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View Full Version : Joined HBL today!!


GreenI.A.
09-20-2011, 09:41 PM
We concentrate on Irrigation and landscape lighting but had done a few holiday lighting jobs last year for a few select clients. I have been doing alot of research and decided to give it a big push this season. I talked with Nick at HBL this afternoon and signed up. Holiday lighting isn't big hear yet so I am hoping to be the trend setter hear. In the South of Boston Area, there are 3 HBL members that are all well over an hour away. I'm hoping that the lack of compatition is just that others haven't given it a try yet and not that there isn't a market for it here.


Any advice you guys with a long lighting history can give?

TimNNJ
09-21-2011, 12:30 PM
I did as well. I am doing a big push this year in our area...lots of good advice on here...cheers

David Gretzmier
09-22-2011, 02:48 AM
Welcome to the club. The best advice I can give you is to treat your Christmas light division as a separate company and price your services as such. If you are in Boston, then you have a huge market. What a great place to grow. but...

You need to price your services in such a way to be able to capitalize growth. most lawn care and chemical lawn companies that do Christmas lights only grow the Christmas lights side to the size thier current fleet and employees can handle in the off season. In 4-8 years, You may very welll want to sell the division off, so it needs to be able to pay for the trucks, gas, the employees, the warehouse storage, the workmans comp and liability. My current Christmas light company started as a division in a landscape management company I owned about 10 years back, and I took that division and started it as a sepeate company in 2003. I am so thankful that we priced our first 35 jobs of so to be able to capitalize the overhead as we grew to 60 customers, then 100, and now 200 plus.

Too often I see folks just trying to cover wages or make x dollars per hour after materials. They accumulate 40-60 customers after a few years, and they brag to me we make x per hour, we are doing great. But they Rarely can or will go out and buy trucks, buy land and build warehouse space, so they then can run 3, 4, 6 crews and handle 100, 200 or more customers.

what you charge unfortuately has to do with how much you pay in boston, how much warehouse space is, and insurance, and all the other overhead items that go into figureing rates. So I can't really tell you what to charge. But I know that one boxvan and 2 guys can handle about 60 customers tops for the season if you start in early October. we start in mid september. and if you look at my "new shop" thread on this forum I figured out how many cubic feet of rack storage you need per customer on average. so that should help you out on cost of warehouse space.

I could go into tons of detail about marketing, training employees, administration, etc. but pricing by far will almost always determine whether you can grow and pay for all those things.

good luck.

TPnTX
09-23-2011, 10:05 AM
I too just joined. I over the last couple of years I've done a few jobs just to check it out. This I've decided to take on more.
Two factors that top my list
1) DFW huge market/decent economy
2) Huge undocumented worker workforce which leads to low ball marketplace.

Maybe it's the same everywhere regarding the low ball competition. I'm determined to work around that issue. Stick to prices and adhere to a business plan such as illustrated by David or I wont do it at all.

I know 1 example doesn't tell much but a customer of mine lives in a 400lk neighborhood. Every year he gets lights put up and its a huge house with many gables and very tall roof lines. I asked him about it last year and he said "man I'll show you the price but I don't think you'll like it." he was right $400.00 lol.

Anyway if you look for reasons not to do something you'll find them. Instead I'm looking at reasons to sell during the Holiday Season

Many thanks to all the contributors here.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-24-2011, 02:28 AM
I'm down in Austin on my third season with HBL. I'm easing into the lighting scene. The first year wasn't really enthused about doing holiday lights but I now enjoy the challenge. I'm just looking for conservative growth that will be easy to handle. Mike Marlow would rather see me in overdrive mode and I may end up being more aggressive in the future.

I tried doing a Groupon deal where say for $149 you get $300 worth of product or even a smaller deal like $100 worth of product for $49. I contacted Groupon via email four times and left three voice mails and the SOB's didn't even bother to call me back. How can a company valued in the billions be this bad?

