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David Gretzmier
11-07-2011, 11:41 PM
with 17 days til thanksgiving I Thought I'd finally jump in here with my traditional new sales thread. like other years, I kinda keep track here how I am doing, really just so I can look back over previous years in an easy way to seach and compare rather than use paper. I have been crazy busy as far as time spent doing stuff, but it looks as though I am right around where I normally am in new customers. I am setting on 8 as of tonight, which is behind where I was in 2010, but ahead of 2009, and I think 2008. but the next 3 weeks will truly tell the tale. As always, I hope we do well, but mainly replace the ones we lost and grow.

What is unique about this year is we have done gangbuster landscape lighting work while we have hung Christmas lights. normally we would "push" that work to December 10-23, but projects have been fairly demanding so we have went ahead and put them in.

Last year I was setting on 10 new customers even back in October 24th of thet year, and I thought that was amazing. but then I was only at 12 by November 13th I think. which put us behind 2009. so I went about 16 key days and closed 2. bu then, as things tend to do, the floodgates opened and I beat 2009 in terms of number of customers, but the average sale was low enough that overall sales dollars were not record breaking.

I can say that we have about 100 "jobs" to do as compared to 55 back in 2009 around this date. I say "jobs" because we have a few that are on my list I have not yet heard from, and I also have some jobs we have done the c-9's but not yet the greenery. I count them as needed to be done til we do them completely. but it still kinda scares me, as I kinda did some of that back in 2009, that we have almost double the number of jobs and really we are only running one more crew, 4 true full time crews this year.

But it seems as crew foreman hang around year after year they do get faster. I now routinely have to force myself to give them a bit more than I think they can handle, because they are good workers.

it has been pretty quiet on the phone, but we have really only just begun to put out a lot of signs and postcards just began to hit 2 days ago. Christmas Decor has been out and about putting flyers on doors, and I am sure that gets them sales. I just prefer the sign and postcard approach. we are just now starting to install daily in the nicer neighborhoods, and having our trucks out and about tends to make the phone ring as well.

It is certainly nice not to have to come up with 45k to cover the cost of a container load of product this year and just be able to sell inventory. that I already have I believe I may have bought enough of some wreaths that it may carry me into 2012 season. we'll see. I have still had to buy c-9 spools and bulbs, some bows and clips, but having garland and wreaths is going to be pretty nice.

This thread of course is open to all to chime in on haw they are doing as well. I like to know how all of the country is doing in closing jobs and to see if one part of the country is doing better than the next. so all are welcome to share.

I also want to stress I do this thread mainly for me to track what days I sell jobs and to motivate myself to either close more work or I can relax that I am tracking with similar dates in years past. I do not do this thread to make anyone feel like they are behind me or whatever. we all have different levels where we are, and I am certain there are dozens of christmas light companies out there who can and do close work faster and at a greater volume than I run.

I also wonder what effect Thanksgiving being here so early will affect sales before and after Thanksgiving. again, maybe we will be able to figure that out. I do know that every new job seems to want their job up before thanksgiving so far.

so all that being said, how is everyone doing out there?

greenbaylawns
11-08-2011, 12:20 AM
Nice post! All of our customers want there lights on the day after Thanksgiving also.

GreenI.A.
11-08-2011, 02:15 PM
Nice post! All of our customers want there lights on the day after Thanksgiving also.

Just signed a contract with a customer who wants his lights on when he and his family get home on thanksgiving night from visiting family but does not want them up before hand. He actually thought we would come out on Thanksgiving and hang his lights :hammerhead: We agreed that we would hang the lights on the house and trees before hand and set the timere to not come on untill Thursday, the fallowing week we will come out to do the garland and wreaths

addictedtolandscaping
11-08-2011, 05:09 PM
with the exception of a new municipal contract, nada thing. The phone had been pretty busy with the runs of HBL mailers, then died right off.

Like you Dave, we are still really busy with "summer" work. We actually have a project with a tentative date for December.

Have quite a few renewals that we haven;t heard from yet, but I get that due to the newness of the service here.

We will start hanging either this weekend or next, depends on the weather as I have to put my busket truck up on a lawn to do part of the display, and do not want to rut it up.

The week of Thanksgiving, we will hang the new project, then expect to anyhow, move right onto our biggest one with the big wreath we put up and then all the trees. Somewhere in there, have to get a couple homes done too.

Burning the candle at both ends right now, snow contracts as well are on going, sooner or later the candle with self combust in the middle I am sure. LOL

meets1
11-08-2011, 09:39 PM
Nothing here either - alot of fall work going on yet. Phone rings about lighting but nothing. All our regulars are getting lights on this friday thru next week. Weather has been great so far for me.

rywnygc
11-09-2011, 04:14 PM
We will start hanging either this weekend or next, depends on the weather as I have to put my bucket truck up on a lawn to do part of the display, and do not want to rut it up.

When I need to get a truck or equipment (bobcat, etc....) onto a lawn, I use OSB board. It only costs about 7 bucks for a 4x8 sheet. Then, as long as the boards weren't there for days; you can just pick them up and rake up the areas where they were and you are good to go. I am able to re-use the boards a few times normally. Just figured I would mention that. Hope it helps.

addictedtolandscaping
11-09-2011, 08:41 PM
thought about that, but the truck itself weighs 11000 lbs. It isn;t a big deal right now, has to be up by black Friday. Thought about plywood too, guess the decision will get made on Sunday according to the day.

Thanks for the suggestion though!!!!

TimNNJ
11-10-2011, 05:52 PM
Last week I sent out all 10k of my 8.5x11 postcards...and put out about 25 signs..my answering machine was filling up so fast I hired a company to answer the phone, take messages and set up appointments..and they can forward calls to me if need be..it's me and three other guys doing all the work right now...this week so far we put up 5 jobs..4 new...I have a bunch of estimates out there and will follow up over the weekend with the calls I have not heard back from...I am going to put in another order for material because I did a basic order to start and I can see us flying through those...with all this going on ..installing two new landscapes and sod..fall cleanups and Christmas lights...I am losing my mind..lol..

Birchwood
11-10-2011, 09:55 PM
15 up so far, 43 to go. 3 new jobs, a couple of leads still to meet with. Some of our biggest installs going up ext week, hope the weather cooperates, it hasn't this week, and we got our first taste of snow today, scary. I hope to get 10-15 new jobs this year, I think it is doable, working off referrals and add-ons right now. Started post cards this week, few calls, we'll see. Good luck

Addicted - we use 3/4 inch plywood, it will last years, great for trucks and skid steers

David Gretzmier
11-10-2011, 10:26 PM
we stagger the 10k of cards by doing 1000-2000 at a time. I am trying the everydoor direct mail this year, and you have to bring the cards to the specific post office that represents the zip code you want to mail to. since we service 4 somewhat distinct cities in the 2 county area, we have to dleiver to 5 post offices anyway. so we will do 4 zip codes, or about one every 3 days over the next 12 days or so.

lost one yesterday, had to tear up the check, replaced it with a larger one today. so still at 8.

Surprisingly, I have done quite a bit of landscape light sales the past 2 weeks. the phone has not really blew up yet, but I have a feeling folks are going to wake up this weekend and realize thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away.

more signs go out tomorrow. friday afternoon is a pretty good time for signs as they will be out usually all weekend until after monday morning when potential clients drive to work. after that is usually when the street crews start snatching them.

Lost a large ( 10k plus) bid to a Christmas Decor franchise here because of a doorhanger they put on a private gated estate driveway entry. anyone who thinks canvassing neighborhoods with doorhangers does not work has not done it at the right time with the right doorhanger. Had they not hung it there they day I did the bid for them, I am reasonably certain they would have hired me. I have to give them this, they answered the phone when I called and gave me the reasons why they went with CD. wait for it....they were 1k cheaper. on a rental. my bid was about 3k cheaper next year. sometimes rental guys win.

