Taking the lighting business full tilt

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by addictedtolandscaping, May 17, 2009.

  1. OP
    OP
    addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    That is sort of what my thought was, I was going to purchase LED's and dimmers to be able to control shadows etc, and then I was leaning towards the landscapers lights as they will enable many more to be strung end to end. My mind has been running wild with this idea, my thoughts were even a little is better than nothing. I am afraid it is going to be a tough road to establish a market here, so thought that it was a way to try to get out there and still make something back so to speak.

    Thanks for the feedback Dave. We fly out next Wednesday for the training, so I imagine I will become a real basket full of ideas that will need to be toned down somehow. When I get a chance to sit and think, my mind takes off like it is on Jet fuel. Hopefully I will get a dose of reality so to speak with the training and it will slow me down some, I get tired just thinking about it with all the different ideas that go screaming through my head. I get a little to excited, sometimes sleep isn't an option with the excitement I end up with.

    Thanks again.
     
  2. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    I still get that excited. and this will be my 5th season. I have been researching halloween stuff for 2 months now to put my house over the top and cant find what I want so I will be customizing a lot this year. I found some sites for addicts like me that walk you thru some of the processess. We are also already starting to put together our renewals and advertising campaigns. People think I am nuts sometimes but they will never know how early you need to start to make it work.

    Give me a call when you get back from training if you dont mind. I cant go this year but we installed last year and would like to trade in field experience for your classroom education if you are up for it.

    As far as weddings. I have had a few calls but have not done any yet. Mainly for price. But also, they usually seem to find us after they have already set up with someone else and are looking for us to take it that extra mile. When that happens I tell them we cant give them the look they are looking for because it will literally wash with the lighting etc the other guy is doing. Most are back yard receptions and they already have the tent, and safety lights ready to go and what will do would get lost.

    I am looking more for the mall and gaming centers, etc for year round display changes. I think that is where we will truly become a year round decorating company.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    I fully understand the excitement aspect, without doubt. I was actually calming down a little bit, and after talking with Mike yesterday for a little while - was at work and once again out we went for another call - I was all fired back up again, and when he was telling me about the new catalog and some of the new product ideas, I went off the charts once again.

    We actually just got back from buying the luggage and will hopefully have all the other logistics in order prior to leaving, I want to be able to focus fully on the training, today was productive in getting some of the issues out of the way, my new machine is scheduled to be shipped from North Carolina, got a great deal on that, tomorrow with any luck it will be dry enough here to finish this weeks lawns as I have a 9 acre one that is almost a week overdue that we can;t get to due to the terrain and the constant rain then a drainage and hydro seeding job to finish up, and then we should be good. Monday and Tuesday next week are long days as well, but with any luck it will sry up some I know it is supposed to be down right hot while we are gone, here and there, so hopefully not only will things here dry up, but the heat will kick everything back into gear. I usually move everything to 14 days in July, and have been there since early May, so with any luck, things will straighten out.

    Then of all things, didn't we get a call to redo a majopr job that another local company did, that is currently tied up in litigation, and is honestly going to take a good solid month. The biggest positive so far is that Mike said they just finished going through a direct mail program that is going to be available and that is awesome as the rep I have been dealing with here from IDEARC doesn't seem to be remotely interested in doing anything any more, so at least that will remove once again another thing from the list, the graphic artist that was supposed to be working on our logo still has not produced anything and that was supposed to be done by now, going to meet with the guy that HBL uses while we are out there, need to figure out weither to advertise in some of the high end magazines and cost factor there, seems to never end. Then when I actually settle down, my mind takes off with the holidays other than Christmas, and then I start thinking about the events such as weddings, graduations, retirement parties etc, and then go rushing back to advertising all at the same time as planning a subdivision that we have to do all the excavation and finish landscaping on. If I could figure out a way to make them all fit together it would be great, did I mention that firewood is right around the corner as well, and we have over 100 cord in stock that has to be processed as well. THen take into consideration getting to actually see and feel the products so to speak, and it starts all over again. I actually laid in bed the other night going over different lighting ideas for over to hours before finally dropping off to sleep. MY mind is frazeled.

    I have babbled so much I would be surprised if anyone can follow any of this, but I will definitely give you a call when we get back.

    Thanks for the feedback, it help to know I am not alone when it comes to getting all fired up.
     
