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View Full Version : Advice on Pricing -- lost a quote -- was I that high?


britelights
11-16-2009, 10:03 AM
Okay...got a response from a bid I did last week. Nice big house, low 1-story -- don't get those too often. 430 feet. Quoted $2,700 for LED warm white C-9s. $1965 on rehang. Got notice this morning that we lost the job to Perfect Light. They quoted $1,200 INCLUDING a 5' wreath for the house. $600 on rehang.

Maybe I was a little high on rehang....but am I this far off? Perfect Light is huge in our area -- but they only do C-9s. We have tried in the past to only do light links but have started adding C-9 jobs this year.

hotrod1965
11-16-2009, 10:45 AM
You are higher than what I would be, but not that much higher. I would be at $2150 for 430 feet of LED C9. If it was really easy, I may come down a little, but not a whole lot.

They sold them cheap C9 lights. Keep in mind they are supporting several branches, so they have good buy power, so they are kicking your butt on material costs. But even then, $2.50 a foot is pretty low even for a rehang price!

britelights
11-16-2009, 11:08 AM
Thanks for the help. What would you be on a rehang? Does your price include storage, cords, timers...the works?

I thought the rehang was EXTREMELY low for that many feet. I know they are a big company -- but we really sell ourselves on quality product and quality service. But still...I know my prices need to be reasonable as well. They used to be higher than this --- don't know why they're quoting so low now.

hotrod1965
11-16-2009, 01:43 PM
I'm a renter, so my price includes everything.

They may have been friends with the home owner, they may be pulling your chain to try and get a lower price... who knows. Keep doing what you are doing and you will stay in business.

Don M.
11-16-2009, 05:15 PM
I'm a renter, so my price includes everything.

They may have been friends with the home owner, they may be pulling your chain to try and get a lower price... who knows. Keep doing what you are doing and you will stay in business.

I've been bidding at 6.50 for install take down, maintain and store for led c9's. No takers. it's almost frustrating. Today alone I got 11 estimates. I just started telling everybody we have a min charge. If you think it's going to cost 400 or less we are not the company for you.
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britelights
11-16-2009, 09:16 PM
I hear ya. I closed a sale today for mini-lights, a 4' mixed noble wreath, and C-7s around the doorway. Nothing up high. They only want to purchase the wreath -- renting the rest of it. $930. No problems on price -- no negotiating. I'll take that all day long compared to these houses that want a high 2-story with C-9s for under $500.

David Gretzmier
11-16-2009, 10:08 PM
we are at 6.50 a foot for old fashioned c-9's, we don't do LED's unless someone really wants them. I just don't trust them yet. our rehang is 3.25 per foot and those numbers include everything. I close about 1 out of 3 bids at those prices.


Christmas Decor here has really gotten aggressive with thier pricing too, at 2.50 per foot rental each year for everything, and that is all LED. They have got to be closing just about every job they bid. but Those are money losing prices. if the 5 LED bulbs are anything like the ones in the past 6 years have been, they will have hundreds of jobs with a nightmare failure on thier hands. and at a cheap price! on the flip side, If they finally do last a long time, as LED's have promised for the past 6 years, then at least they will have low maintenace costs.

I've started telling people that I am bidding that say they are getting another bid just what the difference between us and them and everyone else is. I have a strand of 3 bulbs and I show them a warm white led with an incandescant. They and others also do not hang wreaths larger than 48", and CD's and all others garland and wreaths are sierra only. we only do the mixed noble foliage. That plus the various items available in the HBL catalog, and honestly our pricing puts us as the more expensive, but better option. If folks want cheap, I want them to to at least admit to themselves that they are getting less options for the lower price.

hotrod1965
11-16-2009, 10:35 PM
wow, $2.5 per foot LED for rental! Even if they are using the same LED C9's I am using, they are still looking at 1-2% failure. We have an extremely low mainenace cost with our installs, and I still would walk away on $2.50 per foot!

But then again, here we have the $5 per 100 feet people!