David Gretzmier
11-12-2011, 01:14 AM
Had a good day with add-ons, about 6k spread over 3 customers. but no new customers since yesterday last post. a few calls and appointments. the frenzy really has not started yet. I think it may this weekend.

also continue to sell landscape lighting. funky. have an appointment tomorrow and sold some additional today. for me, it is always good to have a few paying jobs to do after the install season slows down around the 10th or so. keeps the guys busy, brings in a few dollars to cover warranty repair labor costs during the 2 weeks before Christmas.

David Gretzmier
11-14-2011, 12:16 AM
I know I always seem to get a negative tone at some point comparing this year to other years, but this weekend was downright disturbing. I have noticed the phone has not rung, and I did not do a single new Christmas lights appointment this wekend. That is unheard of. I have one appointment booked for tomorrow, 11/14. I am still at 8 new customers, and I at least discovered this weekend maybe why folks are not calling.

we have been putting out yard signs and have noticed I have gotten almost no calls from them. Usually I have to sort through all the " I only want someone to hang my lights" to find the customers willing to buy from me, but no calls this year. I received a phone call Saturday from a gentleman claiming to be a previous employee of one of my competitors, and he said that his former employer was offering 10 bucks per sign for every competitors sign brought in. Christmas Decor then called me later that day and informed me they had received a similar call and had contacted the police, and asked me to follow suit, which I did. The police are now investigating. I am considering putting out a hundred or so signs leading all the way to the competitors shop door. I do have some old signs around with my previous name.

but whether he stops or not, it has maybe done some damage, not sure. I know that looking at the past 2 years, we are definetely behind both years. maybe we can make up some ground, and I do hope we will close many more in the next 20 days, but the reality is we were sitting on 14-16 new customers at this time in the last 2 years.

So dirty tricks work, but hopefully the guilty can be punished. how bad it hurts me financially, we'll see.

TimNNJ
11-14-2011, 06:55 PM
Oh man that is messed up...I hope they get caught..or you catch them!..

britelights
11-15-2011, 06:33 PM
We have been going nuts down here. Only did 1 mailout of the large postcards - 5k - and phones are crazy. I was worried 'cause I was 2 weeks late with my 1st mailer. Alot of referrals and add-ons too - always nice. We're sitting at 19 new customers right now -- I don't think we've closed that many jobs before by this date. Don't need to do the 2nd round of postcards. We didn't even do door hangers this year. Still trying to work out employee stuff and manage the growth to 2 crews. First crew leader fell thru, so I was really panicked a week and a half ago...got another on board - think that's going to work well. Interesting season for sure!

britelights
11-15-2011, 06:54 PM
To TIMNNJ -- what kind of company did you get to answer your phones and set appointments for you? How is that working out? Would love more info!

TimNNJ
11-15-2011, 07:23 PM
Intelligent office..I believe they have a few offices ..www.ioredbank.com...it is the best thing I could of done...I am going to use them for the spring also...they screen the calls...set appointments and put them in google calender..well worth it..

addictedtolandscaping
11-15-2011, 09:26 PM
All three rounds of mailers so far a total bust. As of this point, only 1 new project and that was a referral. It is going to take me a week to get done and will double in size next year, but again, that was a referral. No add ons, no new ones. For me, waste of money this year.

Havent even heard from all the rehangs, so Lord only knows.

David Gretzmier
11-16-2011, 07:40 AM
the past 2 days have went much better. 4-5 appointments each day, one scheduled for today, one friday, one next monday, etc. closed 2 jobs monday and 2 tuesday, so we are at 12. 2 were referrals, two were postcards. still selling add ons, another 4k, we may be about at our 1/2 way point on new sales for the year including add ons. still hoping to close 30 plus new clients this year.

awesome to see Brite of Houston kicking my tail on new customers.

sorry to see others are struggling. we have also not heard from many rehang customers, maybe about 15. they are currently scheduled for after Thanksgiving.

britelights
11-16-2011, 08:44 AM
addicted -- so sorry to hear that. Are you using HBL for your mailers? I know each market is different, but I'm really surprised you didn't even get a couple jobs from the postcards. Do you do door hangers as well? What other kind of advertising do you do?

David -- glad to hear the numbers have gotten better in the past couple days. :) Are you using a phone service as well to answer calls? I'm having a terrible time keeping up with the phone and I don't want to leave people hanging.

turf hokie
11-16-2011, 09:17 AM
We closed a few, mainly due to my promise to my wife and kids to take them to Disney, getting on the plane to head back now. 2 crews have been installing since halloween, probably put a 3rd out on monday.
I have 17 new estimates lined up tomorrow thru monday and 5 renewal customers that want to review the design. All internet leads/referrals/trucks and lawn signs.
Our advertising campaign should start to land today thru friday. Magazine ad and val-pak coupon mailer. Hitting the same 100,000+ homes with each one. That should generate 150-200 calls and land us 15-20 jobbs if history continues.

We also still have about 30% of our renewal customer unsigned. All have been contacted, so at this point I assume we are going to lose about 40%. Some because we raised prices, others the "economy" crutch I am sure is being used.


Addicted, I tried a mailer last year, spent a few grand, got 30 or so calls, about 10 appts, 0 sales, total bust. After talking with several guys in our area, postcards do not work. Hope it turns around for you,
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yard_smart
11-16-2011, 05:12 PM
No mailers only our website and cold calls.

Be doing sales since July. Phone is avg 3 to 5 calls per day.
Picked up a couple LARGE shopping centers this year plus all of our re hangs are back.

Picked up 2 HOA's from US Lawns/Christmas Decor .... for a higher price!

Been a great year can't wait to see what the next few years will look like.

David Gretzmier
11-16-2011, 10:44 PM
2 more new ones today. at 14 new jobs. one add on today. one came from internet, one from truck graphics.

I have booked a few appointments coming up on postcards that arrived today in one of our zip codes up here, I will try to track where sales are coming from.

just a note to everyone, be sure to order what ever you need tomorrow, clips, bulbs, cord, etc. shipping and freight seems to do absolutely nothing from wed. night next week through sunday night. so try to get any ordering done and on your doorstep by next wednesday. for us that means ordering tomorrow what I need to carry me through for the next 10 days.

I know I probably mention this every year, but I really want to thank God that the phone has rung and my family will be blessed financially by what has happenned in the last 3 days. I have several more appointments lined up as well, but I feel way better about the season now than I did monday morning when I had one appointment scheduled.

addictedtolandscaping
11-17-2011, 06:20 AM
Good for you Dave!!

Here, nothing. I got one call off the mailer the other day that the guy is sincere. I just got off HBL's website, all icicle light links are gone, essentially all the light drops are gone. Everything I have attempted to order just to have on hand this year, gone. I needed several cases of bows, called out one day to check on availability, plenty in stock, called out 2 days later when I got the contract, gone.

It seems that the idea now is to force us to sit on stock for 8 months, regardless if we can afford it or not. I in no way shape or form am in a financial position to do that. Pretty wholeheartedly disgusted right now to say the least. $2800 for the direct mail, bunch of tire kickers in the beginning, then nothing, finally get one opportunity, and no product available. I am starting to understand the comments others are making very clearly.

David Gretzmier
11-17-2011, 08:25 AM
If you want to pm me I can tell you how we do our direct mail. It has brought me a few jobs this year, and I really have not mailed much. Brite lites of Houston follows the program and it has worked like gangbusters for them. Back many moons ago I tried the brite Ideas mail program and was extremely upset as well at about 5000 bucks wasted. but it seems to work at least a little better the way I train my consulting clients.

I am sorry you are upset about product being out. I too have lost sales in the past with items being out. But starting 4 years ago I structured my business around it rather than hoping HBL would always have key items in. I now tell every customer that an order item may be out of stock before I sell it. The 18" bow is an example. I don't sell many, but I told a customer before they closed 2 days ago that that item may be out. and it was. I sell far more 24's and 36's, and a few 48's. I have all those in stock.

