Ok so how many of you guys do the Christmas light trade and how is the best way for some one to get into it?
we do a ton…
thats a pretty general question…
I guess the first step would be to advertise for it?
check out our website Holiday Lighting | Northern Seasonal | Glenview, IL - feel free to ask questions and I will answer what I can.
What is the basic equipment you need to get started and where can I get it at?
you’ll need ladders:
20’ and a 40’ is recommended if youre only gonna get one get the 40’ so you can reach peaks…
A frames - get atleast one 14’ we have 8’s 10’s, 14’s and a 20’ double sided… having the right sized ladder for the right job helps ( too big and you kill your crew moving it around, too small and you cant reach the work appropriatly - somtimes the smaller ladders are needed to get into tight spots…)
we use unger window washing poles and attached spring clamps on them to drape and hang lights.
Unger 8 ft. - 20 ft. Telescopic Pole Aluminum 3-Stage with Connect and Clean Locking Cone and PRO Locking Collar-962780 - The Home Depot
each crew has a tote filled with tools- spare side cutters, hammers, hammer drill, drill, needle nose pliers…
Husky 37 in. Mobile Job Box-209261 - The Home Depot
the totes also have 4 of these filled with spare parts and other misc. supplies
Stanley 10-Compartment Professional Deep Organizer-014710R - The Home Depot
Clips, electrical tape, staples, screws, nails, eye bolts, and billions of zip ties - black, clear, long short get them all…
each employee is issued their own pair of side cutters and a light keeper pro - both of which are your main go to tools. I got tired of them loosing them in the snow so each employee is financially responsible for their own tool…if they loose it they have to replace it…
LightKeeper Pro Light Tester-1203-CD - The Home Depot
When doing estimates these come in handy to make sure outlets are good and to see if they have enough power: I have a "repair bag " that I have the following items in :
this is great cause it tells you if the guys overloaded a line… just plug it in line and it will tell you the amp draw…a key for new installs… when doing a lighting plan you should be able to tell how much load each leg will have - this will help located heavy draws ( shorts / bad cords)
P3 International Kill A Watt EZ Meter-P4460 - The Home Depot
to make sure the outlet is wired correctly and if their gfci works correctly:
Klein Tools GFCI Receptacle Tester-RT600 - The Home Depot
for locating circuits -
Klein Tools Digital Circuit Breaker Finder-ET300 - The Home Depot
I buy lights at:
reinders and wintergreen - set up an account at both and shop, both are cheaper and better with certain lights depending on your volume…
Wintergreen Corporation - Wholesale Christmas Lights
Lauri at reinders is also awesome -
and always try to sell people on LEDS - they are sooooooopo much easier…
for extension cords:
I buy 50’, 100’ from home depot - they are the cheapest and they hold up really well…
I also use a ton of cube taps
avoid using the indoor cords ( no ground ) as they can wreak havoc with GFCI’s when wet…but they are so cheap… I use a ton of them - mostly on LED installs - just know that when it rains your probably gonna get a phone call…( I am slowly phasing the use of these out but it’s big money to use all outdoor rated cords for short 3’ runs…
Home Accents Holiday 6/9/15 ft. 16/2 Indoor Extension Cord (3-Pack)-185-795 - The Home Depot
Holiday lighting is great year round…
we have done weddings, special events… here we are lighting some trees for a grand opening celebration at northpark university:
Wow quiet a little bit to be able to get started, but I’m sure in the end it’s worth it
This info is gold. I’ve been thinking about adding this. Thank you
Capitol Pro Wash
I’m guessing you supply all the lights for customers?
Capitol Pro Wash
Yea everything is leased through me.
It’s just so much easier - I tried the whole they buy everything then if something goes wrong they have to pay more and replace the bad stuff- it always ends up being a pain ass argument over who’s fault it is is it attrition? Or did we damage it? I just charge more straight up and offer free 24/7 service untill it’s time to come Down - the people who do this have money and they don’t want to be nickel and dimed to death- they just want to pay and know that it’s done…
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Then you store it all year long?
Capitol Pro Wash
yes I have a storage locker where I keep everything - temperature controlled… everything gets wrapped up and stored in tubs… everything goes up on pallet racking.
I had to take out a special line of insurance to cover my inventory- at the end of last year i had just over $80,000.00 in lights, cords. and other decorations…
the majority of customers do the same thing year after year so I keep all of there stuff together… most changes are minor, and most people stick with the basics - white or multicolor… so if someone decides to take a break, or stops its not that hard to distrubute their stuff to a new customer. for customers that want something one of a kind I usually charge them upfront for the cost and then give them a better discount year to year, jus tincase they decide to split after the first year…
There are guys who do 3 year contracts ( to help offset the upfront costs)… so far I see no need to do that, and I get a lot of their old customers - people dont like being locked into things for long term…
Awesome info. Nobody really has anything like that around here. I was going to explore more this season and perhaps pull the trigger next year. It seems like a very profitable service to add on. I’d love to see how your price structure is broken down.
Capitol Pro Wash
Now THAT IS A LADDER a big one…
Northern services who do you use for insurance,and is there a ballpark for where my pricing should be?
currently country financial - but I am in the process of splitting my company as they really don’t want anything to do with power washing… so I will be splitting up and will have “Northern pressure washing” and “Northern snow removal and holiday lighting” - will probably remain with country. for workers comp - they just don’t want the liability.
pricing… figure out what it’s going to cost, what your expenses are, your overhead, and how much you want to make…me personally I am in the $75 per man hour range + materials.
New issue of eClean went up last week. Cover story is on holiday lighting.
<a target=’_blank’ title=‘eClean - eClean Sept 2015’ href=‘http://eclean.uberflip.com/i/567404-eclean-sept-2015’><img src=‘http://cdn.uberflip.com/files/aT01Njc0MDQmcD0wJnZlcnNpb249MTMmY21kPXYmc2lnPTAzMjQ1Nzk2NzhmMGMzZjA2NGFmYTRhZjdmNTYzN2Q3/-w-80.jpg’ border=‘0’/></a>
I’ll be taking notes around here this season.
Capitol Pro Wash