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Holiday Lighting

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by smarino21, Nov 20, 2006.

  1. evergreen_lawncare

    evergreen_lawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    First year they purchase the lights from us, so we charge almost double what we would of the cost to put up the lights. For example, we had a house last year where it cost $800 just for the lights. We inflated the price to around $1,400 for materials and then charged another $1,000 or so for the install. It only took the two of us about 2 hours to do the house. Second year we charge half of what we charged the first year. We start advertising near the middle of september all the way through to the end of October. Last year we just did cold calling and passed out some flyers, and a lot of business came from word of mouth as well.
     
  2. CharlotteOutdoorImpact

    CharlotteOutdoorImpact LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 252

    Where did you get the lights? were they comercial grade?
    Did your customer pick them out of a catalog?

    Thanks
     
  3. Christmas Creations

    Christmas Creations LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Should check out www.holidaybrightlights.com, old partner of Brite Ideas.

    Much better pricing and will work with anyone.

    I've been doing this for 4 yrs, just christmas decorating and I'm approaching 80 accounts with 60K in business...install/removal/storage. I charge $25 per man hour with a 40% mark up on products. Ofcourse I will take any business, good mixture of commercial and residential. I always give my customers a high and low bid...this helps me close 60% of my bids.

    If your getting started, have your local paper do an article on christmas decorating and feature your products. I've also been working with the local Red Cross that puts on a charity tour of house in the area. Donated my service to decorating one of the house and it's ROI is around 10K
     
  4. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    wow, $25 per hour won't cover my costs around here, but then this is Arkansas. I'm closing around 28% at this point, so I have to do alot more bids, but I am at $6.50 per foot 1st year costs, $3.25 in year 2 and following. Try to project into the future your costs of labor with a 2 or 3 man crew, trucks and gas, and most importantly, insurance. workman's comp, liability, theft ( if you store the lights at your place), fire ( if you store) and the one most people skip-professional.

    Professional insurance covers the situation if your guys overload a cord and cause a fire. it is the thing that no one talks about. If you have ever picket up a cord that is very warm to the touch, then you get what I am talking about.

    To expand a christmas light business beyond the owner and a helper or two, costs need to be seriously considered and charged for. I know I could never had expanded beyond myself and my truck had I not been charging these rates 6 years ago.

    good luck all, 6 prime selling days left. return those calls the same day! the phone will stop ringing and the messages will stop on December 1st. keep it going !
     
  5. Christmas Creations

    Christmas Creations LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Around my parts, everyone seems to be an expert. Been doing this long enough to prove the doubters that my services are the one they should pick.

    This year I have a plumbing company doing major marketing for Christmas Lighting...I've seen some of there jobs and it's a joke. They are charging $50 per man hr with 50% markup....I can't see them lasting with those rates. Good more for me. Customer will always come around if they feel cheated.

    I started this as extra income over the winter season, I have a full time job with Gateway Computers which makes the last 3 months very busy to say the least. I have 8 guys that work part-time for me some day and some at night. We just finished our 70 job this year, I've increase my business 150% from last year. One of the keys was to hire a stay at home mom that had good phone skills and understood the business. She started call commerical accounts around the beginning of september, worked out great for about 6 hrs a week she generated me 15K in extra sales I'm not sure we would seen the bid.

    I run two vehicles with trailers, fully stocked for Christmas lighting equipment. It's a blast.

    I love this business and I love the people I met and help each year. We provide a great service to those christmas nuts that need our help.

    Good luck everyone, I hope your season has been rewarding.

    Mike Marlow
     
  6. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    well Mike I must say that is a good post. I can almost hear your voice in the way that you type things in. Im glad to hear you much you enjoy it and that its doing well for you.
     
  7. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    mike- It sounds like things are working for you at that those prices. I just can't seem to make money at 25 bucks an hour. I pay my guys 12-15, and many hit overtime by thursday, so just strickly out of pocket labor costs go over 20 bucks. once you add in all the other expenses, I lose money. gas alone costs us close to 500 per week. even at 50 bucks an hour I'd be slimly making a profit once you consider all the insurance and warehouse costs.

    So I'm a per foot and per piece man just because at the costs I pay it is the only way to have money left to feed my family and grow the business. I don't have a full time job the rest of the year, so I have to have money in the bank at the end of January. I know I close 25-35 new customers per year at the prices I charge, and I retain over 90% of my customers year to year. so whatever works for you go for it!
     
  8. Christmas Creations

    Christmas Creations LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    That's awesome to hear, after being on this board it has made me rethink my business to help it grow every year. I am sure in the off-season there will be more calculations to help make a bigger profit.

    Yes, there are advantages of having a full time job and not. I am sure there was another 20K to be made if I could of approached some of my medical centers and banks in person.

    One thing is true, we are all in this business to make money...some of the perks is the grateful customer that loves your design and service. That's my bonus when a customer can honestly say to a friend, "you need to talk to Mike about your lights next year".

    One last week of installs and it's smooth sailing until Jan 2nd.
     
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    Yep- It looks like I'll be booked this week and then it is as jobs come in. letting my temps go will be sad, but since they have been working 60 hours a week for the past 3 weeks, they are probably ready for a break. back in the groove on takedowns dec. 26th for me. keep selling ! 5 days of prime selling left- return those calls !
     
  10. Christmas Creations

    Christmas Creations LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    I see you start the day after christmas, is that for special accounts that request that or is that due to amount of accounts you service?

    I usually start the day after New Years Day, hit about 7-10 homes a day...that's mixed with a day and night crew. This year I've grown enough to be concerned on my take down time and labor dollars.

    Happy holidays,

    MIKE
     

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