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David Gretzmier
11-11-2012, 02:11 AM
It seems I start this thread later each year. But I confess I have at least looked back over the last few years I have done this and am always happy to have the info available. So I am sitting at 9 new customers at this point, and I am fairly happy with that. ahead of last year, and behind 2 years ago, I think. I have had 3 landscape light jobs come in as well that we will do when install stops, and I am hoping for a few more of those. Think I may try to extend the fence a bit on the side during the installs done takedowns not started break around Christmas. But hey, forget about what I will do when the install season is over, how about me talking about how are things going now?

we had 78 to put up as of this morning, and that includes some easy things, like add a wreath or garland to a job already put up. but it also includes some jobs that 2 guys can't do even in a 12 hour plus long day. but running 4 crews with good weather we should get most things done and still have work to do thanksgiving weekend. my goal of course is to sell enough from here to thanksgiving day to keep the guys busy.

I have to say that having a competitor that constantly steals signs or city maintenance crews that seem to pick them up within hours of putting them out has really reduced my call volume, but not really sales. until he figures out a way to steal our postcards from the mailman marketing will still bring me sales. I may sound bitter, but really, doesn't everyone need a competitor that charges 1/3 of what you do?

But even with Him and Christmas Decor, along with probably a dozen other phantom competitors that seem to appear out of nowhere, we still are doing ok. Honestly, If I started this thing today I am not so sure if I could make a go of it. but having 4 trucks out there in neighorhoods daily gives you a ton of visability that brings jobs to you. I had always hoped that as we get bigger this thing would self sustain itself, and it would if there was not so much competition. so we continue to put out signs, postcard, and google adwords.

feel free to chime in here guys and let everyone know how well the selling is going in your area. or gripe about your competition's bidding habits.

Hope everyone has a great year!

CleanCut1
11-11-2012, 07:24 AM
I have five new sales this season, including my first commercial account.

I have another small commercial and a large muninciple building complex in the works. I hope to finalize those this week.

Other than all the money it is costing me to replace the HBL LED junk I bought last year, it is starting off to be great season.

turf hokie
11-11-2012, 10:59 AM
Ok, let's see how we do this year.

33 installed so far. A mixed bag as far as size of jobs. But not bad considering we have lost several days due to hurricanes and nor'easters....

6 new sales, 2 smaller commercials out of the 6. But got both to commit to multi year deals. Not bad considering the weather and I pushed off my advertising, my ads start landing this week.

Creeping up on 60% renewals, it's slow with all the damage still being cleaned up, some still without power...

Finally bit the bullet and brought in a dedicated warehouse tech. He spent the whole week repairing material and probably has the better part of next week before he finishes, so that leaves the pulling and prepping of jobs to myself and my manager for now. Not ideal but it hasn't hurt us.

Competition remains the same so far, 2 brite ideas, 1 hbl, 1 local guy that uses box store material and mini lights on roof lines, a few guys that hang a job here or there but no real competition out of this group.

Good luck to all.

britelights
11-11-2012, 12:10 PM
Dave!!!! Been waiting for this thread :)!!! Glad to hear you're doing well. We're at 8 new jobs, including 1 large municipality job that I started working on in fall 2011. Round of postcards going out this week...we're late on those because we were debating whether or not to mail any postcards this year. Had some change-up in our main crew - slowed things down a little. But we have 2 full-time crews running and we feel a little more comfortable about all the renewals that have to be up before Thanksgiving. And yes...Carlos is still on that main crew :) -- not sure if I'll ever get him off a crew - LOL.

ChristmasDesigners
11-11-2012, 05:46 PM
Hi David, hang in there with the phantom competitors. 10 or 15 years ago there were only a handful of us doing installations in South Florida. Now days everyone with a pickup truck and a ladder seems to think they can go out and make it big in the Christmas business. They go in and bid at half of what we can do it for. But within a year or two, they are no where to be found. Stay true to your business and keep plugging away.

We also find that focusing more on commercial jobs rather than residential really narrows down the playing field. Businesses want someone with a long term track record. Plus we've found that when dealing with commercial properties, our returning customer base is about 90%. It's a pain in the butt to get the larger commercial jobs, but the payout is much better. Good luck this season!

addictedtolandscaping
11-12-2012, 03:54 AM
Was wondering where you had been Dave.

Me, status quo. Once again wasted more money with Holidynamics direct mail, so far in the past 2 years, $7k and finally a phone call - "my daughter hasn't lived here for 3 years, she moved to Colorado. Please remove her from you mailing list."

Needless to say, a little more than disgusted to say the least. Was considering buying the book that Christmas Designers has, but the girl I talked to when I placed my order than is coming in - that;'s a whole separate experience that I am not going to go into here but would be = to speaking with Scott directly as Holidynamics told me she would make sure Jason called me about it. So 2 weeks later and no call.

Summary, I am confident to say that this will be that last year. All done wit throwing $ out the window each year.

David Gretzmier
11-12-2012, 06:01 AM
good to hear from all of you. Sorry to hear about everything going on with sandy storm recovery. my prayers are with you. Brite Lites- I think yo may remember I went from a crazy insane schedule of me and a guy to 2 crews without me on them from one season to the next. 2 years later 3 crews and 2 years after that 4. I think you guys are in a different situation than me, as my wife does the 4 kids plus some secretary work. You guys are more both full time in the field, so Carlos can easily stay on the crews.

We are doing more postcards in November this year, trying weekly, mainly because of flat out not preparing properly and kind of an experiment too. we did mail some landscape light cards out earlier inJuly and August with Christmas info on the back, and had some Landscape cards in the spring. but I have not closed any sales yet this year that mentioned those.

addicted, my direct mail is pretty simple and complex at the same time. it is fairly complex to take a great night time Christmas light photo and design the text, graphics back of a postcard. It is simple but kinda expensive, maybe 300 bucks per postcard design, to get them printed if you have a marketing company take your photo and text and create the files for you. just don't lose the files. As you can see above, my direct mail has been a work in progress like all my other marketing efforts. I still am trying to do better at it in the off months. but once you have several postcards done and printed, The easy part is finding the walking code for the neighborhoods you want to saturate with EDDM postage at the post office. a bit more complex is signing up and getting a pass word, filling out the forms, etc.

many places online do this all for you at around 27 cents and up per 6 1/2 by 11 postcard printed and mailed. but that is around 5000-10000 volumes, and I tend to only want to mail 2500 per time or so. I like to buy my cards from gotprint.com for around 8 cents each for a 8 1/2 x 11, and it costs about 15 cents each to mail.

we mail to highest value homes and tend to get a few good sales off of each mailing.

