As long as the economy sucks, installations are going to be few and far between.
Service contracts can be a life-saving source of revenue that will get you through the winter months.
I have not had any permanent employees for 5 years. All I use is Temp help, so I only have labor overhead when I have a demand. No carrying deadweight on the books. In addition, the temp agency handles all of the payroll paperwork.
Service/maintenance contract pricing is based on several factors: your hourly labor rate; distance of travel to and from site; services provided in the contract; frequency of service visits (weekly, monthly, quarterly). Service/maintenance contracts should be structured in a manner that will convince the customer that they are getting extra value for their money. Value of services received is the prime selling factor for service/maintenance contracts.
You say that you are going to quit installing. Does that mean if someone asks you to install a 6,000 gallon pond, you are going to turn them down? Sure you will!!!
"Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects." - Will Rogers