3 foot s-d star and shooting star tail like the photo in the catalog. lit up tonight, and so very cool in person. my job is fun sometimes.

looks like the weather will allow us to keep our promises to new folks and we are booked til sunday after Thanksgiving. I really need to sell more work, but my guys are really tired. The lights are starting to come on, and a few fixes here and there, but the rush will be the day after Thanksgiving. Hopefully I will sell a half dozen jobs before Thanksgiving and dozen after. I want to keep my guys busy, but selling 3 jobs a day to keep 3 crews busy does not seem realistic or possible. I will take what I can get though.

David Gretzmier
11-22-2009, 09:45 PM
number 20 today. few appontments tomorrow.

11-23-2009, 06:28 AM
Either I have hit a dry spell or I got problems. I did 4 bids on Saturday, and got 0. Wondering if I should drop the price or if it is normal tract for this to happen. Getting a bit nervous, I have another order due in from HBL on Tuesday or Wednesday, a couple orders from LIte source due this week as well, some solid color mini so I have them available, 10 blue, red and green, so I will have 30 sets all together. I still have about 40 sets of clear mini 100, and 18 sets of 50 multi, 2.5 cases of blizzard and a case and a half of icicle, 2 cases of mixed noble garland, 2 4' mixed noble wreaths, 2 3' sierra series wreaths, 4 12", 18" and 24" starbursts, and this incoming order has all my c-9 - 1000 bulks cord, 1000 clear and 1000 multi transparent. My trailer is getting lettered today, last round of mail from HBL went out last week.

Am I in trouble guys??

David Gretzmier
11-23-2009, 10:22 PM
I don't know, I did not close a job for like 3-4 days, then finally broke that trend yesterday. # 20 yesterday, closed number 21 today, and have an appointment to sign contract and close #22 tomorrow. but I am way behind last year and the year before that. just get your yard signs out and do your best.

we closed 12 jobs in our first year in this market by driving around putting flyers in mailboxes. we stuck to our guns on pricing and I still have some of those customers. This year Christmas Decor here has pretty much blanketed our area with full color doorhangers on every house worth 250k and up.

I would say that based on what you have said, your market has no installer, you just need to find the folks that have money to hire you and want it done. I know you did mailers though HBL, but you can get doorhangers cheap and have one of your guys deliver 3-500 a day on Friday, Sat, Sunday after Thanksgiving. look on melissadata.com for home value prices on walking routes for your zip code. once you register, you can look up that stuff for free. also it will help you figure out where to put yard signs.

good luck. there is about 10-14 good selling days left. I have booked stuff as late as the 10th of december, but usually it is over by the 5th or so.

turf hokie
11-24-2009, 06:40 AM
Your not in trouble.

First year is tough, door hangars, we got one of our still existing customers from them, large job too. keep putting them out.

Stick with your prices, it will come around. We sold 18 my first year in business, but took 100+ calls and went on 40+ appointments. Mostly b/c we did not do directed advertising but blanket/bulk to get the name out.

It is tough the first year when you are the one setting the market, 2nd year takes off, 3rd year you get your feet under you, 4th year competetion arrives:hammerhead:

You will be fine, I am actually at the point that I would be happy if the phones stopped, 9 appointments yesterday sold 2, 3 deciding. But material is running low as I barely ordered anything this year. Had no capital to lay out and deliveries are painfully slow. Booked thru 12-5 and guys are tired of working 7 days.

11-24-2009, 06:54 AM
Truthfully, I played a little with the numbers yesterday,a dn brought in another. I still have a real good margin on it. It got m into a neighborhood with lots of MD's and Lawyers according to the home owner. It isn;t really a big one, about 3 or so cases icicles links, 3 3d gift boxes, some mini's on a couple bushes and then a few pieces of mixed noble garland.

