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Is first year in Christmas Lights profitable?

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by LawnMan123, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. LawnMan123

    LawnMan123 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    We are a new company...just getting on our feet. We do lawn maintenance and landscaping. We are looking for a way to make money in the upcoming season since we do not have a customer base yet?

    Is hanging Christmas lights profitable the first year?
    How much can you expect to profit?
    Do you recommend it?

    Thank you for your help!
  2. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569


    Truthfully since I just finished out my first year I think I can answer this one for you.

    First, you have to decide if you are going to join one of the manufacturers ranks, personally I reviewed them all, was most impressed with Holiday Bright Lights, Mike was extremely helpful, not a salesman approach but his previous experience as a contractor. I attended one of the training classes, purchased a level which also included enough product to do a few homes as well. All in all, my experience with HBL has been outstanding.

    Each and every time I have contacted them up to and including on a Sunday from the field on an install, they have been right there, with answers, product and even catching an order that I submitted for the customer that would have had a less than desirable presentation and Mike suggested a different product, that saved my butt.

    I spent a large amount the first year, I had my trucks lettered, trailer lettered, had yard signs made up, bought the apparel, had additional shirts done, did the direct mail program with HBL, joined the Chamber of commerce and did some advertising there. I grossed approximately 25-30k. I am also in an area where this service had not been offered previously. I would say not only did I recoup my above expenses, but also put some in my pocket and managed to put away a good chunk for advertising this year.

    As for the enjoyment, I have a blast. It is the most enjoyable thing I have ever done! I have a project that incorporates installing a 12' on a National Historic site (pic is actually featured on the HBL website this year in the commercial gallery) and I loved every minute of that project, it also included lighting up 17 deciduous trees as well. I am really looking forward to rehanging projects this year, almost chomping at the bit. A huge portion as for income to keep n mind, when you secure the projects, you rehang them and store them generally, you continue to be paid. The next year, you either make roughly the same, or it increases per project due to add ons.

    would highly recommend reading through all the posts here, I did multiple times, then do your research on the manufacturers. As I mentioned, i am with HBL, and I wouldn;t change that for anything. I am extremely pleased with the quality of the product not only structurally but also in the display of the product and the warranty. I can not say enough about the support, I wish the landscaping equipment had that kind of backing.

    Feel free to take a look at my website, www.celebrationlighting.com. THere is also a link on there you can email me with any thing I may be able to help you with. There is an email link there for HBL website as well as the phone number to contact them on their site.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    profitable means you made more than you spent, which means, yes, you can be profitable the first year if you do that. but it is tough. you have to commit to advertising, which is spending money before you make it, and you have to bid your jobs properly, to not only cover your direct, indirect costs and make enough to advertise, but have funds after that to pay you.

    The amount of competition you have locally, and what they are currently charging, makes a huge difference on what your market will be like and what profits you can make. In my area, more and more lawn care folks continue to get into this business and they hate profits. They are consumed with just covering wages.

    a prime example is c-9 pricing. I have competitors that do it for 1, 2 bucks a foot. we charge 6.50. at $6.50, when you consider all costs, I know we are making money ( ok money, but not what I would call very good or great) but we were at 6 bucks a foot a decade ago. and closed jobs pretty easily. back then, that was very good to great money, but really just normal if you consider the risk of falling to your death. today, just given inflation we should be at 8.

    The only way we continue to grow at profitable pricing is because of our longevity in this business and our reputation. If we were to start this year, in my market, even with good marketing, with no experience we would probably fail.

    I would say that if you have no one in your market who currently does Christmas lights, then you have a great opportunity for the next 3-5 years or so to profitably establish yourself as the leader in your area. after that, competition will have noticed you and start trying to Christmas lights as well.
  4. LawnMan123

    LawnMan123 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Thank you VERY much. This has been very helpful. There is no competition in my area. I don't know of anyone that does this. So do you think we should start out at $6.50 per foot? Is that to put up and than $6.50 per foot to take down also? What is your suggestion for the quickest marketing so that we can get started this year?
  5. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    Once you get going you might be surprised how many people actually do light installs in your area.... But as David said, marketing is KEY.

    You can make money your first year... the good news is that you make more and more as the years go by!

    Good luck!
  6. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    the 6.50 that we charge is per foot of custom cut, purchased from us, installed, taken down, and stored at our warehouse, heavy duty commercial c-9 lights, incandescant. It includes all cords, clips, timers, etc. The next year it is 3.25 per foot. that is an average. on larger commercial jobs, I have cut it back,but complicated commercial and residential jobs the price goes up a bit.

    you need yard signs and simple graphics on trucks, and mail postcards to the nicest neighborhoods in town.
  7. lawn_jockey

    lawn_jockey LawnSite Member
    Messages: 225

    Good training starting this week for newbies and folks that have been hanging a while. :usflag: http://www.christmaslightinstaller.com/university.html

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