I really did not have the funds either when I made my first order. but I had a few years history of new sales, so I took a chance and it paid off. in your market it may not.

I would continue to put out signs and try to sell c-9 jobs and what ever link jobs you can sell that are in. sell what they have in stock and tell folks they are out of the rest unless you call and you know they have it. Don't let HBL being out of items shut you down for the year. work around it.

And to be fair, they are also not the only Christmas company out of items. Many other vendors I order from never got some items in.

addictedtolandscaping
11-17-2011, 11:17 AM
No I realize that Dave. Just really discouraging. I honestly don;t have a lot of time to take on new clients this year, but I was trying to replenish my supply. I used a lot of clear mini incandescent the past few years, and am at the end of the warranty - assumable life span for them. If the damn squirrels would stop chewing on things, my life would be a lot easier.

The 18" bows wee completely gone by November 1st. I understand they may have experienced a huge jump in demand this season and ere under prepared for it. It is partially my fault as I have not jumped on ordering anything not knowing what the year would bring. I am glad I didn't in all honesty, I would be sitting on a bunch of product, we haven;t gotten anything in regard to new residential, even have some renewals that we haven't heard from. Got one renewal from last year I gave a screaming deal to who has still yet to send back the contract and refuses to comprehend the first come first serve. Insists on having her display up by 12/1, not gonna happen. Her last comment I signed a contract last year too, yup, for last year, and you got scheduled and installed. Then she said, you told me it would be up by the end of November, I responded, I also told you the renewal contract would be to you no later than Labor day as well. No contract, no install. Got stuck with a couple last year, not doing that again.

The whole season has been pretty frustrating to date. The way it was all starting in September, I thought we were going to be in for a great season, it stopped as quick as it started. I did pick up a nice commercial project, that will be added onto continuously in the years to come, so that has filled alot of the time I would have for new res clients anyhow.

I will PM you with regard to the direct mail, and also the company I am falling back on. I would imagine you have dealt with them in the past. I think a large part of my issue, I like commercial work, not a fan of residential really. Our market is weird to say the least. I did talk with Mike the other day, who as usual has been as great a help as I have experienced in the past, and in no way am I being sarcastic. I sort of have my eyes set on a new area next year, to late to go after it this season, I won't have enough time. I was working in the neighborhood I am talking about the other day, and my mind was totally boggled at the houses. Come to find out Bill Parcells has a home there.

TimNNJ
11-17-2011, 09:24 PM
The big Tuna...nice ..he has a home down here too...I actually worked his daughters wedding when I worked at a golf club when I was younger..nice fella...
Picked up a couple nice new jobs today...Our newspaper down here is going to do an article on us next week. Pretty cool..it's a big paper for our area...I bought a bunch of material in case we get a hit from that too...all because she saw our lawn signs...hopefully the next 4 weeks we can finish up strong...

britelights
11-17-2011, 11:45 PM
Yes Gretzmeier's marketing program is awesome :)! At 23 new jobs right now...completely booked thru the 1st week of December with 2 crews. It absolutely kills me to think I'm going to have to turn people away -- trying to convince Carlos we should scramble to put a 3rd crew together...we'll see. Call him Dave :)! Today we installed LED Ribbon Light Links on a house -- they look awesome!!

David Gretzmier
11-18-2011, 12:00 AM
kills me I have been working with stacey and carlos for a few years and they can't spell my name right.

closed number 15 today and lots of appointments in the next few days. we are booking for sunday on Thanksgiving weekend, and we have a dozen or so rehangs that wanted hung after thanksgiving. so I should be able to keep all 4 crews busy at least until Nov. 30th or so. once again, the question becomes how do I sell fast enough to keep all crews busy through Dec. 5? I can't. so rehangs have to be scheduled in there as well.

britelights
11-18-2011, 12:07 AM
:hammerhead: busted!!! You're right - I always want to throw that extra 'e' in there!!!!! I'll work harder on that! HOWEVER...you spelled my name wrong too LOL -- there's no 'e' in my first name :laugh:.

Glad to hear you closed more today. I'm serious about calling Carlos though -- I hate to turn people away :cry:

TimNNJ
11-18-2011, 06:38 AM
Wow that is fantastic..congrats..hope everyone gets a piece of the action one way or another

Yes Gretzmeier's marketing program is awesome :)! At 23 new jobs right now...completely booked thru the 1st week of December with 2 crews. It absolutely kills me to think I'm going to have to turn people away -- trying to convince Carlos we should scramble to put a 3rd crew together...we'll see. Call him Dave :)! Today we installed LED Ribbon Light Links on a house -- they look awesome!!

addictedtolandscaping
11-18-2011, 06:57 AM
I know I will be rereading Dave;s thread and heading out that way next year. Some thing here has to change. Gonna really take the leap towards that are I mentioned above next year, hopefully I can find decent product as I will be going right into the house of a CD guy.
COngragulations on the new sales everyone!@!

addictedtolandscaping
11-18-2011, 07:16 PM
What a difference a day can make, phone hasn;t stopped all day. Exhausted though, and my knee feels like it is going to explode from going p and down the ladders all day. Tomorrow gonna be a busy day.

TimNNJ
11-18-2011, 07:27 PM
Sweet. I feel the panic from people today. Next week or so should be interesting
Posted via Mobile Device

Don M.
11-18-2011, 09:21 PM
Yes its nuts. 15 calls/emails today. Crazy. Bids all weekend. House kicked our arse today. It was so windy made things so difficult.

britelights
11-19-2011, 12:11 AM
addicted -- SO glad to hear that! Praise God -- I hope you close a few from that. We closed 3 more today. I'm so exhausted I'm getting ready to fall into bed. I'm going to have the Showroom open tomorrow -- praying for customers so I can move some of this interior Christmas decor we bought. Be safe and have a great weekend everyone!

David Gretzmier
11-19-2011, 12:55 AM
closed 2 more today. so at 17 new. really worried about bad weather after tomorrow. seriously- 40% rain on sunday, 60% on monday, then 30% on tuesday. wednesday is supposed to be sunny. I am really hoping we get to work 2 out of the 3 rain predicted days. with good weather, looks like we are pretty booked 4-5 days after thanksgiving.

still have about a dozen customers that I have not heard from even though we have made multiple calls. maybe they will call after thanksgiving and help me feed the guys jobs. I seem to be able to close 1-2 per day average, They are hanging about 5 per day. but they are going to catch me at some point. we will see.

turf hokie
11-19-2011, 06:51 AM
After a week away, I am paying the piper now. Ran 16 appts the past 2 days, only sold 2, think 2 or 3 more might go with us. Have 15 appts booked between today and tomorrow.

Have the guys running tomorrow (Sunday) signed up our downtown thru the chamber of commerce and figure Sunday will be the best day to due with the least amount of traffic to move ladders and trucks around.

Since Dave is the bar on here, I will see if I can catch him, right now I have only closed about 1/2 of his total. But volume wise it looks like we have surpassed last year, havent totaled it up yet.

Still have 1/3 of renewing customers out, finally some are calling to get scheduled. Some wont be back as we had to raise some of their prices due to just missing the amount of material needed previously or adjusting for tree growth etc.

So, we may actually have a year with less customers but more volume.

Our ads just landed Thursday and Friday so look out, here we go....

Hopefully we have enough material stocked to carry us, snoflake light links are gone, but everything else is pretty good and I have blizzards to back me up on the snoflakes anyway.

2 crews booked thru Dec 2 and a 3rd running starting today thru the holiday weekend.

