View Full Version : takedowns 2011-12 season

David Gretzmier
01-08-2012, 12:35 AM
it always seems this board dries up after install season, and I myself pretty much disappear for the month of February. but I thought I'd chime in for a thread on takedowns, and see how you guys are doing on that. we did a few right after Christmas day, but not much. I really failed to call everyone and line that up. so next year my goal is to line up takedowns when we line up installs. I'd like to get 20-40 or more down that 1st week after Christmas. this last week we had awesome weather, started off in the 20's but warmed up to at least mid 40's and had a few days in the 50's and one 60 plus degree day. sunshine for 5 days in a row in January? Unheard of!

But we did get about 100 down this week with 4 crews running every day. I always seem to underestimate what my guys can takedown, and this year I tried to push a bit more, and my guys seem to get it all done. we had 1 crew on two seperate occaisions get 8 jobs down in day in an 8 hour day. not that the other crews are slow, but 8 of our normal jobs just won't fit in a 14 or 15 foot boxvan. it seems that 4-6 is jammed tight. and many of our larger jobs are almost 1/2 day takedowns.

How are you guys doing?

01-08-2012, 06:05 AM
Hi Dave

I also have thought that things have been really quiet as well. I actually talked with Bryan last week and mentioned exactly that.

We have had incredible weather here as well. We started take downs right after Christmas, actually the 27th. I also wanted to take advantage of the weather. We have 6 left as of this morning, tough part is we have a pretty heavy mixed ethnicity is some of the areas. I think we may shoot after a few of the residential we have left today. I am a bit sideways now, I got diagnosed with a hernia last week, so lugging that 32' ladder not so much of a great idea, so I am trying to do everything when my son is off from school.

I have already actually started to discuss next year with some, we have one which i have a thread on here regarding GFCI, his warranty is out on 90% of his display. THANK THE LORD!!!!! He isn't real happy about that, but I am quite confident he will be even less happy when I bill him $125.00 (bucket truck rate) an hour for having the chase the damn tree and fix whatever is going on on that day. I explained to him the difference in the mini lights vs c-7 and c-9 especially the fuse issue. As of when we took everything down - Spruce still has not gone dormant here as of yet, the tree is up over 50' now. So now the task at hand is to find a good supplier of c-7 and c-9 LED ww. I have several displays out right now with c-7, and would love to change my clients with c-9 incandescent to LED.

A big goal for this coming season is the idea of converting from incandescent to LED. We have one project with about 100 sets in tree canopies, every set was all checked and 100% operational, until they were being installed. Then I was in the bucket truck with spare bulbs, buzz box and light keeper pro chasing issues when I was trying to put them up. There has to be a way to cut time down that gets dumped into preseason and then having to fix them as they are going up.

turf hokie
01-08-2012, 07:07 PM
I wish.........

Only a few down, actually had to run service calls Friday.

I will never be able to take down before New Year's, my customers will never allow me to take down.

And with little Christmas on Jan 6th, we are only able to take a select few down before then.

So as you might imagine I am crossing my fingers that the weather holds as tomorrow is the first day of running a full staff for take downs....

01-09-2012, 07:19 PM
We started take downs the day after New Years. Since I work a full time job, I am limited to evening and weekends. We have about 40% down so far. None of my customers would allow take downs before New Years and some wanted to wait until Epiphany. I'm taking off this Thursday, Friday and Monday to make a five day weekend with the goal of getting everything down.

The temps were in the high 70's here all weekend. I was taking down in shorts and sweating my tail off. It's supposed to be a bit colder this weekend.

I did learn a couple things that I'm sure some of the experienced guys know, but might help new people like me.

1. I was about to order some boxes from Uline when I remembered that my friend in the firework business burns hundreds of boxes every season. I picked through his burn pile and got all the boxes I could want. They are all 275 lb test, double wall boxes. So, if you live in a state that allows firework sales, stop by a stand and ask if they give away boxes.

2. I found that a small paint roller with the roller and hardware pulled off leaving just a metal shaft in the shape of a flat hook screwed on to the end of a heavy duty expandable paint pole is perfect for pulling clips off shingles and gutters. If you bend the roller frame upside down so it resembles as upside down hook, it is great for lifting 36" and some light 48" wreaths off of hooks without having to get on a ladder.