Murphy's LawnCare
11-16-2009, 11:23 PM
Pretty frustrating...I had 5 bids today, and the last tire kicker I talked to told me I was 3 times higher than the lowest guy...The woman had her own lights so I bid 3.25 a ft...the low guy bid 1 a ft..I informed her he probably didn't have insurance, or wasn't accounting for certain things, but all she cared about was the $$$

PressureWashE
11-16-2009, 11:43 PM
You are pretty close on price, I would of been about near where you were, as stated in an earlier post, If it was really easy, I would have brought the price down a hare

David Gretzmier
11-17-2009, 07:33 AM
It is odd that most if not 99% of homeowners, for the most part, even intelligent millionaires, don't care if the contractor has workman's comp or insurance. they also really don't seem to care about the trucks they drive or the quality of the product the people put up. in the end, most of them just think 500 bucks is reasonable, do it. Only the very,very rare homeowner asks for a copy of my workman's comp policy or liability policy. it has happened maybe twice in 9 years. business's, most of the time they want a faxed copy. but homeowners, I'd say maybe 10% ask me if I have it, so I am guessing most guys just lie.

britelights
11-17-2009, 08:17 AM
I've had a few homeowners ask about insurance -- but not many. I agree -- I am surprised that most of the homeowners don't care about the quality of the product. I have seen some pretty crappy light jobs on million dollar homes. They will spend hundreds of dollars on a purse, but then want the whole outside of their home lit for less than $500...lol. But I also have to say that we have alot of good customers that do appreciate the quality and service and the product. So...we'll just keep weeding thru and try to find more of those good ones!

I do like this forum. I was starting to second-guess myself...thinking maybe we really did need to lower our prices. But after discussing it with my husband...and reading on this forum...I'm comfortable with what we're doing. We are not going to sell ourselves short.

packey
11-18-2009, 07:05 PM
Hey I know I have not been on in a while but if I am seeing your post right on rehang you are getting 2.50 + for rehangs. Man at those prices I wiould be singing all the way to the bank. I am lucky to get a bid at 1.50 per ft . I understnd insurance and all I have it to but at this point in time it is about keeping the bills paid and the family fed. If you think I am low i am loosing over half my bids to guys at .75 cents per ft. This is the Longview Tyler texas area and we are not as hard it buy economic problmes as most But their are still alot of people out of work and begging for anything they can get.

David Gretzmier
11-19-2009, 12:31 AM
I agree that the cheapies are out there. Tonight I did a bid next door to a home where hispanics were putting up lights. They literally were throwing the lights on the trees. the lights on the house were straight, but wal-mart c-9 lights. plugs everywhere.

I am in a clean, nice embroidered uniform, with a very nice HBL catalog with hundreds of pictures of product on and around homes.

I am there because they got a huge postcard from me and they have seen my trucks around the neighborhood with huge graphics on the side.

I just take in my spt2 cord in with me with 3 bulbs and show the house I am bidding the difference in my product and thiers. Outside, I lay out a stand of noble garland, 1 4 foot wreath, and a blizzard link for folks to see. even if they only buy c'9s from me, or if they don't, they know this, I am way, way upmarket from the guys next door that have a spreader and grass clippings in thier open trailer. I have big photo color graphics on my truck, my bid is in a full color folder, a full color 2 copy bid, etc. if they choose not to hire me, they know they just let the best guy go and hired the cheaper guy. If they choose to hire me , they know they are paying for the best guy out there.

wealthy people may be cheap, but wealthy people also want the best. the people that hire me typically are wealthy folks that want the best. find those folks and be the best if you want premium pricing. and yes, getting those premium rates requires you to spend thousands per year to achieve all the stuff above I mentioned. In the end, like everything else in life, if you want to charge the most for anything, it HAS to be the best out there.

hotrod1965
11-19-2009, 10:00 AM
I agree 100%. This is how we have always done things. But.... this year it's tough competing with people just dying to make $5 because their construction business is tanking, or they lost a lot of lawn customers because no one has extra money.... Detroit is a tough area these days!

I think what is going to happen is we will have an alright year, even though my close rate/bid rate is way down. But then over the next year or two we will start picking up those lost bids once the other installers either move on or screw up.


I agree that the cheapies are out there. Tonight I did a bid next door to a home where hispanics were putting up lights. They literally were throwing the lights on the trees. the lights on the house were straight, but wal-mart c-9 lights. plugs everywhere.

I am in a clean, nice embroidered uniform, with a very nice HBL catalog with hundreds of pictures of product on and around homes.

I am there because they got a huge postcard from me and they have seen my trucks around the neighborhood with huge graphics on the side.