Good luck everyone, for us this is the week that we make or break the season....

addictedtolandscaping
11-19-2011, 06:04 PM
So all the calls I got yesterday, and all = nothing. Tire kickers, and then one come hang my stuff. So, I think it is time to just say to he(( with it for this year, I did pick up a nice commercial job that will be a nice margin, and provided the client doesn't blow a gasket on the garland from Tom Brady and Associated Artists, we will add significantly next year.

turf hokie
11-19-2011, 06:54 PM
So all the calls I got yesterday, and all = nothing. Tire kickers, and then one come hang my stuff. So, I think it is time to just say to he(( with it for this year, I did pick up a nice commercial job that will be a nice margin, and provided the client doesn't blow a gasket on the garland from Tom Brady and Associated Artists, we will add significantly next year.

Dont give up, keep in mind thanksgiving is a week early this year. I ran all day yesterday and only sold one job, 2 tire kickers and a "hang my stuff" from service magic, the rest had to sleep on it.

Today was better, got an ok from a estimate yesterday and sold 3 more, but still had a hang my stuff, a no show with no answer on the cell and a sticker shock when I gave him the $900 estimate.....

I hate selling, it is so frustrating, kinda like batting averages in baseball.....300 is good, 400 is awesome, any more than that is impossible.

Big hurt today was I sent the guys to a previous customer (she moved and custom built a house) I had sold the job $3500, got confirmation of contract via email, good as signed..will pay you when you finish as usual (cutomer for 3 years, with multiple referrals to us, so I figure, no worries)...my guys get there, see the hubby, he waves, she's home, I spend 45 minutes on site, at 11:30, after branch wrapping 2400 lights in 2 trees, my guys call to tell me the wife just told us the husband hired someone else.....she meant to call and cancel with me and forgot....I try to save it, negotiate price, whatever I can think of without losing my shirt, I have 12 man hours in it and probably another 8 if I need to take it down...no dice, claims hubby already paid competitor....we will use you next year....I'm holding my breath......my biggest problem is I have a 4x8 sign on the truck, why in the frig did the husband not stop my guys when he saw them at 8:30????gggrrrrrrr.....I hate people, I really do....

addictedtolandscaping
11-20-2011, 08:48 AM
Lord and I sorry to hear that Bryan. I don;t know that I am giving up so to speak, told Mike the other day, there are some big decisions that need to be made next year.

As we have talked about I really like the commercial side of things, to me, residential sucks. I got one call, ironically enough his wife wanted more more more LLlast year, then regardless of the times I told her to slow down, kept going and then wam, door in the face. LOL Now he wants to do something with c-9's. This one I will probably do, but it is what it is. With the new commercial one I got, the one I am waiting to hear on (husband I is out of the country - known them both for years so wel'll see) anf this one, it will probably put me at 20k in new work and somewhere between 8 ands 10k in rehangs. THe worst part, with everything I have going on in my life it has really drained interest in everything, like wind has been taken out of my sails so to speak. Right down to upgrading to the Platinum level, and for all intensive purposes, I paid $400 for a *rigging case of catalogs. Mike has tried to send me the software files via email, no luck with them functioning. When I try to order something it is gone, since the end of October, so just chalking this one up. I haven;t put out any signs, as I don;t know where to find time right now, and then there is the where do I get supplies issue. For a one guy show, I am doing ok, looking at 3 years ago when I thought I threw away all my money I spent; and looking at today, night and day difference. We are starting the new project today, hope to really make some time on that, but the tree (fresh cut) will not be arriving until Thursday, so of course there is another headache to deal with. Hoping my son and I can get atleast 15-20 of the poles done today, I will hit it hard again tomorrow while he is in school. Then there is the tree issue which hopefully will resolve itself, my supplier is trying to find me one locally, and she wants me to put 24 total sets of c-7 into 12 different trees. Then I move into another that takes me about 5 days to put up,then a couple rehangs.

I am going to start working on next season's plan in February. I am looking at moving up to the area north of me we have talked about, and knowing what I do about the product and guy there, I need to really have my ducks in a row. I also want to formulate a plan to really make a mark in the commercial end of things here.

David Gretzmier
11-21-2011, 12:39 AM
my guys started a rehang today and had worked it about 1/3 of the way when the husband came out and sent the guys away. it was the 4th year for that customer. he had been called 3 times, no returned phone call, but then that is the new way to say no these days. main reason we did him is he was across the street from another customer we were doing. I still have about 14 that are still non-contact, and we have about 27 beyond that to get up from now until whenever.

we also have not closed a job in 2 days, still at 17. did 8 bids on saturday and today, and it shows the power of numbers.

I have always read that 33% is a good close ratio, meaning you close 1 out of 3 bids. we had closed 9 jobs since monday morning on 20 bids, which is beating the odds, 45%. that always feels good. and I am pretty sure my previous 8 was out of 20 or so bids total. I have not counted that. but this week you add in the last 8 bids, and I am at 9/28 which is closer to 30%. So I know I am due some closes tomorrow. we'll see. I am fully booked monday and a few scheduled for tuesday. phone rang alot last monday, so I am hoping for a fully booked thanksgiving week of appointments.

the numbers game- I want to close 35 or more jobs this year & I need 18 more. so I need to have 18x3=54 appointments until the end of the selling season, roughly December 5th. that is 14 days away because I don't bid on thanksgiving day. so I need to average 54/14 appointments per day, or roughly 4. so for me, signs, signs, everywhere there's signs.

I am still behind last year, and 2009. I was at 24 customers in 2010 ( although I sold 4 that day) by this day and 19 in 2009.

ended up with 36 new customers in 2009 and 47 in 2010, so maybe I can still hope to close what I did in those years after this date. using 2010 numbers, I got 23 more after this date last year, and 17 more in 2009. so either one of those puts me betwen 34-40. I would be very happy with that. but there probably is a reason we are behind those 2 years, and whatever it is, it may continue. we'll see.

David Gretzmier
11-21-2011, 12:46 AM
and it may or may not matter, but Thanksgiving day is November 24th this year, was the 25 last, and the 26th 2 years back.

This is the scary thing though-Thanksgiving day next year is on the 22nd according to google. I have got to get more folks done in October next year. I may have to run 5 crews in november to get everybody done. we'll see.

David Gretzmier
11-22-2011, 12:16 AM
very good day. closed 5 today. going from 17 to 22 new clients feels way better for this year. 2 referrals, 2 postcards, one from rental special in one neighborhood only.

have gotten lucky on installs, ran 2 crews on sunday and 3 today, even though rain was predicted both days. was kinda misty today, but guys worked through it.

had a box van go down saturday with 2 flats on the back on the same side. one tire blew, then the other one on the same side. had to buy two tires at sam's club, get a mobile truck tire mounting rig to come to truck and change out two tires, then drove it to Sam's and got the other 2 on the rear replaced because they were exactly the same as the other two that blew.

so...That is 1000 bucks I had not budgeted this week.

and now the guys have "tire envy" one of my other crew foremen pointed out he needed 2 tires for the front of his boxvan. and he is right. I do need two more tires for that truck as well. It always amazes me that we have trucks that only run 3 months out of the year, maybe 8-10,000 miles per truck tops, yet I have bought 4-8 tires every year for the past few years.

and I don't know when it happened, but somehow it became normal for truck tires to be 200 bucks each instead of 100 bucks each.

britelights
11-22-2011, 01:13 AM
Glad to hear you closed 5 today - that's awesome! Sorry to hear about the truck tires :(.

We didn't close any today but the guys are doing awesome on installs -- ahead of schedule. We have plenty of extra help this week so I'm going to try and sell a few more jobs :)!

turf hokie
11-22-2011, 08:44 PM
Interesting day...the calls that came into the office.

1. Job estimated Sunday for 3250, felt I should not walk away from his business when he offered 1600;)

2. Husband says I met with the wife and he wanted to add to the job and get it installed over the weekend, problem is.....I have no idea who his wife met with cause it wasnt me.....and they had never called into my office for an appt

3. Caller wanted to know if he bought the lights from local box store would I install them and leave them up all year....can you say insurance claim?

