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View Full Version : Christmas lighting?


godjwood
11-06-2009, 01:41 PM
Hey Guys-

Not sure what section to put this in, but anyone do "holiday services" as in putting up and down christmas lights, christmas tree removal..

If so, how would you charge for such a thing? hourly? I mean christmas tree removal would be easy to price, but what about lighting? I don't know where to find the details or get into this business...

Tq23
11-06-2009, 06:19 PM
Check out the following section, there is tons of very good info with several people who are very knowledgeable and post alot.


Christmas Trees & Seasonal Sales

terrypiper
11-06-2009, 06:33 PM
i talked to this guy at the gie expo last week in kentucky its a franchise but you might take a look. its called christmas decor website is www.christmasdecor.net

Carolina Cuts
11-07-2009, 07:37 AM
I got an advertisement for that site this week.... first time since I've lived in the area. He's advertising that's he's the "Leading decorator of the area for years" hahaha

not sure why people would PAY to be part of a franchise, especially one as simple as christmas light decorating....

excellent232
11-07-2009, 07:50 AM
http://www.pictureshareworld.com/img/N/BB.gifBump, bump up

hotrod1965
11-07-2009, 10:35 AM
I got an advertisement for that site this week.... first time since I've lived in the area. He's advertising that's he's the "Leading decorator of the area for years" hahaha

not sure why people would PAY to be part of a franchise, especially one as simple as christmas light decorating....

I started my company from scratch instead of going with a franchise, mainly because we wanted to be a true "green" company.

Over the summer I did some math on what we really had in start up costs. I'm talking business costs, training, marketing, branding...etc. Not even counting capital costs. I will say, that you are out ahead buying all this stuff with a franchise than doing it all yourself.

David Gretzmier
11-07-2009, 07:46 PM
Something as simple as Christmas Lights...

I've got 100 bucks that says that guy has never...

done it for a customer or charged for it, or has no clue the difference between a good light job or bad. or where to buy product, or how long lights, wreaths, garland should last for customer. or what ladders to buy, what tools you should carry on the truck. what clips work best where, what marketing areas work and how much to spend. what guarantees to extend to the customer as far as product and labor. How to repair light sets, sockets, fuses or plugs. what options there are out there for customers as far as LED, light links, starbursts, luminaries, and greenery. How many mini-lights you can plug in together, how many amps on a cord, a electric socket, or breaker, and how many c-9's on a run. voltage drop. how to label, store and rehang your project. rental versus buy. I could go on for hours.

It is simple to go over to walmart and buy a few boxes of c-9's and put them on a house with a cord. It is not so simple to know the difference between that and a commercial quality spt2 c-9 cord, a 3000 hour 130v bulb, slider plugs, The "good" all in one clips, and the best way to timer your project. They both may look the same in year one, but the customer that gets someone who really knows what he is doing get's a truly valuable service and product that lasts for a decade or 2 or more. The customer who gets the guy that is just buying stuff and figuring it out gets, well, junk, usually.

A franchise gets you all the product, training and marketing expertise that newbies have no clue about. It is a very cheap and quick education on how to run a business and not screw up learning how.

onebreezer
11-15-2009, 11:35 AM
David,
I met you at the HBL convention. I rarely ever get on here. You seem to be the resident expert. I live in the south east, population 200,000 - 300,000. Completed two thirds of a HBL 15,000 pc mailer, a little radio, one hundred personalized letters. What kind of response should I expect?

ed

David Gretzmier
11-17-2009, 07:49 AM
I think I answered you better in another thread and post, but we have had zero response from radio this year and very little in the past from the 4x6 cards. The 6x11 cards can be mailed for the same price at saturation rates, so that is all I use. I have heard you can also mail brochures that are taped and folded that are that same size/same price. i will try that next year.

gotprint.com has 6x11's printed color both sides for about 8 cents each around 5000 and up. postage and addressing cost me 27 cents each. so mailing 1000 at a whack costs you 350 bucks. I think next year I will get 10,000-20,000 out, 4 designs of 5000 starting around Oct 15 abnd just have them mail a rural route a day or 5-800 per day or so until Dec 1 . That way you don't just get deluged with sales calls and then it is dead for a week.

onebreezer
11-18-2009, 09:51 AM
David,

Let run this by you. I am pricing jobs out at product cost x 3.4 = bid amount.

