Business Smarts: Adding Holiday Lighting As a Service - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Business Smarts: Adding Holiday Lighting As a Service

Holiday lighting can become quite a lucrative business for your landscape or lawn care company if you go about it properly.

In the case of Scott Young, owner of Certified Christmas Lights, he started with his father’s pest control business and was able to scale it to $5.8 million with holiday lighting.

Some of the benefits of offering holiday lighting include high-profit margins and the ability to keep your team employed over the off-season. If you’re curious about adding this as a service, but aren’t really sure where to start or how to be successful, check out the steps below.

Getting Started

Holiday lighting has been around for ages so take advantage of the trail blazed before you. This could mean you decide to go the franchise route with a brand like Christmas Décor where they can train you and provide quality lighting products.

You can also take advantage of other resources available like what Young’s company provides, which includes video training, free guides and forms and processes to use with your business. Certified Christmas Lights also provides free weekly webinars covering various topics related to holiday lighting. You can even opt to be trained in person by the Certified team.

If you already have the necessary lighting installation knowledge, you can move on to the selling season.

Selling Season

It may be hard to imagine selling Christmas lights when the holiday is still over 100 days away but due to the narrow installation time it’s best to book your clients early. Similar to your regular business, you need to focus on your perfect customer and not just settle for anyone.

This could be your existing customer base, who you already have established trust and lines of communication with. Or it could be a different set of clients. It is advised that if you’ve never done holiday lighting to stick with residential first since the scale is more manageable. However, once you have things figured out you can always move into the commercial holiday décor space.

Once you’ve got clients interested, conduct a consultation with them and provide a project bid. Ashely Bowser, general manager with Certified Christmas Lights, advises using Google Maps and design software to mock up what potential installations would look like and to keep the bid simple. Match your suggestions to the scope of the customer’s budget.

Some possible discounts you can offer are if they opt for an early installation time or agree to a multi-year contract. By leasing lights to customers and asking for 50 percent down prior to installation, you can earn some early cash flow.

Installation Practices

Bowser advises using two-person installation teams as they are more efficient. While a team of six may seem like they could get the work done faster, she says one or two employees can end up standing around with nothing to do. With an installation season that could run from 40 to 60 days, it’s critical that you have a dependable crew that is dedicated to doing a quality job. Bowser says they opt for production pay, where they pay crews for a percentage of the work completed versus an hourly or daily wage to encourage a focus on quality.

It is also important to use quality products as the last thing you want is to have to be replacing your lighting inventory every year. Using the wrong products, or those that aren’t quality, can result in headaches during and after the install.

Once the lights are up, your crews should have a plan to respond and handle service issues in a timely manner during the holiday season.

When it comes to taking down the lights and storage, it’s best to store the lights on your property to ensure the products’ longevity. Bowser says they store the roof lights and any other pieces that are custom to the house by customer and everything else is stored in one location.

Common Mistakes

While holiday lighting is profitable, there are a lot of things that can go wrong if you’re not properly prepared. It’s best not to try to learn on the job as you’ll end up underestimating how many lights you’ll need to get the project done. It’s also important not to underprice your services.

Young’s main key to success in the business is keeping things simple. By keeping your product offering limited, you don’t have to deal with specialty holiday items eating up your warehouse space. Your trucks and trailers should be streamlined for installation days and everything should be documented from the initial proposal to a digital rendering for the installation team.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.