4. Caller says they bought and installed their own lights over the weekend.....but it is too Griswaldy, the breakers keep tripping and they dont want them, would I be willing to buy the lights from them and un-install......ummmmmm, call an electrician and install another circuit, I am not buying 2nd hand lights from a source I wouldnt buy them from in the first place....just when I thought I had heard it all.....can you buy the lights that are on my house...OMG...

did sell 2 out of 3 estimates today, so not just a comedy show......slowly catching Dave, maybe just maybe.......

TimNNJ
11-22-2011, 08:51 PM
ha..ya it's wild out there for sure..for sure


Interesting day...the calls that came into the office.

1. Job estimated Sunday for 3250, felt I should not walk away from his business when he offered 1600;)

2. Husband says I met with the wife and he wanted to add to the job and get it installed over the weekend, problem is.....I have no idea who his wife met with cause it wasnt me.....and they had never called into my office for an appt

3. Caller wanted to know if he bought the lights from local box store would I install them and leave them up all year....can you say insurance claim?

4. Caller says they bought and installed their own lights over the weekend.....but it is too Griswaldy, the breakers keep tripping and they dont want them, would I be willing to buy the lights from them and un-install......ummmmmm, call an electrician and install another circuit, I am not buying 2nd hand lights from a source I wouldnt buy them from in the first place....just when I thought I had heard it all.....can you buy the lights that are on my house...OMG...

did sell 2 out of 3 estimates today, so not just a comedy show......slowly catching Dave, maybe just maybe.......

duckbutt
11-22-2011, 09:42 PM
Hi Everyone, I just read through the whole thread and really appreciate the insight. We are in the midst of our first year here. I was wondering if anyone had any tips and tricks on selling and installing. So far i learned that people say they want LED C9's on a 25 ft spruce, but are shocked it cant be done for close to 200 bucks! What's the best approach for those prospects that want the service but don't have a clue on pricing?
I also was wondering if you guys could throw out some names of some good wholesale suppliers, and products you love or hate? (Currently, we order from Sival)
Any good installation time savers???
I'll share as I learn.
Thanks in advance!

David Gretzmier
11-23-2011, 07:25 AM
duckbutt- welcome aboard. all the answers to your questions can be found on numerous other threads on here. If you are new to the biz, I encourage you to spend thanksgiving weekend reading every thread over the past 3 years. I promise you, that info is worth tens of thousands of dollars. as far as price shock, I only close 1 out of 3 bids or so, maybe a bit more, so 2 out of 3 folks just won't spend the money on this. expect it. prepare for it, and there is no good answer that works for all folks.

David Gretzmier
11-23-2011, 07:35 AM
good day yesterday, sold 2. up to 24. The rental neighborhood I did last year is slowly adding houses, but I still have not heard from 3 we did last year. but we added 3 more so far. postcards and signs work. I did not mention yesterday, but the 2 I got from postcards were over 6.5k combined. to print and mail 10,000 postcards for me was about 2600. I believe I have closed a couple of others from postcards, so even though the return is not awesome yet, I at least paid for them and then some. the last 2000 and 1000 of those hit today and friday, and next monday.

I think for the 22nd of November we are close to where we were last year. what a crazy 8 days. monday morning last week, sitting on 8 jobs.

very good day to put out signs, as the city crews won't likely pick up til next monday morning. this is the big weekend to put them out at the good neighborhoods. good luck guys !

TimNNJ
11-23-2011, 09:24 AM
Closed 3 nice ones yesterday. Rented a boom this am and it doeant have to be back untill Saturday. 2 for 1 Our right up in the paper may hit on Thanksgiving. Doing an order to get by mext week.
Posted via Mobile Device

GreenI.A.
11-23-2011, 09:35 PM
Still haven't closed many. I have the development that I wrote about in my thread where we are doing a rental for all of the houses that are currently being built and for sale, and a large downtown section with a small store front and at 9 houses total. Wish we were alot further along but being my first year I am pretty happy. I have talked to a Producer for news magazine show in Boston and when we get the neighborhood all lit they have interest in working it into a spot on their show along with me doing some basic safety tips. I have half of the neighborhood lit up now and should have the rest done by tuesday.

David Gretzmier
11-24-2011, 12:01 AM
closed 2 more today. up to 26 new clients. 1 from internet web search, 1 from yellow pages. tomorrow is thanksgiving. exhausted.

greenbaylawns
11-24-2011, 12:18 AM
closed 2 more today. up to 26 new clients. 1 from internet web search, 1 from yellow pages. tomorrow is thanksgiving. exhausted.


Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too. Your posts drive our business..Thank You!

addictedtolandscaping
11-24-2011, 06:01 AM
Happy Thanksgiving all!!

turf hokie
11-24-2011, 07:16 AM
closed 2 more today. up to 26 new clients. 1 from internet web search, 1 from yellow pages. tomorrow is thanksgiving. exhausted.

Me too...exhausted....wait all year for the lighting to start and then cant wait for it to end....

Going to set up a crew, had a customer we could not get the roof on due to rain yesterday and she was throwing a fit....whatever....but I had a couple guys ask if there was work so I am sending them out for a couple of hours....

Still trail David on sales, may not catch him this year, only have 4 appts books tomorrow and Saturday. Sold 2 more yesterday and a 1,000 upsell to an existing.

Have a safe and happy thanksgiving everyone.

David Gretzmier
11-24-2011, 11:41 PM
hope everyone had a good turkey day. I relaxed, scheduled and firmed up the schedule for the next 6 days, and we are full until next thursday. some are rehangs that wanted it hung after Thanksgiving, which was awesome, and I am hoping to sell enough the next 5 days to keep guys booked as long as possible.

In 2009 we closed 12 jobs after Thanksgiving, and in 2010 we closed 20. ( but I did not count the rental deals until the end). I would be happy with anything in between that.

This year I am counting all rentals as I go in that one neighborhood I do rental, rather than wait until the end and add them in. so I am still probably a bit behind 2010, maybe even or ahead of 2009.

I still have about 9 jobs I have not heard from. maybe some of those will call in the next week and give us more work as well. my hope is to get half of those and sell 14 more new ones and keep us booked and try to keep busy til December 9.

britelights
11-25-2011, 07:21 PM
We are at 27 new jobs. I knew you would catch up to me David :). We have enough to keep the guys busy 'til the 8th (with some wiggle room) which works out well 'cause then we have to get the boat decorated and ready for the parade on the 10th as well as Santa in the Park for the City.

David Gretzmier
11-26-2011, 12:24 AM
closed #27 today. Happy about that. but the phone did not ring like I thought today and am not booked solid with appointments like the past 10 days. even today I only had 2 appointments. I did book a couple for monday.

would love to book all crews through December 8th. looks like we will finish all current installs by the 1st or so if the weather holds. Had a couple more calls on the "have not heard from" list. one in , one out. still have 9 on that list.

but had to watch Arkansas get beat by LSU today. Why is it we are in the one side of the one conference in america That has the number one and number 2 teams. but 10-2 in the regular season ain't bad. maybe we can win a bowl game this year and be 11-2. looks like the cotton bowl. Go hogs !

yard_smart
11-26-2011, 09:58 AM
I have decided to cut out all new resi sales next year. Tired of running around estimating projects for some one to say "oh i had no idea it would be that much" when it says right on my web page $1,000 minimum.

Focusing on large retail and commercial establishments next year.

I'm also going to start my sales in July so that I'm not so crammed into the two week window.

Don M.
11-26-2011, 10:48 AM
I have decided to cut out all new resi sales next year. Tired of running around estimating projects for some one to say "oh i had no idea it would be that much" when it says right on my web page $1,000 minimum.