  4. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    it is actually good you are a liitle A.D.D. as it works to your benefit in this business. You'll love seeing the product and the new HBL catalog is to die for. I got one last week, top secret hush hush. I will have to miss HBL convention this year because of mission work I'll be doing in Honduras, so they sent me a copy.

    My marketing is spread around, but I get jobs from Yellow pages, yard signs, truck graphics, and post cards. I do my own post cards and use quotes from actual clients. gotprint.com is crazy cheap on printing them and other stuff too.

    I have gotten one nice Christmas light job with my listing on Servicemagic.com.

    I've never done much magazine stuff, but we have been featured on the cover and with Christmas safety articles in several business section magazines that come with the local newspaper. and we don't advertise with them. we also are the "Christmas light safety" guy on our local channel on TV.

    Those other things above give you credibility, but I honestly don't sell many jobs from them.

    I'll launch a website soon and hook it up with all the search engines, and maybe do some sports radio spots for a couple of months to push the website address. I'll let you guys know how many jobs come of that.

    I tried TV spots back in 2001 and 2002, and no jobs came from it. a waste.

    In the end, I really don't buy into the educating the public thing when it comes to spending money on advertising. If I don't sell jobs off of a particular medium, I don't spend any more money on it.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    Hi Dave:

    Mike was describing the catalog to me a little bit and mentioned it again when we talked today, sound like more of a book than catalog, should be awesome. We take off at 654 tomorrow morning, and should be arriving in Nebraska at about 1200. Needless to say I am just a tad bit excited.

    I can not wait to actually see and handle the products, and the actual field experience that Mike wa telling me about is in of itself going to be awesome, to actually see how the products get installed and actually do it.

    I am actually hoping to speak to the graphics guy they use out there, mine here has really dropped the ball, and needless to say I am less than impressed and don;t think I will ever be returning. I was supposed to have design choices to choose from no later than this past week, as of today, still nothing.

    I understand they have just aligned with a direct mail company as well, and while describing the program I am running here with IDEARC, Mike estimated being able to knock about 400 or so right off the top, and actually put a mailer together I will like. This sounds great as well as the guy I have been dealing with here also dropped the ball.

    I was playing with the idea of radio as well as postcards/direct mail. The toughest part of it is going to be getting the market established, there is absolutely no one here that I have been able to get any information on that is doing holiday lighting, it truly amazes me. Once it is established, we should be set, I want to try to get the idea established to as everyday as landscaping or lawn care. It will take a little bit but I think it will be great once there. I really think it needs to get a boot in the pants so to speak asap, as it is unheard of here. I would like to get some mailings out in the end of July, August at the latest.

    OK, well got to go pack. As usual, thank you so much for the insite and advice.
     
  6. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I'll also add something I think will benefit all your aspects of everyone's business year round.

    BNI is Business Network International, and you have to pay to be a member. You can visit for free for a few weeks, and witness the volume of referrals and dollar amounts of work that is completed by these referrals. they track all that. weekly attendance is mandatory. each person there has an exclusive right to be the only member representing thier field. we have an insurance agent, a banker, a marketing/web person, a lawyer, a chiropractor, handyman service, etc.

    I joined BNI around March 1st, and in 3 1/2 months I have gotten about $11,500 of landscape and landscape lighting work from my group. I suspect I will pick up Christmas light work as well. It cost me 330 bucks for the year, 10 bucks a week to pay for the breakfast at the meeting, and around 100 for the intro materials. I am certain there are several groups meeting near you. find one without a landscaper and tie down the landscaper/Christmas light category.

    I am no way financially benefiting from BNI other than the referrals I recieve and the work I do on those referrals. This is just advice from a friend.
     
  7. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    You are giving up SO much business not having a website. Even a single page "we are here and we do this" webpage will bring you in business.
    Over half of our business comes from the web. We even get call from people all over the country for various xmas lighting things from our website.
     
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    HALF? seriously ? I am missing out. I mainly set it up this year to feed landscape lighting, and will just do some Christmas here and there. maybe I've got it backwards. I had a few leads over the years tell me they did not think I was legit because I did not have a website. it should be up in a month or less with more added pictures to come.
     
  9. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    David,

    Hot Rod is right about the website. We just put ours up this spring and have not seen how that response will be, but the Christmas Decor site has generated some of our biggest clients and our internet lead average sale is about 30% more than even our referral sales. We also close well of 80% of our internet leads as they seem to be a more informed consumer.

