I got a PM yesterday and thought I'd share it for a closer look at Dave's operation. some questions and answers- where do you find your crew foreman? -I have a couple crew foremen from previous years and this year I had one new one that trained with the other 2 starting in September. When you offer your customers early bird discounts for hanging in September and October, you can train them at a much less stressful pace. My part time shop foreman worked last year as a crew foreman. we find them from an ad in the classifieds. 211 folks applied for the job this year. How early do you start interviewing? - I will do the Christmas light olympics once at the end of August to pick a crew foreman or two and in the 2nd week of October to add crew members. Do you have new foremen every year or are you able to retain some of the same guys? retain some, but out of 6 installers this year, 4 were new. Also -- do you have 1 crew foreman that does service calls? I try really hard to get the crew that installed it to fix it. can't always do that as when you have 3-5 in the same area I have the same crew fix them but the same crew may not have installed them. Do you do service calls as well? I try to do alot, but we have about 180-190 properties this year and sometimes 10 or more fixes in a day is impossible when I am also doing 3-6 sales appointments per day. I also try not to get dirty if I have to sell a job later. many fixes require two guys if it is high ladder stuff. If I can reach it with a 5 foot little giant ( 22 feet up or lower) I try to fix it. but be warned, doing too many fixes wears you out fast, and selling new jobs is something the install crew cannot do. When the calls come in do you go out that same night or wait until the next day? -depends. If I am close, and have time, I can change a bulb or magic box a lower link, garland, mini's or reset a GFCI. magic boxing a wreath or difficult to reach link, that takes more time. next day is ok with 95% of my customers. my guarantee is we fix it within 48 hours of actually speaking with me in person ( they can lie about leaving a message on voice mail and say you did not get it. ). If we don't fix it within 48 hours, they can get thier choice installed for free- a free strand or 2 of garland , 500 mini's, or a free 3 foot or 4 foot wreath hung the 1st year. they have to buy the item the following year if they want to keep it. Also -- when it rains and those horrible GFCI problems start cropping up...do you tell the customer you're going to wait until the rain stops before coming out and resetting the GFCI or tracking down water in the plugs? I blame it on water which is 90% true. I have many properties that never need to be reset, even in blinding downpours, and some that need to be reset with dew. resetting a gfci when everything is still wet is often a waste of time. I rarely try to fix a problem while it is raining. One more...I'm very intrigued by your operation. Would you be open to us visiting your facility next spring or early summer? I would love to see your facility in person and be able to pick your brain a little bit. - man, when you do you will be disappointed ! last year we planned to expand our 3000 square foot, 8-10 foot tall facility to 6000 square foot with a 30 x 100 addition with 20 foot ceilings. could not afford to do it. this year we will get the poles in the ground ( it will be a pole barn structure), Dec. 16th to the 18th in 10 days, let's meet at pappasito's for lunch. my consulting fee is only 1000 bucks per hour. but I suppose I would settle for mixed fajitas and a margarita.