I got a call last night from a house I went to a few weeks ago and then couldn't reconnect with when she was unavailable to meet that night, house is huge like one of those in Westchester. I got my fingers crossed on that one. I picked my trailer up last night, not a realy good job on it, but it definitely gets the idea across. I have an order due tomorrow from HBL, Lite Source called yesterday, now they are going to be a week away still, lesson learned there.

I definitely have to rework the numbers I am using, margin on product is really good, I think my install and removal is out of wack though. I am just looking to get through this season, has been a huge learning curve. Got a really big job in Troy coming up the end of the week - wreath i mentioned a few weeks back, today doing a install with customers product. Not thrilled about it, but a catalog will go with me, the product is in the trailer, and I will convert them. LOL Just going to keep plugging along. As it is mentioned quite a bit here, this week starts the push, hoping to get 10-15 more, that would put me in the area of 15-20. I think that would be a good start. And yes, building the market sucks!!!!

Thanks guys.

David Gretzmier
11-24-2009, 11:22 PM
picked up the contract on #22 as expected and closed #23 as well today. no appointments tomorrow scheduled, as only 2 leads came in today . gotta love servicemagic.com. I have gotten a few jobs off them this year, but man, folks have no clue it costs me 15-20 bucks each time they use service magic to find me. I had a couple of folks use it this year that really were needing a guy to buy lights at Walmart and put them up. luckily I have a guy to send them to that pays me 10% of whatever he charges them to do that. he usually gets 250-300 bucks, so I at least get my original cost of the lead back.

ran some numbers today. i have done 57 bids to get 23 customers this year. so I am at 40% close ratio so far. last year, If I remember correctly, I did around 70 bids and 35 new customers, or had a 50% close ratio. I know in 2007 I had to do about 120 bids to get 39 customers. I think it is reasonable to think I will do 13-20 more bids, but I am not so sure about closing 12/13 to get the same number of new customers as last year.

I really need to bring in more bids over the next week, but I already have deployed nearly every sign I had, and will put more out strategically tomorrow and friday. New signs came in today, full color 24x24's. woo hoo ! I think if I can get 30 more bids in this year, maybe I can get 30 or 35 jobs and I will call this a good/very good year.

It is amazing how I have really lowered expectations. I really thought using a foot patrol cold call commission sales force early on would result in 15 or more business's that would use me, we would hang those in september along with the super early birds, then I would follow that up with a traditional season of 35-40 new clients. therefore, a 50 new customer season sounded reasonable.

After the miserable failure of the commercial sales experiment, I am also behind last years closed jobs when Thanksgiving was on Nov 27th.

You can read my Thanksgiving thread for a list of details, but I will say this. I am Thankful for all work that has come in up to this point.

Don M.
11-25-2009, 04:52 PM
We've picked up a couple for next week. Lots of calls, but when I tell them the min. pricing they say thats WAY more than they want to spend. :hammerhead:

One guy I told our min was $350 and he said that was way higher than his other bids. LOL. Most of them is over $1000 and they look at you like your nuts.

David Gretzmier
11-25-2009, 06:53 PM
ended up with 3 appointments today that seemed pomising, especially 2 of them. They both asked for my email addresss so they could give me a decision over Thanksgiving. Never had that request before, so It may just be a new tech way to say "we'll thhink about it and call you" , which means no. one appointment from a few days ago called back and asked some questions so I know she is on the fence.

booked 5 appointments for friday, odds are someone will buy from me.

sold one 350 buck add on today. no new customers.

11-25-2009, 07:02 PM
Picked up another with the local Triple A office. Will do 100' clear c-9, a 4' mixed Noble wreath, and couple 4.5 foot trees. Not a big order, but she already told me she wants to add to it next year. Working on a design for a mansion, owner told me to "light the he** out of it. They have a decorator coming in to set up artificial trees in the yard. Two estimates tomorrow, one reinstall owners decor, will aim at converting that, and another is a large tree for a local church. The Pastor saw the one we did with the mini's and LED snowflakes and absolutely loved it.

Something else to add to the tankful thread, continued success.