That's why when we set up the appointment on the phone we tell them we have a $500 min. Several hang up. Saves the running around.

turf hokie
11-26-2011, 05:38 PM
That's why when we set up the appointment on the phone we tell them we have a $500 min. Several hang up. Saves the running around.

Absolutely, pre-qualifying is a must. We tell them our minimum and our average, sometimes I feel we are trying to talk them out of an appointment when they first call into the office.

Even then you will still get to an appt and they will say that they didnt realize it would be so much money....

I couldnt be in business without the residential, we hardly have any commercial work, they are nice to have, usually a good size job but we make our living on residentials as much as they wear me out its where the work is.....

greenbaylawns
11-27-2011, 07:30 PM
7 Rehangs and 11 New this season.. 2nd year, I'll take it.. Mostly all HBL product. Take Dave's advise..look outside the box and there hang lights.

David Gretzmier
11-28-2011, 12:25 AM
#28 today. had 4 appointments, thought I had another one, she seemed close. 3 appointments tomorrow. booked through thursday this week, maybe friday. fixes coming fast and furious. jobs that were hung 2 months ago are coming on and lots of bulbs need tightened, miscellaneous issues like not overloading one outlet but several outlets are on same breaker and we need to redistribute power.

we are ahead of 2009 and pacing 2010 close. but I held back some rental clients last year til the end and this year I am just throwing them in. so maybe a bit behind 2010. I think I would be happy at 40 new clients this year, but really, last year was the first time ever I broke 40. So I should be thrilled with 40.

But I have learned that as my business has grown my retention rate seems to be dropping. I remember 2008 I retained every customer. before that I kept around 95%. but since then it has headed toward 90%. we may drop below that this year for the first time. we still have 7 that may drop this year, they still have not confirmed or denied.

so you lose 10% of customers out of 200 you lose 20. this year it might be 23. so at 40 new customers I am only growing by 17. growing this business takes an incredible number of new customers per year, but I also really need to take a look at how do you keep clients in a larger business.

we need follow up with every customer, right after the job was hung, and probably a check in phone call once every 10 days through out the "lit" season from Thanksgiving to Newyears day. I continue to see the need for a full time secretary type person, even though I don't see an extra bucket of cash laying around to pay that person.

GreenI.A.
11-28-2011, 08:41 PM
[QUOTE=David Gretzmier;4228591
we need follow up with every customer, right after the job was hung, and probably a check in phone call once every 10 days through out the "lit" season from Thanksgiving to Newyears day. I continue to see the need for a full time secretary type person, even though I don't see an extra bucket of cash laying around to pay that person.[/QUOTE]

Thats a good idea for a quick customer service call every 2 weeks or so while the lights are hanging. I always give a call on landscape lighting 1 week after install just to check how they are liking everything and if they noticed anythng that they think whould be different. I then send an email another 2 weeks later to touch base again. I think I will take your idea and check in every 2 weeks on the holiday lights.

greenbaylawns
11-29-2011, 12:48 AM
I'll take two more for today.

David Gretzmier
11-29-2011, 07:36 AM
no closes yesterday. but I have one today that hopefully is in the bag. had a bad day yesterday as far as trucks. two of my boxvans went down, one with metal to metal on the front rotor, which is at the mechanic, and one with what looks like a broken crankshaft that is currently on the off ramp of interstate 540. need to get it towed, but not sure where to tow it to other than the shop. asked my mechanic to take a look at it to see if it is worth saving.

funny how you can pay folks 1000 bucks each time here and there to work on 6 trucks over the years, and when you ask them, even say you will pay them to just go and look at something they look at you as if you have grown horns. "you want me to go look at it?" yes, I said, I need to know if this is a repair or a replacement of the engine. I explained exactly what I saw, what it did, and he said it is either a broken crankshaft or one other thing that is fixable. but he seemed like he might be willing to go take a peek last night. but I have no idea if he did.

working out the logistics of going from 4 to 2 trucjs right here at the end is not so bad, I will bring my truck into the mix and I rented a car last night to do bids. the brakes should be fixed on the other boxvan today and will be back in the mix tomorrow with my truck, and we should be good to finish most installs by friday or saturday and be done with most of the crazyness.

I hope. but I always try to post when I have problems so you guys know my life and business are not always peaches and cream. I don't really like peaches anyway.

yard_smart
11-29-2011, 02:45 PM
two of my commercial accounts add up to over 20k.

No thanks one the $1,500 resi jobs.

britelights
11-30-2011, 12:40 AM
To David---sorry to hear about the truck problems. That's no fun. This is the 1st year both of our vehicles went into the shop during the season...ugh. Thankfully they were each in and out in a day and I could snag a truck from my parents' business to help us out. I like to read about your issues - partly because it helps to reassure me I'm not the only one running crazy. Over the past couple days, I keep telling Carlos, "This is the year...this is the year I'm gonna lose it and go insane -- LOL." Phones are still ringing but I'm telling people we are booked for this season...we are booked until the end of next week with work - plus the boat will take a lot of work to get ready for the parade on the 10th. We have added some more "decorating work" -- decorated garland around the door, decorated wreaths...that type of thing. But we just can't take on more installs this year and still keep whatever small fraction of sanity still left. And you're right -- once the timers go on - the service calls pour in. Although I'm thankful the list is pretty short as of right now. Unfortunately tomorrow I do have to drive an hour to an HOA to fix lights/garland that some kids decided to cut down (ugh!!) - but at least that's billable.

To yard_smart : what type of commercial accounts? How did you land them?? We do some commercial -- but they have come from referrals - and we would love to increase the commercial side.

TimNNJ
11-30-2011, 06:53 AM
Right on track with the number of new customers I wanted for this year. I have house that is having a power issue but I plan on solving that today and hopefully not have to hear from them for the rest of the season. We have had a very different customer base all over the board. You just don't know who will pull the trigger and are surprised by the ones that do and don't. We've been working almost everyday between lights and cleanups. We are all very tired here..but it's almost over..One thing I did notice around here..I think my lawn signs hit a nerve with people around here..A lot more houses are lit up around here then I have seen in a long time. Which is nice to see everyone getting into the spirit. But who knows if it was the signs or people just need a good vibe going into the season this year

yard_smart
11-30-2011, 04:33 PM
To David---sorry to hear about the truck problems. That's no fun. This is the 1st year both of our vehicles went into the shop during the season...ugh. Thankfully they were each in and out in a day and I could snag a truck from my parents' business to help us out. I like to read about your issues - partly because it helps to reassure me I'm not the only one running crazy. Over the past couple days, I keep telling Carlos, "This is the year...this is the year I'm gonna lose it and go insane -- LOL." Phones are still ringing but I'm telling people we are booked for this season...we are booked until the end of next week with work - plus the boat will take a lot of work to get ready for the parade on the 10th. We have added some more "decorating work" -- decorated garland around the door, decorated wreaths...that type of thing. But we just can't take on more installs this year and still keep whatever small fraction of sanity still left. And you're right -- once the timers go on - the service calls pour in. Although I'm thankful the list is pretty short as of right now. Unfortunately tomorrow I do have to drive an hour to an HOA to fix lights/garland that some kids decided to cut down (ugh!!) - but at least that's billable.

To yard_smart : what type of commercial accounts? How did you land them?? We do some commercial -- but they have come from referrals - and we would love to increase the commercial side.

All leads come from one of three - yard signs, cold calling, website. The majority coming from the latter. We picked up a large shopping center this year that found us by our web site. People buy from the last sales person they speak to. That's why it's important to be the number one result ;)

yard_smart
11-30-2011, 04:36 PM
and number 10 in the world out of over 4 million results ;)

http://www.google.com/search?q=holiday+light+installation&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#pq=holiday+lighting+installation&hl=en&sugexp=ppwe&cp=17&gs_id=dl&xhr=t&q=Holiday+Lighting+Services&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&client=firefox-a&hs=BWD&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&source=hp&pbx=1&oq=Holiday+Lighting+&aq=0&aqi=g4&aql=f&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=1839fa08bbbb4bfc&biw=1024&bih=552

addictedtolandscaping
11-30-2011, 07:14 PM
This is my local competition, and by local, I mean 6 blocks away. When I ran the radio spot last year, the sales person told me I really needed to do something as my "competition" already had.

