Christmas light installation services are becoming more common in North America. This rapidly growing industry has found an increasing number of people willing to hire professionals that can install lights better, faster, and safer than most home-owners. This business is a particularly great fit for people looking for seasonal work often supplementing their income or filling the void of an otherwise slow time of year. If you are a gutter cleaner, window washer, landscaper, or painter, you should be seriously considering offering Christmas lights as a service during the slow season of November to January.
It’s not uncommon to find companies earning $50k to $150k+ per crew per season in a city (we've assumed 2-person crews). If you already have an established service business of some kind, revenues can easily be in the upper end of this range or more. Business and staff love this extra source because it keeps employees working, revenue streaming in, and as a bonus, you can still shut down and take time off between Christmas and New Year’s while customers are enjoying all your hard work.
In the New Year, lights come down swiftly, often only taking 25 - 35% of the installation time. You’ll be done before you know it and in perfect time to ramp up your other service business. Or, just take time to enjoy the profits. We know of many businesses that only offer Christmas light installations and nothing else. They opt to work hard 3 - 5 months per year and then take the rest of the year off, which can be a terrific lifestyle for many.
So what do you need to get started? You’ll need a professional looking vehicle (full-size vans are ideal), a quality set of ladders, a painting pole, wire cutters and a few other basic tools. You’ll also want a solid marketing plan. If you already have existing clients, this is easy and you can just promote the service to them. If you’re starting a brand new business, nothing beats word of mouth. Choose a prominent tree in town, decorate it like no one else has ever seen before, attach your name to it, and watch the inquiries flood in. Or get a couple of residential clients, stick up a tasteful lawn sign, and stoke some jealousy among their neighbours.
One of the most important ingredients to a successful Christmas lighting business is having a quality supplier. Service calls will take a huge hit on revenues in an already short season if you don’t have the right product. Do not buy from big box stores. Just take a look at the reviews of Christmas lights from most big box stores and you’ll see why. Learn more about the differences between commercial lights and big box store lights in this blog post. You want LED lights that are bright for long periods of time (don’t go dim after 1 season of use), can withstand the elements, and not too thin of wire (20AWG is much better than 22AWG) which tend to break more easily from repeated handling. Stay away from incandescents. They take dramatically increase install times because of their fragility. Durable products like what we offer at Big Star Lights stand the test of time, look great, and are widely used by other professional lighting companies in all climates.
Excellent margins can be made on wholesale product as well, often in the 25 - 40% range. If you take advantage of pre-season order discounts, margins will reach the upper end of this range. Of course, you can also adjust rates according to demand. Discounts on product and labour can be applied for early installs to incentivize clients to their lights up before the rush. This has the added benefit of extending the season a little and making the peak season more manageable. Repeat clients are easily swayed into early season installations. And if they don’t want their lights turned on early, you can return later for a 5-minute plug-in job.
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So what are you waiting for? Make 2019 the year you grow your business with Christmas lights!