If I don;t make it on tomorrow after I head out for these estimates, everyone have a wonderful and happy thanksgiving. I am also thankful for all that you guys have taught me and continue to teach me. I pray that God Himself bless each and everyone of you guys.

turf hokie
11-25-2009, 07:56 PM
Phones slowed down a little, but we cracked a couple of new neighborhoods. Had one call that actually requested an install date of 12-6. When we told her we wouldnt hold the date until she met with us: she told us to hold the date that it was not a matter of IF but HOW MUCH she wanted done. She saw our work around the corner and loved it. That's a good feeling. Nice to have crews that understand what we are all about.

Happy turkey day and good luck next week as this is now "when can you get here" time if you want to make the sale.

11-28-2009, 08:54 AM
Hit a dry spell/ I figured the phones would have started blowing up again yesterday, nothing. Kind of strange I think. I was talking to Mike about some product I have coming in - had a fedex issue with the last order, he was shocked too. I guess the guy that bought Christmas Creations from him is going bizerk, has 12 set for Sunday alone.

11-28-2009, 12:03 PM
I am royally pissed at FedEx also. I had a big order coming in on Wednesday that I was dying to get in. I wanted to get 2 jobs up before going out of town. Well when I get to the office Wendesday I have a message on my machine from FedEx at 6:30. It says "Call us back before 7:30 if you want your shippment on the truck." WHAT? Of course I want my shippment on the truck I have been waiting for it. But when I call back there is no room and it wont be coming until Monday. FedEx is on my sh1t list!

David Gretzmier
11-28-2009, 11:52 PM
closed #24. really happy to get it, sold the last of the noble garland I had left over from last year. sold 2 wreaths I had. I really cannot believe that I closed 2 on the 24th, and I went 4 days ( although that includes Thanksgiving ) and 11 appointments befoe closing number 24 on today , the 28th of November.

What makes it tougher is I know Christmas Decor is basiaclly booked for the year, they are telling folks they cannot hang work until Dec. 10. I think they only have one rooftop crew, and everyone else just does ground work.

I have time to hang work, as we have run 3 crews nonstop since Nov. 2, and now we have the time, trained folks, trucks, and now, we will run out of work pretty much on tuesday after most fixes, my house and installs are done. I am actually looking at doing some landscape lighting this next week just to keep one crew busy. we are also going to call all customers on monday just to ask if thier lights are working properly and if they need any add ons. If I have no appointments, I will start visiting every job trying to upsale folks on mini's, wreaths, adding on sides, etc.

I have one appointment tomorrow. maybe I'll close that one.

David Gretzmier
11-29-2009, 09:35 PM
#25 today. good one. lots of calls for folks to hang thier lights. If they have it half up and just need help with the high stuff, referring that out to a friend. I always start off with we only install what we sell. I have probably 20 signs out all over, and no appointments scheduled. but monday morning after Thanksgiving usually has a lot of calls.

3 crews booked til after tuesday, then only fixes and jobs I close after today. Still hoping for an after Thanksgiving rush of 10 new clients that we can do on the 2nd through the 6th maybe with 3 crews.

I think I had said previously that at 20-25 crews I am just really maintaining the size of my company this year. looking at the rehang dollars lost and gained, i am ahead. anything added from this point on is growth and I will take what I can get.

I have enough c-9 cord and clear bulbs to do 10 or more homes, and enough snowflake links to do a couple of houses. I also have a couple of cases of garland left and a few noble wreaths in all sizes, so I am ready to quickly add on jobs if neccessary.

The problem is if folks want something I do not have in stock and I have to wait 2 full days to get product.

we'll see how the year fleshes out in the next week.

11-30-2009, 05:14 AM
Phone is still dead. Has not rang since last Tuesday.

turf hokie
11-30-2009, 09:25 PM
Phone is still dead. Has not rang since last Tuesday.

Part of the first year doing it deal probably.