01-09-2012, 08:44 PM
I've got my takedowns about half done. Around here, people usually keep their lights up until atleast the new year, for the most par. My houses with colored lights are done, but the houses using all or mostly white lights are still up and they aren't interested in having them taken down untill the end of the month. Seems like they all want them up for the month of January but want them down before february. A few people have made comments that they want the lights up until we get snow (a problem you TX and AZ guys probalby don't have to deal with)

01-09-2012, 09:09 PM
$32k in sales
Total time of install - 168 man hours
Total service time - 48 man hours
Total take down hours - 52 man hours

Avg almost $120 a man hour.

Posted via Mobile Device

01-11-2012, 09:58 PM
As of yesterday we only have 2 left and that is by customer choice. We got 60 down in 4.5 days 5 guys, I feel we rocked it. Every day we pretty much filled a 16' trailer and a 8 foot bed with wreaths. With the use of our painter poles we only used our 40 foot ladder once. We lowered a 6' wreath 16' with the use of 2 poles, I didn't think it was going to work, but nobody really wanted to unstrap the big ladder.

David Gretzmier
01-12-2012, 12:41 AM
we've got about 25-30 left, but snow is predicted tonight. This has been the best weather in the first 2 weeks of January we have ever had. I am still hopeful we will get some done tomorrow and mostly finish up friday when it warms back up. maybe leave a few for monday. we'll see. pallet racks sure have filled up in the last 2 weeks. you never really know how much space you'll need for all of it until it all comes in and your done. had to build another 30 spools today for a total of 60 new spools this year. never built that many new ones before.

turf hokie
01-12-2012, 09:30 AM
Raining now, but going into the 50's and supposed to stop so we should be able to get in some houses.

We are about 1/2 way thru, we are 2 weeks ahead of last years schedule because of the weather.

Hopefully it holds and we will be done by next friday.

Dave, it is amazing how fast the racks fill up, this is the first year we are having to really utilize the space we have, usually we arent too concerned with how to fit a material into every available spot but this year we are starting to fill up, we will probably fill all of our current rack space and look at clearing out some space to add racks for next season.

01-12-2012, 09:34 AM
Dave what are spools??

Bryan, we got anywhere from a dusting to 6" last night. What a frigging mess!!!!!!!

3 to go, suppose to be snotty here all day, then frigid until next week.

David Gretzmier
01-12-2012, 11:31 PM
ah, spools- Think I may have described these before. I normally take an 8 foot 2x4 and cut into 5 pieces equally. take 4 of those pieces and cut a 3/4" deep x 3 1/2" dado in the middle. these become the "x" on the ends and the last one is the spindle. I use titebond 3 glue and 3 1/2" decking screws and glue/screw x's together and the x's to the spindle. be warned-don't just use nails or screws, been there, done that. these fit on a lazy susan platform we build to spool and unspool c-9 lights when we install/takedown.

David Gretzmier
01-14-2012, 04:55 PM
an update for us, we were able to get some stuff done thursday even though we had some snow on the ground and roofs. we ran 4 full crews on friday and finished up all our paying customers. we are left with my house, our training house, and my brother in laws house for monday. one crew should be able to knock out those three on monday and we are officially done. never have finished this early before that I am aware of. I did not keep real good records in 2000-2002, so maybe we beat it way back then.

Although this is the first year we have run 4 crews on takedowns, the limiting factor for us this year was again the size of the jobs and boxvans. usually by 2:30-3pm the guys had no more space in the boxvans for the next one or two jobs.

I knew this going in, and I looked at 18 and 20 footers when we bought 2 this year, but just worried about the guys driving them. just about anyone that can drive a pickup can adjust to driving a 14-16 foot box van. but jumping to 18 or 20 feet is a much longer wheelbase and even I have to pay close attention on turns.

choosing an Isuzu cab forward type would help with this, and I wish I could afford to buy 5 isuzu diesel or similar 3 across seating rigs with 18 foot bodies on them. but I can't. In the used market I really don't have much problems finding very good used ford e350 or e450 van bodies with 15 foot boxes, around 100k or less miles for 5 grand or so. Isuzus run about 3-5k higher each. you do get back some of that money on fuel savings and resale value, but repairs on those are very costly. I bought an isuzu body a few years back and it blew the gas engine this season after an employee busted the oil pan. The guys like driving it, but to replace the engine is 4k. to buy another ford boxvan was 5k. no brainer. selling the isuzu for scrap for 1300.

01-16-2012, 09:25 PM
Our first season is now complete. We did the last take down today and have everything packed away in storage.