I just take in my spt2 cord in with me with 3 bulbs and show the house I am bidding the difference in my product and thiers. Outside, I lay out a stand of noble garland, 1 4 foot wreath, and a blizzard link for folks to see. even if they only buy c'9s from me, or if they don't, they know this, I am way, way upmarket from the guys next door that have a spreader and grass clippings in thier open trailer. I have big photo color graphics on my truck, my bid is in a full color folder, a full color 2 copy bid, etc. if they choose not to hire me, they know they just let the best guy go and hired the cheaper guy. If they choose to hire me , they know they are paying for the best guy out there.

wealthy people may be cheap, but wealthy people also want the best. the people that hire me typically are wealthy folks that want the best. find those folks and be the best if you want premium pricing. and yes, getting those premium rates requires you to spend thousands per year to achieve all the stuff above I mentioned. In the end, like everything else in life, if you want to charge the most for anything, it HAS to be the best out there.

David Gretzmier
11-19-2009, 10:43 PM
I hope that is true. but I have to tell you, soapbox moment here.

I have done probably 3-4 dozen bids for folks who have had lights done by cheapies either here or they had them done elsewhere by cheapies and moved here, and they look at me like a thief. They truly believe that Christmas lighting is a 500 buck and down cost, period.

I have also had customers a year or two at my pricing, and then they find a cheapie, and they put up my lights, get royally messed over, and they unbelievably call me back and want me to take thier property back over for a lower price. They just cannot bring themselves to pay a fair price for excellent work. it is like poison. They don't care about your trucks, overhead, advertising, insurance, or what you pay for good help. They only want it cheap. They drive a 80,000 car, live in a million dollar house, have a 30,000 dollar video surround theater, and they totally want thier stuff done for as little money as possible. I have no room on my route for those folks. My customers absolutely love me and pay me happily. if they don't, they move on and I will find more that will.

That being said, one of my larger rehangs is my one convert. he loves all that we do and had us do his landscape lighting. very nice client.

And for the record, for some folks, just an ok job is good enough. I just want the cheapies to use good product. and have liability and workman's comp. insurance. I mean, it is after all, the law in my state.

hotrod1965
11-19-2009, 11:18 PM
Well, sure this will always be true.

I do get new customers every year that are "trading up" to us. Got what they paid for, now want something better.

This year I have two things making it tough. Low ballers, and people here just making less money. I'm hoping over the next couple years both those things will clear up a little more for us.



I hope that is true. but I have to tell you, soapbox moment here.

I have done probably 3-4 dozen bids for folks who have had lights done by cheapies either here or they had them done elsewhere by cheapies and moved here, and they look at me like a thief. They truly believe that Christmas lighting is a 500 buck and down cost, period.

I have also had customers a year or two at my pricing, and then they find a cheapie, and they put up my lights, get royally messed over, and they unbelievably call me back and want me to take thier property back over for a lower price. They just cannot bring themselves to pay a fair price for excellent work. it is like poison. They don't care about your trucks, overhead, advertising, insurance, or what you pay for good help. They only want it cheap. They drive a 80,000 car, live in a million dollar house, have a 30,000 dollar video surround theater, and they totally want thier stuff done for as little money as possible. I have no room on my route for those folks. My customers absolutely love me and pay me happily. if they don't, they move on and I will find more that will.

That being said, one of my larger rehangs is my one convert. he loves all that we do and had us do his landscape lighting. very nice client.

And for the record, for some folks, just an ok job is good enough. I just want the cheapies to use good product. and have liability and workman's comp. insurance. I mean, it is after all, the law in my state.

yard_smart
11-24-2009, 10:16 AM
I'm at $2,419 a 1 year and $1,939/year for a 3 year deal

TPnTX
12-01-2009, 09:19 AM
So here you are an LCO and every year you see more and more other LCO's driving around with temporary magnetic signs for "holiday or christmas lights"

You start to ask around and soon discover that the price is either side of 2.50 a foot. You do some math and start thinking in quantity.

Then you start looking at your guys thinking how many jobs you can do, which one of them are going to fall off a ladder or worse a roof. Stringing up wires and extension chords and splicing wires.

Then you start looking at some of the franchise companies thinking with proper training and advertising you could propel yourself above this to a level where your expertise could out sell "mows alot" or "green acres mowing"

Then you come here and read about business such as David's. Dont be confused. If you don't have any work and want to go door to door slinging up lights, there is a market. You can keep busy doing it and make an paycheck. For me no thank you.

David's business is different. 6.50 a foot. We are not taking someone in a 200k home where the dual income is 130k a year. Thats the 2.50 at the most.