Have faith it will pick up, heck, drive the new lettered truck and trailer around so that people will "see your trucks everywhere" Put a couple signs out on busy corners.

My wife(secretery) called me at 5:30 and said she was done with the phone her ear hurt.

Sold 3 more today, puts us into David territory as far as new sales, but they still dont add up to the dollars that we lost. If we hit last years numbers we will be doing awesome. Took two big hits and just wont be able to make them up without some luck.

Crews are booked thru Sunday, but lost 1/2 day to rain so some jobs will get pushed. Fresh cut trees arent here yet and that is a problem as they were supposed to arrive yesterday for an install tomorrow morning.

5 appointments tomorrow, 2 Wed and 2 Thursday so far....

Good luck all, dont lose sales because you cant get there fast enough, find a way to get them installed

David Gretzmier
11-30-2009, 11:07 PM
#26 today. great gated neighborhood home. have added several in that neighborhood this year, it is considered the nicest subdivision in two counties. have one appointment tomorrow across the street from #26. hopefully it will be #27. I hope the past rings true, I usually close 75% of my appointments after Dec. 1st. Of course, the past sure has not framed this season. two new start ups from last year along with Christmas Decor have really gotten a ton of jobs I have bid.

beware, soapbox sermon !

It really breaks my heart to see a bid I did go to a competitor. not really so much a bitterness thing now, money lost or whatever, but I really make a connection with some of these folks, I like many of them after talking with them for an hour or so, and I know that the two new startups will be out of business in 3 years or less, and will provide really crummy service either this year or next.

it is the path that all cheapies follow- over a period of 2-3 years, grow like wildfire because of low pricing, then have no money to buy trucks or pay good money or have time to train crew foremen. no time or money to find good product. no time or money to train folks to repair and do fixes. no money to offer any kind of warranty. once you have 60 customers, you start working til midnight, and around 100 customers the stack of cards falls. cannot get to people to get lights up, weather racks up 40 gfci calls. bulbs start burning out. no mini-light repair box, mini's out everywhere, etc. etc. They look at the end of the year and think, 100 customers times 300 bucks was 30 grand. or whatever. and they have 5 grand left at the end of the nightmare. and they will say it was not worth it.

I have watched a dozen companies come and go that followed this exact same path. and then they just quit and sometimes they leave folks the lights. I just converted my 2nd cheapie customer in 9 years. she had lights done 5 years ago. but at least 15% of my bids every year are folks who used to use the cheapies. and They will never step up to me. they will pay the next cheapie, and the next. They ask all kinds of questions about how long I have done this, what happens if I go out of business, yadda yadda. then I drive by and see the new cheapies.

It is just sad to see folks that would and could have paid a fair price, and gotten great service, great product, and be a 5, 10 year or more customer with tons of value for both me and them, be forever poisoned against Christmas light guys that charge enough to keep the doors open.

12-01-2009, 06:55 AM
I should have put something on here before or asked God to give us a little boost as the phone blew up yesterday. Naturally I was 60 plus feet in the air hanging a 12' wreath and it took off, had to wait until I got done last night. I have an estimate scheduled every night this week. Thank you Lord. Today we start canopy lighting 14 trees, hopefully will finish today or tomorrow, morning, then pick the in coming order up, new install on Thursday (weather dependent) another on Friday, rehang Walmart lights for a customer who wants to change to light links next year, and unless we hit some of these estimates, we are out of work after that.

Truthfully, I can not complain. This is our first year, and the first time people have seen this service, I can not count the times I have heard that. I default to what Bryan has said, first year you get going, second it takes off, third you get your feet under you and the fourth, wow how did we get here. Part of the problem is I have the bug, I could honestly do this all year long so to speak. We may have gotten really lucky yesterday, I was up in an office placing a timer for the wreath and the building owner came out and was talking to my foreman, absolutely thrilled with the wreath. He then proceeded to tell him that the tree made from single diode C-9 next to where we are working is paid for by the city to the tune of about 20k a year. Well my eyes popped open to say the least. When I was looking at the wreath we installed from different view points, I couldn't help but notice they had several bulbs out. For 20k, I would think they would have taken the steps to ensure that the bulbs were all lit before they left. You can tell where my thoughts are.