Done a few bids this weekend, 3 appointments scheduled tomorrow.

TexasFire221
11-12-2012, 06:32 PM
Only had one call so far from the direct mailers and she won't answer the phone or return an email. I'm going to write her off. Have a appointment scheduled for Wednesday on a very large home a few houses down from another job we do. She saw the lawn signs in the area and called. So far I've had a total of 9 leads. Received a no on 7 and we will see how the next 2 go. Received an email earlier and she told me what she was willing to pay before I even talked to her about anything. Sure hope it picks up soon.
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David Gretzmier
11-14-2012, 12:07 AM
huh, odd, I posted here on this thread late yesterday and it is gone now. maybe it never got here. got #10 and 11 yesterday and #12 today. good sales. crossed a good threshold today, hoping to continue the movement on sales and continue with good weather. booking monday after Thanksgiving now, so some folks who might buy for a lighting job for family coming on thanksgiving may be buying from someone else. I started saying "Nov. 26" instead of "The monday after Thanksgiving."

had 6 appointments today, one big add on and 1 sale. but I am due some serious no's, I am way ahead on my close ratio on bids done verses closed jobs.

It always amazes me that closing jobs and getting jobs up helps feed my ego, and then customers call and have bulbs out, bow for wreaths missing, sections of wreath out, etc brings me back down. And the real volume of complaints don't start until next week when everyone starts turning the lights on. Always bugs me when we do a job, everything works and all is lit, then 3 weeks later you turn it on and 3 bulbs are out and the wreath won't work. when you KNOW it all worked 3 weeks ago, and it has not been on, that drives me crazy.

TexasFire221
11-14-2012, 11:15 PM
Have my first 3 estimates Friday from the direct mail. They sound promising so we will see how they go. And of course they are at the very far side of my target area but ill take what I can get at this point. Have been getting leads like crazy from christmaslightleads but am done chasing them. If they would ever email me back I would cancel that service. Received 3 leads today from them in about 10 minutes but they are all bargain shoppers. I've chased a few of them and I am done. I get so angry when people don't have the respect to call me back and just say no thanks. I had 3 appointments earlier in the week and they wouldn't return a call or a email. Glad I called to confirm before I spent my time driving out there. I am also done pushing light links. I'm sure I said this last season also but my market just cannot handle it all all. I sent direct mail to probably 20 zip codes and I only had 1500 homes that met the criteria I set. Just not tons of money within my service area. I've scared off too many customers the last two years I just can't do it anymore. We will see how Friday goes.
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David Gretzmier
11-15-2012, 02:18 AM
You really have to build a thick skin in this business about doing bids and expecting folks to call you back. they won't. And they won't answer the phone either. This started about 4-6 years ago, and has become the norm among people. this avoidance of telling people no or not telling people they can't afford it. middle class and wealthy people think now it is better to give contractors false hope when they leave the house, and in reality, they made up their mind not to do it the moment they saw the numbers. ( or the absent spouse will not approve of the bid).

This is the reason so few people answer the phone anymore. So many people are avoiding so many phone conversations that they do not want to have, that they voicemail screen every call, even if they just left you a message.

I did a bid for a smaller home today and was refreshed when she said, "whoa!, that is way out of my budget! I am gonna pass!" I never get that from folks that can actually afford this service. they are too embarassed to tell you no or that they can't or won't pay that.

got 5 no's today ( well one no and 4 promises) , so almost caught up on my close ratio. should start selling again tomorrow.

David Gretzmier
11-15-2012, 11:32 PM
#13 and 14 today. smaller jobs, but happy to have them and helps me fill up my tree. 2k add on today made the sales day nice. started talking about that with the client after last year, put up the regular job and caught the homeowner home while I was out inspecting it and closed the deal.

Don't know if I have ever shared this, but my lovely wife draws a large tree that fils a large piece of posterboard every year, and I start at the stump, and then divide the tree into 3 or 4 sections. then I write the names of all my new and add-on sales in and I get to move up the tree as I cross a sales threshold. really feels good for the ego to write on the tree all new sales activity. It further tells me at a glance who was sold in order so I know who the next new job should be on the install schedule. I put the star on top of the tree as a $$ bonus for me if I write names in the star.

I suppose I should keep the other years sales tree up so I can compare years at a glance as well, but I find it does more harm than good. I get real depressed when I see names on the last few years tree that no longer do business with us. We lose about 10-20 customers a year now, And even thought that is close percentage wise compared to all the other years we have been in business, it still bugs me to think about clients that have moved on and no longer do business with us. So I leave the old ones in the closet except for the end of the year. Then I get it out and compare what date we moved from one zone to the next, Average new customer sales that year verses this year, and so forth.

I stayed up til 1:30 last night really going over what we have to do and what crew is doing what which day. Looks like I am booking new sales on the tuesday after Thanksgiving today, assuming good weather and all employees show up. So I Got up at 6 and did my morning routine, felt so tires because I stayed up lat ethe night before, got to the shop at 7;45 or so and had a quick meeting with the guys. did a 9:30 sales appointment, sold it, and then woke up to that rumble vibrate thing on the interstate doing 75. luckily I was fine, but went home and ate and slept for an hour before my next 3 appointments. going to bed soon. I need to watch my sleep for the next 3 1/2 weeks.

I am going to call Dec. 10 the cutoff for sales, so 25 selling days left. I have sold my first job from a sign today, sold 3 from a postcard mailer and a few from website and yelow pages.

David Gretzmier
11-17-2012, 12:08 AM
15, 16, 17 today. medium jobs. another postcard job from mailing, so at 4 jobs for that card in one saturation route on one mailing of 800 or so. That is a very good return on investment. but same card, no jobs on saturation 2 other walking routes. go figure.

PlantscapeSolutions
11-17-2012, 01:18 AM
I did three batches of direct mail and the thought of the $5100 bill has me on ups and downs like a Prozac pill popper depending on how the days go. I only lost one customer but it was mutual and I didn't want his business at any price.

1. I got one great job that went from $1800 to $3800 with my first batch of mail.
2. One maintenance customer signed up for about $600 in simple lights.
3. One customer who insisted on keeping his lights himself had them all stolen. $2500 later he has lights again.
4. One small senior citizen job for $600 as a PR job since it's in an area where a tiny 1200 sq ft home cost $400K and a regular 2000 sq ft place can cost a million.
5. Small $750 job for some trying to afford something on their new million dollar home for their kids to look at when they get here from CA. Next year it should grow.
6. Tree lighting job (1200' lights was 1800') that I thought I lost to a Decor guy but it looks to be mine after all.
7. Existing customer has added $5000 to his display.