His business as he has mentioned is high end high income residential and he still has to endure low ball competetion. He just moves on.

For his business you have to know your stuff and sell it. I you dont' know your stuff or you can't sell you won't be able to land those jobs.

So the question is where to start. At this point in time that starting point is keeps going lower and lower.


The key to realizing the difference is best said in the above post.

I have done probably 3-4 dozen bids for folks who have had lights done by cheapies either here or they had them done elsewhere by cheapies and moved here, and they look at me like a thief. They truly believe that Christmas lighting is a 500 buck and down cost, period.

David Gretzmier
12-02-2009, 12:59 AM
I think that most folks can start by hanging wal- mart lights for a certain rate per hour. you learn the trade, figure out power, etc. at some point, after a couple of years, you can then move on to custom fit bulk c-9 cord, garland and wreaths and maybe HBL, Christmas Decor or Brite Ideas. I think in every business you should start somewhere and then work your way up the food chain. Although Brite Ideas and HBL train you, they cannot train you what you learn over a number of years.

The problem is many folks never move up, but rather move in to neighborhoods with low pricing. I saw a company doing a 2.3 or 2.5 mill home in The nicest neighborhood in my area. They started last year. they were putting mini-lights on a new pre-lit wreath right out of the box. so no clue about how a light tester unit works. in thier 2nd year. real slate roof. very steep pitch. no harness, and they are working in the dark. walking and hanging onto the edge doing peaks. I bid that house for several grand, from experience, and really, no offense to them, but they have no business doing that house. they have no clue what they are doing, yet, there they are. It was the one I mentioned that I was heartbroken they hired them.

the difference between lawn care and Christmas lighting is you can die or get critically injured doing this. and people, even my people, fall very often. we have a fall every other year that requires emergency room or hospital stay. What really hurts is when one of the cheapies falls. then add one hungry lawyer. lawncare company has no insurance? no problem. They will sue the homeowner, and win. why? The homeowner hired that company. It is the homeowners responsibility to make sure the company has coverage, otherwise thier homeowners policy covers it. the person dies in the fall? lawsuit exceeds homeowner policy?, and yes, yes, yes, they can then go after the homeowner assets.

my mission over the next 12 months is to educate each home owner in "my" subdivisions to not only ask for a copy of thier insurance, but to make sure the policy has coverage for getting on a roof, not just mowing or spraying grass. until homeowners start asking for copies of workman's comp and liability, which costs me well north of 10 grand per year, the cheapies will multiply. If they are forced to spend thousands of dollars just to do bids on nice houses, they will have to start pricing normally.

hotrod1965
12-02-2009, 11:43 AM
I would like to join in on your mission!



I think that most folks can start by hanging wal- mart lights for a certain rate per hour. you learn the trade, figure out power, etc. at some point, after a couple of years, you can then move on to custom fit bulk c-9 cord, garland and wreaths and maybe HBL, Christmas Decor or Brite Ideas. I think in every business you should start somewhere and then work your way up the food chain. Although Brite Ideas and HBL train you, they cannot train you what you learn over a number of years.

The problem is many folks never move up, but rather move in to neighborhoods with low pricing. I saw a company doing a 2.3 or 2.5 mill home in The nicest neighborhood in my area. They started last year. they were putting mini-lights on a new pre-lit wreath right out of the box. so no clue about how a light tester unit works. in thier 2nd year. real slate roof. very steep pitch. no harness, and they are working in the dark. walking and hanging onto the edge doing peaks. I bid that house for several grand, from experience, and really, no offense to them, but they have no business doing that house. they have no clue what they are doing, yet, there they are. It was the one I mentioned that I was heartbroken they hired them.

the difference between lawn care and Christmas lighting is you can die or get critically injured doing this. and people, even my people, fall very often. we have a fall every other year that requires emergency room or hospital stay. What really hurts is when one of the cheapies falls. then add one hungry lawyer. lawncare company has no insurance? no problem. They will sue the homeowner, and win. why? The homeowner hired that company. It is the homeowners responsibility to make sure the company has coverage, otherwise thier homeowners policy covers it. the person dies in the fall? lawsuit exceeds homeowner policy?, and yes, yes, yes, they can then go after the homeowner assets.

my mission over the next 12 months is to educate each home owner in "my" subdivisions to not only ask for a copy of thier insurance, but to make sure the policy has coverage for getting on a roof, not just mowing or spraying grass. until homeowners start asking for copies of workman's comp and liability, which costs me well north of 10 grand per year, the cheapies will multiply. If they are forced to spend thousands of dollars just to do bids on nice houses, they will have to start pricing normally.