Tried Living Social and was told that because some mystery person had one negative posting about my company they wouldn't do a deal either. Apparently an anonymous posting on the web carries more weight then an A rating with the BBB. As long as you keep the size of the discount small doing a Groupon type deal isn’t much more expensive then spending $1500 on direct mail to land a handful of jobs. The enticing thing about a Groupon type offer is that you are only paying for sales that have been made. With other forms of advertising there is a lot more risk involved.

GreenI.A.
09-24-2011, 04:00 PM
Thanks for the advice, I'm sure I'll be posting plenty of quesions over the next couple of months. I do have to say as of right now I am anything but impressed with the service I am receiving from HBL. I filled out the info request online last weekend, nick called me first thing monday morning a couple of times but I was to busy and didn't call him back until Tuesday. At that point I was happy with the service, I figured they called me back right away and even tried calling me a few times. When I talked to Nick on Tues I gave him my credit card info and he said that I would receive a conformation email with all the info and that they would mail everything out that afternoon. I got the fedex confirmation that everything was shipped out on Friday, not Tuesday, I also never got the confirmation email from them. I would like to be able to get onto the site and see pricing, training materials, etc.. I called them yesterday and talked to Nick again who said he would get the email sent out to me. Still haven't received it. Just makes me nervous because if I tell a customer I can have the supplies to do their house in so many days and then HBL waits to ship 3-4 days past what they quoted, I'm gonna have a pissed off customer to deal with.

addictedtolandscaping
09-24-2011, 07:10 PM
Call and talk to Mike.

I have talked to Nick a few times on the phone, not impressed with him at all.

GreenI.A.
09-24-2011, 07:28 PM
Call and talk to Mike.

I have talked to Nick a few times on the phone, not impressed with him at all.

Thanks. I think Mike actually answered when I called and asked to talk to Nick yesterday. I'll give Mike a call on Monday. Thanks again.

David Gretzmier
09-25-2011, 12:34 AM
I think nick's job is to sell, getting folks to buy from HBL and he goes to trade shows, basically to GET new members, where Mike is supposed to help members once on board.

PlantscapeSolutions
09-25-2011, 03:09 AM
Thanks for the advice, I'm sure I'll be posting plenty of quesions over the next couple of months. I do have to say as of right now I am anything but impressed with the service I am receiving from HBL. I filled out the info request online last weekend, nick called me first thing monday morning a couple of times but I was to busy and didn't call him back until Tuesday. At that point I was happy with the service, I figured they called me back right away and even tried calling me a few times. When I talked to Nick on Tues I gave him my credit card info and he said that I would receive a conformation email with all the info and that they would mail everything out that afternoon. I got the fedex confirmation that everything was shipped out on Friday, not Tuesday, I also never got the confirmation email from them. I would like to be able to get onto the site and see pricing, training materials, etc.. I called them yesterday and talked to Nick again who said he would get the email sent out to me. Still haven't received it. Just makes me nervous because if I tell a customer I can have the supplies to do their house in so many days and then HBL waits to ship 3-4 days past what they quoted, I'm gonna have a pissed off customer to deal with.

My first year in 09' didn't start smoothly either. HBL ran out of gutter clips, C7 LEDs, and the plugs for making jumper cables with 18 gauge lamp cord. I was new and had no idea who else would have these items at a decent price. Mike was pretty much mum on where I could find anything.

The lamp cord plugs I ended up getting were for use where polarity is required. The HBL lights have no polarity so the big side of the plugs I had would not fit in the old style HBL sockets. I had to use a grinder to shrink one side of my males plugs so they would work.

The 1000 gutter clips I bought were horrible and I threw them all away after one season. A total waste of money.

The second batch of clips I bought came from Holiday LiteSource and they were cheaper then the HBL clips and likely came from the same factory in China. I think I saved 3 cents per clip and saved $30 on the box I bought.

I would really like to see other HBL members like David Gretzmier and others let us in on the other supply places they have used for certain items. Just because we are HBL members it doesn't mean we can't shop else where if we can get some better deals.