My response, the clients they service I don't want to. You guys tell me, am I missing something?

www.thechristmasguy.com

They are #1 on google though.

TimNNJ
11-30-2011, 07:52 PM
I have the girls pre qualify the people with 800 Min with a 1500 average starting price.The intelligent office was the best money I have spent on anything in a while..it weeds out a lot but still have the tire kickers...I closed two new ones today..I am planning on 3-5 new installs front today to finish out the season. That mixed in with the cleanups we have should take us to Christmas.(oh and that bathroom my wife wants re-done before Christmas mixed in there somewhere)..if I have the material and can grab a couple more jobs..bring it on...

David Gretzmier
12-02-2011, 12:32 AM
crazy 2 days- booked 29,30 on november 30 and 31,32 on December 1. nice to finally break 30. but only one appointment tomorrow. There has been a very large amount of folks the last week I would have sworn would close but have not called back.

I am still pacing 2010, ahead of 2009. still hoping for 40 plus new customers. sales per customer do seem to be trending down, have not closed a larger one in awhile.

but overall sales are good. had a couple of add on sales as well that were nice the past 2 days.

what is the intelligent office?

britelights
12-02-2011, 08:52 PM
That's awesome Dave! I don't know what Intelligent Office is, but that reminds about another local distributor here that uses Ring Central. It's not a person answering or pre-qualifying - but I was still impressed with how it works. When I call her number...it gives you her company message...then -- press '1' for sales and installation, press '2' for showroom, etc....then it plays Christmas music while you're on hold and it's transferring you. Very impressive! She said it's an online service with a lot of features. I'm going to check it out after the season.

David Gretzmier
12-03-2011, 12:13 AM
#33 today. 2 appointments. phone is pretty quiet. still putting out signs. the I don't know list has had 2 more casualties and one that says she wants it. only three names left on the list.

giving most of the guys off saturday and sunday, but still going to run a one man fix it crew and a two man install crew tomorrow. probably just a one man fix it crew sunday. may rain tomorrow as well. everyone is very tired. I need a day off to recharge my batteries and then I think I can do the last 8 days.

now is always a good time to start taking pictures for next years postcards. and filming videos for install crews.

TimNNJ
12-05-2011, 08:04 PM
My box truck decided to melt wires in the cab..soo the truck went in on Friday. Should have it back by tomorrow...I have 3-4 new hangs at the end of this week..had a wedding over this past weekend so it worked out. with the cleanups and lights we will be finishing off the year strong..and I found a dump insert for my truck to boot....intelligent office is a local company..but I think you can use them all over?..I can ask..they track where the leads come from, answer the phone, screen the calls...sets up appointments under google calender...forwards calls to me if need be..on the cell..There is noooo way I could of managed this season without it..I can't wait to use it for the spring...Call us we always answer" as we all know we get a bad rap for not answering calls..and I am sure we can close a lot more..If I wasn't out there running around and just concentrated on sales I know I could of done another 10-20k at least..next year will be different!..lets try to enjoy the holiday season.

CleanCut1
12-05-2011, 09:44 PM
This business has blown me away. I did two houses in my neighborhood last year just to try it out, but this was really my first season. I had no idea what to expect. I invested a good bit of money in preperation and was very afraid it might flop. Instead, I found I was totally unprepared for how much business is out there. I took vacation from my regular job the past two weeks and I have been working on Christmas lights non-stop, 16 to 18 hours per day the entire time. Exhausted doesn't even come close to describing me now. It rained all day yesterday and I went back to work today and finally had time to rest.

As of today, I have 26 new sales. But, one was my mother's house at cost and one was a friend in a upscale neighborhood at cost, so those don't really count.

I know I left some business out there because I just couldn't go on sales calls and install at the same time. I also didn't have time to put out many lawn signs or door hangers. But, when I did put out signs, the calls from that neighborhood came in like crazy. If I was prepared and had the crews in place to install and the time to put out signs and make sales calls, I don't know how many I could have gotten.

Hopefully, next year I will be better prepared. I definitely made a ton of mistakes, mostly in installing and estimating, and I learned a lot and found out how much I didn't know. Several houses kicked my butt and I didn't make much profit on a couple. But, it was a blast and I can't wait till next year.

The phone didn't ring at all yesterday or today and I only got one e-mail inquiry today. Since I don't know what to expect, I don't know if it is the weather or if we are done.

britelights
12-05-2011, 10:26 PM
Starting to book into next week. Sold 1 today for next week. Over the weekend sold another one that we'll try to squeeze in somewhere this week. Couple quotes for tomorrow that would also be for install next week. We have turned away a ton of people that we just couldn't fit in before next week -- goal for next year is to have enough crews to prevent that. All in all, we'll be over 30 new customers for the season.

Rained today...the guys definitely needed the day to recharge. Although Carlos ran some service calls after the rain cleared out. Gonna be cold for the rest of the week...I know I won't find sympathy here...but low's in the 50s --- BRRRRR for us. Up until now we've had alot of days still in the 80s.

addictedtolandscaping
12-06-2011, 05:36 AM
Cant imagine what that must be like, hanging lights in the 80's you guys must surely get alot accomplished. We have been steadily in the 50;s for highs this year, SPOILED, LOL but have enjoyed it.

As of today, we have gotten 0 new residential clients. Truthfully though, it is ok this year. We did gain a nice municipal contract that was worth about 18k, and will be a 7k rehang next year.

The season next year preliminary work is going to begin once take downs are complete. In a way I am a bit disgusted with the way this year turned out, yet completely grateful to the Lord above for it at the same time. I truly do not think I could possibly handle much more t this point by myself.

David Gretzmier
12-06-2011, 04:44 PM
snowed here last night and is 34 degrees right now. roads are clear, and running two crews starting late for small jobs, bulb replacements and fixes, and we have one more full day of 3 crews doing install left. wish I would have worked the guys an hour later last night and gotten more fixes done, but hindsight is 20/20.

closed 34,35,36 yesterday. so we met what we did in 2009 new customer wise, and I am pretty happy with that, but of course would like to break 40 again. closed #37 this afternoon. no appointments on the radar, but phone did ring today. looking back, last year we closed 5 new customers after december 6, in 2009 we only closed 1. so maybe in between would be 3 and we could break 40. we will see.

yard_smart
12-06-2011, 05:30 PM
Closed two more shopping centers and a couple resi jobs .... the resi's were below our "minimum" but I figured what the heck.... $650 for two 8 ft trees and 7 box woods.

Over all it was a good season. I have already decided to "specialize" in large installs next year. We did triple the sales this year as we did in 2010 so I'm a happy guy!

Hope all had a great season !!!!


Now it's time for $NOW!!!!!

David Gretzmier
12-07-2011, 11:54 PM
quiet day today, no appointments, phone only rang twice. did leave a message with someone that was a referral, but no call back. working all guys tomorrow on fixes, finishing up one rehang and getting some lumber from sawmill for a privacy fence project for shop. putting up a couple of free jobs for folks in need. had 2 calls from the last 3 of the unknowns and they both want hung. one will be monday. but that also puts us at a 90% retention rate. even if the last one I do not know about does not want rehung, still within the statistical 90% either way.

but I just can't see us continuing that trend unless we start to act like a bigger company- we need a full time secretary person from Sept 1 to Feb 1 doing phone follow up, files, postcard mailings and invoice/collection stuff. I just can't do it all anymore.

going to look at another boxvan saturday, to fill in for and or replace the one with the blown engine for takedown assistance. I may still put in a rebuilt engine in the other one, but man, 3-4k for a rebuilt engine replacement when you can buy a running boxvan for 4-5k and scrap the non running one for 1200? really tough to repair.

