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Who else has Chirstmas lights on their mind?

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by TimNNJ, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. CleanCut1

    CleanCut1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    You probably do have some MN in pure white. It used to only come in pure white to match the LED light links. Last season their entire inventory was sent over in classic white by mistake, so they are now only offering in classic white. It's great for coordinating with warm white C9's, but not so much for pure white C9's. I re-strung some with PW last year, but it was too time consuming.

    I was surprised how many people wanted pure white here. The mix was probably about 50% warm, 40% pure and 10% multi or solid color.

    I just received a sample of Sierra garland from Brite Ideas. It's nice and full and comes in every color. It's not nearly as nice as the MN, but I think I may go with it on my pure white and color jobs this year.
  2. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    Gotcha...I had the same issues with the pure white last year.

    I hate mixing material from different vendors, we do because we have to but I swear the colors NEVER match quite right....

    How did you get the pure white c-9's? I had to special order them this year and couldnt get them at all the last 2 years......I had to put up cool white (blue tint) to try to get close to the pure white mini's we had wrapped in the trees.....
  3. CleanCut1

    CleanCut1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    Actually, the C9's I have are probably cool white. The vendor just calls them "White". I guess I used the wrong description and didn't realize there were so many versions of white LOL.

    I had one case of the HBL version of pure white from early last year (before they went to the classic white) and it coordinated pretty well with the cool white C9's.

    I think the sample I got from BI looks close enough to coordinate well.
  4. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    wecome aboard guys. our prepay/early bird letters went out July 1 and we have started filling up the calendar. we start hanging around Sept 15, so that is 50 days away for us.

    we have priced out installs by the foot or item since 2000 and it has worked out well for us. Most chemical lawn companies and irrigation contractors that never work by the hour tend to be the contractors that buy the Christmas light franchises. They all advise selling by the foot or per item and they advise selling new product from the get go or renting product. They do quite well and usually can sell that division of their company for a tidy sum after a few years or more. The Christmas division finances itself and they usually take on temps as it grows and rent trucks if need be or buy more. They tend to carry insurance on the green side and the expensive insurance specified for the electrical and roof work involved on the light side.

    bed maintenance care or Lawn cutting companies tend to install lights by the hour and rarely sell new product, most install customers lights. and while they cover labor and gas costs, and keep employees busy, the division tends to not have value on its own beyond the company. and the Christmas light division rarely grows beyond the available trucks and employees. It is usually not profitable without the other side of the business carrying the overhead of the trucks. most maintenance companies do not carry insurance on the green side of the company, and most do not carry lighting insurance on the other side.

    reading the posts on here over the last few years is probably worth 10 grand or so in training.

    I remember when a garage sounded like a ton of storage space :)

    I think I figured out one time in my new building post a couple years back what an average customer requires in terms of warehouse cubic footage, including some office, bathroom, all aisles and new product and spare part storage. you just need to ask yourself how many customers you think you will end up with and then build the cheapest building for that number. while I love my new barn, I am pretty sure my next building will be metal.
  5. McFarland_Lawn_Care

    McFarland_Lawn_Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,525

    This will be my first year in lighting. We do mostly maintenance along with a growing chemical apps service and several other landscaping services. I have full insurance and will add the further coverage for light installation. I have setup with a franchise company but you guys are saying to start another company with it's own name just for Christmas lighting, is that right? I'm new so bear with me. Been reading a lot on here lately and determined to do it all right, from the beginning. Also, maybe my kit will explain more when it gets here, but say I'm selling by the foot, how do I measure the roofline etc for the estimate? (I mean without getting a ladder and climbing up there and doing it all that way) I was thinking a laser distance finder and a little geometry would work? Or maybe you mostly eye-ball it and give a rough estimate with room for error?
  6. CleanCut1

    CleanCut1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    David and Hokie are the experienced pros on here and they may give you better advice, but here's my two cents from a whopping one season's experience:

    The decision to set up a separate company is really dependent on you and your circumstances. I can say if you listen to what David and others say about running the decorating side as a professional business, not just a way to keep your guys busy in the off season, you will find that Christmas decorating can be very profitable and can stand alone as a business.

    Of course every area is different, but I was absolutely blown away and unprepared for the amount of potential customers out there. I invested a lot into making my business look extremely professional. I was very afraid I was going to lose my butt. When the phone started ringing off the hook about ten days before Thanksgiving, I found out real quick that I was not going to lose and that I was totally unprepared for the volume. So, my advice is to invest up front as necessary to give the look of a top notch professional company: professionally printed literature; logo shirts and jackets; lettering on your truck or trailer; nice yard signs, etc. And have a back up plan in case business in your area is really good.