David Gretzmier
12-02-2009, 12:06 AM
#27 today, tiny job, 86 feet c-9, and 3 big 1 grand add ons, all were new customers this year. #28 is supposed to paypal me tomorrow for a job going up thursday. we'll see. 3 appointments tomorrow. All 3 crews scheduled wed for work and fixes, but Rain predicted Wed and then three days of sunny colder weather, thurs, fri, sat. If it rains, then I think we will have work for Thirsday, friday, and maybe saturday. but I then it will be mostly over. not completely sure.

Still hoping for breaking 30 new customers this year, maybe more. oh how the mighty have fallen. original goal, 50 new customers. commision sales staff was a disaster, so updated goal, 40 new customers. competition thrashes me, ok, fine, can I at least get 30?

12-02-2009, 10:28 AM
People are still buying now. I sold 3 yesterday!

12-02-2009, 07:55 PM
Yes they are still buying. I sold a big job today and am working on three estimates right now. I am kinda still solo with some help. Next year I will have to get a good crew together. I have 11 jobs on the books for the next couple days. Good work this year with only about $200 worth of flyers and $100 for a business ad in the local paper that ran 1 day only, Friday after Thanksgiving.

David Gretzmier
12-02-2009, 09:54 PM
I had a good day today, closed the mentioned #28, and got #29 and #30. woohoo, finally broke 30.

I actually had #31 closed , gave a preexisting landscape light customer the deal of a lifetime. get this- offered him rented, installed, taken down, 200 feet clear c-9's, 2 24 inch starbursts and 2 12's hung on his planter , local bought large red and gold bows on 4 carriage lamps, tightwrap 400 mini's each on 6, 8 inch diameter 8 foot tall columns, tightwrap 6-800 mini's each on 2 small trees. he used me for landscape lighting on the front and back and deck of his house, and I figured it would take my guys most of a full day and we are at the end of the season, so I offered him all this for 1000 bucks. he agrees ( of course ) and I schedule him for friday. On the way home he calls me and asks if I can do it any cheaper. I'm not a renter, but my rehang prices on this stuff should be-

650 for the c'9's, 4000 mini's runs about 500-750, depending on complexity/ time, and I rehang starbursts for 35 each, so 140 on those, and I pretty much give the cheap red bows away at 10 bucks each so that is 40. so with no rental money for me at all in the product, I would be at 1330, and I figure if I am renting I need to get something for the wear and tear on product, So I figure 15-25% of the new purchase price, as this stuff lasts 5-8 seasons pretty easy. so figure another 500 for your rental fee or product replacement fee. an 1800 buck job for 1000 is a killer deal.

So i am already way too low, but I knew that, and then to be asked to cut my price further kinda hurt. he said he has always gotten it done for 3-500 bucks, and just could not stomach paying double. I asked him if anyone else had reccomended starbursts, tightwrapping the trees, red bows, or any real touches that mark a professionally done home. he just came back with he does not want to spend "that"kind of money. even though he and his wife agreed to it happily 8 hours earlier.

buyers remorse. happens at least once every year, but the first time for me with a client that has spend close to 10 grand with me for landscape lighting. So they know and trust me, but just can't bear to take thier home to the next level, or spend what it takes to do so.

have appointment tomorrow to close the new #31. one other appointment in the afternoon.

12-03-2009, 09:13 AM
I've had a lot of people trying the "deal" with me this year. You just have to stand your ground so you don't sell your company short.

David Gretzmier
12-04-2009, 12:02 AM
got #31 and #32 today. I'm at 95k in new sales, including add ons, and I am calling that a very good year, not great. but my guys are putting them up faster than I can sell. we have work for all cews tomorrow and some touch up stuff saturday, maybe they will all work some saturday if I sell some jobs tomorrow, but no appointments scheduled. but I think that Saturday will be the last real day running 3 crews on install. phone is ringing off the hook for "put up my lights" folks, and I'm just not gonna do it.

