starting in a new area and era

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by unit28, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. unit28

    unit28 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,554

    Long time installer getting back into custom lighting
    I started doing installs commercially back in the late 1970's.
    Then in 1992 I started custom cut installs.
    As a matter of fact it was in the DFW area of Texas and was right at the time when the boom took off. There were about 3 of us landscapers that took it to the next level. Back then it was nothing to pick up 15K in a month of installs.

    Not sure what you guys are doing with it today though.

    I've had my share of the dizzies and doing stupid stuff to last a lifetime but today's a new day. I havn't done any installs since 2004. We've movd to MN and there's hardly any competition where I'm at so I may give another go at it for awhile. Problem here is creating a market for it. Back in TX we've won awards for contest a few times , here it's a ballgame that hasn't really started. I actually ran one ad and had a lady call me to ask a few questions, and then she said thanks...I'm going to tell my son about doing it too. LOL

    Anyway I can't wait to get back up on top and let it hang out again.
    Here the selling has to be made around the snow. Hopefully that holds off awhile.
    Here's one I plan on doing soon , not sure if I'm going a full wrap around or just the front..but this is view of the backside anyway.

    Any tips?:) They are welcome to me anytime.

    Wish me luck,

  2. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    most folks on the forum have said it is hard to get started in this business, and I have to agree to a degree. we started with 12 customers 10 years ago and most folks don't get that in the first year. while we may have 200 cusomters now, many folks who start this business want 30 customers the first year and 100 customers in 3 years. That is really hard to do with premium pricing. yard signs seem to work at making the phone ring, and it is easier to get started if you are willing to hang lights customers have bought at wal-mart or a local hardware store for the first few years. word will get around and around year 3 or 4 you can then get folks to pay premiums for custom cut deals.

    I would say 70% of the calls I get, folks have 500 bucks in thier heads. They are your wal-mart light customers. I do bring some of those folks up to something premium dollarwise I can do for them, but mostly it is the other 30% that I do business with. Those are folks that are thinking 2000 bucks and up. They want this service, and they are willing to pay a premium for it. They are often referrals from other customers, yellow pages, postcards, truck graphics, or website leads.

    Good luck.
  3. unit28

    unit28 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,554

    Thank You,

    Great tips, and spot on for all points you made.
    That's always been the standard operation for me as well.

    I must confess we set the bar back in the early 90's at $65 an hour.
    Now you'd be hard pressed to gain clients with an hourly rate. Why? because of perception and what others in the business have done. Not really what they can do...but what others have done.

    Back in the day when we started custom installs, potential clients didn't have a clue about what it was all about. Therefore the hourly rate was widely accepted.

    How did we gain our first customers?...just like you said,
    Yard Signs got the phone ringing.

    My first yard sign actually was a piece of cardboard stuck on a telephone pole.
    The phone went nuts and I was at $35 an hour. That same day I immediatly went to $65 and the gates went wide open from there.

    Later I did the phone book, truck lettering and custom yard signs,
    and then I hit the next benchmark of 15K back in 1995 for a 30 day run of installs.
    The client base kept growing.

    I gave it all up to a friend of mine, free, charge. Now doing it all over from scratch, except I do have a small customer base of lawn accounts.

    The thing I'm starting off with now is a more demographic approach. since the area is completly new to me.

    What I want to do is check and see what the market will bare.
    I'm actually looking at the online FDIC Sate Profile quarterly edition to get a starting point. From there the funnel will narrow down.

    For my potential clients who need an estimate, I prefer to do a meet and great.
    And if it gets going well, I may start doing on line estimates with pics.
    I have found a site specific website that does property measurements.
    I've tried it out for my mowing customers and it's very detailed.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  4. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    Welcome back.

    I got in last year after looking for years to try to find a good quality product. Thanks to Dave, Turfhokie, Hotrod and a few others, I got an early eye opening. I was in the same spot as you, I am in the Albany area of NY, and basically it has never been done here. I ended up with about 8-10 last year, and as Dave mentioned, I did rehang some of that garbage from walmart etc.

    The first round of direct mail from HBL hit the middle of last week and my phone has been blowing up since. Up until last week, I had not even heard back from rehangs that got their contracts in September, then all of a sudden bang. I now also have 5 estimates scheduled thru Monday evening. I think I am still dealing with the mind set of "you do what" and am now integrating "we have to sign this when."

    Either way, I wish to God that I had done this years ago at this level, I love it!!!!! I am sure others would also recommend checking into the big 3, I did the same after doing a ton of reading here, went with Holiday Bright Lights and do not have the slightest bit of regret. There are two computer programs they offer, one a design the other an estimating program. Really makes life easier. The guidance and support is just awesome. The guys on here are much more than fantastic. Everyone will offer suggestions, guidance etc.

    For what it is worth, I joined one chamber of commerce last year, did the direct mail and lettered trucks and trailers all in all generated about 25-30k gross. This year I joined an additional coc as well, wasted about 4k in advertising there with the coc's, not a single call. The direct mail has done well. Couple lawn signs here and there right now, more going out this weekend.
  5. Don M.

    Don M. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    Its starting to pick up here as well. I've got 4 bids tomorrow and a bid on Monday. We hung one today. Couldn't convert her to led, she wanted incan. So we did what she wanted. Was thrilled with it.

    Internet does real well for us. This year I tried 20,000 valpak flyers and have been a little disappointed with them. But internet leads are good.
  6. unit28

    unit28 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,554

    Listen to the customer, always find time to answer a phone call or return all of them asap.

    Had to chuckle today.
    I was looking at lawnstakes today for the driveways.

    In TX they were about 12 inches, here they're 3 feet tall.

    Hope all goes well for everyone this season.
    Give it your best everyday!

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