Hoping to hear back from some more bids. Especially the one in the pictures. This house is 7000 sq feet but it looks even bigger. This is house would probably sell for around four million because it's on Lake Austin. I'm looking at 600' of C9's and a dozen 16' tall Italian Cypress tree's with 2400' of lights on them. There are houses under construction on both sides. I really want this job.

CleanCut1
11-17-2012, 08:28 PM
Sold six through eleven since Monday and three small add on's, including two small commercials.

But, the phone seems to have stopped ringing. Only one call yesterday and two today and all were "can you hang my lights" calls.

It seems like last year around this time, the phone went crazy. I hope the rush is still coming.

CleanCut1
11-17-2012, 08:30 PM
I did three batches of direct mail and the thought of the $5100 bill has me on ups and downs like a Prozac pill popper depending on how the days go. I only lost one customer but it was mutual and I didn't want his business at any price.

1. I got one great job that went from $1800 to $3800 with my first batch of mail.
2. One maintenance customer signed up for about $600 in simple lights.
3. One customer who insisted on keeping his lights himself had them all stolen. $2500 later he has lights again.
4. One small senior citizen job for $600 as a PR job since it's in an area where a tiny 1200 sq ft home cost $400K and a regular 2000 sq ft place can cost a million.
5. Small $750 job for some trying to afford something on their new million dollar home for their kids to look at when they get here from CA. Next year it should grow.
6. Tree lighting job (1200' lights was 1800') that I thought I lost to a Decor guy but it looks to be mine after all.
7. Existing customer has added $5000 to his display.

Hoping to hear back from some more bids. Especially the one in the pictures. This house is 7000 sq feet but it looks even bigger. This is house would probably sell for around four million because it's on Lake Austin. I'm looking at 600' of C9's and a dozen 16' tall Italian Cypress tree's with 2400' of lights on them. There are houses under construction on both sides. I really want this job.

If you get that job, be sure to post some pics when done. Should look pretty awesome.

David Gretzmier
11-18-2012, 12:38 AM
After getting 3 out of 4 yesterday, I was due for a batch of no's. got 4 of those today. Or at least a wait and see. so no closes today. seem to be close in jobs sold where I was in 2009 and 2010, ahead of 2011. 2 appointments scheduled tomorrow.

TimNNJ
11-18-2012, 08:58 AM
I have 95% of my rehangs..a couple nice add ons...I sent my postcards out right before the hurricane..not getting the response that I got last year....met with 7 people nothing yet..understood..we are getting great work from downed trees and blow over stumps..I can't complain there..we are plenty busy..I made up another 10k in flyers..one side downed tree work/excavator..the other side is going to be the front of my Christmas postcard I sent out..still have about 50 lawn signs to put out..I think after Thanksgiving is when I will get my hit..some folks still don't have power..Plenty of time left to make those sales!..Keep plugging everyone

David Gretzmier
11-18-2012, 11:42 PM
18,19,20 today. 3 appointments, 3 closes. Small to medium jobs. Booking nov. 28th now, but guys are catching me. I sell 3, they put up 6. And since i closed 3out of 3 today, now I am due 6 no's statistically before I get a yes. Dang.

David Gretzmier
11-20-2012, 12:39 AM
21 and 22 today. one small, one medium. also sold 2 small landscape light jobs, so more work to do during the break from install stop to takedown start. But close ratio is way too high right now. I did have 4 appointments today, I have 5 appointments scheduled tomorrow. and statistically, all 5 tomorrow should say no. Maybe the economy is doing way better, or I need to raise my prices.

As of today anyway, I am ahead of all previous years, yet I have no idea why. I am not getting more bids from any source, I am just closing more. But I look back over previous years, and I have these dry spells where your close ratio catches up with you.

Had a fun day where I bid a residential job side by side with the Christmas Decor owner. I have a fairly good talking relationship with them, and we share stories. They or she may even read my yearly sales threads. But I have always been a fairly open book here, and I highly doubt they would change anything they do or what they charge because of what they read here. But it was interesting to explain to the client with both of us standing there the difference beween our companies.

That was one I did not close, but to be fair, Christmas Decor did the one across the street. She may yet call me. never know.

David Gretzmier
11-21-2012, 01:08 AM
#23 today. small to meduim job. but not from any of my 5 appointments. As far as installs and rehangs going up, looks like we will keep all our committments on getting it up by Thanksgiving. we are booked solid through Wed. after Thanksgiving. Have had a couple of folks come back on the install list that owed from last year. and some that owed from last year that have called to get their lights up, and then disapeared from face of the earth when told they still owe from last year.

We seem to be slightly ahead or pacing the past 3 years. This is the 4th season I have run this thread and It continues to be useful for me to constantly look back at the previous years and see where I am at customer wise. nothing like a track record to push you to close more. But it has become obvious to me that I have pretty much tapped out what one guy who runs everything management wise can sell. while I have closed anywhere from 17-24 more jobs past todays date in 3 years past, I am faced with hard facts.

Without changes to sales staff, my business growth is and will be limited by how many customers we lose every year. While I return every phone call and try to fix stuff the next day, The truth is If I want to grow this business faster and have more profit long term, instead of the front door of new customers coming in, I need to be better about watching the back door. I need to have someone who actually answers the phone. I really need a night repair crew starting probably last monday who take a list and drive around and check jobs that are lit or turn on jobs we already have installed but not on yet.

David Gretzmier
11-22-2012, 01:29 PM
24, 25, 26 yesterday. good small to medium jobs. Today is Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Two thoughts for everyone:

One, long post: I had an interesting conversation with a client yesterday. Without getting into too many details, she was upset that we could not come and fix her lights yesterday when she called at 2. I nicely explained we had about 27 turn ons and fixes in front of her, and even with 4 crews and myself, we could not get there until friday morning. like many people that do not get what they want, she was disappointed . but unlike every other call that came in this week, This client was angry. she had spoken to one of my crews tuesday and they said they would come by. but even at that moment, they had another 5 turn ons and fixes to do. They honestly did not have time. and then they neglected to tell me that she asked that when I saw them on Wed morning, and that she needed to be put on the schedule. So my problem on the phone was what promise do I make or break. My guys are not authorized to just go and do whoever, they are supposed to stick to the schudule unless it is a quick 5 minute fix. Her lights are on the 12th season, probably should have been replaced 5 seasons ago, and she had several things that needed magic boxing and she wanted her mini lights redone, so this was an hour to hour and half fix for 2 guys. in the end I told her we could schedule it for friday morning, and I would have to keep my promises I made to the other fixes that day.