I am referring it out to a friend who may turn into a more serious competitor in years to come. he gives me 10% of what I refer him.
keep your friends close, your enemies closer...

12-04-2009, 04:17 PM
I think you are giving away business by not taking on those customers. I am doing fairly well at coverting those customers to my products within a year or two....

I have a contract for those customers that they sign that says "nothing is my problem". Then I bill just straight by the hour. My close rate for these types of jobs is very low because my hourly rate is typically tripple the "lawn boys". But I have got 3 this year, and one is already talking about switching over to full service next year....

got #31 and #32 today. I'm at 95k in new sales, including add ons, and I am calling that a very good year, not great. but my guys are putting them up faster than I can sell. we have work for all cews tomorrow and some touch up stuff saturday, maybe they will all work some saturday if I sell some jobs tomorrow, but no appointments scheduled. but I think that Saturday will be the last real day running 3 crews on install. phone is ringing off the hook for "put up my lights" folks, and I'm just not gonna do it.

I am referring it out to a friend who may turn into a more serious competitor in years to come. he gives me 10% of what I refer him.
keep your friends close, your enemies closer...

12-04-2009, 04:57 PM
I totally agree with Hotrod. I only do a few installs with customer product but have a PHD that wants my stuff next season.

turf hokie
12-04-2009, 07:45 PM
I agree with David, I tried the by the hour thing. Even at electricians rates, it was not worth the hassle.

I will hang a homeowner wreath if we are there doing a big enough job, but after today when I agreed to 2 wreaths and it ended up being 2 48's, 1 60 and 5 sticks of garland I think I will be more specific next time on what I am willing to do. She did put up 40 light links and 4500 minis, but her extra stuff actually cost me enough time that I did not get to an install we were supposed to.

12-04-2009, 08:20 PM
The phones are still ringing like crazy here. I really thought it would of slowed down by know but im not going to complain. Turned out to be a pretty good year. Next season im going to take the next step with direct mailing and maybe door hangers. Can't wait!

12-04-2009, 09:52 PM
See, I try so hard to make it sound like it's the worse deal ever to pay us by the hour.... so I always get people who really understand and scare off those who would take advantage....

I agree with David, I tried the by the hour thing. Even at electricians rates, it was not worth the hassle.

I will hang a homeowner wreath if we are there doing a big enough job, but after today when I agreed to 2 wreaths and it ended up being 2 48's, 1 60 and 5 sticks of garland I think I will be more specific next time on what I am willing to do. She did put up 40 light links and 4500 minis, but her extra stuff actually cost me enough time that I did not get to an install we were supposed to.

David Gretzmier
12-05-2009, 01:31 AM
#33 and #34 today. very close to my "reset" sales dollar goal. I have moved into the good to very good year category.

just looking for hope, I flipped through customer files A-E and found 31 total customers, and 5 were after Dec 4. 3 of those were after Dec 8th. so, you figure 5/31, that is slightly better than 15%. I could have skewed the numbers if I went only to letter D. all 5 were in that group of 25. that is 20%. maybe folks with early alphabet names put off things to the last minute more frequently? If those numbers are right, then odds are there may be 3 more customers out there. all 5 paid full price by the way, no end of year gimmicks, at least in that group.

I think you can choose to do the hang the customer's lights or not, but I choose not to. I agree I would have more clients and a chance to convert them over, but I have done a few and converted none. hanging customers lights also requires you to retrain your guys on how to hang wal-mart c-9s as opposed to the bulk. no more than 2 25 foot runs is way different that 140 foot at a run.

also, we are still hanging at our prices and our product, so why take on customer light headaches when I can refer it out?

and tomorrow is the 5th, and 2 crews running plus one repair guy and one guy off tomorrow. I am giving everyone Sunday off unless repairs call in.

