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Helpful holiday lighting tips

August 17, 2020 -  By
Holiday-lit house (Photo: Christmas Illuminations)

Plan ahead Holiday lighting services can start in the fall, so it’s important to ensure there are enough crew members to complete the jobs. (Photo: Christmas Illuminations)

Holiday lighting can provide a good opportunity to keep staff employed year-round while offering an invaluable service to your clients.

“The Christmas lighting service is worth more than what you might consider when evaluating a job the first time,” says Chris Senske, president of Senske Services in Kennewick, Wash. “You are keeping your homeowner client safe and off the roof, and that alone has significant value.”

Landscape Management talked to Tim York, owner of Christmas Illuminations in Manassas, Va.; Bernard Naylor, president of Naylor Landscape Management in Kalamazoo, Mich.; and Senske for tips on growing a holiday lighting business.

Senske took an aggressive approach to marketing to build a customer base and establish his business as a market leader. Senske Services uses newspaper inserts, direct mails postcards to potential clients and implements digital marketing such as pay-per-click web ads, social media and email marketing.

Another way that his company has managed to grow the holiday lighting service was through Christmas Décor franchise acquisitions from other franchisees.

Senske says these efforts have paid off as his company now services more than 3,000 homes and businesses through Christmas Décor franchise acquisitions. His sales team is focusing on re-upping old customers and making sales right now. He’s uncertain how the 2020 season will look, so he’s trying to get ahead of the game by obtaining commitments to decorate now.

Senske Services provides lawn care, landscape maintenance, tree services, snow and ice management, pest control, irrigation services and holiday lighting to an 80 percent residential, 17 percent commercial and 3 percent government clientele. Senske’s revenue in 2019 was $33 million, landing it at the No. 69 spot on the 2020 LM150 list.

Business advice

Senske says it’s important to emphasize safety in a holiday lighting business and use fiberglass ladders that are safe around electricity.

“Use proper harnesses and ropes and learn how to safely use anchors, lanyards with deceleration devices and work properly with rope restraints,” he advises. He also recommends using resources from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, such as its training programs on working above ground, fall protection and ladder use.

York purchased a holiday lighting business to complement his mostly residential lawn maintenance service company, Lake Braddock Landcare, two years ago. Christmas Illuminations has an 80 percent residential clientele and 20 percent commercial clientele.

“I found out real quick I had to get rid of all my landscaping services that were in the fall,” he says, noting installations start the last weeks of October. He stopped offering fall leaf removal and other services to allow his three to six seasonal employees to work on more lucrative holiday decor contracts.

He says that in just two seasons, the lighting has doubled his business and makes up 50 percent of his annual revenue. He expects lighting to do better than landscape services this year.

Strategize services

“Understand what it is going to take to market, price, install and service your client,” Naylor says. “If you don’t have time to figure it all out on your own, I would highly recommend considering purchasing a franchise to reduce your learning curve, learn from the best and have the support you will need.”

Naylor tried adding holiday lighting services on his own about 14 years ago. Naylor Landscape Management offers lawn and landscape maintenance, lawn care and irrigation, landscape design /build, snow and ice management and holiday lighting decoration services for a 70 percent residential, 30 percent commercial clientele. Holiday lighting makes up about 9 percent of the company’s business, and Naylor expects his company to hit $2.6 million in revenue this year.

“I didn’t know what I was doing, and it was a train wreck,” he says. “The following year, I heard about a franchise called Christmas Décor. They taught us how to charge, how to market, how to install, how to use the product properly and everything we needed to know, and it has become our most profitable profit center.”

Christina Herrick

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