I'm surprised nobody else makes the 100 light M6 LED light sets.

turf hokie
09-25-2011, 06:53 PM
My first year in 09' didn't start smoothly either. HBL ran out of gutter clips, C7 LEDs, and the plugs for making jumper cables with 18 gauge lamp cord. I was new and had no idea who else would have these items at a decent price. Mike was pretty much mum on where I could find anything.

The lamp cord plugs I ended up getting were for use where polarity is required. The HBL lights have no polarity so the big side of the plugs I had would not fit in the old style HBL sockets. I had to use a grinder to shrink one side of my males plugs so they would work.

The 1000 gutter clips I bought were horrible and I threw them all away after one season. A total waste of money.

The second batch of clips I bought came from Holiday LiteSource and they were cheaper then the HBL clips and likely came from the same factory in China. I think I saved 3 cents per clip and saved $30 on the box I bought.

I would really like to see other HBL members like David Gretzmier and others let us in on the other supply places they have used for certain items. Just because we are HBL members it doesn't mean we can't shop else where if we can get some better deals.

I'm surprised nobody else makes the 100 light M6 LED light sets.

I learned the hard way (when I was 12 and selling fishing tackle at the local flea market) to not give out your product source or vendor. Things have changed since then, but I still wont publicly give out my vendors other than HBL and Christmas decor.

That being said, it isnt hard to find them, internet and all. Heck, I have them calling me to the point of being severely annoying, pretty much every tom, dick and harry that can find you on the internet will eventually try to peddle their walmart type lights to you...

Not trying to be a dic but nobody gave me any vendor leads and now I have more than I want and still look for them because you never know who will have that one thing that might set you apart from the next guy.

Bryan

PlantscapeSolutions
09-25-2011, 07:43 PM
You shelled out the bucks for a Chrismas Decor membership as well Turf Hokie? I had the other place that's in HBL's home town offer me a free membership at one point. It's a little interesting that Lite Source and Chrismas Decor are both in Lubbock of all places.

Most of us HBL members are all spread out and it's not like someone I share info with a few states away is going to take over the world and effect my sales.

addictedtolandscaping
09-25-2011, 08:04 PM
If you haven't held it in your hands, I will tell you first hand in my opinion, junk. The linkables can not be positioned into place, they are welded and that is that. I asked point blank if the one I was holding had been out door and was told no, it was only a few months old. So I then asked, then why is it rusting.

I thought the show room was very flashy, in the long run, after getting inside, I found that the things that really caught my eye were made by a different manufacturer, and being resold.

You say that Mike didn't offer you any suggestions, I have never run into that. Matter of fact, I probably bug that poor man more than any other member. He has been an absolute army of encouragement for me, everyone is going to have a off day, but I can honestly say I have never really experienced that with him. Each and everything he has told me to do, and I finally do, pays off.

I primarily use HBL product, and have no regrets whatsoever. I had and LED issue last year, the product was 1 year old, the light sets were flown in to me overnight. I got them from half way around the world in 24 hours, hell I can;t get them from Omaha anywhere near that fast. LOL

As for the other suppliers, like Bryan mentioned, cruise the net. I am already getting phone calls, they started in May. I do have my preferred list I deal with, and HBL is on top.

Best of luck to you this year.

turf hokie
09-25-2011, 08:16 PM
You shelled out the bucks for a Chrismas Decor membership as well Turf Hokie? I had the other place that's in HBL's home town offer me a free membership at one point. It's a little interesting that Lite Source and Chrismas Decor are both in Lubbock of all places.

Most of us HBL members are all spread out and it's not like someone I share info with a few states away is going to take over the world and effect my sales.

Yes, I am a Christmas Decor franchise, I went this rout because at the time HBL was just getting started and I really did not know about them, I felt I had a choice between Christmas Decor and Brite ideas if I were to join anybody. Brite ideas was just as costly as CD but the information and product that I saw did not impress me one bit so I went the franchise route.

They do bring a lot to the table and I do get my money's worth, no question. But it is like every other relationship, it has it ups and downs.....

As far as competetion, go online to HBL or CD and you will see how tight we are up here in metro NY, My CD territory borders 5 other christmas decors and I have 3 HBL that are within a stones throw of me, and that does not account for the small local home depot shoppers and lurkers on here.