She got further upset by my reasoning, did not like my tone and hung up abruptly. and then her husband, whose business is a client, called me later, and he was very nice and logical, understood perfectly, and I called her back and left her a message and said I was sorry again, but could not make it until friday morning.

This is my second uncomfortable conversation with her. she had wanted a discount earlier this year that I offered to give her, but told her I was no longer giving folks discounts they no longer qualified for. again, she got angry with me, was very rude that I would speak to her that way. I again, was nice, and pointed out that I had given her discounts in the past twice that she did not qualify for, but after this year I was done with that. she left me a very rude and angry message on my machine, but in the end, sadly, like a child, not only angry she did not get what whe wants, but that I did not give it to her with a smile. I may be off base here, but sadly, after 12 season she probably will not be a client in 2013. It really is 5 years past time to replace all her product, and I think she needs a new person to treat badly.

And my next thought, to show that Old dave still has to work, I was on the roof of a walmart last night until 11pm All by my self trying to work out their power situation. If there were any reason to go to LED c'9s, this one screams it. They have 9 outlets on the roof for the AC units, but only 2 breakers. at nearly 750 c'9s, this one is more than tricky. We have to run 300 feet of each c-9 strand, cords in all directions to the outlets we can find. While talking about residential power in another thread is fairly easy to upgrade and install, on a walmart or commercial building you have to run conduit 1000's of feet, and that is 1000's of dollars. so this one you have to work with what you have. There is not a shortage of outlets, just breakers that run all those outlets to handle 6000 or so watts. This one will have to go LED next year.

PlantscapeSolutions
11-24-2012, 08:30 PM
Sold three more today and think I'll get a fourth. This will put me at 10 new jobs. The client with the grand house in the picture has yet to return a single email I have sent her.

David Gretzmier
11-24-2012, 11:55 PM
27,28 on friday and 29,30 today. doing fixes, sales and trying to keep guys on installs. really tired.

turf hokie
11-25-2012, 08:02 PM
All I have to say is so far it has been a below average close rate season...

Today must have been the day that everyone decided that they were giving up on trying to put up the lights themselves because we took a ton of emails and phone calls today....

I forgot how running 7 days a week meeting with 5-8 potential clients a day will wear you out. Especially on a Sunday when you are trying to make it to your son's 3 basketball games.

Hope everyone is doing better than I am with the closing rates, I need a hot streak bad right now.

NY Landscape Lighting
11-25-2012, 11:04 PM
# 18 today. Light links are moving well this year. C9 not so much. People willing to go the extra dollars for links. 2 years ago mostly c9.

Anyone need a Holidynamics cherry blossom tree or two let me know. Also have a menorah and horse an sleigh.

David Gretzmier
11-26-2012, 08:04 AM
Got an early start this morning, got a full nights sleep and ready to take on the next 5 days. I added my 15 year old daughter after school last week on a daily mini light and stake light crew, my lovely wife has been driving her around like crazy during her week off from school and she'll do after school every day this week. this is out last big push, as all 5 crews ( including my daughter as a mini light crew now) are booked solid through Thursday, and I need another 6-8 sales or rehangs that I have written off to activate to keep every body busy through Saturday. looking back the last 3 years, after this date I close about 13-15 new jobs, not including the smaller rental jobs from 2010 that I have come to regret. My hope is that things fall along the same lines, but you never know. I am already planning other things to keep the guys busy the following weeks to keep them paid and get things done if the weather is good.

I never seem really ready for the big silence when all the installs are finally done. It is like a big frenzy for so long, then it is like, oh, we are done? what do we do now?

David Gretzmier
11-26-2012, 11:44 PM
#31 and sort of got 32 today. 7 appointments. not sure if I should count a signed contract and a credit card number if they then tell me to run it friday. I got the vibe they will back out. nice home, nice neighborhood, but we'll see.

worked from 5:30 this morning and got home at 10:15 or so. and I am talking I got up at 4:41 and was doing paperwork this morning at 5:30. I think I took a break from that around 7 and posted here.

I think if I can push through to friday or saturday most of the craziness will die down.

PlantscapeSolutions
11-27-2012, 12:26 AM
My new lighting client list is at 13. Two from existing clients, three from Home Adviser, and nine from direct mail (five grand). That $583 per client from direct mail but in the long run I think it was still money well spent. I went from 6 existing clients to 19 new clients so far.

But my meager six clients spent over $7,000 this year on material.

kawasaki guy
11-27-2012, 06:36 PM
how do you advertise?

David Gretzmier
11-28-2012, 08:25 AM
33 and 34 yesterday. worked until 11 doing fixes. physically and emotionally exhausted. starting to get snappy with employees and family. throat feels dry and feel sickness coming in a few days. booked until next monday. working until 10pm plus for many days is really starting to take its toll. trying to push through, eating all kinds of healthy foods as snacks, but you just can't treat your body this way. I think after today I am going to no longer do sales appointments after 6:30. I need the time to buy supplies and do a few simple fixes, and eat and rest my brain and body. that really sucks, because the 5:30-9 appointments usually have both spouses there and they usually buy.

David Gretzmier
11-29-2012, 01:32 AM
Another long day and night. 10:30 doing fixes. sold 4 today. at 38. really tired and having trouble keeping up. booked thru tuesday

David Gretzmier
12-01-2012, 02:24 AM
another lost post. hmm. sold 3, 39-41 on thursday, and 42, friday. got home 10:30 last night and 8:30 tonight. sick. can't talk. laryngitis or flu or something. find that I should have not done so many fixes and might not have scared folks with this raspy frog voice thing today.

I am ahead of all years, but I really really need some time off. I think my body is gonna do that for me. I have 3 or 4 appointments saturday and one sunday, and sarah and megan had to start returning calls today. I literally could not speak or keep up. going to give everyone off sunday except me. booked thru wednesday.

looking at inventory, shocked at how many wreaths, garland we have went through. still have quite a few sold jobs to put up. we will have to get another shipment of 3', 4', and garland, maybe buy this season for next. we will see. If you told me we would run out of garland and 4 foot wreaths at the beginning of the season I would have laughed at you.

In the past 2 years it looks like I have around 10 new customers after Nov 30. Don't know if we will continue that trend, but we will see. I can only hope. It has ben a great run so far.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-01-2012, 08:14 AM
Dave who do you favor for wreaths and Garland? I've been using Christmas Designers since they are close by in Sherman, TX and shipping is cheap. LiteSource is here as well but I'm not sure I trust their quality as much.