BearWise Landscapers
12-02-2009, 04:25 PM
It is odd that most if not 99% of homeowners, for the most part, even intelligent millionaires, don't care if the contractor has workman's comp or insurance. they also really don't seem to care about the trucks they drive or the quality of the product the people put up. in the end, most of them just think 500 bucks is reasonable, do it. Only the very,very rare homeowner asks for a copy of my workman's comp policy or liability policy. it has happened maybe twice in 9 years. business's, most of the time they want a faxed copy. but homeowners, I'd say maybe 10% ask me if I have it, so I am guessing most guys just lie.

I think that most folks can start by hanging wal- mart lights for a certain rate per hour. you learn the trade, figure out power, etc. at some point, after a couple of years, you can then move on to custom fit bulk c-9 cord, garland and wreaths and maybe HBL, Christmas Decor or Brite Ideas. I think in every business you should start somewhere and then work your way up the food chain. Although Brite Ideas and HBL train you, they cannot train you what you learn over a number of years.

The problem is many folks never move up, but rather move in to neighborhoods with low pricing. I saw a company doing a 2.3 or 2.5 mill home in The nicest neighborhood in my area. They started last year. they were putting mini-lights on a new pre-lit wreath right out of the box. so no clue about how a light tester unit works. in thier 2nd year. real slate roof. very steep pitch. no harness, and they are working in the dark. walking and hanging onto the edge doing peaks. I bid that house for several grand, from experience, and really, no offense to them, but they have no business doing that house. they have no clue what they are doing, yet, there they are. It was the one I mentioned that I was heartbroken they hired them.

the difference between lawn care and Christmas lighting is you can die or get critically injured doing this. and people, even my people, fall very often. we have a fall every other year that requires emergency room or hospital stay. What really hurts is when one of the cheapies falls. then add one hungry lawyer. lawncare company has no insurance? no problem. They will sue the homeowner, and win. why? The homeowner hired that company. It is the homeowners responsibility to make sure the company has coverage, otherwise thier homeowners policy covers it. the person dies in the fall? lawsuit exceeds homeowner policy?, and yes, yes, yes, they can then go after the homeowner assets.

my mission over the next 12 months is to educate each home owner in "my" subdivisions to not only ask for a copy of thier insurance, but to make sure the policy has coverage for getting on a roof, not just mowing or spraying grass. until homeowners start asking for copies of workman's comp and liability, which costs me well north of 10 grand per year, the cheapies will multiply. If they are forced to spend thousands of dollars just to do bids on nice houses, they will have to start pricing normally.

I would like to join in on your mission!

David,

I agree with hotrod: I would like to join in on your mission as well.

So many people don't realize the risks they take when they hire a landscaping business, a tree light business, or anybody else that doesn't carry insurance. All it takes is educating these people and those that still want to go that route will then have no excuses. In the insurance business, when somebody wants to self-insure one of their exposures, we say that is fine and it is their decision, but we have them sign a paper that states we told them about the potential consequences of going that route and we advised them to purchase insurance instead of self-insuring. Maybe you could have some sort of document you get the homeowner to sign when they reject your bid based on pricing. As an insurance agent, I can be held liable for a client's decision to self-insure a portion of their exposures, so that's why we do it, but for you it will at least get the conversation started about how serious it is and hopefully a couple of those homeowners will change their mind.

If you would like for me to put together a few paragraphs describing the dangers a homeowner has when hiring a contractor that does not carry insurance, I would be happy to do so.

I wish you the best on your mission!

TLS2005
12-02-2009, 09:08 PM
Quick question, I'm a landscaper in Oklahoma and during these fall/winter months I always try to find odd jobs to keep me busy so hanging lights seems like an ok idea to me. I never thought about it until just the other day my moms friend from work asked if I could hang her lights for her at her house. She has all her own lights already but the problem is I have no idea what to charge her per foot to hang these things. Assuming she furnishes all materials such as lights and clips, can anyone give me a ballpark as to what I should charge for the hanging? What about taking them down? I don't have a lot of details other than it's supposedly not a big job and it will be easy to do. Any comments are appreciated. Thanks!