That covers product, huge shipping charge, install, removal, and storage. Is this too much? too little? by how much?

I am getting my job prices with 3.4 mark up at $3100 to $5800 and able to knock off $300 or so to try to make the deal.

ed

David Gretzmier
11-19-2009, 12:11 AM
I don't know, I have different markups on different items. I look at my overhead, insurance, trucks, etc to figure my first markup to cover those costs. then I look at labor to get the product up and down off the house. that is usually 1/4 to 1/2 of the price that I give the customer. I spec that out in thier rehang price. take links. I charge 60 bucks each for all the non-LED links. my rehang is 20. you can figure my markup on those. on the opposite side is the 7 foot noble weath, 799/265. I sell way more links than 7 foot wreaths. In fact, total 7 foot wreaths over the last 5 years, probably 24, so only around 5 per year.

you have got to find a price point where you are closing work, do a few jobs and track the labor, then figure where your pricing should be. my overhead costs are not yours, our market is different, and our prices should be different.

addictedtolandscaping
11-19-2009, 04:05 AM
Hi Dave:

I have to ask you, I understand your expenses as well as we all know where I have ventured this year. As you mentioned, knowing the price of the links I dd the math. I am not there with my numbers, should I be?? I priced one job out the other day, came to a little over 12k, was 324 lf iceflurry ll, 1 4' mixed noble w/ bow, I figured 9 pieces mixed noble garland, about 50 100 lite mini 6 18" starbursts, w. y stakes, and 1 ornament cluster, then all leads etc.

onebreezer
11-19-2009, 07:41 AM
Each city will have different costs. Each company will have different overhead. I have been using this system for mark up: product [cost +90%] + 15%misc +40%instal labor +5%storage +50% of instal for removal = job cost
This includes shipping. And when you crunch the numbers it works out to:
PRODUCT COST X 3.4 = JOB COST This averages all product out. And it looks like this is close to what you guys are charging. Right?


However it is hard to get an adequate amount of decor on a house with this needed mark up on the high cost of product and get the recommended 5% of home value. ie $400,000 house gets $2000 in decor. $2000 does not go very far on a 5-6000 sq ft home. $2000 in product doesn't go far on a 4000 sq foot house.

hotrod1965
11-19-2009, 09:55 AM
The problem you have with your numbers is that you are assuming everything has the same labor price/time. Something can be inexpensive to buy, but take a very long time to put up and remove. Something can alo be very expensive to buy, but only take 2 minutes to set up....


Each city will have different costs. Each company will have different overhead. I have been using this system for mark up: product [cost +90%] + 15%misc +40%instal labor +5%storage +50% of instal for removal = job cost
This includes shipping. And when you crunch the numbers it works out to:
PRODUCT COST X 3.4 = JOB COST This averages all product out. And it looks like this is close to what you guys are charging. Right?


However it is hard to get an adequate amount of decor on a house with this needed mark up on the high cost of product and get the recommended 5% of home value. ie $400,000 house gets $2000 in decor. $2000 does not go very far on a 5-6000 sq ft home. $2000 in product doesn't go far on a 4000 sq foot house.

onebreezer
11-19-2009, 10:00 AM
So I can't simplify it with and average persentage mark up.

