Earn $50k to $150k+ a Season per 2 Person Crew!
Operating a Christmas light installation company is a very lucrative and rewarding business, particularly if you already operate another seasonal service. For landscapers, painters, window washers, and gutter cleaners who are often busy at other times of the year, installing Christmas lights is a perfect fit operationally and a relatively easy way to supplement their slow season income, retain employees who might otherwise be laid off, and potentially gain new clients who might also want other services offered. It’s not uncommon to find Christmas light companies earning $50k to $150k+ per 2-person crew per season. So how do you start?
Step 1: Get a Reputable Supplier
There’s nothing worse than putting up bad lights that don’t make it through Christmas, or fail when you take them back out the next season. ‘Big box store’ lights are notorious for this (just look at their reviews!). You have to use good quality commercial grade Christmas lights that are built to last. This will keep maintenance calls minimal so you can focus on installing lights rather than re-installing new ones.
Look for a supplier that isn’t going to just sell to you, but also help you choose the right lights. For instance, at Big Star Lights, we are pro-installers ourselves, so we know what works and what to stay away from. If you need assistance with your order or help figuring out how many LED 5mm mini-light strings to install on a particular tree for example, just e-mail us a photo and we can make a recommendation. And if you need assistance during your install, contact us or chat with us on-line. We are here to help and make figuring out this business as easy as possible.
Step 2: Get a Sample Kit
Nothing sells better than showing your clients in person the kind of quality Christmas lights you install. This will set you apart from the competition who might still be using inferior lights from retail stores. It’s also a great opportunity to show them colour options and agree on a design. Big Star Lights offers Christmas light sample kits that make presenting product easy without committing to a larger order.
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Step 3: Gather tools
Christmas light installation requires surprisingly few tools to get the job done safely and effectively. You’ll need:
- Good set of aluminum ladders with stand-off arms, levelers
- Collapsable painting pole with a hook attached to the end (approx. 16’ - 20’ is great)
- Wire cutters
- Fabric tool belt with big pockets for holding Christmas light clips and your cutters
- Lots of zip ties of assorted sizes and electrical tape
Optional items include:
- Portable power unit in case the client hasn’t left the power turned on for you
- Clamp-meter for troubleshooting
- Cones and caution tape when working in public spaces
- Korker cleats and roof jacks for cedar shake roofs
We are often asked if having a bucket truck is a good idea. While it can certainly be helpful and speed up install times, it’s not always necessary. In addition to the high up-front cost, they are expensive to maintain. If you are just starting out, rent self-propelled manlifts instead. Once you find yourself booking lifts often, then consider getting a bucket truck.
Step 4: Start Selling
November is usually when the busy season begins. Commercial clients will often begin thinking about it much sooner, even in the summer months. So have your Christmas lighting webpage, cards, and brochures ready early. If you have an existing client list, contact them and let them know about your new service. If you don’t have clients already, try these tricks:
- Create door knockers and lawn signs to place in your target neighborhoods.
- Wrap your vehicle with a tasteful and eye-catching design, then park it somewhere that everyone can see it when it’s not being used.
- Spend on Google AdWords. It works, especially if you hire a consultant to manage it. And you can pause it once you’re booked far enough in advance.
- Tell your friends. Nothing has a higher response rate than word-of-mouth.
- Set up a referral program for even more word-of-mouth.
Step 5: Install
Book installations as early in the season as possible. You can offer incentives for clients to have the work done early, thus making room for more clients later. Schedule two installers at a time per property. More are ok if it’s a large property. By ensuring there are at least two installers, they will be more safe and efficient on ladders (someone can steady a ladder or hand stuff up to a roof).
Have a very clear set of notes with photos taken from the consultation. This will ensure the installation meets the client’s expectations. Indicate to the crews the quantity of lights budgeted and instruct them to contact the sales-person if a different amount is required. You do not want to surprise a client with more lights on the invoice because you incorrectly estimated. Always get approval for changes first. Most times, the client will be ok if it’s a small change in number of lights. They want a great looking display as much as you do.
Ensure crews arrive on time (don’t overbook the day), check the work for quality (i.e evenly placed lights in trees, or bulbs pointing straight on rooflines), and follow up with your clients afterward to ensure they look great at night. If adjustments need to be made, promptly return to make the fix.
Step 6: Remove
You’ll be amazed at how quick removals can go. Budget ⅓ to ¼ of the installation time. Offer free storage as well if you have the space and keep the lights in breathable plastic totes. By offering storage, you’ll also increase chances of recurring revenue for those clients. In addition, a careful map of the display combined with a clear set of labels on the lights will ensure the installation goes faster next year. Most clients are flexible with removal dates as well so you can efficiently service clients by scheduling multiple homes in one neighbourhood at a time.
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So that’s the Christmas lighting business in a nutshell! If you want more insight, subscribe to our newsletter (below) and view our instructional videos for a wealth of knowledge and how-to tips that will make your Christmas light installation business a success.
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