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The slowdown begins...

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Dec 4, 2007.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    the phone has finally slowed down and we will finish up the big rush by this friday. I was able to close 35 brand new customers this year with a big rush at the end. I'll run the final numbers later, but it looks like I'll get close to my goals I set earlier this year for this season. It looks like we held on to our average of 3000 per new customer, and my close ratio may have gone over my ideal of 35% with the rush at the end. we'll see, I'll analyze it to death next week.

    even with 4 new strong competitors in my area this year ( Christmas Decor came on strong, Brite Ideas and a new Holiday Bright Lights guy, it looks like I'll do well and survive another season. Funny how I either owned, currently own, or could have bought the exclusive to all three of those and yet here they are. past mistakes can haunt you. I have survived the transition to 3 crews and will be adding another truck to the fleet next week, along with purchasing the other half of the commercial property I now co-own with a friend. . .

    the weather was outstanding this year for install, I can only dream of good weather for takedown.

    start planning additional storage and ordering takedown supplies next monday. building racks, ordering boxes, tape guns, tape, yellow wreath tags and c-9 spool tags, building c-9 spools and instituting a better organized storage system with room rack and bin locations for boxes and wreaths to be put in clients file when we store.

    filming DVD's of all new and substantial add-ons to existing jobs also starts monday. of course fixes and gfci resets after rain.

    getting postcard designed for landscape lighting to hit in December,January, February, and March also on my to-do list. no rest for the weary !

    good luck to all on your final push.
  2. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    I thought you may have had a hand in some of the other big companies at one time. You are very knowledgeable of all of them.

    We had a Brite ideas creep into my area this year. I have seen a few jobs done by them. I am looking into brite lites to give my customers an option now that my current vendor will no longer carry linkables.

    I am looking forward to the slow down. The phones are still ringing but people are not understanding the it is not a 48 hour turnaround this time of year. We are booked thru Dec 12 and I still have 6 appointments this week.

    We too are going to hit our projected total number with the late push but have not had time to look at closing rates or avg sales.

    Sounds like you do well to withstand that kind of competetion. I dont look forward to the day that we have that many companies in my area.

    Good luck to all with the service calls and take downs. Make sure you document the jobs very well at take down or before otherwise you will be VERY sorry next year.

    Thanks for all the good advice and help this season everyone.
  3. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    Do you take the bulbs out when you put them in storage?

    I was really paranoid about chipping paint off the colored ones.
  4. OP
    David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    we replace bulbs as needed, and we leave all bulbs in sockets. I probably replace 500-1000 for breakage during takedowns and storage. an unfortunate cost, but we have around 200,000 bulbs or so for customers, so actually only about .5% breakage. not too bad.

    I film all our projects with a dvd camcorder after they are up and my install guys have dvd players. I refilm if items are added. I basically talk through the job and mention where the outlets are, dogs in back, what wreath this is, where cords go, timer settings, driving directions, mini-lights, garland, special instructions, etc. I could not run or sell this business without that system.

    It is really easy on the employees to see and hear it as if I was there showing them the job. plus they see how it was done and truly get it.

    it has saved us more than once when a customer remembers something that never happened, like a wreath or garland that they never got or paid for. or that we did that side last year, etc. the video is dated and shows landscaping from whatever year it was filmed, so kinda tough to argue with.
  5. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    Would it be to nosy to ask how you advertise? I just adverstise with a small ad in the local paper. I actually turned away a lot of work, mostly putting on the customers own christmas lights, I charge $45/hr. Some people faint, some say no problem. But once Winter really hit... I stopped accepting work. It's too bad, I just ordered a another 1000' spool of C9 and another 1000 clears.

    btw, I got a thousand green c9's that I can't give away, lol.
  6. OP
    David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I have always been pretty careful how I advertise, as I have turned away work for the past 4 years. this is the first year I have had 3 crews in place and have taken on all work that has come in. we do yellow pages, service magic.com, yard signs, and postcard. newspapers and TV news typically will run a story on us, but we rarely will pay for advertising in that media.

    It has reached the point in my market that even though I am the oldest and largest christmas light company , I must advertise to keep the leads coming that took less advertising in the past.

    as far as cost, I am paying around 5% of sales for all costs of advertising combined. That probably will go to 7-8% next year as I plan to push landscape lighting the other 6 months out of the year.

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