David Gretzmier
12-01-2012, 11:30 PM
I use hydy for wreaths and garland. customers love it. no closes today. note to self, when voice sounds like frog, very hard to get customers to trust you.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-02-2012, 01:44 AM
Is that your abbreviation for Holidynamics? I use just HD as the replacement for HBL. The HD garland is definitely better then the others pipe cleaner looking garland. I think next year I need to just order a bunch of the LED Mixed Noble Garland and Wreaths and stick with it. I'm not 100% confident in their LED durability compared to Christmas Designers but I guess I'll take a chance.

I have been happy with all the material I have gotten from Christmas Designers but HD definitely has a nicer premium grade greenery. I had a little custom made pure white greenery made by CDI that was a little better mixed noble grade but it seems HD still has better stuff.

David Gretzmier
12-02-2012, 05:24 AM
We use the incan version of he mixed noble. I have been using it for 7 seasons now, Really since HD opened, and I only have maybe 6 strands out of probably 1000 that were not able to be repaired by magic box, and those are used, not new. I am going to keep those on the shelf and use them restrung on occaision when folks want multi, blue or red minis in their garland. Given the nightmare I have heard about HD LED's but truly myself have not experienced, and how little amps garland pulls, along with the color, I will continue to go with the incan.

David Gretzmier
12-02-2012, 10:39 PM
43 today.voice starting to coming back. sales coming back. nice small mediumish job across the street from another mediumish job we do. love putting up and taking down 2 jobs with one stop.

only 2 appointments scheduled for tomorrow. think the crazy rush is finally over. have been booked solid with appointments from 9:30am til 7-8pm every night since last monday. finally got some recuperative sleep and finally at home at 8pm instead of 11. have 3 crews installing and 1 crew doing nothing but fixes tomorrow. have 3 crews booked installing wednesday as well. but we have started scheduling the donation jobs in that, my house and our training house, we are nearing the end.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-02-2012, 11:16 PM
David what do you think your total house count will be for new and existing.

David Gretzmier
12-03-2012, 05:11 AM
Not sure. I try to keep that number vague these days. I am also not sure, but I am guessing some of my competitors ( you out there amanda? ) read these posts to gain a competitive advantage. Not sure what advantage they could gain by knowing how big we are, and I have said in the local papers for the past few years we have around 250 properties. I will leave it at that.

I have always said that my math tells me the maximum number of customers we can achieve is somewhere around 400 given our retention ratio and current ability to close 40-50 new customers per year. If you can figure you lose 5-15% per year, once you hit 400, all you are doing is replacing the folks you lost. even if we achieve a new threshold of larger number new clients per year, like we seem to have in the last 3 years, the larger size thing seems to come with a corresponding rise in % of customers you lose.

I have heard of a few rare new york, Dallas and Houston lawn care firms that have 1000 plus customers, but they also seem to have a sales staff of 4 or more, and while the rumor is they close 200 new clients per year, they seem to lose 200 as well.

I have always heard that Travis at Brite Ideas and Scott at HD each has around 400 installed in their local market.

David Gretzmier
12-04-2012, 12:18 AM
#44 today. small good job. all crews booked tomorrow and a few things wednesday, but my guys probaly need to switch gears. we will be tearing down the chain link fence on the north side of our property and joining the front fence we built last year. probably going to the sawmill wednesday. I might take pictures, but it will be identical to the front fence we took pictures of last year and posted.

britelights
12-04-2012, 04:56 PM
Wow Dave...I do not know how you do it! I haven't posted very much this season because we have not been able to focus on new customers. It has been our roughest season yet...personnel problems mainly. We did not do a postcard mailing other than our Open House postcard. As of right now we have added only 16 new customers, but we have been killing ourselves to keep up with everything. We had 2 large municipal projects, record number of add-ons, several people that didn't install last year that decided to install this year...coupled with personnel issues and we've barely kept our head above water. We have many stories to tell :)!

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. Rain forced us to quit early today, but all of our guys needed that. We'll stay busy thru this week, then a couple stragglers next week and we'll be finished.

David Gretzmier
12-05-2012, 12:48 AM
#45 today. smallie but goodie. 2 appointments tomorrow. have finally recovered from sickness and the craziness is over. only one crew installing tomorrow and one crew fixing and adding on. everybody else is on fence duty. I got to do something fun tonight after 6:30 and did not get 11 service call messages tonight. just 1.

confessing one of my tricks- when I get a call for service late afternoon that will be the next day, I go out that night and drive by all the places from the shop, to that place, and back. I usually pass 10-20 places, and I never fail to generate another 5 stops. My favorite thing is telling any of those folks that call the next day that we already fixed their bulb or timer. I will tell you that THAT can create an unrealisic expectation that you check their house every night.

stacey and carlos- great to hear from you! sorry you had issues. I had some as well. The jump you are trying to make in the lighting biz is the hardest step. I am already preparing for next years Christmas staff now. for you, You need 2 guys that can be crew foremen next year helping you with takedowns this season. If the folks you have are not crew foremen type guys...you know what you should do. I have some ideas for you, we need another session this February. perhaps the Christmas light business Cruise can finally happen! I will be in the carribbean most of Feb. Call me and see if you guys want to Join me on one of the boats.

turf hokie
12-05-2012, 07:39 PM
Took my last appointment tonite for this years installations schedule, have 1 booked tomorrow for next year installation. Might get a few stragglers from estimates I did the last few days, seems some people are taking a few days to pull the trigger.

guys are working thru Friday, then 1 crew for Saturday if needed. 1 job for Monday and then just servicing accounts.

Cupboards are bare and vendors are light on basics, just not worth it to try to piece any more together. Guys are starting to make silly mistakes with installations and I am too mentally drained to keep up with the sales calls.

Time to deal with collecting money and service issues.

Turned out to be a better year than I expected after a hurricane and early snow storm.

Didnt quite get up to the number of new clients that you hit David, but I was within single digits of you this year, maybe next year I will pass you!! LOL. Best year for retention rate of returning clients in the past 4 years too!! That is always a good sign.

Good luck the rest of the way to all!

Bryan

David Gretzmier
12-07-2012, 08:06 AM
46 and 47 yesterday, and 1k add on. feels like we are coming to the end. not sure if it is the end, but close or there. that meets our previous high number of new clients for a season. average sale this year though, was higher than in 2010 when we did that. Also sold a lot of Landscape light install stuff over the season that will start next week. will run 1 crew all day today for fixes and one for the installs and add ons. one guy maybe demoing old fence.

looks like we won't really start the fence until next week. maybe do some demo today on old fence for a few hours. put 2 trucks in shop yesterday, one a transmission rebuild and one is a tire replacement. have one more truck scheduled for tranny rebuild as well.

going to schedule 1 guy for fixes tomorrow, have 1 guy on call to help him if I sell an install, and have guys on call but hope we don't need them sunday. unless installs.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-07-2012, 08:27 AM
I know some are hush, hush on sales numbers but for those who don't mind chiming in I'd be interested to know what scale the other players here are on. I'm a small outfit and did about 35K so far this year. At least for me being forth coming with this info has no disadvantages. I think many would be interested to know what scale others are on. I'm sure there are others that could easily add a zero to my sales number. This is my best sales year ever by far.