That is good and bad as well, more recognition for christmas decorating and more call for it, but it also brings out the guys that are pricing jobs for 1/3 of what I do it for, and what kills me is I have seen some come and go but I have one really large thorn in my side that has stuck around a lot longer than I expected him too. That is why I am leary to share too much info because I never know who is reading here and I have too many guys that "are just trying to keep their guys busy" and will work for cost or below cost. Makes no sense but they have told me that to my face......

Bryan

David Gretzmier
09-26-2011, 01:02 AM
as far as other suplliers, I don't think I have been keeping them a secret, but bryan is right, it is very easy to be a competitor to me, just read my posts on here, I will tell you everything you need to know. I tend to only name names if a source has been particularly good and reliable. HBL has been that for me, and yes, they do run out of items. sometimes even at the beginning of November. But I still reccomend them.

I have been buying from litesource for about a decade, and I use several of the clips they sell, from shingle tabs, parapet clips, all-in-one ( classic, NOT the plus ). along with a few other items.

I also have bought other items from other folks, like incan c-9 cord and bulbs, but bulk cord and bulbs are virtually the same everywhere. shop around and find the best price.

I get most of my extension cords locally, and I am not a fan of making my own cords. I have done it. But it is usually cheaper to buy premade lamp cords than to make a lamp cord. They are, however, usually polarized. I do the wiggle back and forth and can make them work if I have to.

I have bought LED c-9's from several sources and I tend to try to find the most diodes for the least amount of money. I will be testing some 15 diodes that are fading/color changing for a commercial application this year. But I don't want to reccomend them as they may turn out bad. In the last 7 years I have had so many c-9 leds turn out bad, even from HBL, I still don't reccomend them. I have had decent luck in the past 2 years, as they only fail as often as good incans, but I am still not on the LED train.

GreenI.A.
09-26-2011, 11:27 AM
Morning guys, I had planned to call Mike this afternoon if I didn't receive the email this morning. But that shouldn't be needed now, Kate sent me an email with my payment receipt and said that Mike will email me with my membership information.

TexasFire221
09-26-2011, 12:18 PM
I'm down in Austin on my third season with HBL. I'm easing into the lighting scene. The first year wasn't really enthused about doing holiday lights but I now enjoy the challenge. I'm just looking for conservative growth that will be easy to handle. Mike Marlow would rather see me in overdrive mode and I may end up being more aggressive in the future.

I tried doing a Groupon deal where say for $149 you get $300 worth of product or even a smaller deal like $100 worth of product for $49. I contacted Groupon via email four times and left three voice mails and the SOB's didn't even bother to call me back. How can a company valued in the billions be this bad?

Tried Living Social and was told that because some mystery person had one negative posting about my company they wouldn't do a deal either. Apparently an anonymous posting on the web carries more weight then an A rating with the BBB. As long as you keep the size of the discount small doing a Groupon type deal isnít much more expensive then spending $1500 on direct mail to land a handful of jobs. The enticing thing about a Groupon type offer is that you are only paying for sales that have been made. With other forms of advertising there is a lot more risk involved.


Be VERY careful with Groupon as I have heard many horror stories.

Well Bryan I purchased the jobs, I will be adding 45 new customers to my list this year and the season hasnt even started yet. I will message ya and let you know how I did. I excited about the season.

turf hokie
09-26-2011, 12:45 PM
Be VERY careful with Groupon as I have heard many horror stories.

Well Bryan I purchased the jobs, I will be adding 45 new customers to my list this year and the season hasnt even started yet. I will message ya and let you know how I did. I excited about the season.

That's awesome. I look forward to the message.

We have signed up 2 new so far and lost 1. another appt tonite. I am crossing my fingers for a good year, have not advertised yet so I am excited about the leads already this year....

addictedtolandscaping
09-27-2011, 05:36 AM
Talked with Mike yesterday, poor guy needs to find someone to clone him.

addictedtolandscaping
09-27-2011, 05:37 AM
Texas, 45 HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations on that, that's huge. Three years and I am not half way there.