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The Rent vs. Sell Thread

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by tdf, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,371

    I see it as more of a fee for the custom fitting. The next years from then on you don't have to custom fit the lights, they are ready to go requiring less time and labor.
  2. OP

    tdf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    I don't think it unethical because everything is upfront and disclosed. They make the choice if they want the service under my terms. I have not been dishonest to them which would bring in ethics. I look at it as I am charging a price to decorate in year 1 and they either want me to do it or not. If they want my service the next year I give them a 1/3 discount. It is my business why I am giving the discount and they still have a choice to make. I am not saying the way I am doing it is the best, but in no way is it unethical.

    David, You probably have posted before how you do it in detail, but would you again just to make this thread more complete. Being guys who have alot of experience in this business I value your and hotrods opinions input.

    Thanks TF
  3. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    I would argue that selling them is far more unethical than renting the lights to them. I give them a price for the first year, then because it Is less labor the following year I charge less, and then if something goes bad I replace it. its a true service.

    You sell the lights at a huge mark up, which is fine. But how do I know as your customer that you are taking the best care of those lights. Now a few years go by and now I have to pay you more money to buy marked up light again. plus the labor.

    How fair is that to your customer who trust you to take care of their commercial grade lights to ask for more money after a few years.

    I have picked up afew customers because they are sick of the money pits that sell them the lights and then the labor. they like the stability

    Dave, you can talk about price and products that keep you in business. But we both know that out standing customer service is what keeps companies around.

    I feel, as do my customers that renting is the best customer service.
  4. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,371

    if you have great customer service, people will be willing to pay more. I gave an estimate for treating a yard that TGCL was currently taking care of. I came priced about 1/4 more than TGCL, they didn't like that at the beginning. They called me back, I am overseeding this fall and will probably start the year next year treating their lawn. They didn't say a word about the costs, they asked about a more expensive seed and I rebutted that with my own personal experience. Now, not only do I have their service, but I also have their trust, they took my advice, I will be out Monday doing what I suggested...

    I plan on taking this into the lights as well... charge more, not too much more, but offer the best service and expertise possible... hint all the questions... people will pay more if they feel you are trustworthy and they feel you are not trying to cheat them... (you keep hitting them up for money)
  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    Tell you what- you guys go ahead and rent. Charge more the first year if you want. it is wrong. if you don't want to listen to me, then don't. If it works for you, go for it.

    As customers let you go, You will reach a point where you use used lights on new customers, and you are going to charge them to modify someone elses lights. It is wrong too. If you choose to rent, you should choose to accept the costs that go along with it, not pass it on to customers. My customers know thier product will wear out and need to be replaced. They know they are buying them the first year. They know my warranty, my service, and my reputation. Our product is the best out there, and lasts about 6-8 years, not a few. when I have to replace product before it should have run out, like mini-lights, I don't charge the customer for it. they pay my regualr rehang price until year 6-8.

    I have reached the point where product is wearing out and having to be replaced. Has anyone else here have? By selling the product, all of my customers are ready for it. Are you by renting? Can you honestly tell me you are going to ask the longtime customer that have rented from you for 6-8 years for more money to buy new product? what about the folks you put used lights on thier houses?
  6. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,371

    I believe the replacing worn out lights deal comes with the product... you replace them as needed at no extra cost...

    Keep in mind I am still working this out for myself so I have no experience either way...
  7. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    I I won't argue that dave has some great points. but I will argue that you have some old school thinking.

    in the world today, we are using more and more resources. lights are made of metal and plastic which is made from oil. By re-using lights you are doing the planet a favor, and no customer has ever disputed that with me. I use the best, most innovative energy efficient lights on the market period.
    It is our responsibility as both business owners and Americans to do things like this for the better of all of us.

    So you go sell your 100 year old light design to your customers.
  8. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,371

  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    my reusing point is this- who pays for the product when it wears out? If you ask the fist person who buys from you to pay more the first year, and you say that helps cover your first year costs, then fine. you use that product for 3 years, "renting" it to them. then the next customer comes along- they get that product, modified. do you charge them the same upcharge as the person who got them new? why? they are used, already bulbed and clipped, it should be way easier, but get this, they got hours on them buddy.

    you are ok for a couple of years, but then ,2 years go by, they move on and you got lights that are now 5 years old. You want to put them on yet another new customer? news flash- in year 5 and 6 you'll start seeing some c-9 socket failure. just a little, 1 out of 150, one out of 200 or so, but is it fair to put these lights on a new customer and charge them more the first year? bulb failure is starting to get noticable too, about one out of every 15-20. but go ahead and reuse them.

    year 7 and 8 c-9 socket failure starts to show up more. one out of every 75-100, sometimes more. whether you use LED's or incandescant, a socket failure is a service call. most wires start pulling out of mini-light sockets then too. LED or not, those sets are done. on incandescant, You really need to do an entire bulb replacement in year 7 or 8, or face the fact that you will do 4 service calls and replace 7-8 bulbs each time. you can keep replacing sockets for awhile, and we do that, but no way am I putting these on a new customers house after 6-8 years on someone elses house. my long-time customer is also willing to pay for these service calls because they have ownership in them for 6-8 years and understand these things are getting old. Renters won't do it and should not be asked to.

    I'm all for reuse and recycle, but I've seen the life cycle and witnessed it coming to an end for several customers. I've seen cracks in wire insulation, sockets that melt when the connection is getting bad, and these were top of the line Bethlehem/GKI lights 8 years ago.

    If you guys think it makes business sense to set up a system in which you put used lights on a house and you are on the hook for the replacement cost, go for it. I cannot reccomend it and it is not for me.

    Do what you want, but I know light sets wear out, not just the bulb, but the wire insulation, the sockets, etc. These are temporary light sets for a reason. I've watched all the renters in my area go out of business, and a new crop just came in last year. I'll let you know how they are doing in a few years.
  10. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    Wow, this is all good stuff.
    I will clarifiy how we do things. The strand lights get reused, but they are good stuff that we plan on lasting 8 years. some will last more some will last less. But why throw them out before their life ends?

    For C9 you most likely don't want to reuse the wire if it is older than thre years old. What Dave says is true, plus it is a pain to re cut and patch.... you are beter off puling the bulbs and cutting new wire. You can send the old wire off to be recycled.

    again, everyone thinks the way we do it is great, this is from manufactures right down to our clients. I didn't just pull this system out of my magic hat, I talked to people and made the decission to rent.

    I will leave with a quote from a client of mine. "I don't care what the lights are, I am renting them, I just want it to look good".

    This guy lives in a million plus dollar house.

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