David Gretzmier
12-08-2012, 12:12 AM
closed 48 tonight. smallish, but I will take it. got a couple guys working tomorrow for fixes, so nice for them to generate income and then go do fixes. think I have another one for tomorrow that will close.

I don't typically post what my sales dollars are. you can kinda figure what they are if you sift through my few thousand posts, based on average sale and number of clients.

I will tell you that 48 breaks our old previous record of number of new customers in a season. and our sales are the best ever. and I think I may have a couple more sales days left.

TimNNJ
12-08-2012, 08:29 AM
It hit the fan like I figured it would..I have closed about 15 new jobs which puts us at about 30 total so far. I have a couple more appointments today ...but we are booked out till Friday so if we can squeeze in a couple more I will but supplies are becoming very low. Between clean ups, landscapes, a couple last lawn cuts, trying to get a patio in before year end and lights we have been jamming. The guys have been out 7 days a week for a while now but they are happy and in a couple weeks will get a nice break.

Guys have been doing a great job with putting the displays together..barley any service calls ..I did get one last night..a part of a hedge row was out..I check it out..someone cut the wire!..guy said kids have been going around causing havoc..not right...he was pi$$ed..but all in all it's been all good..Cheers..

David Gretzmier
12-08-2012, 11:53 PM
49 today. good one. guys putting it up tomorrow. have a large add on for monday and a few fixes. feels like the end. Think we may be done with new sales. I have one lead that may be #50. hoping to close that monday.

although I feel better, I still need a few days rest. Phone has been quiet today with fixes and new leads. gonna push through the next week for landscape lighting stuff, need to film all new jobs and add ons. but I also really want to get shop cleaned up, fence built, and spools and spoolers built for takedowns. sawmill cut the rest of the wood yesterday.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-09-2012, 02:13 AM
I went from landing five jobs in a row back to tire kickers who where doing nothing more then pondering things at the last second. Had a couple with a two million dollar spread call me late yesterday trying to feel me out on pricing. I tried to get them off the fence but it wasn't worth the effort. They needed an easy 400' of C9's just for the front of the house.

CleanCut1
12-10-2012, 04:44 PM
We sold 22 new jobs this year. My goal was 15 new, so I'm happy, but never completely satisfied. I haven't sold anything since 12/3, so I'm pretty sure it's over. I'm still getting two or three calls a day, but no serious customers.

I thought I had two more in the bag over the weekend. One wanted multi colored mini's and the other wanted blue C9's. Both were ready to buy if I could install right away, but didn't want to wait for an order. I had no multi minis and not enough blue C9's in stock, so they both passed until next season.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-10-2012, 10:47 PM
I had a tire kicker in a two million dollar house pondering 400'+ of C9's but it went no where. That made two big jobs that fell thought. I did get a referral yesterday that's going to be 526' of C9's on a three million+ dollar home. Great easy going client that listens to your fair price and just tells you to do it.

Had to shake 1000bulbs.com down to get a better price since it seems everyone is out of Minleon soft white C9's. I think I've picked up 14 new clients so far and it's got to be over by now.

CleanCut1
12-11-2012, 10:44 AM
At this point in the season it is very tempting to take some "hang the customer's lights" jobs. For the past week and a half I've taken tons of those calls. We have all jobs installed and there is nothing to do but repairs, getting organized, resting and waiting for take down. I could probably make a couple thousand extra by taking some of these jobs. I know I would probably regret it, but it is tempting.

I don't want my business associated with the low end "hang the customer lights" but there is so much demand for it. Everyone who calls wants to know if I can refer them to someone who does that. I wonder if it could be profitable to set up another business under another name to handle those jobs? When the caller asks for a referral, I hand them off to the sister company.

addictedtolandscaping
12-11-2012, 11:22 AM
There has to be something to it, the ones that I have parted ways with over the years are having lights installed, by one of those ones that will also go to Walmart and put them up. Ya know, the $250 and up guys.

What would concern me about doing that, an I did for the first year, just to recoup some of the investment, the headaches. My lights don't work, my breaker keeps tripping etc etc. Then consider the quality of the lights and the safety of them.

hotrod1965
12-11-2012, 06:50 PM
Here's how I did it.

1. Draw up an agreement that says "these are your lights, your problem, no warranty, I charge every time I come out here ...etc"

2. Charge them $100-150 per hour to hang up their lights. Have a price list for extras such as , extension cords..etc.

You will scare away most people, because they are really only looking to pay $15-25 per hour. Which isn't worth any true businesses time as it's prolly really costing you somewhere around $40-50 per hour just to operate.

The jobs you get will be worth it because you will have the chance to dazzle them and eventually get them into your system (happened 25% of the time) The rest will be with you for a season or two then go away, but you made $100-150 per hour for your time.

David Gretzmier
12-11-2012, 11:49 PM
got #50 yesterday. still did a bid today and have 2 scheduled tomorrow. more may or may not happen, we will see. have went to one fix and add on/ install crew, and one landscape light install crew. I actually have a takedown scheduled this friday for a client that is moving, and have the opportunity to takedown some of the college buildings we do next week. may do it if the weather is good. never know, might get rained out right after Christmas day.

I have referred folks to 2 local companies that hang clients lights. I have done a few. sometimes you can bring them over and sell them product, but usually not. and it tends to just confuse your employees when you send them there for rehang or whatever. If you have nothing else to do, then gernerating income is always good. we try to focus on spending payroll dollars on things that make us money first, save us money second, and make our jobs easier 3rd.

having my new secretary call 25-50 folks per day to check on their lights and get email addresses has been a blessing and a pro-active approach to keeping customers for next year. I can't count the number of customers I have lost that never called me but were unhappy and did not use us again. hoping to help close the back door a litle bit by calling folks. plus it generates work for the guys and they always like that. calling all people in one area during the day, then I drive around that area from 5pm-7pm that night to fill out the list, really knocks down on the fix and drive time. I always hate to do a fix one day in a neighborhood 30 minutes from the shop and then be right back in the same neighborhood for a fix the next day.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-12-2012, 12:14 AM
At this point in the season it is very tempting to take some "hang the customer's lights" jobs. For the past week and a half I've taken tons of those calls. We have all jobs installed and there is nothing to do but repairs, getting organized, resting and waiting for take down. I could probably make a couple thousand extra by taking some of these jobs. I know I would probably regret it, but it is tempting.