David Gretzmier
11-19-2009, 11:05 PM
I do a standard charge on items. it may not make sense, but I sell every non-LED link for 60 bucks each installed, taken down and stored. the rehang/takedown and store is 20. In '06 I was at 58, then 59, and 60 for the last 2 years. I close maybe 30% of my jobs these days with links or some links with c-9's. The rest ae c-9's. Even though some links are easy and some are hard, and some links may cost me a bit more than others, I just keep it simple. The same is true of wreaths. I love them , so I seem to be lower than even Christmas Decor is on thier sierra wreaths. I do a 3 foot mixed noble for $149, a 4 foot for 249 ( although that has got to go up next year), and the 7 footer is 799. Those prices are pretty cheap when you look at what you pay for them and how long it takes to install them. and that is not factoring difficult installs.

I just know about what my market will bear on certain items. everyone is jumping on the 3 and 4 foot wreaths, so I know those seem cheap to folks, so I can recover more overhead and charge more for those next year. Large wreaths like my custom 5 foot 3d, the standard 5 foot 3-d ( which I call a 6 foot, because it is larger than the old 6 footer I was using) and the 7 footer do not sell nearly as often. very few folks buy links. around 20-30%- they seem very pricey to them. they jump to c'9s most of the time. 5 years ago I used to sell garland for 65 bucks a strand installed. The price has went way up what we pay for mixed noble, and I am now charging 105 a strand, and we still sell it like crazy. I am still very close to what christmas decor rents it for sierra, so I am probably a bit too cheap, as I rehang it for 35 per strand. I think I will go to 115/40 per strand next year and then maybe hold off on an increase til 2011.

onebreezer
11-20-2009, 07:04 AM
Thanx,

That makes perfect sence. Thank you so much for the scoop. I am running into the same issue with LL costs. It creates a general high cost. I am being told now to use much fewer of them and charge way less. Someone makes money with me charging way less, but not me. Where do you get your c9's? And how do you charge for them? I think that will sell.

I like your marketing ideas too. Using the small card direct mail program 5000x3. Has now brought in 25 calls. And using the LL and company suggested mark up I have two sales. I have direct mail, website, yard signs, business cards, logo, radio adv. This first year is a bust.

addictedtolandscaping
11-20-2009, 07:20 AM
For the marketing I am in a similiar situation. I did business cards, contracts, direct mailer at 1500 3 times, chamber of commerce membership and advertising, truck decals, apparel, yard signs and the trialer goes in on Monday. So all together about 15k.

The chamber of commerce mailer with the bid I am doing right now, about 15k in gross sales, mailer has generated 6k so far. I will probably just about break even with gross sales and investment, I will recover about 40%- 50% of my investment I estimate. From what Dave, and Bryan have said, the big push starts next week. Could do another 15k if I am lucky and God wills it. The final mailer went out on the 18th, so expecting calls to really pick up again. I will have material left for next year, but not an abundace. I still have 3 cases of mini on the way, a case of black out caps, and have to place an HBL order today for C-9 material, then try to find where I can get slider plugs for less than 680 per case of 1000, don't need that many.

My suggestion, join your chamber of commerce, was real expensive here, and get your trucks/trailer done. I have received continuous compliments on my trucks and you can see the potential clients attitude change when they see you are not one of the guys who is just running around putting lights up.

onebreezer
11-20-2009, 07:42 AM
I have come close to breaking even on what I have spent on adv with gross sales. 5400 and 1700. But about half in profit. I would like to have another sale or two and have them pay for my truck lettering. I figure I have about 5500 in mailer, 800 radio, 500 signs, 250 to 300 in logo and bus cards. My topdressing website has holiday lighting added to it. I still have enough LL to do one good sz job or two small ones. I figure triple profit on what I spend on adv is a good number. I understand however that I have to get established this year. Next year will be some better.

I have learned a lot this season at significant expense. I have enjoyed the challenge. And I have a l o n g way to go.

addictedtolandscaping
11-20-2009, 07:48 AM
I know the feeling all to well. I am absolutely having a blast though. I can not thank the guys on here enough for all the encouragement, insight, advice, and experience they have shared with me.

I was able to get some high profile jobs this year, by GOd's Grace alone, and next year expect to really get busy.