David Gretzmier
12-06-2009, 01:30 AM
although it is after midnight, I still think of today as saturday, and no closed jobs today. 2 appointments today and one tomorrow, and I think I will get one from today and the one tomorrow. I am about 3600 bucks short of my reset new sales goal for 2009, and still one away from moving into the very good year category.

funny how my guys looked at me strange when I told them to take sunday off. everyone is so used to working every day, it is just kind of weird not to work. we have fixes, landscape lighting and shop work to keep 2 guys plus me busy all next week.

David Gretzmier
12-06-2009, 10:03 PM
#35 today. 2 appointments, one close. good one. just 200 bucks shy of revised 100k goal in new sales for the year. I gotta go sell/upsale a wreath tomorrow or something. have one referral appointment on Tuesday. none scheduled for tomorrow, but maybe the phone will ring.

David Gretzmier
12-08-2009, 12:22 AM
sold a 4 foot wreath today and made my new sales goal for the year. 2 crews ran today, one on install sold yesterday and one on fixes and add-ons. did one appointment today and one scheduled tomorrow. one website inquiry for tomorrow to follow up on.

have one crew running tomorrow for fixes and my home will finally get finished. may rain tomorrow.

Things are still alive, so I am still putting out signs here and there, trying to get those last minute shoppers or the folks that are gonna have a party at a nice house and did not get lights up yet.

If it rains I am going to get some billing done and do some collections.

David Gretzmier
12-08-2009, 10:46 PM
sold #36 today. good one. a 400 buck add on. will hang tomorrow. 1 appointment tomorrow for minor christmas lights and mostly landscape lighting. phone rang a couple of times today, but I am screening pretty hard. I am still referring out the hang the customers lights thing. Am I done? no idea. maybe one moe job out there, a bid or two. still putting out signs. already paid for them, why not? the 3k job that went up monday came from a sign. a bid yesterday, from sign.

ran some numbers today- 45 bids I did not close. 36 bids I closed. 81 total. about the same # bids I did last year. less closes. 44.4% close ratio. 103k in new sales and add-ons. slightly less than 3k average sale per new customer. average rehang dollars per customer slightly above 1k.

an obtuse thought process-

most books point you to a desired 33% close ratio, and if you run higher than that, most say you need to raise prices. so, let's say I raised new prices 10%and only closed 27 new jobs out of 81 bids, or 33%. I would make an average extra 300 bucks per 27, or 8100 dollars in profit. my rehang dollars would also be aprox 125 bucks higher on each for 2010, so another 3k in rehang bucks for 2010. so 27 new customers at higher prices gets you 8k in more profit and 3k in rehang profit in 2010.

but is this a good idea? I would be trading the 9 extra customers at an average of 3k apiece for that. that is 27k in sales in 2009 I don't get. is there 8k in profit in those sales? I would say not only that, but quite a bit of overhead recovery as well. the shop and trucks, insurance, all stay the same no matter how many jobs you do. further, those extra 9 jobs get you another 9k in rehang sales verses 3k in increased profit with raised prices. all things equal, I would rather have more customers at less rehang per customer than larger customers that can hurt me more when one fires me.

So i like the 45% ( I'll round up, it sounds better ), even though I make less profit per customer, I make more profit and more sales overall.

what really pushed my close ratio up was the last 8 days. I nearly closed every job. I guess that happens every year, but I still do not believe it.

David Gretzmier
12-08-2009, 11:11 PM
I looked back at an earlier post and came up with another statistic. I had 57 bids and 23 closed jobs on 11/24, or before Thanksgiving close to 40% close ratio. after Thanksgiving I did 24 bids and closed 13 of those, or over 50%. 2 reasons, I think- Christmas Decor got booked up, along with the cheapies, and I could do the work quickly, and that time of year folks just close a little easier anyway. beofe and after Thanksgiving, I really need to bring in more bids.