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Christmas Lighting

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by NewLeaf, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. Dunn's

    Dunn's LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,534

    So I guess if your houses are that cheap there then you can afford to be cheaper. I will post a pic of our house in a little it is worth $125-130k and it is in a lower middle class to upper lower class area.
  2. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    I would not do that roof for any less than 1200 and that is after I got beat up. I would start at 1500-1600 with that pitch. And also since parts can only be done off a ladder which will slow you down.

    But then again those houses that you guys are showing pix of would go for about 800 and only be on .40 acres if your lucky.:cry:
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    NICE house for 140k back in 2001. was that with land included? even 7 years ago that sounds like a deal.

    I hear from customers talking about other cities that have very cheap prices for Christmas lights, and all I know is this- my payroll this week was over 5 grand for 6 installers and my assistant, and did not include me. if I was charging 2 or even 3 bucks a foot I cannot imagine covering that and gas, my payment on the shop ( which is only 750 per month ) insurance, etc. we do make money on rehangs at 3 and 3.25 per foot. That is just labor. but I have to have that first year to cover the costs materials and doing this thing called running a business.

    since everyone that used to do it that cheap ( 2 bucks a foot ) here went out of business, I can only assume that if they were doing well financially at that price someone would have bought thier business and carried on thier business. not the case.

    a mature Christmas light market may look light a mature lawn market- lots of lowballers.

    what saddens me is my first job paid 200 bucks install back in 1982, and looking back it was around 150 feet. takedown was 75. so close to 2 bucks a foot 25 years ago. they provided the c-9's from wal-mart. they actually were heavy cord back then, 16 guage and lots of copper in the sockets. some of that stuff is probably still around and working.

    we are booked til Nov. 28th at this point running 3 crews at 60 hours per week or so. I am hoping to pick up another 15 jobs or so, book it out til the 5th or 6th of December at most. I usually will close 10 jobs between the 20th and 30th of November. another 3 or 4 in the first 5 days of december. and then it is usually over unless some unique opportunity comes along.

    good luck guys, really only about 15 days left to sell work. try to max it out.
  4. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    Turf hokie just to be sure, your talking about the house I drew the lines on not my house right? wow.

    David, that was just to cost to build the house. Back then building materials had been on a 10 year long high resulting from hurricane Andrew. Then it dropped and dropped big time and we took full advantage of it. Pure luck. So anyway I already owned the 14 acres about 40miles east of Downtown Dallas. That may sound far but considering the DFW is 4000 square miles its really just the outskirts. I sub'd everything but some of the interior trim and the landscape. I know thats not a fair comparison to home prices but it is a comparison to building cost. being around 50.00 sgft is good. real good. 75.00 is probably where you'd be these days.

    Now fast forward 6 years and the town I live in has exploded. My street and all the pastures around us is developed or being developed. I don't know what my place is worth. Probably 450 - 500 but I really don't know. I'll just sit tight and wait. But thats how a guy like me can afford a big sprawling "mini ranch" as the newcomers call them.

    So anyway sorry to get off topic again but this really is a big city but with that many square miles there still a lot of area between each community. Now however it's beginning to fill in and you see these tract home communities popping up. A young couple can get in a new house for 1000.00 - 1500.00 down and they aren't bad. The older neighborhoods of smaller homes in densely populated areas? well that is where the Hispanics typically live. Theres no other way to put it. Farmers Branch made national headlines for the city trying to boot out all the undocumented immigrants. If they did that it would be a ghost town! FB, Irving, Garland the list goes on and on. Don't shoot the messenger, I've live here all my life and this area the caucasians trade up like they trade cars and the lower income(hispanics) take the pre-owned. African americans are another story.

    The reason I say all this is because I'm trying to get my arms around this niche business. Next year we are going to back off on the Landscape Installs and concentrate on the commercial and residential maintenance. We're aggressively pursuing contracts now and in the spring we'll hit the residential. My step-son(25) who I've raised since he was 8 or 9 years old is working with me. Once established Justin will take it a run. I will go back to design and construction landscape.

    So the holiday lights is something we need to figure out by then meaning do it or don't.

    I thinkg the market on these typical homes is 2-3.00 a foot. I havent confirmed it. There are so many homes and these people are two incomes families. They are not going to pay 1000-1500.00 to put up xmas lights. If you look at it like anything else and double your material cost, it seems you can do this in volume. The difference is the risk involved.

    I figure once you get the experience, you can then be more creative and capitalize on that. Getting more money by referrals and such. Entering into the market however, I feel the mid-income areas are the ones to go after if for no other reason proximity.

    Believe me there are tons of high income areas to sell the big jobs. You still have the hispanic worker card though. Not to be confused with cheap labor. The hourly wage is way above minimum but you can throw a stick and get someone to work for 8 - 10.00 an hour. You see it all around here. 5 - 8 guys hanging lights in an hour and they move on down the road.
  5. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    BTW I'm not ignoring what you guys have said. If I were to bid high and land 30% of I would be very happy. My gut though tells me around here that # would be much much lower.
  6. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    You guys probably think I'm crazy but I have something else to add. I swear I'm not on speed. Coffee yes speed no.

    I have a bad habit of figuring things out for myself.

    You guys David, Turf, hotrod and the rest have been there done that. Some of you are franchised and have had formal training not only in lighting techniques but sales and business training as well.

