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Christmas Lighting ?????

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Dean T, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. Dean T

    Dean T LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I am looking to get in the Christmas light biz for next year,, however i need to start my homework now so that I will be ready for the 2008 season,,
    I need info on how and what to charge and i know every job will not be the same
    light suppliers ??
    franchise yes or no
    will the prices be the same in st Louis Mo,Dallas Texas,Jacksonville fl
    any help you pros can give me I need,as one day I will be a pro
    Thanks Dean
  2. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Hey guys, this is my uncle that I was telling you about. Please help him out with any info you may have. He's really pumped about getting a good start.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Dean- PM me and I can give you my phone number and email. I am available to talk until next wed. morning, my life is crazy after the gie convention. Chris can fill you in about me, or you can do some searches on Christmas Lights on this forum and the Christmas tree forum.

    as far as what to charge- If you are in Jacksonville and have several Christmas light competitors, have a friend get an estimate from them for thier house. This may sound unethical, but I will do about 150 bids this season, and about 50 will buy. so 1 more bid is no big deal. It will give you a great read on your market. look under the yellow pages for Christmas or holiday lights, Light consultants. get 3 bids. wreaths, garland, c-9's, minis', and light links/linkables.

    Christmas Decor is the only real franchise out there. every one else is a membership or distributorship. big difference. Christmas Decor has awesome training videos and training classes. you will learn how to do it. they charge you for it. you will have to buy all your product from them, and have to pay them a percentage of your sales, new and rehang. Most Christmas Decor franchise do well for a few years because they force you to spend marketing money and it works. most are lawn care/chemical lawn operators, and they max out thier off season and employees by year 3 or 4. they only take on enough new work at that point to replace customers that quit. they are primarily c-9 lights, mini lights. very professional. expensive, about 20 grand and protected territory which they honor. I had a chance to buy my area, five years ago, declined after I saw the price and agreement with Christmas decor.

    distributorships are Brite Ideas and Holiday Bright Lights . no protected territories ( although they sometimes offer it and agree to it, they want to sell product so they will sell another "distributorship" or "membership" in your area given the chance. I know. It has happened with both companies to me. ). unique and quality products. more money making opportunity.training is Ok, but you don't actually get on the roof or do a real job, it is more of a loose teaching thing. an employee/owner going through training is no really ready to run a job. lots of things get glossed over and missed because of time. most training lasts a day or two, it needs to be a week. but it is free. and they provide food, learning materials, and usually let you buy product at a discount and free shipping. catalogs,postcards, trifolds and more slick marketing materials are available at additional fees to members/distributors.

    Brite ideas makes you buy in to buy thier product, they have the bare bones package all the way to platinum, getting more stuff as you pay more. Josh is your contact person. Holiday Bright Lights will sell you wholesale for nothing, but if you buy for a membership in you get lower prices than brite ideas, marketing materials to help you sell, enough product to make back your investment to be a member, etc. Bruce is Your contact person there. You supposedly can buy from other sources for your product, even have a contract that says such, but Brite Ideas and I parted ways in 2006. I no longer have access to a product I paid 20 grand to sell. Holiday Bright Lights could do the same, they have the right to refuse to sell to anyone I guess. get a contract in writing, have a lawyer look at it and stick to what he/she says. we buy 95% from HBL. they are better, you will agree if you look at both product lines.

    Training only companies sell you some forms, a book/video on how to do Christmas lights, etc. Village lighting, Holiday Lighting, Christmsa expressions, etc. all the same thing. ok for reading if you like. Brad out of Omaha ( village? Holiday? not sure) is pretty knowledgeable and good, but they are of limited use. good starting point. prices range from 100 bucks to 1000 bucks plus.

    web only wholesale comapnies are sometimes cheaper than everybody on certain items. we go through 5-10,000 all in one clips every year. HBL is 14 cents each, Holiday Light Source is around 3-4 cents. that's a thousand bucks saved a year. we get a few items like that from others.

    Locally-we buy tens of thousands of mini-lights at lowes and home depot when they go on 75% off after Christmas, and use them as replcements and for new jobs. I've used the 10 buck mini lights per 100 and they go out just like the 50 cent strands after the sale- the bulbs get loose and break. the customers can't tell the difference so I just throw out the sets after they are 3-5 years old anyway. the newer "always lit" lights are just that, new. when the wires get loose on the socket, they go out too. I do use those when we relight a wreath/garland with new lights. those lights don't get pulled or jostled like minis on bushes or trees. we also buy most of our cords local. green, tan cords look better than orange or yellow. sometimes you can catch a great deal on a few cases of bulk cords on ebay. painters poles, uniforms, boxes for storing, usually local.

    This is probably 2% of what I have learned over the past 25 years, but

    This post is already gigantic, but others ask this question so I'd thought I'd post it to refer to.
  4. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    Holiday liters,
    I need some input. This is my second year doing holiday lighting I am a one man show most of the time. I am in no rush to grow the holiday lighting business. For now I just want to grow it slowly. I have a couple of questions.
    I have one customer with green C9 bulbs. I initially used the triple dipped 130v bulbs but they were too dim so I replaced them with some 120v green bulbs from the local store. Should I change out all the 120v green bulbs for fresh ones. How does the quality of warehouse holiday lighting equipment compare to the local department store stuff. Is there THAT much of a difference? It doesn't really seem like I am getting much of a better deal ordering from a warehouse??? How much mark up do you put on holiday lights? Thanks
  5. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Kingsland, Texas
    Messages: 2,214

    Ned, first I would say that we don't talk about mark-up or any kind of pricing on this site because it is open to the public and therefore, a no no.

    The difference between 130v and 120v lamps is that you should get longer life from the 130v lamps. Just like if you cut the voltage on your lamps from 12v to 11v, you double your lamp life.

    Contractor grade equipment will always be superior to what you find at the box stores because they have to cut corners in manufacturing to meet the price points required to sell at those stores.

    Those are just a few points to answer some of your questions.
  6. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 580

    Thanks for the input, I understand the difference between 120v and 130v the reason why I used the 120 to get a brighter light. What I am really asking. Should I use the same cheapo 120v green bulb again or change them all out? I don't want to have to make special trips back changing burned out bulbs. I understand warehouse stuff quality is better, but is it that much better? I have had cheapo lights in the past that have lasted for 5 years. This being my second year I and using all quality material except 120v green bulbs. I don't know what to expect regarding equipment failure etc. Another question. What do you think is better selling lights to the customers or just lighting a customers house and incorporating the cost of lights right into the whole lighing job?
  7. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    almost all dept store Christmas lights are 750 hour bulbs or less. most bulbs bought in 500 or 1000 case quantity are 3000 hour bulbs. the triple dip bulbs are darker and less bright than double dip bulbs. Holiday Light Source sells both. I like the 130 volt bulbs, rated at 3000 hours at 130 volts, or closer to 5000 hours at 120. for the most brighness, you could always go to 10 watt c-9's green, I've also seen 11 and 14 watters as well, but watch your load and cords. you can overload a run quick.

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