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Old 10-21-2009, 09:23 AM
David Gretzmier David Gretzmier is offline
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new sales 2009

just thought I'd start a thread to see how guys are doing on closing new customers and new add-on sales to existing/rehang customers.

For me, probably 10% of existing customers are adding on this year, examples would be adding wreaths, adding sides of thier home, mini-lights, etc. Those sales have been good.

I have only closed 2 brand new customers so far this year. That is not completely unusual, I have only done a few bids at this point. my close ratio in October is usually 50%, as folks that call for Christmas lights before halloween are pretty serious. I also prequalify on the phone, so I rarely meet with people that have not heard the range of prices I charge. My goal is 50 new customers this year, so 2/50 I am only 4% of the way to my goal. I have 4 bids scheduled in the next 5 days, so hopefully I will double the number of new customers on an update next week.

Still, without checking for 2-3 hours how many bids and how many dollars of closed sales I did in the last few years, my gut tell me I am running a bit behind on new customers, and a bit ahead on add-on sales. That tells me I need to put out more signs and do more postcard marketing.

Also a bit of good news is 2 customers this week which were storage only last year have come back to hanging thier lights. I don't really consider them new sales, but maybe I need a new category, "recovered" or something.
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:08 AM
hotrod1965 hotrod1965 is online now
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I've got one closed and have done a handful of bids, which I am pretty sure one will sign up. This is good for us. We typically are not this busy this early.
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Old 10-21-2009, 12:41 PM
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ericlemson ericlemson is offline
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Question, what are your average bids so far? Are people cutting back?
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Old 10-22-2009, 07:23 AM
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addictedtolandscaping addictedtolandscaping is offline
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I have had a big fat zero. I had the one bid that I mentioned a few months or so back, but that has been it. For dollar figures:

3000 graphics on truck
2000 direct mail through HBL
1600 direct mail through chamber of commerce
350 in yard signs - waiting till the end of the month to put some of them out
600 in apparel

All in all with membership fee, some additional stock flying out to Omaha etc I am 20k into this. Right now seems like I threw away a ton of cash that could have gone some place else.
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Old 10-22-2009, 07:49 AM
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turf hokie turf hokie is offline
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It's early, we have only sold 2 and both were below our average, lost 4 and all were above my average......phone started ring a bit more this week as advertising is hitting as I type. It is early yet.
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Old 10-22-2009, 10:07 AM
Don M. Don M. is offline
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Location: Gray Summit, Missouri
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I've received 9 request for estimates so far. Today I have to meet with some owners in a small subdivison. There are 20-25 houses and apparently they all get done. The guy that used to service them moved away. I know the first estimate I gave on Monday, I almost threw her into a heart attack. She thought it was only going to be around $200. She had 150 ft of roofline, 60 ft of that was 40 ft in the air with a 10/12 roof.
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Old 10-22-2009, 11:34 AM
David Gretzmier David Gretzmier is offline
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I agree that it is still very early, but got a call from a bid yesterday, she wants it. so I am up to 3 new jobs.

addicted- We have had a dozen or so yard signs out for 2 weeks now. They need to be out at intersections with stop signs or stop lights near really nice houses. if you put them out on friday around 6pm, they won't be picked up by the sign police until monday morning. get those out now if you want calls. This is why I reccomend cheap yard signs, so you put them out more than the high dollar ones. call the newspaper and tell them your story. call them and tell them you are decorating your home or business if they want to run photo's of folks installing a wreath or garland. offer to write a short piece on how to install christmas lights without overloading breakers, fuses, etc. call the local TV station and ask who is thier Christmas Light expert, let them know you install lights, are certified through HBL and have had training. and can do a short segment on Christmas light safety, ladder safety, roof safety, etc.

all of those things above cost you nothing but some time( since you already paid for the signs).
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Old 10-22-2009, 11:56 AM
David Gretzmier David Gretzmier is offline
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I also did a bid similar to above a few years back. the lawn guy in the neighborhood did so many houses in the neighborhood that they just added it to the POA fees and did them all, about 60 houses in a small subdivsion. he moved away, and they had a budget of 12000 bucks and about 10,000 of these walmart 25 foot strand c-9s and mini's. so each homeowner paid 200 and got the front of thier house done and maintained. several folks told me he and a helper started in mid-October when the grass slows down here and he'd finish right before Thanksgiving. most siad it took a week for him to take them all down. They also paid for any materials he had to buy, strings, bulbs, cords, timers etc. none of them were cut to fit, he just put up 25 light starnds of c-9s and they ended where they ended.

when you look at it from a lawn care perspective, he probably made 2 grand a week in revenue mowing thier lawns, and made 2 grand a week hanging lights. he simply bought a ladder and extended his revenue season by a month.

My brother tends to look at his Christmas light business this way. he already does lawns and his season is wrapping up about now except for leaves. he charges about 1/2 what I do, and he is happy with the 40 or so customers he has accumulated over the past 4-5 years and the 20,000 extra he gets from hanging those jobs from now until thanksgiving.

I really can't fault my brother or this other guy, but my overhead is just not set up that way. the vast majority of my revenue for the year comes from this business, and once you get beyond your truck, yourself and a helper this business gets crazy expensive.

a couple of recent examples- This week I need 2 more 32 foot extension ladders, 2, 6 foot little giant ladders and 2 more light testing units purchased before Nov. 2. Yesterday and today i just replaced 2 front tires on one of my commercial boxvans. total - 2500 bucks for the ladders and tires. and I have to spend this money or we can't run all the crews, period. you just cannot sustain that kind of capital outlay and overhead recovery if you only get 2 grand a week for a crew on Christmas lights.
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Old 10-22-2009, 01:14 PM
PressureWashE PressureWashE is offline
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18 so far Most are repeating customers, few are new, But with the new customers, I have closed them on more than just lighting, Pressure Washing baby! lol
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:27 AM
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lantanalawns lantanalawns is offline
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Started early and got excited...

This is my 5th year installing lights and I started running Google CPC ads in early September. I got a few calls right away and I signed up my first customer on September 12th. I then got 2 more customers within 2 weeks of that. I had 3 new customers (average cost of $1,500 each) before the end of September. That was already 10% of my expected new customers.

I thought things were going to get started really early this year and I would be able to take advantage of installing first week of November. Well, since then I have had no more new customers and only about 5 more quotes. I have had 7 reinstalls sign up already for this year. Things look good there.

I hope things start to pick up really soon. I am already in for about 4K in expenses this year.

Holiday Light & Decor
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