Joined HBL today!!

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by GreenI.A., Sep 20, 2011.

  1. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,132

    We concentrate on Irrigation and landscape lighting but had done a few holiday lighting jobs last year for a few select clients. I have been doing alot of research and decided to give it a big push this season. I talked with Nick at HBL this afternoon and signed up. Holiday lighting isn't big hear yet so I am hoping to be the trend setter hear. In the South of Boston Area, there are 3 HBL members that are all well over an hour away. I'm hoping that the lack of compatition is just that others haven't given it a try yet and not that there isn't a market for it here.


    Any advice you guys with a long lighting history can give?
     
  2. TimNNJ

    TimNNJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 321

    I did as well. I am doing a big push this year in our area...lots of good advice on here...cheers
     
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    Welcome to the club. The best advice I can give you is to treat your Christmas light division as a separate company and price your services as such. If you are in Boston, then you have a huge market. What a great place to grow. but...

    You need to price your services in such a way to be able to capitalize growth. most lawn care and chemical lawn companies that do Christmas lights only grow the Christmas lights side to the size thier current fleet and employees can handle in the off season. In 4-8 years, You may very welll want to sell the division off, so it needs to be able to pay for the trucks, gas, the employees, the warehouse storage, the workmans comp and liability. My current Christmas light company started as a division in a landscape management company I owned about 10 years back, and I took that division and started it as a sepeate company in 2003. I am so thankful that we priced our first 35 jobs of so to be able to capitalize the overhead as we grew to 60 customers, then 100, and now 200 plus.

    Too often I see folks just trying to cover wages or make x dollars per hour after materials. They accumulate 40-60 customers after a few years, and they brag to me we make x per hour, we are doing great. But they Rarely can or will go out and buy trucks, buy land and build warehouse space, so they then can run 3, 4, 6 crews and handle 100, 200 or more customers.

    what you charge unfortuately has to do with how much you pay in boston, how much warehouse space is, and insurance, and all the other overhead items that go into figureing rates. So I can't really tell you what to charge. But I know that one boxvan and 2 guys can handle about 60 customers tops for the season if you start in early October. we start in mid september. and if you look at my "new shop" thread on this forum I figured out how many cubic feet of rack storage you need per customer on average. so that should help you out on cost of warehouse space.

    I could go into tons of detail about marketing, training employees, administration, etc. but pricing by far will almost always determine whether you can grow and pay for all those things.

    good luck.
     
  4. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,776

    I too just joined. I over the last couple of years I've done a few jobs just to check it out. This I've decided to take on more.
    Two factors that top my list
    1) DFW huge market/decent economy
    2) Huge undocumented worker workforce which leads to low ball marketplace.

    Maybe it's the same everywhere regarding the low ball competition. I'm determined to work around that issue. Stick to prices and adhere to a business plan such as illustrated by David or I wont do it at all.

    I know 1 example doesn't tell much but a customer of mine lives in a 400lk neighborhood. Every year he gets lights put up and its a huge house with many gables and very tall roof lines. I asked him about it last year and he said "man I'll show you the price but I don't think you'll like it." he was right $400.00 lol.

    Anyway if you look for reasons not to do something you'll find them. Instead I'm looking at reasons to sell during the Holiday Season

    Many thanks to all the contributors here.
     
  5. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,979

    I'm down in Austin on my third season with HBL. I'm easing into the lighting scene. The first year wasn't really enthused about doing holiday lights but I now enjoy the challenge. I'm just looking for conservative growth that will be easy to handle. Mike Marlow would rather see me in overdrive mode and I may end up being more aggressive in the future.

    I tried doing a Groupon deal where say for $149 you get $300 worth of product or even a smaller deal like $100 worth of product for $49. I contacted Groupon via email four times and left three voice mails and the SOB's didn't even bother to call me back. How can a company valued in the billions be this bad?

    Tried Living Social and was told that because some mystery person had one negative posting about my company they wouldn't do a deal either. Apparently an anonymous posting on the web carries more weight then an A rating with the BBB. As long as you keep the size of the discount small doing a Groupon type deal isn’t much more expensive then spending $1500 on direct mail to land a handful of jobs. The enticing thing about a Groupon type offer is that you are only paying for sales that have been made. With other forms of advertising there is a lot more risk involved.
     
  6. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,132

    Thanks for the advice, I'm sure I'll be posting plenty of quesions over the next couple of months. I do have to say as of right now I am anything but impressed with the service I am receiving from HBL. I filled out the info request online last weekend, nick called me first thing monday morning a couple of times but I was to busy and didn't call him back until Tuesday. At that point I was happy with the service, I figured they called me back right away and even tried calling me a few times. When I talked to Nick on Tues I gave him my credit card info and he said that I would receive a conformation email with all the info and that they would mail everything out that afternoon. I got the fedex confirmation that everything was shipped out on Friday, not Tuesday, I also never got the confirmation email from them. I would like to be able to get onto the site and see pricing, training materials, etc.. I called them yesterday and talked to Nick again who said he would get the email sent out to me. Still haven't received it. Just makes me nervous because if I tell a customer I can have the supplies to do their house in so many days and then HBL waits to ship 3-4 days past what they quoted, I'm gonna have a pissed off customer to deal with.
     
  7. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Posts: 569

    Call and talk to Mike.

    I have talked to Nick a few times on the phone, not impressed with him at all.
     
  8. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,132

    Thanks. I think Mike actually answered when I called and asked to talk to Nick yesterday. I'll give Mike a call on Monday. Thanks again.
     
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    I think nick's job is to sell, getting folks to buy from HBL and he goes to trade shows, basically to GET new members, where Mike is supposed to help members once on board.
     
  10. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,979

    My first year in 09' didn't start smoothly either. HBL ran out of gutter clips, C7 LEDs, and the plugs for making jumper cables with 18 gauge lamp cord. I was new and had no idea who else would have these items at a decent price. Mike was pretty much mum on where I could find anything.

    The lamp cord plugs I ended up getting were for use where polarity is required. The HBL lights have no polarity so the big side of the plugs I had would not fit in the old style HBL sockets. I had to use a grinder to shrink one side of my males plugs so they would work.

    The 1000 gutter clips I bought were horrible and I threw them all away after one season. A total waste of money.

    The second batch of clips I bought came from Holiday LiteSource and they were cheaper then the HBL clips and likely came from the same factory in China. I think I saved 3 cents per clip and saved $30 on the box I bought.

    I would really like to see other HBL members like David Gretzmier and others let us in on the other supply places they have used for certain items. Just because we are HBL members it doesn't mean we can't shop else where if we can get some better deals.

    I'm surprised nobody else makes the 100 light M6 LED light sets.
     

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