Our first season was much better than expected. I can't wait till next year.

I really appreciate everyone who has posted on this forum over the years. The knowledge gained by reading all the threads was invaluable and definitely contributed to our success.

David Gretzmier
01-21-2012, 06:09 PM
Thought I'd wrap up my thoughts on takedowns by letting you guys know we did finish up last monday, with the exception of one client that asked us to wait until mid february. I will do that when I get back from cruising the carribbean.

I leave this wednesday and don't come back til February 14th. with the sinking of the costa ship over in italy they are nearly giving away cruises these days. I will be taking 2 week long ones back to back on different boats out of new orleans.

Hope you guys will play nice while I am gone.

turf hokie
01-23-2012, 12:41 PM
Apparently I will still be taking down while you are sipping mai tai's....

have fun.

01-23-2012, 01:19 PM
Hey it's been a while since I have been on here. We had great weather right after the new year. We hit some 60 days so we worked everyday until everything was down. We sure do kill it taking the lights down. I took pictures with a buddies Nikon but they didn't come out to hot and it was right before we were taking them down..bad timing..some bulbs were out.
I actually met with the clipper magazine people today to get ready for this years marketing. I need to get my postcards done in a the next few days for March already..sheesh..but the awesome thing she told me about was for 4k in November or October depends when I want to hit it, you get the front page of the magazine which hits 150000 homes in my wheel house. I thought that was a good deal. .16 cent post cards per 10k and they have another option for .11 postcard..that's all in..postage/print on glossy...if you can find them around your area it is the best bang for the buck I found...doing the post office postcards was a pain..and cost more then this option..just have to plan a few months in advance.or try now for the year..you can get setup on a payment plan. which will be nice instead of all that up front.
This year I can't complain. We did the amount of worked I planned on..and left a bunch out there. Christmas Decor is popping up around here ..I heard you have to pay 50k to join?..sounds crazy?..I too would like to go Led ...but when I just don't like the white leds ..they just don't do it for me yet..but splitting up the c9 are a pain...but it is what it is....I wanted to post the article the paper did about us and a Christmas Decor around here but it is not available anymore on the web....I am in search of a 30' painters pole..lol..we wasted so much time with a tow behind lift..live and learn..also about 9 timers crapped out on me...what a pain..won't use those anymore for sure....Going to Mexico first week of March then back to work..Now doing designs for landscapes for when we get back and in talks with a pool and lawns company selling their Lawn and landscape side..2012 is going to be another great year..cheers guys

turf hokie
01-23-2012, 01:35 PM

Christmas decor is not 50k to get in and never has been. I think someone may have added a 0 to the actual cost.

We use smart shopper which is a competitor of clipper, but he gives me great prices. Good for getting the name out there, but you will get tire kickers.

I have not looked into the postcard option, I am thinking about doing the saturation mailer the post office is doing and just picking routes. probably cut down on the total cards I send out by 50%.

NY Landscape Lighting
01-23-2012, 05:24 PM
17 more to go. Hopefully some snow melts with this rain..

David Gretzmier
01-23-2012, 11:08 PM
we did the saturation walking route or every door direct mail thing and was satisfied with the results. we did 1 1/2 mailings in 2011 for Christmas and will do 3 full mailings in 2012 for Christmas lights. I will be sending out 3000+ cards a month starting this month for landscape lighting. I do believe you can spend 500 or 1000 this way and get back 10 times what you spend, maybe 20 times, but it is not a linear curve, I don't think you can spend 5000 and get 50k in sales.

we have over 200 clients, have used lifts in the past for various things and used our scissor lift this year on one home. but by far the fastest and best thing to have is guys who are very good with ladders and climbing on roofs. we have a rope and harness for the crazy stuff, but 99% of our work is ladders and roof work. a lift often slows you down.

01-24-2012, 07:15 PM
I thought 50k was a bit crazy...lol...I was thinking about looking into it ..but I think we should be ok on our own...My main guy used to do roofing and some tree work so he was are roof guy..and climb in a tree if need be...I I know I took a hit on some trees I priced for sure..but that is the learning curve. I am looking forward to this year. I just wish the people I have for landscape stuff would let us get started since it's been so mild out..

02-10-2012, 03:09 PM
hey guys, first time poster in the xmas light form. Me and my guys finished up are last job a few weeks ago. I have one customer who wants her lights left up till april..... besides that all done here.