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Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Aug 23, 2008.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    On sept 15 we will begin hanging our "super early bird" customers. Christmas light season is coming, and I hope all you guys are ready.

    spent some time in the shop today getting ready for the season. doing inventory, looking over the trucks and noting some maintenance/cleaning needing done, did some electrical work, built storage racks and other misc. items.

    trying to take things to the next level this year, and shooting for 50 new customers, 4, 2 man crews in the nov1-feb 1 season, 1 part time loader/gas/ shop guy and part time secretary.

    I'm pretty sure I'll have to build an additional shop building next march, anticipating my current 2700 sqare ft x 8-12 ft tall will be full of storage for 180 properties or so. since about 360 square feet is office/bathroom, adding 3000 sqaure feet by 20-22 ft tall ( storage only, no office ), should take me to my final goal of 400-500 total properties for x-mas. at that point there will be no more room in the parking lot for 16-20 employee's cars and 8-9 trucks.

    how are you guys doing on storage, growth plans and what to expect this year?
  2. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 583

    I'm not sure how much we will grow this year. I'm shooting for 30 new. I already have 3 plus I did an estimate today! So if that works out, only 26 more to go!

    Next year we will be adding new storage,wanted to get it done this fall, but that won't happen. We have an acre with a 32x24 on it, so we have room to build a little more. My office and bathrooms are in the house :)

    We are also looking at a retail showroom, but not sure if that will happen or not. Still working the numbers on that one!

    Our major focus will be staying close to home!
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    I'm afraid I am out to a 50 mile radius to get the 35-50 new customers I want this year.

    the growing pains of this business are incredible. I have added 3 vehicles to my fleet this year, mainly because the 3 I currently have are very used and iffy. together they probably are one and half reliable truck/bus/van.
    hopefully with 6 trucks I can keep 4 routes going Nov 1-dec. 12 or so.

    we've only got a 3/4 acre commercial lot, and some of that is front "ditch" so after the new shop is built in march, I will then deal with parking issues. I measured out today, and we should have about 30 parking spaces when all is built and done. that will give me room for 16-20 employee vehicles and 10-14 business vehicles.

    my plan is kinda multi year- march '09-sept'09 180 customers, build new building and add 2 more vehicles, march '10 ( 220 customers) build pallet racks to fill building and gravel rest of lot and add 2 more vehicles ( for a total of hopefully, 6-7 reliable vehicles or so), march '11, (260 customers), add vehicles as necessary. and so on until new building or parking lot is full.

    in march '12 or '13 it would be nice to move to interstate frontage and new 10000 sq. ft 24 ft tall building with retail showroom, but even 4-5 years from now, at 300-350 customers, 8-9 2-man routes, and landscape lighting swinging hard in the off season, living my dream would cost 10-12 grand per month. I'm not sure if I can even do it then with revenues probably at 450k+ for Christmas and 250k+ for landscape lighting. 120-144k yearly for a shop just to have retail just does not make sense when my current shop payment wise costs me less than to 10k per year. I probably will have to move just for parking, but a retail shop only seems to make sense if you get walk up customers that buy product. my ego would like one though : )

    Hotrod, it seems like you and I are the only Christmas installers posting right now. hopefully a few more will chime in as the season gets closer !

    MRXMAS LawnSite Member
    Posts: 13

    We are long overdue for some growth, for the past 5 years we have averaged 25-40 customers currently we are at @ 30 however our revenue has continued to grow for the past 8 years. We are working on one large municipal drive thru this year, but wont know results for a couple of weeks, and will know the results of the plaza I posted for info on commercial pricing a while back this week. We currently have 780 sq. ft. storage but need to get something larger and have had my eyes on a couple of properties for some time now. If its not close to home or in a good area we will just keep with what we have for now. Unfortunately growth is hard when you only have one truck and are the one doing the sales, installations, etc., and work 55-60 hours per week at another job. This year we did make a big move to update numerous jobs and will be sending out flyers etc. in the next couple of weeks. Any ideas on how to juggle this situation and grow by leaps and bounds this year guys?

  5. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 583

    The retail space we are looking at is downtown next to some gift and flower shops so there will be lots of walk up potential plus a large window that faces the main street. It's only 600sq ft but has a basement. We would only be there for three months for a cost of around $3500 plus utl and such. So I think we an sell enough stuff retail to break even plus gain some more installs plus lower our quote cost by having people come in and pick out lights. So I think I can win on this one.
  6. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 583

    Sounds like you need to make an investment in some staff! Maybe you train a couple installers and you go out and do sales?
    One truck with two guys should be able to do 50 accounts. Maybe a little more if it is a three man crew. But it depends how far out the accounts are.
  7. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    Up until 3 years ago It was me and one super guy. I would work during the day hanging lights with him from 7am to 4pm, and he'd finish up jobs by himself sometimes while I went and did bids at night. I got to where I could do 3 bids a night, sometimes 4, and crash at 10pm or so. I added 30 new customers in 2005, and then he was done, it was just too crazy. The next year I went to 4 employees/2 crews and worked them a bit less, and they were slower as well, but got through it. added 35 customers in 2006 2 crews full time/overtime, 2007 3 crews +40, 2008 planned 4 crews and +50.

    The jobs I do range from pretty large ( 5000 c-9 bulbs plus commercial ) to smallish- hang 2 wreaths, but I find a crew of 2 can do one and 1/2 of our average jobs per day, plus a repair or 2 in a 10 hour day. when you figure 90% of people want their lights hung from Nov. 1 to Nov. 25, I am looking at adding a crew every year now. I still work from 7am to 10pm most days between Nov. 1-Dec. 5th or so, but now all I do is sell.

    I think you have to reach a breakout point at 35-50 customers or so that you have to have 2 people working without you there. you need to buy a dvd video recorder this year ( 400 bucks ) and film every job you do with you talking about where the job is located, how to get there, and talk while you film about where the plugs are, what product is on the house and how to wire it and put it up and take it down. then buy a portable dvd player for your guys to play the dvd's next year ( 100 bucks ). it will be like you are there.
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    Hotrod- I'd love to find a high traffic commercial location that I could sell out of for 3600 bucks or so. most of the locations I am looking at are closer to 3-5 grand a month and they will only do a 12 month lease. so for me I am looking to buy if possible. I've found a 4 acre lot with a ton of interstate frontage that could be my "retirement" property ( I'd sell it for a few million and retire )in 20 years or so. but I don't have 400 grand laying around, or the 150 grand it would take to build a metal storage building/showroom retail space. so I wait. when I am forced to move in 4-5 years, I will have more cash flow ( I hope !) and more options.
  9. razor1

    razor1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,985

    Do you guys use some type of bucket lift?
  10. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 583

    Only if I need one, then I would rent one.

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