My add-on service is anticipating doubled growth from last year.
This coming weekend, many property owners are facing the daunting task of taking down holiday lights. Start planning now, and you’ll be ready to earn revenue offering this service yourself next year.
The seasonality of most landscape services can be a struggle for many landscapers. While some offer snow removal during the winter months, not every region gets snow—and profits can be unpredictable since it’s dependent on the weather.
On the other hand, adding landscape and holiday light installation services is a great way for landscapers to bring in revenue year-round. Holiday lighting has a high profit margin and is in demand no matter the weather. Even during periods of economic downturn, people still plan on spending during the holidays. The holiday lighting industry continues to grow and many lighting installers’ businesses are growing each year. My lighting business, Dynamic Celebration Lighting, is anticipating doubling our growth from last year.
I started my landscaping business, Kirk’s Lawn Care, almost two decades ago and opened Dynamic Celebration Lighting in July 2021. I started out as an avid holiday home decorator and holiday lighting hobbyist and later found a passion in partnering with attractions and holiday light shows in my spare time. Last year, I decided to start offering my services to homeowners to increase profit and spread holiday joy.
Fortunately, there’s a low barrier of entry for landscapers that want to add holiday lighting as an add-on service since it’s very complementary to the experience and service you already offer the rest of the year. Below are lessons I’ve learned that can help you successfully expand your services to include holiday and event lighting.
Learn The Basics
One of the benefits of offering holiday lighting services is that it’s relatively easy to get started. I’m mostly self-taught. Landscapers that offer landscape lighting services, such as porch lights or tree uplights, already know the lighting basics. The same wiring and general understanding of how LED lighting works overlaps with holiday lighting.
Yet even if you have lighting knowledge, a great first step is for you and your employees to take in-person training classes through organizations like CLIPA (Christmas Light Installation Pros Association). These courses offer hands-on training and go over a range of essential topics from the different types of available holiday lighting to pricing models.
Networking and joining online groups comprised of industry professionals—or people who want to break into the industry—is also very helpful. CLIPA has a Facebook group that anyone can join, even if they aren’t a member of the association. There are a couple of other Facebook groups for Christmas light installers, such as Christmas Light Contractors, where people can connect with other professionals, get advice on how to get started in the industry, and ask questions on how to handle problems they haven’t encountered before. People can pose their question and take a picture of the issue they are facing (such as a gutter that is difficult to hang lights from because of the gutter guard) and get answers in minutes of posting. It’s an extremely supportive and collaborative community.
Build A Team
Groundwork, such as stake lighting or lighting shrubs can easily and safely be done with one person. However, larger projects, such as roof lighting and any other lighting that requires a ladder, should be done by a team for reasons of safety and efficiency. Dynamic Celebration Lighting runs two or three-people crews for holiday lighting.
Using your existing landscaping team for holiday lighting services is a good way to keep employees working year-round. It also means you don’t have to worry as much about them finding another job during the Winter and not returning again in the Spring.
My landscaping team loves holiday lighting projects and looks forward to it all year. Usually only our best employees go on the holiday lighting crew. You can even consider offering holiday lighting assignments as a reward and motivator.
The Right Equipment
In terms of stocking up on inventory, it depends if you choose to sell or lease lights to clients. If you sell lights, you can purchase lights when you book the job. If you lease lights, you need to stock up in advance and have space for storing inventory. It’s common to collect a 50% deposit upfront when the quote is signed that can be put towards any additional equipment required by the job.
Expect potential clients to ask if they can supply their own lights. We do not install customer supplied lights since we cannot vouch for the quality or working order. We only hang our commercial-grade LED lights that feature a lifelong warranty for our customers. Our holiday lights are more dependable and shine brighter than most available big box retailer lights.
Existing equipment like trucks, minivans, and ladders can obviously be used for lighting services. But you’ll also want to purchase safety equipment such as harnesses, roof anchors, roofing shoes, and other roofing safety equipment. I use the Goat Steep Assist system and Pitch Hoppers. If you’re starting small, you don’t need a lot of money to get started. Safety equipment costs a couple hundred dollars.
While holiday light installations might not start until October, businesses should start promoting their services before Fall. I made my lighting services a separate company for marketing and SEO purposes. We start promotions in July due to the “Christmas in July” theme. During the Summer, I reach out first to clients from the previous year to see if they want to renew. While we market to our landscaping customers, we always install the previous lighting customers first. This way, once new customers start inquiring in October, previous customers are already booked for the season.
You’ll want to use a variety of channels for promotion. My business uses Google ads and social media ads like Facebook and Instagram, which is where we get most leads. We are also promoted through our wrapped lighting truck, word of mouth, and yard signs placed at customers’ homes.
We place our pricing right on the web site. Many customers aren’t aware of what to expect on price and the reality is that lighting services are out of the budget for many. We state the minimum cost is $1000, the average cost is $1500+, and a full what we call the “Clark Griswold” treatment is $3500. Estimates and designs are free and we usually turn around both within 48 hours.
Being organized is really important when offering holiday lighting services since it’s such a short season. You have a short window to sell and install everything. The first week after Halloween and Thanksgiving is when everyone wants their lights up and it doesn’t slow down until mid-December. Business owners can use software to save time and keep track of everything on the admin side. My landscaping business uses a home service operations software, Jobber*, to stay organized. It manages the full job life cycle from generating quotes to scheduling crews, invoicing, and accepting payments. The same software is used throughout the holiday lighting season.
Keep in mind you have to custom measure everything for lighting services, so the quoting process can take time. (We use GoiLawn to measure roof lines.) Software can make the process worthwhile by automatically sending a follow-up customized email or text.
Offer Great Customer Service
The holiday lighting service industry is relatively new, so educating customers is an important part of great customer service. You need to clearly and transparently explain to customers what they’re getting and paying for. Be prepared for specifics: what to do if a bulb goes out, how long the process will take etc. Set clear expectations and educate the customer on your services and products such as explaining the difference between mini lights versus roof-line lights. (Mini lights are for trees and shrubs. C9 lights are used for roof lines and stake lighting.)
Holiday lighting is a great complementary service for landscapers to bring in Winter revenue and retain/incentivize employees. Beyond the holidays, we do wedding and event lighting for extra income year-round. Hopefully, these tips set you up for success if adding your own holiday lighting service.
Brown is the owner of Dynamic Celebration Lighting, based in PA. He is also the owner of Kirk’s Lawncare LLC, a full service landscaping company. *Brown used funds from a Jobber Grant to launch the light installation service. Jobber is a field service management software. For more information on Jobber Grants, visit jobbergrants.com.