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Why holiday lighting is more than an add-on

September 7, 2021 -  By
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Holiday lighting (Photo: Murphy Christmas Lighting)

Joey Murphy of Murphy Christmas Lighting says it’s key to know the product before performing lighting services. (Photo: Murphy Christmas Lighting)

Holiday lighting not only brings in revenue as an add-on service, it’s also grown so much that many landscape contractors are creating separate companies dedicated only to this service.

Just ask Joe Guarino, owner of LCM Plus in Melrose, Mass.

His full-service design/build firm offers fencing, hardscapes, snow removal, tree work and mosquito control. Its customers are 90 percent residential and 10 percent commercial.

Guarino has also offered holiday lighting since 2006 as a way to regulate his cash flow and keep his employees working during the winter months. His holiday lighting has continued to grow to a point where he’s now created a separate lighting company, Northeast Illuminators. The holiday lighting company’s customers are 70 percent commercial and 30 percent residential. The company uses Minleon products.

“When we started, I thought we’d be offering lighting for Halloween and Christmas,” Guarino says. “Now, the service has become year-round.”

He’s learned how to manage the different factors involved with holiday lighting, including weather, staffing and ongoing hardscape projects.

“It’s not just putting lights on people’s homes or commercial buildings. You have to make sure you manage your time and staff when you’re doing holiday lighting,” Guarino says. “If you’re just starting, start off small.”

Do your homework

A former firefighter and paramedic, Joey Murphy — owner of Murphy Christmas Lighting in Roanoke, Texas — now offers holiday lighting all year, along with a landscape lighting division. His customers are about 60 percent commercial and 40 percent residential. He’s tripled his business every year, with an annual revenue of $1.45 million.

The company turns to TwinklyPro’s plug-and-play product to avoid systems that require complex wiring. It’s app controlled with lighting options of RGB (red, green and blue), RGBW (red, green, blue and white) and AWW (amber, warm white and cool white). LED technology ties into a router, which also allows homeowners to interact with the app.

Adding holiday lighting services comes with a learning curve, but Murphy says there are resources available to get started.

“Know the products and what you’re getting into,” he says.
Two of the biggest concerns with this service are the logistics and finding enough labor. Once those are solved, the sky — or maybe rooftop — is the limit.

“If you have the manpower, you’re going to be able to get the clients to do the lights,” Murphy says.

Augie Roper

Augie Roper

Minleon

Augie Roper
Factory representative

“Anything in landscaping and the green industry ends around October, unless you’re in a Southern state. You’re either going to get into snow removal or Christmas lighting. Christmas lighting is a unique business model because of its high margins. It’s far more lucrative than mowing or other summer services. People need their yards mowed, but people want Christmas lighting. It’s a great business model to add to your current company. The leasing model allows you to own and control the products that you’re selling. There’s 50 percent down at the time of the client signing the contract, with 50 percent at the time of install. You get all of your money upfront. The margins can be 80 percent or more depending on your market.”

Brian Schreiner

Brian Schreiner

TwinklyPro

Brian Schreiner
Vice president of sales

“Holiday lighting is an additional revenue source, especially in areas that have an offseason. One of the main things is to stay on top of the current technology. As newer businesses start to adapt or rush in on the market share, the ones that are able to adapt and change will be the ones to succeed. The industry has doubled if not tripled over the past five years. Some contractors have gone and started additional companies outside of their landscape business just to focus on Christmas lighting. There’s so much business out there. Don’t get stuck waiting for someone to call you. Create the market for yourself in your geographic area and be the expert.”

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor. She can be reached at swebb@northcoastmedia.net.

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