    And give some juice on the new HBL catalog I am not up on the food chain like you and have not gotten a copy yet. I could not go to conference this year. With the economy and the rain now, it was jsut too much. I am not even going to the Christmas Decor conference. Which I am really disappointed in, this will be the first one I miss since I started.

    I have sold 5 figure commercial and residential accounts from web leads.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    HI guys

    We just got back tonight from the HBL training seminar, to sum it up, wow. As for me, I found a lot of the instruction that Mike provided was in the training manual and DVD, but for me, I am planning on making this work, and for the most part have essentially memorized the training manual. A Lot of what I needed was the hands on aspect, and Mike made sure we got that, we roasted our buts off as it was 90+ when we were in the development going over the estimating process, and then the marketing pointers. WOW all in all a lot of information in a couple days, I have been through the dvd several times as well as the training manual and it was still a bit overwhelming to me. It was fantastic to actually see the product, handle it etc, I really needed that. For my girlfriend or now I should say my fiance - that happened while we were stranded in Chicago, was gonna do it at the show room but the time just did not seem right, any how, it really got her fired up.

    We actually found the Brite Ideas show room while we were riding around Omaha in the off time, God is that City big. I never anticipated it to be half of what it is. Any how, they have one hell of a display in their showroom. When we actually were able to go through it after the training finished up with HBL, I saw first hand that I believe we made the right decision going with HBL, no question there. Don;t get me wrong, they have some products that really caught my eye, a LED tree that progresses through different colors, set up like a flowering tree, really cool, but to the tune of about $2600 retail, wow. I also picked up an information package on being a distributor from them, and their cheapest package is $5900 and includes nothing but the training, no product no nothing. I bought into HBL for $3500 and have a pallet of material coming, and with Mike on my side for guidance, a great company to be part of. One of the closest examples I can compare are the light links to the linkables. The light links are available in multiple configurations, and do not have to be bents or physically altered to achieve the position of the roof line, the linkables are very limited in the designs and rigid, requiring them to be bent and physically altered and as a result damaging the powder coat finish, and a severe limit as to their application for straight roof lines IE ranch houses and limited again for dormer application. I did like their LED availability, but I believe that the industry as a whole will move to LED significantly more as time goes by.

    The new catalog is unbelievable. Anybody that is a HBL member, or uses the product in their business that does not obtain the new catalog will without question be dis-servicing themselves; it is awesome, and the images are incredible, let alone the fact that it is 150+ pages. As was mentioned, there is no doubt that this will be just as good a tool as the software, i am convinced, that coupled with the knowledge that you can get from the training and the successful helpful guidance here, that anyone can make it, the degree of success depends on determination. There is a complete marketing program that has been put together; contains everything from graphics to direct mail, uniform apparel etc. HBL is creating static websites with direct links to the members off the main HBL site, and our site will also get a page dedicated to the service with pictures of product. We actually went through some different neighborhoods just on the way home that I know are the keep up with the Jones type, and with HBL's new direct mail program, the website exposure etc, we are going to pummel that area and will without doubt get into that area. I have to agree that web customers seem to be more informed, but I don;t know if I would say in this area it is imperative for success, we have had our site for a little while, and aren't really gaining much off of it, though I believe it does and will assist in establishing credibility as there are actual pictures of projects we have posted, not a lot of the projects but some, and they are at different stages. I think the site is necessary for me to have my customers see our work as opposed to Johnny Landscapers which we are up against.

    As for our current plan of proceeding, we are going to add the HBL logo to the trucks, a picture I will post once completed, when we know how much room is left on the pallet of product we got for becoming members we will fill it with different product such as a few c9 and c7 sets, mini's and leds to show for comparison, add a case of shirts for credibility and presentation to potential clients - really hammer home that professionalism and credibility to gain their interest and trust and start targeting and contacting commercial clients. While this is all occurring we will be setting up the trailer for installation, got some awesome advice from Dave on what to include in that - thanks so much for all of your advice, Mike and Chad say hello. I can not thank you all enough for all the advice and direction that you have given to me, the whole picture is really coming together fast now, the pieces of the puzzle are all starting to fit together.

    Dave, Hotrod, turfhokie, thank you so much for all your encouragement and advice, I just hope to be able to help someone out in the future the way that you guys are all helping me.
     

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