Good luck the rest of the year. Another point, call Mike for advice as well, I have spent 100's of hours on the phone with him, and even as busy as he is right now, he makes time.

onebreezer
11-20-2009, 07:57 AM
David,

After working your numbers I am right in line with your pricing. You are at about cost x 3.4 = total. That is simple. And we can make money with that mark up. What you are doing different is you are selling a LOT more c9's. I have not done one estamate with a c9. I was told that LL were the way to go. C9's don't hang right on the facia. Look cheap. But job costs using LL exclusively is killing my business. You are giving me a perspective that I have not heard. I wish I had this info about 15 estemates ago.

onebreezer
11-20-2009, 08:06 AM
You are right about that. I told Mike before I joined that I would be calling him constantly. He has been very patient and helpful. I consider him a friend. I am curious about what area of the country you are in and what area David is in. I'm in Augusta, Ga. about 2 and a half hours east of Atlanta, Ga. We do topdressing and aeration full time spring and summer.

addictedtolandscaping
11-20-2009, 08:12 AM
I am Albany Ny,. and David is in the midwest, Arizona I think. I also consider Mike a fried, he has helped me tremendously. David is as I refer to him, the God Father of Christmas, LOL. Has been doing this since I was in kindergarten. LOL. HE is a world of help!@!

David Gretzmier
11-20-2009, 08:27 AM
Thanks a bunch, but I want to be clear. every bid I do usually includes the price of links and c-9's. that way folks have a choice. I believe I lose link sales that way, because the cost of links versus c'9s is about double or more. Folks that really want links will by them, but most people want c-9s.

and looking at my numbers, I am no where near 3.4 on the more expensive items, the 200 buck and up stuff. I was clear on my retail price on the wreaths. I don't mention what I pay wholesale for items on here because my customers read these boards and yours do to, but obviously smaller items have to have a greater percentage of labor and overhead in them because you sell so many of them as a base of your business. the larger items have a greater dollar amount of overhead recovery per unit, but you sell far less of them. in the end, you gotta charge what the market wil pay, and keep your overhead low enough to have money in your pocket to buy trucks, advertising, business stuff, AND feed your family.

another note:

I think Christmas decor, myself and many others do c-9s razor sharp straight, so I do not think they are messy or cheap.

I use the best cord and bulbs made, and I am even trying a new bulb this year with a 5000 hour life, an ls6. ls6's have a 6 watt rating, are candelabra based, and have a thicker glass than c-9's or c-7's. They break far less when dropped. they are primarily for the amusement industry for ferris wheels, carnival rides, etc. but they are perfect for Christmas lights. They also turn into "brighties" less as the fillaments are strongly supported to handle the movement of carnival rides. I also have been using more spt2 white cord lately, as it differentiates me from others, can handle longer runs, and white plastic, theoretically will degrade less in the sun than the darker green. or so i have heard. we'll see.

again, trying to be the best at even c-9's gets you noticed.

onebreezer
11-20-2009, 10:51 AM
Ok so c9's at half or a little less than LL. Do you commonly do the ridges of roofs like cd or just replace the LL w/ c9's?

And point well made. It is no different from a landscape job. I might get 50 to 60 for $22 shrubs. But not 600 to plant a $220 tree.

In fact usually the smaller the job the higher the profit and the lower the risk.

David Gretzmier
11-20-2009, 07:07 PM
I don't do ridges because of the CD lawsuit thing. way too much liability for roof damage.

The key on some of the larger items is to remember that the first year there is some profit to be made for selling it, but there is also more labor involved, as many items have to be assembled and wreaths need to be put together and fluffed. garland needs to be fluffed way more the first year. also you have to set the anchors the first year for all wall hung items, and that takes time as well. so you do need a substantial markup on large items, but I have found very few folks who think 799 is a reasonable price to pay for a 7 foot wreath. It is extremely reasonable given the time and cost, and it should be closer to 899, but I can sell a few to half dozen per year at that price.