I don't want my business associated with the low end "hang the customer lights" but there is so much demand for it. Everyone who calls wants to know if I can refer them to someone who does that. I wonder if it could be profitable to set up another business under another name to handle those jobs? When the caller asks for a referral, I hand them off to the sister company.

I converted one hang my lights guy this year. He bought $500 in new lights and we agreed to hang some of the light spheres they had. I thought it might be a dozen of the spheres but it turned out to be about 60 of them. I converted it into a $65 per man hour job and the labor was about $750.

Their spheres were past their prime so I think next year I'll be selling them new spheres as well.

MMarlow
12-13-2012, 09:41 AM
I normally don't sell in the install side of our company, but this year I have sold 8 jobs. With one commercial job in there. The commercial job was an easy install at a retirement center which quickly accepted by $3,500 bid for Light Lights, Cone Trees, Starbursts and Light in two trees. The install crew was there for 2 hours tops. The latest was a couple who stopped into the retail store, I pulled their house up on google and designed up a 25 light link house with a 5' wreath and 3 garlands around their arch...the best part of that house what the 8' Cherry Blossom Tree they purchased on a whim...added $1,000 to the bid for little over 3K. The guys put in 3 hours on that job. If I had to put a number to what jobs I sold this year, I believe it would be 20K+...and that wasn't really trying to do more. Our Omaha division has had a 6 digit increase this year...think about the competition we have in this city.

I love this business, you start with a blank canvas and create magic on every home. Sometimes you can't please everyone, but on the average you will make an impact for their holiday season. It's great to see everyone's success.

Everyone have a great holidays...next phase take down and storage.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-13-2012, 10:08 AM
I normally don't sell in the install side of our company, but this year I have sold 8 jobs. With one commercial job in there. The commercial job was an easy install at a retirement center which quickly accepted by $3,500 bid for Light Lights, Cone Trees, Starbursts and Light in two trees. The install crew was there for 2 hours tops. The latest was a couple who stopped into the retail store, I pulled their house up on google and designed up a 25 light link house with a 5' wreath and 3 garlands around their arch...the best part of that house what the 8' Cherry Blossom Tree they purchased on a whim...added $1,000 to the bid for little over 3K. The guys put in 3 hours on that job. If I had to put a number to what jobs I sold this year, I believe it would be 20K+...and that wasn't really trying to do more. Our Omaha division has had a 6 digit increase this year...think about the competition we have in this city.

I love this business, you start with a blank canvas and create magic on every home. Sometimes you can't please everyone, but on the average you will make an impact for their holiday season. It's great to see everyone's success.

Everyone have a great holidays...next phase take down and storage.

How did the cherry blossom tree's do this first year? How many do you think you sold versus the number you brought in. I know that's a tough big ticket item to judge the demand for.

MMarlow
12-13-2012, 10:23 AM
Well we sold two of the 8 footers over the weekend...it's a higher ticket item. It needs to be shown to appreciate the detail we put into them...as many of the larger cherry blossom trees are all tape base, ours have a look and feel of an actual tree trunk...gives it a real looking feel.

To answer your question, we brought in 110 trees this year...some were already purchased on pre-orders from our Kickoff. But we have (13) 8' and (6) 6' left in stock...we demoed them at a couple commercial locations and had a 80% close ratio. Keno areas, Car Dealerships, and high end salons.

We are looking to expand this part of our product offering next year.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-13-2012, 11:35 AM
Mike, on another topic has any consideration been given into trying to make the HD website more of a sales driver? If you Google holiday lite installers you will see Decor is near the top of the list. I can't even find the HD site no matter how many pages deep I go.

I would think members would be willing to pay a fee for leads just like we do with HomeAdviser.com. With Home Adviser they don't have a photo gallery or any expertise but they still manage to create leads. I realize they have much deeper pockets. I know HBL helped get a deal going with Home Adviser back when it was Service Magic.

Maybe Home Adviser could even partner with the an improved HD website in some sort of partnership. All I know is that in four years I think I've had one person contact me though the old HBL site. Not exactly creating earth shattering traffic. Just seems like the HD site is kind of out there in space and nobody has a clue it's even there when they search for holiday lite installers.

MMarlow
12-13-2012, 02:12 PM
SEO and Website development is always a hot topic, we are currenty reviewing new options for our website. We would like to offer up such options for everyone. I will keep you in the loop on possible trends, we are always looking to improve the viewing of each location.

With Service Magic, they approached me three years ago. I told them to submit a deal for the HBL members, they came back with a waiver fee to get started...not what I wanted to roll out to everyone. So I told them to pound sand...I want a reduction in fees for leads but they didn't budge. The crazy thing is they solicted everyone saying we authorized a deal, which was total BS.

As for CDI, the dues they receive from franchisees creates a marketing job and capital to spend on adware and SEO coverage where the normal company isn't ready to shell out $250 to $1000 each month...especially when it is a seasonal industry. I have the know how to get it started, just need to see a demand before I put new research into a feasible plan that everyone benefits.

PlantscapeSolutions
12-13-2012, 02:39 PM
Mike, At 400 active member if you charged $20 a month year round to be listed on the site as a member it would give you $96,000 to play with. I guess the other way to do it would be to pay per lead where the more the site delivers the more people would pay. The leads might make you some money as well but I guess it leaves you rolling the dice on the initial investment.

David Gretzmier
12-13-2012, 07:49 PM
I always go through my service magic, now home advisor leads and add up the sales, and then look at the lead fees. In the past I tended to get 20-30 leads and closed 5-8. I closed 5 jobs this year off 15 leads. less leads than has come in and less jobs. but I paid around 300 bucks and closed $9300 in work. I am way happy with that. many also contacted me directly, so maybe I woul have gotten 2-3 jobs any way, but the botom line is 10% of my new jobs this year came from home advisor. for 300 bucks, I will take that. put another way, I will write a check today for 10 times that if I can have 10 times the sales. in a heartbeat.

by the way mike, $3500 worth of HYDY product in 2 hours? I am guessing if you eliminate drive time, loading and unloading truck time, taking ladders out and clean up time, and maybe opening all the box time ? I am thinking of my 2 best guys opening all boxes, clipping and hanging 20-30 links, running the cords, and then doing the ground work you mentioned, opening boxes on starbursts, hanging and running those cords, the trees and ground stakes, etc, set timer or timers, clean up all the trash- boxes, bags of clips and bulbs, and tags, load ladders up and drive to next job. gotta get rid or store those boxes at some point. And we are assuming every item works right out of the box and no magic box time. no straightening bulbs time. seriously mike, This is me you are talking to, and I can't see it. I have done this job 10 times 10, and $3500 HYDY job is about 20-30 man hours of labor from the time the boxes arrive from shipper and you touch it for the first time to the time the guys are back at shop and shop guys have stored away the last box after takedown. profitable? yes. 2 hours? not quite.