    I also had difficulty at first accepting that people really will pay what I consider big money for Christmas lights. As a result, I sold a few early jobs way too cheap. Don't sell your business short. The right customers will pay top dollar to a professional company.

    Drive around in the upscale neighborhoods in your area with an eye on how you would go about installing lights on the houses. In my area, about 80% of the upscale houses have ridiculous roof pitches and roof lines that are so cut up they are inaccessible by ladder. We rented a 60 ft. towable lift and were able to decorate homes that other companies turned down. We picked up a good bit of business by adverting this. On a 30 day rental, the price wasn't bad and we passed it on to the customer with a Difficult Roof fee.

    As far as measuring roof lines, I used a good measuring wheel (one with a big wheel). For gables, dormers and other difficult areas I would take a good guess or run my wheel out at an angle away from the house to roughly match the angle and distance of the gable. It's not perfect, but I usually came within 3 ft. + or - on the total. After doing a few, you can pretty much look at a gable and know the distance. In the heat of the season, there isn't time to go the effort of getting up there to get exact measurements.
  7. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    There are many different suppliers you can deal with. Training wise, Holidynamics puts on an awesome seminar. I as well wish I could have attended the convention this year, but priorities dictated other wise.

    As Dave mentioned, read this forum actually a few times, the information is without question in abundance. This thread will really start to pick up speed as we start getting closer to the season, and the information that gets shared is second to none.

    As far as setting up a seperate company, I set up a division of that way when I feel it is secure enough, I will break it away to it's own entity. I wish I could say I have had an over abundance of customers, but that is not the case. For this area I am in, it has been difficult to establish, but it is growing. Unlike alot of people I tend to do much more commercial that residential. I also happen to prefer the commercial over rsidential as well at this point. We ae going to market to a totally different area this year, actually a different state. Hopefully that will improve the #'s. To set yourself up right, it will be an large investment, but iut is just that, an investment. The first year I spent about $25k and broke even. The second year, I spent 15K and again covered my expenses and started feeling some profit. The third year, I spent roughly 10k and no residential growth at all, however got a nice commercial project from a referral. I am at he point currently where I make about 30k just in reinstalls and storage. That is the biggest part of this business, you get paid to put them up, take them down and maintain them. After the first year, it is all money in the bank.

    Insurance wise, i carry an electrical policy for just the lighting, God forbid there ends up a fire, it is an easy target with lighting. Spend the $25 or $30 on an amp meter, and know what you are drawing. Mine goes with me on each and every project, no question.
  8. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,013

    When is a good time to start advertising ?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. addictedtolandscaping

    addictedtolandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 569

    Now is the time to be talking to commercial clients. I did the chambers of commerce the first year, that is whee I secured alot of my clients. The second year it was a bust, so I jumped ship. I usually take part in the Holidynamics direct mail program and am anticipating doing so again this year. I don't have much time to invest into developing my own mailers etc.

    Lawn signs are huge as Dave has pointed out numerous times. Get them made up, they are cheap. Start putting them out around Halloween etc.
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    a few thoughts and tips-

    I use a measuring wheel along with some geometry. while gutters are simply walking, when I measure a peak I double back based on my estimate of pitch. a low pitch is the length of the base plus maybe 25%, as the pitch gets steeper I double back 50% or double it comepletly. watch out for cutbacks, as you will use the wire to keep the power continuous. also I try to do all those shelves that appear at the bottom of many peaks. watch for gutter covers, sometimes make installing c-9s or links REALLY hard. charge for them

    we have 2 climbing harneses and 5/8 climbing rope on all trucks for master/slave set up or anchor man and slave. that tends to take care of most lift needs on a roof. but a towable boom sounds nice.

    we continue to outgrow out marketing. every year I do up one or two trucks with graphics and I buy one or two trucks. I use full heavy printed tarps from ebay rather than vinyl graphics locally. they are much cheaper and can be moved to other trucks if need be.

    looking ( and sounding) like a pro is absolutely crucial in all areas- bid form, packet, brochure, website, truck you do bid in. if you are asking folks for 1000's and sometimes 10's of 1000's of dollars. look like you deserve it.

    drive around or pay one of your help to drive around every night or every other night to all jobs and fix bulbs or reset gfcis. while install crews can do this during the day, your install crews need to be installing. I make a list of all addresses, give them a 100 buck gps, a couple of ladders, a case of mized bulbs and a magic box, a few strands of mini-lights, some 14guage galv. wire and fuses, a few misc ext cords and a few timers. and they are set for 98% of repairs.

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