David Gretzmier
12-08-2011, 05:21 PM
closed #38 today. a very small job, probably just a couple hours for 2 guys, but we are reaching the end and I'll take what I can get. weather was cold at first today ( mid teens) but warmed up nicely to 45 or so. I'll take 45 and sunny in december all day any day. Although in Houston for brite lites that is brr cold.

going to have one crew come in just for fixes on saturday and sunday, but probably just a few hours each.

got a call from one I had written off that owed me money from last year that wants installed, we'll add it to another one we are doing monday. running two crews on december 12th seems a bit late. still putting out signs, hoping for a phone call or two this weekend.

got materials to build a new fence for the front of our property, we will building a pretty sturdy privacy fence. went to the same sawmill that cut the siding for our barn. weighed about 13,000 pounds of wood. I may take pictures, and post as we go, we'll see.

David Gretzmier
12-10-2011, 09:37 AM
#39 and 40 yesterday. 1 small, one medium. but of course, I will take it. had a small add on and one client re-upped that did not do it last year. still can't believe everyone will work monday. The 12th? today running one crew for fixes and add-on today, probably tomorrow everyone will be off except my daughter and myself, tightwrapping a new job.

so I finally made my goal of 40, maybe one more might come along, but yesterday felt like the end. phone did not ring except for the add on and client re-upping. I did sell one on the 15th last year, so you never know. but the 10th is when I usually say it is done.

britelights
12-11-2011, 12:37 AM
Sold a small one this morning. I also can't believe we're still installing. We have 2 lined up for Monday plus one garland install...and prolly a couple small ones after that for parties.

Here's a pic of the boat we decorated for the 50th Anniversary of the Kemah Boat Parade. By the way...they told us Thursday afternoon they wanted something recognizing the '50th' on the boat. And we were decorating the boat Friday. That was crazy -- but we got it done.

greenbaylawns
12-11-2011, 02:10 AM
Sold a small one this morning. I also can't believe we're still installing. We have 2 lined up for Monday plus one garland install...and prolly a couple small ones after that for parties.

Here's a pic of the boat we decorated for the 50th Anniversary of the Kemah Boat Parade. By the way...they told us Thursday afternoon they wanted something recognizing the '50th' on the boat. And we were decorating the boat Friday. That was crazy -- but we got it done.



I seen this on HBL's face... That IS SWEET!!! I think you did that boat last year different, but still looks AWESOME!!!

wurkn with amish
12-11-2011, 09:10 AM
very pretty. are those icicles a light link?

britelights
12-11-2011, 12:40 PM
greenbay...thank you! This is the same boat we decorated last year - and you're right we did it different last year. We will do a different theme every year. My brain is already workin on next year's theme :).

amish --- yes those are light links. We used over 50 HBL LED Glacier Light Links.

David Gretzmier
12-11-2011, 08:53 PM
nice boat ! great job guys.

feel like I am gonna be lazy at some point this week, but I don't know how-phone rang and booked an appointment for tomorrow, talked to another lady today, so folks are still calling sporadically. looked at a box van yesterday but did not buy. gotta buy one to replace the one that went boom. may still fix the other one, but will cost 3k plus. rather buy one running for 4.5-5k. can scrap the other one for 12-1300.

have a couple of late rehang calls we will be doing monday, an add-on, and starting on the front fence project. we also have 2 landscape light projects I am hoping to finish this week, along with an extensive landscape light repair. will work everyone tomorrow, but I think that will be the last day we do that. I hate to "lay the guys off" but I think one crew doing fixes a half a day, landscape lights a half a day, and the fence project will keep me busy. Plus, I gota take pictures at night for future postcards and start filming jobs, and collect money !

I had this dream of calling folks and doing satisfaction surveys, and maybe finding a few dozen folks for early takedown the week after Christmas. just don't see it happening.

i need to pencil in lazy time.

britelights
12-12-2011, 10:02 PM
Pencil in lazy time...I like that...I need to do that :)!! Sold another one today...225 ft of C-9s and a 3' wreath...I'll take it. Hoping to close at least one more for this week.

britelights
12-13-2011, 11:14 PM
Updated the numbers...added a total of 38 new jobs. We got close to you Dave :). Phone very quiet today - no new installs for tomorrow -- was hoping to close another one this week but I'm not sure that will happen. It's okay -- we're tired and still have alot of work to do before takedown starts. Feeling so extremely blessed that we had our best season ever -- God is good!

David Gretzmier
12-13-2011, 11:29 PM
sold an add on yesterday and my new appointment cancelled, but have an appointment scheduled tomorrow and had a website inquiry tonight. so the interest is still out there. I did close one on the 15th last year. We will see. feels like the season is over, but maybe one more is out there.

I am very tired and have lost my hunger for new work though. I know my guys want to keep working, but I am spent. I have not had a true full day off since around 10 days before halloween, I even worked a few hours on bookwork and marketing stuff on Thanksgiving. I really need to switch gears for preparing for takedowns and for next year by filming jobs and taking photos for postcards.

I did take some photos tonight, and gotta tell you, I forgot how hard it is to get a good christmas light photo even with a 900 buck camera and tri-pod. I probably got 3 out of 25 that was usable over a 45 minute period. lots of f-stop, shutter and iso changes to find just the right sky and exposure.

timer and mirror up setting helps.

David Gretzmier
12-15-2011, 11:55 PM
did 3 appointments in the past 2 days, but no closes. pretty sure we are done for the year. doing some fixes, gfci rain dance, landscape lighting and front fence going up. honestly, though, I wish we were just shut down and doing fixes only. I am spent energy wise. I know the guys want to work, but my heart is just not in it. 10 days til Christmas.

yard_smart
12-18-2011, 06:11 PM
I'm with you man .... we are finished counting down the days to take downs now lol

We ended up just over triple last years sales not to shabby! :)

turf hokie
12-20-2011, 07:21 PM
Installed the last one today.

We were done and then had 12 calls over the weekend, turned down all of them except 1 that just wanted to do something, since she is between 2 existing customers I met with her last night and sold a $950 job, she is already looking to add next year....unreal....

Now I am doing a "don't rain dance" since they are calling for a pretty good chance of the weekend, already looking for "paid volunteer" just in case it rains and we have to deal with GFI's over the weekend.

TimNNJ
12-20-2011, 09:35 PM
I hear you. Rain tonight and tomorrow.. doing the rounds tomorrow early evening to make sure everythings gtg .. We still have cleanups to do so we are really pushing things to the end. Had to pass on a few jobs because of lack of material. I have to put the link of rhe article te paper did of us and a cd cOmpany by us on here. Merry Christmas and thanks for all the advice
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David Gretzmier
12-21-2011, 01:45 AM
We continue to have guys do fixes for about 1/2 day each day. seems as though we can skip wednesday and sunday, but then the next day ends up being a full day. mostly timer issues, gfci's, bulbs out, mini's out, etc. 2 guys have pretty much finished up 2 landscape light clients, rebulbed several jobs, and front fence project has 8x8 posts up, stringers about 2/3 done, ve and pickets should start tomorrow. was hoping to finish fence by friday, but the gate and tying it into old fence will probably take some time the next week.

gotta fly to detroit next tuesday or wednesday to drive back the used boxvan I got on ebay. hopefullty a good deal, '97 ford e350 , 15 footer, 73000 miles and one owner. had to replace the one with the blown engine. may still end up putting a rebuit engine in the old one.

britelights
12-23-2011, 11:48 AM
We did one last new install on Tuesday as well! Crazy!! But she was close to our home, C-9 rental -- she will add next year. Unfortunately it rained hard the other day, and they're anticipating rain again on Christmas Eve. Ugh...but not as many GFCI calls as I had expected.