:)

David Gretzmier
12-13-2012, 11:47 PM
closed 51 yesterday and 52 today. cannot believe I am still selling. crazy.

MMarlow
12-14-2012, 11:35 AM
David,

I don't understand your math, but I was talking about actual time on the job. 10 minute drive each way and it wasn't the only job the crew did that day, so putting up the ladders, clean up and handling of the boxes are part of each day. 2 man crew.

Power wasn't an issue, miminal cords and roof access where the Light Links were going. Simple job...I could have done it by myself in less than 3 hours. Including drive time.

I'm not sure where you are getting 20-30 hours, are you talking 20-30 hours per job or for 10 jobs? Either way, thanks for the comment.

David Gretzmier
12-15-2012, 12:25 AM
mike, I know you meant jobsite time. I always feel that is the tip of the iceberg. Old Reed the dewalt guy used to tell me 2 hour install stories, Scott tells it too, and in 12 years, I have never done it. not throwing rocks there, but I am not lazy or slow, and I had the best fastest roof guy for several years that ran circles around several guys I did training with in Omaha. here's the math on my 20-30 man hours- someone gets paid at every step. start the clock.

receive call from lead, answer questions and set appointment. drive and meet with lead to sell job. talk, measure, write bid, close them then or come back and close at a later date and get check for 1/2. salesman may note special needs or outlet issues, like maybe there is not an outlet at a commercial location, and notes whether you need a 40' ladder, harness, etc. then drive to bank to deposit check or hand check off to secretary for her to log in computer and then she deposits, or hands it off to another secretary that drives and deposits. give her yellow and/or pink copy of proposal/contract. client keeps top white copy. when check clears, someone orders 3500 in product from HYDY. internet or phone. secretary creates 2 files: one for administrative for billing and cost items that has all dollar amounts on them, with pink or yellow copy, one work file for install purposes only that only has items to install and where to put them on the building or in the yard/beds. makes sure instructions are on what goes where on house, prints off driving directions to property. few days later, boxes from HYDY arrive. shop foreman checks against pending installs, matches and labels boxes with client name with marker and puts all on seperate pallet with cords, timers, etc. shop foreman or install manager schedules install. on day of install boxes, cords, etc are loaded onto service boxvan, with perhaps existing ladders already in truck and all other boxes for jobs that day.

keeping up? maybe the owner does all this. but I am betting Scott does none of this, much like I only do the sales step here and ordering product. but moving on...how many man hours are we at now?

the install crew comes in, ( ahh, here we go..) they get the file, may or may not check to make sure they have all the inventory for all jobs and tools and clips and cords they need. maybe they do have several jobs that day including the 3500, and they have a route to follow. maybe someone wrote out an order, maybe they just wing it. they drive to job a, or b, or c from shop ( and of course they never stop along the way for bathroom, cigarettes, food) and it is only 10 minutes from where ever. they then unload the boxes they need, and set up ladder or ladders, open all the boxes, open the boxes in the boxes, take off twist ties, cut off ( they wont tear off) all those dang white tags and shiny silver tags on every plug, plug in and check all the lights to make sure they work or maybe they wait, and not check anything, straighten all bulbs on frames, open all the light clip bags ( there would be, what 20? 30 bags ?) and sort what they need, be it s-clips or gable clips or some of both. maybe they put them in their pocket or maybe use a fanny pack. maybe they pre-clip the links or maybe they clip as they go. maybe it is not too cold and they don't break any. maybe no bulb clips were damaged from shipping and you don't have to use the extras you get. then you run up your first cord and you hang and plug in links together. if it is LED, then you can link lots together and minimal cords. if not, then you need a cord back to your original plug every 7-10 links.
move ladder as you go, or work from the roof and other guy throws you links and or cords.

get all links up, binder clip cords on roof and tuck in cords around gutter drops, then run cord from outlet to ground stuff and assemble. pound in stakes, run cords to all items, test, arrange and hide and straighten wavy cords best you can. set timer and clean up the boxes. for the record, there is alot of them. clean up all the little tags that were cut off of each ext cord and each link or other corded item. pick up any clips dropped or broken, put away any unused clips, bulbs, bags in bins in truck or van and then drive to next job. and if anyone asks you about lights while on jobsite, hand out cards or flyers. and oh yeah, one of the crew fills out paperwork on how long it took to drive there, install, and drive back. and someone else should probably check that they actually do that. and tell the truth. if you install gps trackers on all the trucks, and you know whuch truck was used for install, you can check pretty easy.

adding up more, you still need to maintain the job and fix anything that goes wrong ( and we average 2 service calls per client per season ) and you also have to drive back, take down the job, label and tape the storage boxes, drive back to shop, ( remember, no one ever stops at the convienance store around here on the clock. no way. ) someone unloads ( whoops, and that person probably also loaded the empty boxes for you to go take it down) and someone uses a cherry picker to store them in pallet rack/warehouse and log the location in either admin or work file, and someones bills and/or collects from customer and send thank you note. further, someone needs to look over this whole job and add up all the many hours spent doing this job start to finish and how much profit was actually made. This total should be in the admin file. you should also do this every year on the rehang to check profitablilty. I also film every job while installed to descibe what item goes where, how we corded it, how they liked the timer set, and what pitfalls like dogs, bad outlets to avoid. and any time items get added to jobs over the years, you refilm and update all files.

it took an hour plus just to type this. it only seems like 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there on many steps. but on this job, like most $3500 jobs, The owner paid 20-30 man hours to someone. it may say "4 man hours" or 2 hours x 2 guys install/ jobsite time in the work file. I know my best fastest guys would take well over double that to install that much new product. maybe triple. rehang could well be much faster as all the tags removed, all the cords you need, and it is boxed far more efficiently. but depending on who and how it was taken down, magic box time and replacing/straightening bulb clip goes up.

This is a profitable business, but that payroll expense should get costed to the jobs based on how many actual hours it takes. put another way, most of my 2 man crews get paid for 40-50 hours a week. they can put up about 1 big job per day or 2 smaller mediumish jobs a day. so out of 80-100 man hours, I have to account for all that on each job they did. as well as all the secretary, sales, shop foremen and helper time.