New guy starting out.

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by lawnguy423, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. lawnguy423

    lawnguy423 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    Ok before anyone else could say it yes I am a noob of both hanging lights and running a business. With that being said I love Christmas lights and the joy it brings to people, have the ability to work through problems. Have a strong desire to own my own business and run it myself, with the needed help and advise from experts. I currently work in cable TV installation so I have experience working in/on peoples homes.
    The big one, I want to start this year installing lights part time (about 3-5 homes) with less than $300. I have read most of the threads on this site about Christmas lights and would say that allot you guys are experts and I highly respect you. So the main point of this is, is it possible to start with such a little bit of money. I do have ladders and other tools I could use.
  2. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    yeah, you could. You are going to have a rough start because you don't have a lot of marketing money, and you need to have a way to get customers.

    But, if you already have a client base from your cable business, you could feed off that. If you are good with html, you could build you own website...etc.

    You are going to have to buy inventory after you get a contract vs having most of it on hand already...

    You have some challenges, but like anything else, if you work hard and plan well, you can succeed.

    I'm going to PM you some videos I've been working on for starting up a xmas light business. They will be helpful on what you need and home much it costs.
  3. OP

    lawnguy423 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    That you so much. I will deffently watch those videos and i plan on rereading just about all of the threads in here again (this time take notes). The hardest part for me is relying on myself to do out all. So use to being an employee, but hate it.
  4. Holland

    Holland LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 748

    You can make extra cash hanging people's Christmas lights? Interesting.
  5. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    No such thing as "extra cash"
  6. Holland

    Holland LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 748

    I get ya. So you can make a living in the off season doing that? I hadn't ever seen that service marketed in my area. Seems like a neat idea. Though insurance would be a must.
  7. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    I treat my decorating business as its own entity and not an add-on service if that helps you out..

    I would say insurance is a must, but I would say that insurance is a must for any business.....
  8. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    To the OP,

    I would say its possible but you will have slower growth and probably more stress without any additional start up capital.

    As Hotrod said, you will have to order material after you sell each job which will limit you as the season progresses. Vendors will sell out of product and you wont have any on the shelf.

    But if you have a vehicle and some equipment already then it would be feasible.

    Some sort of signage on the jobs and truck would be your best form of advertising on such a low budget. At least that way people know who did the work if they missed the signs on the truck!
  9. Holland

    Holland LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 748

    Yeah I understand insurance is a must. Just hanging lights is a bit more of a liability than other services is all I was saying. I guess you learn something everyday and in the offseason this type of work really sounds like a winner. Have a good season. ;)
  10. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    The only way to do this business is the right way, and that means insurance, uniforms, commercial grade material that will last, reliable tools etc.

    With regard to approach, we are and I am already looking at what to try next season, halfheartedly but looking at it. Your best bet, look through all these threads, and there are pages upon pages, look for Dave, Turfhokie, and Hot Rod in particular, they are the real vets and there is just tons and tons of information. You are looking at it late in the game so to speak, the year I started I began in March, and ever since it starts soon as they are down in January.

    With regard to insurance, I carry a GL of 2 million, vehicle of 2 million workers comp as needed, and have a specific electrical rider for the lighting projects alone. Once of my projects, I am 82' in the air hanging a 15' wreath, you can really get into some precarious situations. Just safety equipment alone, that compartment on my truck cost me $1500, harnesses ropes for walking roofs, then there are the harnesses for being in the bucket on the truck, ladders, the 32' I have was ridiculous in itself, not to mention the smaller ones, so another 1500 there, hand tools consist of ratchet, socket set(s), pliers, wire cutters etc. I would guess you would want 10k to start up anyhow, that would get you all the tools, a trailer, lettering, and some supplies, not alot of supplies, but some. There are some really cool pieces you can offer, IE light links, awesome product design wise, for me, a waste of time due to what I have to charge for them.

    In my area there is only one other real business, but I cant track any info on them down, and have never seen it marketed prior to my adventure beginning and I am still struggling with it. This is not lie grass chopping where you can run to Home Depot, buy a mower, weedwacker and maybe a blower and wam your a landscaper. This is something that really takes a investment, in $ time and effort, and it is very dependent upon income. I am at year 4 and still get the "you do what" question. I just finished up my direct mail campaign, at 3k and change, door hangers are close to being ordered. I have a small amount of product coming preorder, and I do mean small amount just to restring some pieces I have in my rental arsenal, and that was 2k. I am getting ready to make move on ordering more product, but it adds up fast. For two years, I saw minimal if any growth, then last year essentially ran out of everything. I still have some stuff I am sitting on from 3 years ago, about 5k worth. That nothing comapared to what some of these guys have, but I also dont have anywhere near their volume. By the time I start installing, I will have roughly 10k in new material in stock and will still run out if it is like last year, or I wont have to order anything in next year if it is like years 2 and 3.

    Long and short of it, this is something that will consume time 12 months a year if you approach it seriously, and you will spend a large amount of $ to do it right. We have all seen the "hang you lights" and "walmart light guy" come and go, they are cheap, and alot of people look for cheap. The type of product we all use is commercial and night and day from the Walmart material, but most people dont care, they are looking at the $ and that's it. It is a wonderful business to be in, you create smiles, and happiness at every project, but it takes some real determination to do it right and if yo run into some things like I have, to stay in it. This is not something, "on the side" as you can easily burn someone's house down. There is only one way to do this business, and that is to do it right. Get trained one way or the other, practice installations, removals, on you house, friends, family, neighbors etc. Regardless of what degree you decide to enter, do it right, that is the only way to do it.

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