Christmas Lights? For Dave and Others

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by bthomaskelly, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. bthomaskelly

    bthomaskelly LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Well Christmas is just around the corner but the market is allready begging for service. I signed up with HBL after Dave pretty much sold me on the idea, think he secretly works for them JK. But as I'm working out my licensing issues for LL in Wy, thought this would be a no brainer and fun too, except the take down and storage aspect.
    Oh yeah back to my questions. What are some of your approaches with clients. It seems like a lot more cold calls then the LL where you have to sell yourself as the Professional, instead of just product and what they want.
    What are your techniques for Pre-Qualing the cold calls. Right now I am meeting with everyone and get some weird responses when I come at them with price. But the more ppl you meet the more ppl will know about your service IMO even if they cant afford you.
    How many new jobs do you shoot for in any given year? Shooting for 25 (wifes orders). I think I can do more but she is the realistic one.
    How do your walk throughs go? They just dumped a ton of money, do you ever get blank stares, like this is it? How would you deal with that?
    What type of pakaging do you require? Or is it just whatever the client wants you give?
    Are you able to charge the 100% over that HBL claims? Seems expensive and I am no cheapo.

    Thanks for your time I will be at the HBL seminar at the end of the month.
  2. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    I am fortunate to be "the" Christmas light guy above all the competition since I have been around the longest and we run multiple crews. So my reputation is such that I present myself as the relaxed professional who can do anything.

    I have the product samples,uniforms, yellow pages, truck graphics, catalog and color bid forms to back up the rep. If you show up without literature, and you are just in your car, no laser pointer, etc, you are just a guy who claims to do lights. the folks that want this service and can afford it have been ripped off by dozens of folks, so I try to put forth the absolute professional image of a guy who knows what he is doing and been doing it awhile.

    The first year we did this in this area was an absolute struggle, with some catalogs and no reputation, we closed 12 jobs that first year. Good jobs at a good price, and i still have the majority of those customers.

    I don't believe in much pre-qualifying other than letting folks know what range of prices we charged folks last year. I charged anywhere from 250 to 35 grand last year, and I tell most folks are at 2-3 grand. I met with 120-130 folks last year and closed 41. I tried prequalifying harder in the past, but you end up doing less bids and closing less jobs.

    the odd thing is , The people that spend the least money tend to not do so well on the walk through. the folks that have very nice homes and spend 4-8 grand love what I do. but the folks that have maybe a 225k home, which is a 2000-2500 sq. ft home in a good neighborhood, will spend 750 and get very little, and be upset about it even though you reccomended 1500-2000 to do thier home properly.

    I price product at a price that is purchased, installed, taken down and stored and includes all cords, clips, timers, etc. so my markup is higher than a traditional wholesale to retail price. probably 2.5-3 times is an estimate, but I also charge based on difficulty of the job. product put 10 feet off the ground is less than product 50 feet off the ground.
  3. Bill S

    Bill S LawnSite Member
    Messages: 184

    A huge advantage for me with the Christmas lights is Brite Ideas has teamed with ProLandscape so I can decorate a prospects home with my design software and show the client exactly what they are getting. It is a great sales tool.

    Sticker shock will always be there with the Christmas lights imho. Too many people just don't understand the true cost of this service. Start off with a job soup to nuts and start backing off product until you can come to a price that is acceptable.

    Good luck, it is a tough, short seasoned market that will give you a lot of headaches and a lot of joys.
  4. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Pro landscape is excellent software, I've used it a few years back,but wow, the cost even if you are a Brite Ideas distributor ( I was for 5 years) - 1000 bucks plus. We use the HBL Software available to HBL members specifically for Christmas Lights from HBL, and it does an equally great job. not cartoonish, scaleable product, scaleable darkening effect, etc. 45 bucks my cost once you are a member.
  5. bthomaskelly

    bthomaskelly LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Yeah I am pretty excited about the HBL software, super simple to use. Thanks for all the info you have posted over the years, it has really got me going in the right direction here. We have a big oppourtunity because no one is using high end products here just a couple ppl doing lowes/HD type installs. The HBL membership package is awesome. I feel like we are basically a franchise with all the materials. Deffinatlly the way to go when just starting out.
  6. tdf

    tdf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    If you don't mind me asking, how much is membership?
  7. bthomaskelly

    bthomaskelly LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    It was $5,000 for that you get enough product to cover two 3,500sf homes. 500 buisness card 5,000 post cards 5 yard signs 100 proposal forms about 30 catalogs. A training DVD and the software Dave was talking about. And you get to attend their 2 day seminar. All the forms and post cards have your logo and info on them. I figured that this would be the best way to start from scratch. Thats why I said I felt like I bought a franchise. There is a $1,000 garantee if you dont make this work. Just send back your product and you would only be out 4k. Figure worth the risk since no one is providing this service here.
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    If you target those postcards to your top 1-2% homes, and spread them over a mailing now, then in 3 weeks, and then again the 2nd week of November, you should get 10-20 homes, around 1-3k each for all your postcards. check out quantum mail for a site that really lets you key in on mailing to streets and neighborhoods and printing/addressing/postage and mailing your cards. Don't do what I did the first year and go through neighborhoods putting flyers in mailboxes ( yes it is illegal) at 10pm at night the week of thanksgiving. although, to be truthful, we did get 12 homes that year.
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Along with the membership, you get to buy product about 10% cheaper from HBL than a wholesaler who is not a member, plus members can take any employees to training in Omaha for free at thier regualr training sessions( you do have the get them there and pay for your own hotel ) . The convention each year is also for members only. you get to see all the new product first.

    I am no way financially connected to them, just really impressed with thier product and company, and they have helped me go from a Christmas light company that did 100k+ in Christmas lights a few years ago to 250k+ this year.
  10. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Merry Christmas David! Sounds like you have found a really cool company there.

    I took a quick look at their website. It's interesting how they have formed a 'partnership' model for the contractors that looks and acts like a franchise without all of the formalities and legal agreements.

    I wonder if such a model could/might be adopted by a LV lighting systems manufacturer.

    Have a great day.

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