Grass is dead (or has at least slowed its growth).
Leaves are all picked up.
Winterization is done.
So now what do you do?
There's a hidden profit center this Winter that most lawn care owners overlook...
Enter: Christmas Lights.
No matter which region you live in, you’re bound to live somewhere that celebrates Christmas - and celebrates it Clark Griswold-style.
Why Should You Offer Christmas Light Installation?
Getting by in the off season doesn’t have to be a struggle in you live in the North or Midwest. And if you’re in the South, Christmas light installation can supplement a slowed income.
Each winter more and more houses are putting up Christmas lights. And the displays are getting bigger.
Couple residential lighting with commercial possibilities and you’ve got yourself a nice little income come wintertime.
Christmas light installation can:
- Supplement an existing year-round lawn care income
- Replace a dormant lawn care income
- Keep your team members employed
- Keep your business name out there throughout the year
… And all of this can be done with very little startup costs, but there are some things to consider before you jump into the business.
So You Want to Start a Christmas Light Business…
As a Christmas light installer, you’ll be responsible:
- Purchasing materials (lights, wreaths, garland, extension cords, etc.)
- Installing the display
- Removing the display
- Storing the lights until next year
Similarly to lawn care and landscaping, be mindful of the differences between residential and commercial jobs, especially the size of a property. Rarely is this a one-person crew - so plan on getting a few lawn care crew members to help. This is GREAT NEWS for your employees who are looking for work in the winter.
Typically, your season will be most active November - December, with removals beginning after the New Year into mid-January. However, you’ll want to start advertising your services in August/September.
What You’ll Need
You will need to buy lights on a job-by-job basis. So get the jobs first, and figure out what lights during your estimate.
Here's a list of equipment, decorations, and holiday lights you’ll need:
Lights (various sizes and colors)
- Large bulbs
- Icicle lights
- DO NOT GET incandescent bulbs. They lead to higher energy bills and they will shatter when you put them away.
- Bells, Bows
- Trees and ornaments
- Wreaths (small and large)
- Garland (lit and un-lit)
- Blow molds and inflatables
- Poles to hang lights
- Clips, tape, and other fasteners
Getting bulk deals on lights is essential to making a profit your first year. Join an organization like CLIPA (Christmas Light Installation Pros Association) to get access to better prices.
How to Get Christmas Light Clients
When is the best time to advertise your Christmas lighting services?
Ideally you’ll want to start your marketing in September. Even though the bulk of your orders may not come in until October/November, your customers should be thinking about YOU for their lights.
Start creating your marketing collateral early in the year.
- Door hangers
- Business Cards
- … anything you can leave behind for an existing client, or even try 9 Arounds.
Use high quality images of houses you've put lights on. Show off your work! And if you're just starting out and don't have images yet, that’s ok. Take pictures of the first few jobs - your best ones - and use them in future marketing pieces.
3 Quick Ways to Get Your First Clients
- You can also run Facebook ads to your existing client list, or even target new clients. Target those neighborhoods in your town that you know put up a lot of lights. Offer to do it for them this year and save them the hassle of fighting with each light string.
- Remember that word of mouth can travel fast. Encourage your friends, family, and best clients to leave great online reviews and refer you to their friends and family. You can even offer “new client” discounts for them to hand out.
- Finally, don’t forget early bird discounts! It’s a great strategy to get those jobs lined up and ready to go before the season starts.
Take some cues from your lawn care business! Discover 11.5 POWERFUL Secrets to Lawn Care Marketing. Uncover them now.
How to Price a Lighting Installation
There are tons of factors to consider when pricing lighting displays.
The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether you’re going to LEASE the lights, or allow your customers to PURCHASE the lights. There are pros and cons to each.
With leasing, you have a better chance of return customers year after year, however you’ll need to find a place to store the lights throughout the year.
If you allow your customers to purchase them, there’s no “stickiness” for next year, but it’s also less hassle to keep track of lights.
Whichever route you choose, you’ll have to factor those costs into your estimates.
You should also consider:
- How many feet of lights you’ll need
- Additional decorations, such as lawn decor, pillar wraps, etc.
- # of crew members and workable hours
- Installation hours
- Removal of the lights
It’ll be waaaaaay smoother if you take down the lights rather than your customers. You don’t want to deal with someone else’s tangled mess.
How to Install Christmas Lights for Your Customers
Each job can take anywhere from 3 hours… to 3 weeks… depending on the size of the property.
The most common decorations are roofline lighting, widow outlining, and tree lighting. Some customers may also want garland. If that’s the case, look into pre-lit garland instead of trying to struggle with putting your own lights into the garland.
You’ll have to assess the amount of work for each property. Some ideas to map our prior to installation include:
- Equipment needed
- How many crew members you’ll need
- Drawing out where each light installation will be placed on the house and property
- Amount of lights, garland, etc. you’ll need
- Are there any strange curves on the house that you’ll have to work around? Consider that.
- Extension cords and power supply/outlets
One quick note: Many Christmas light installers prefer using a Goat hook for safety with steep roofs.
Speaking of safety...
Stay Safe Out There!
Make sure you and your crew are following safety protocols:
- Always keep your equipment (ladders, harnesses, etc.) in good working condition.
- Put lights up during daylight hours - there’s less likelihood of you tripping and falling over something.
- Use spotters when someone is on a roof, high ladder, or installing lights in trees.
- Look for power lines in trees and call before you dig when required.
- Be mindful of electrical currents when installing lights.
- Use protective gear such as hard hats, gloves, and boots, plus layer your clothing if it’s cold outside.
- Remember to ALWAYS put safety first.
Mistakes and missteps can happen, and the last thing you want is to spend the holidays in the ER!
Christmas Light Installation Can Be Very Lucrative
It's a great way to keep your business turning a profit all year long...
... and can keep your team members happily employed so you don't lose them next spring.
You don't need a ton of startup cash, but you do need to put in the effort.
Think about how you started your lawn care business - now go DO THAT with Christmas lights.