    And here I am reflecting on two or three quotes I know of as if I know what the market will bare. I really don't know squat other than there are a ton of guys driving around slinging up xmas lights.

    So I'm probably just a typical example of who you talk about in business training. What not to do or who not to worry about in terms of competing for business.

    I just want to say, I want to be optimistic about this. Perhaps my best bet is to not solicit business in the countless areas that cannot pay the higher prices.

    I guess I'm really just doubting my abilities because I have not had the training and I lack the experience.

    So I just wanted to follow up all my rambling with this. I will take your advice and try and run with it. I got another call a referral that would make 4 houses this year.(counting mine) Next year I'll attend a seminar from village. Probably buy the training kit and try like hell to learn as much from others like you guys as I can.

    Simple put. Numbers don't lie. David look at you. I'm sure Fayetteville is a real nice place but clearly it's economy is't even close to major cities like DFW & elsewhere and you get top dollar. I guess what just occurred is that it easily to lean toward the downside. Instead I should set my sites higher and listen to you guys.

  7. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    The reality is that in larger markets lawncare service companies are already hitting lights big time. like everything else lawn care touches, they beat the profit right out of it. If lawn care got into home theater installation, everyone could have an awesome dolby surround sound entertainment system installed for 35 bucks.

    I have watched the 2 and 3 buck people come and go, and right now they are coming back again. I met with a lady last night who has hired two different companies in the past 3 years to do her lights. 300 bucks each, one never came back to take them down, and the other was a roofer who now won't call her back. 200 feet. she refuses to pay my price, even to rehang at 650. she admits she has the money, but thinks it is ridiculous to spend that kind of money. so she would rather spend less money and be frustrated, than spend a fair price and get a great service.

    I am starting to hear from folks i bid in the past years, and it is funny- they all want the same price they paid the guy that went out of business. Don't people get it? To purchase vehicles, shop, insurance, pay a fair wage and install a top notch product and have a profit left over, can't be done at 3 bucks a foot. I don't care if you prove to me the lights and bulbs cost 50 cents a foot, I just paid 5 grand in payroll for this week, and that alone means you gotta generate a grand a day to cover LABOR cost to install, much less takedown.

    I am sticking to my prices until no one will buy. we are booked to November 28th because we are very good at what we do. you can buy a toyota yaris for 12 grand, or a lexus ls460 for 70 grand. both get you to work. I am positioning myself as the lexus.
  8. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    Very well said. David has been doing this for a long time. I am only entering my 3rd season. I will admit we started at 2.75 per foot on the c-9 2 years ago to get into the market. Did not know what it would bear. We sold 15 out of 25 estimates. 2nd season we went to $4 per foot. Finished with about 50 residential and commercial customers. Sold approx 35 out of 60 estimates. I felt these closing rates were too high. Sounds crazy, I know. But now I am in the David range of 5-6 and sometimes higher per foot and closing about that 30% mark. We too are booked thru the 27th and took 30 calls yesterday alone.

    I will have installed as much by thanksgiving as we did all last year. I would rather sell 30% and have somewhat less stress than sell 50% at lower margins and go crazy trying to get it all done.

    I guess my point is, and it may sound like I was tooting my own horn. But go for it. Find your market, get into it, make your name and continually raise your prices to find what you can get for your superior service. I actually lost a number of my first year customers and really almost dont mind b/c I can replace them with a higher margin job.

    I know some of us have formal training, support, etc. But you still need to get in the field and get the experience. There is no substitute.

    Good luck.
  9. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    very gracious guys and it's much appreciated. Thats pretty much leaves one thing that hasn't been mentioned which is Commercial properties. What is the pulse on that side of the business?

    I have a grid that use as part of my commercial bids. A lot times when I talk to someone about maintaining thier property, you can see their eyes glaze over when you try and explain all the different services. So this grid really helps illustrate to them what your talking about. I can see that that I'm missing an potentially important service option.

    Why not add it in and let them spread it out over the 12 months. Just a thought.

  10. E.J.

    E.J. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    It's been absolutely off the wall the past week! Business is great, but more importantly, listen to this DRAMA. I was installing lights on a pretty decent sized oak tree and the neighbor came over. This is a neighborhood considered to be very, very upscale. Long story short, I didn't have time to give the guy a quote that day so I told him I would come back the next day with a quote for him. Left him a message that morning and we played phone tag the next day. House burns to the ground day after. No one has any clue how or from what.

    I decided to subscribe to Dave G.'s and the other veterans and formally trained decorating business owners have preached; stay true with fair pricing. I have received some decent jobs, but can't seem to get people to bite on the really large deals. I priced out the job using a combination of GKI & Wal Mart lights (different applications for light spacing readily available along with C-9 bulbs for a few other applications). Lady literally told me I was "highway robbery" and her husband wants to sell his Animal Emergency clinic to make as much money as I do hanging lights (they have a very beautiful home on the intercoastal waterway here in Florida. They said her husband will do it. It was three separate properties for $6,285. Everything was priced at a small discount because I was working to get them for my concierge business. LOL back fired big time. haha

    Anyway, figured I would add a couple interesting stories. I took tonight off for mental sanity reasons. haha

    Off to bed; finishing a sic palm tree job and going for the up-sell on some more palms near a 60' custom sport fishing yacht- cant wait to get you guys pics.

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