It’s easy to see holiday lighting as only a Christmas-time business. But smart and dedicated operators know there are many more opportunities throughout the year to keep the cash flowing.
At first, Chris Beneduce, owner of Impressions Holiday Lighting and Décor of Warwick in Rhode Island, only focused on Christmas. But then, as word of mouth increased, he saw additional opportunities like for Fourth of July displays. After that, he began to see demand from Halloween stores for commercial decorating. He even supplies green-and-white bulbs now for St. Patrick’s Day. A catalogue available to customers has assisted in promoting the fact that he does more than just Christmas lighting.
“The majority of our business occurs during the holiday season, but for some customers, it’s year-round,” Beneduce says.
Commitment is huge to make holiday lighting a 12-month operation. It takes that much more sales effort and promotion, not to mention keeping on workers to install the lights, take them down and store them. Paul Sessel, president of Creative Displays, admits that the challenges go up when looking to extend the business throughout the calendar.
“To make holiday lighting a 12-month deal is probably a hard sale, but we do see party tent lighting and decorative lighting opportunities for patios and backyards,” he says.
Scott Heese, president/owner of Holidynamics, says that networking with the right team is crucial for landscape and lawn care companies looking to extend the life of their new holiday lighting business.
“For example, we offer hearts, shamrocks, birthday stuff, party signs, summer-themed displays such as flamingoes, anchors and palm trees, and birth-announcement displays with storks that have light-up signs that say ‘It’s a Boy!’” Heese says.
“I’ve had off-season sales for weddings, too. One of our affiliates recently did a $60,000 lighting project for a concert. And now we’re starting to see a big increase in demand at Halloween.”
But Heese cautions that those who want to go gung-ho with year-round lighting opportunities need to understand the commitment it involves. For example, he recommends making sure you have four to five months of the year dedicated to the service side – taking down the lights, properly storing them, etc.
“Everything that goes up that season has to come back down and get stored,” he says. “As you build your residual income, you’re going to find yourself taking down your lights through January and February, packing them away properly and putting them in storage.
“Your big ticket is building that residual income where when you take down stuff and put it in storage, you already know you have residual income of ‘X’ dollars, because you rarely lose that contract if you have their goods in storage.”
Mike Streb, director of sales for Christmas Lights, Etc., also sees other opportunities for lighting besides Christmas. A lot of the lighting products his company offers, such as white wire, perimeter lighting and patio lighting, lend themselves to year-round display.
He believes there is more potential for year-round lighting demand from commercial properties, which can lead to solid second and third quarter sales, if the landscaper has the right business mix. “In the off-season, a lot of non-holiday, non-Christmas lighting is commercial – restaurants, hotels, motels, park districts, cities and towns,” Streb says.
“You drive by high-end, upper-crust homes and there is not a lot of white lighting.”
Streb says one of his largest customers is a rental supply company that deemed holiday lighting a natural transition because they already had all of the equipment necessary to install lights.
“Next thing you know,” Streb says, “he’s not only doing Christmas lighting but Jiffy Lubes and shopping centers year-round.”