10 Tips to Run a Successful Christmas Light Installation Business
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Offering Christmas light installation can help reduce turnover by keeping your crew employed in the colder months. And best of all, you get to spread some holiday cheer and build your reputation in your community year-round.
We spoke with Kirk Brown, owner of Dynamic Celebration Lighting, to learn the tricks he uses to run a profitable holiday lighting business.
10 Christmas light installation business tips
Join the Christmas Light Installer Professional Association
Start your season at the right time
Test your inventory early
Grow your client list
Learn how to bid jobs and create professional estimates
Improve your communication with customers
Create a more productive daily schedule
Take the right safety precautions
Automate your invoicing
Strike a healthy work/life balance
1. Join the Christmas Light Installer Professional Association
Kirk and his crew received three days of professional training through the Christmas Light Installer Professional Association to prepare them for light installation.
In addition to great in-class and hands-on training, CLIPA members also have access to:
- On-the-job safety training
- Enhanced purchasing power with discounted rates
- A private Facebook group for more information and tips
2. Start your season at the right time
A short holiday season means your timing has to be pinpoint accurate. Here’s when you should buy your Christmas lights, start marketing, and begin installs.
When to buy Christmas lights
To get the best deals, consider buying new inventory at the end of the holiday season. According to Kirk, most vendors offer preorders in February to get a more accurate count of what they will be selling next season.
Light installers can save anywhere from 10% to 20% by taking advantage of these early presales. The closer you wait until Christmas, the more you’ll pay for lights and decorations.
When to market your Christmas light business
Your marketing window is small for seasonal lighting. As Kirk puts it, “a lot of people have a one-holiday-at-a-time mentality.” So don’t expect a great response from your audience until after Halloween.
Reach out to return customers as early as late August or early September to get them renewed, booked, and to collect their deposit. You can offer an incentive, like a small discount on services to encourage customers to sign up early.
Start marketing to a wider audience in October or early November to attract new customers to your Christmas light business.
When to install Christmas lights
The holiday lights season typically runs from November 1st to the end of January.
But be prepared. Your busiest period will be the two weeks before and after Thanksgiving.
Tear down will normally start as early as January 2nd, and then run the remainder of the month.
3. Test your inventory early
Burnt-out lights or faulty wires can be a major time-waster in your already hectic installation schedule.
Get ahead of the headaches by thoroughly examining your inventory before your Christmas light season starts. Look for frayed cords, exposed wires, and dim or dead bulbs.
This will also give you plenty of time to reach out to manufacturers and take advantage of product warranties in case of equipment failure.
4. Grow your client list
For your new business to be successful, you’ll need to attract new customers fast. Here are a few ways to expand your client list this holiday season:
Make a Christmas light installation flyer
Let customers know about your new business by distributing Christmas light installation flyers in your local community.
Be sure to include the following information on your flyers:
- Your business name and logo
- Service description
- Contact information (phone number, email address, or both)
You can also post tearaway flyers on community bulletin boards in grocery stores, libraries, or community centers. (Just make sure to get permission first.)
Pro Tip: Make it easier for clients to request work—paste the link to your online booking page into a QR code generator. Then add the QR code to flyers, door hangers, postcards, business cards, or brochures.
Design a winning Christmas light website
When Kirk was ready to launch his new Christmas lighting business, he did so with a stunning website.
A well-designed website makes you look more professional and can help attract new customers from Google search.
Make sure your website includes at least the following four main pages:
- Homepage – The home page is often the first page visitors see on your website. It should direct them to the information they need. Don’t forget to include your logo, business name, service details, and contact information.
- About page – Why should customers hire you? Seal the deal by listing your background, experience, and testimonials from happy customers.
- Services page – List your full-service offerings with a detailed description of each service or package option, images, and pricing when possible.
- Contact page – Tell your visitors how to get in touch by including an email address, phone number, and links to your social media business pages.
Invest in offline marketing tactics
Kirk uses offline techniques like yard signs and business cards to attract potential customers while he’s out at installs.
“I have business cards and brochures in the truck. If anyone walks up looking to get more information, my crew can give out business cards and brochures.”
He also had their work truck wrapped to draw even more attention while driving to and from the worksite.
Build brand awareness by giving back
Supporting your local community can help build a positive brand association for your business—the Christmas season is one of the best times to do that.
That’s why Kirk started Holiday Lights for Heroes, where residents can nominate another person who they feel is a community hero. Kirk will then award one deserving nominee with a holiday light makeover of up to $2,000.
It’s a way for Dynamic Celebration Lighting to get its name out and give back to the community.
You can make a big impact on your service area by collecting food or toy donations for a family in need.
Run effective email campaigns
If you run a seasonal business, you’re already sitting on a pool of potential customers for your holiday lighting business.
Kirk uses email marketing to reach out to his existing lawn care customers and drum up crossover business.
Include details about your Christmas lights installation service, and a catchy call to action that sends customers to your website to learn more.
5. Learn how to bid Christmas light installations and create professional estimates
Quickly pricing jobs and sending estimates will help you secure more work for the holiday season. Try these tips to get started:
Determine your pricing model
As a Christmas lights installer, you can either sell or lease the lights to your customers.
In the leasing model, you’re responsible for the install, maintenance, dismantling, and storage of all lighting and accessories. This means if a light goes out mid-season, you’ll be expected to provide the repair.
This model also gives your customer greater flexibility in their lighting designs. When they lease the lights, they can change from red to green, to multicolor without having to make another investment.
Kirk’s Dynamic Celebration Lighting chose to lease his lights, and for good reason.
“Once you’ve purchased the lights, you have a hard asset,” Kirk explains. If you happen to lose a customer, you still have a set of lights you can use in the future.
The selling model is a much more hands-off approach. Once the lights are installed, it’s your customer’s responsibility to maintain or replace any damaged strands.
This can lead to a lot more hidden fees. If a light goes out during the holiday season, you’ll have to charge the customer for the replacement.
Calculate your hourly rate
Now that you’ve determined your pricing model, you’re ready to calculate your hourly labor rate.
If you’re new to light installation, time yourself installing lights on a one-story house, two-story house, and trees or bushes.
Then use a labor cost calculator to add up your hourly salary, direct costs, and desired profit amount to determine the hourly rate you’ll charge your customers.
Pro Tip: Take into consideration the difficulty of the job, and add premiums for installations that involve high or steep roofs, difficult trees, etc.
Create an estimate template
Creating estimates from scratch takes a great deal of time, and a short holiday season means you have no time to waste.
Using an estimate template is one way to speed up your quoting process. Simply fill in the blanks to create and send a professional-looking estimate to prospective clients in minutes.
Your estimate template should include:
- Your company name, logo, and contact information
- Your customer’s name, phone number, and email address
- A breakdown of the services you are providing (installing lights, holiday decorating, etc.)
- Estimate expiry date
- Total cost to complete the job – including labor, materials, and sales tax
- Terms and conditions
- Space for the customer’s signature
Add optional line items
You can also use job quoting software to create estimates that include images and optional line items (like timers, wreaths, or other decor) to help you win more jobs worth more money.
Automate your quote follow-ups
Once your quote has been sent, don’t leave any work on the table—use Jobber’s automated quote follow-ups to send texts or emails to customers you haven’t heard back from.
6. Improve your communication with customers
A short service window means you don’t have time to go back and forth with customers over job details or installation dates and times.
Here are a few ways you can streamline your customer communication and deliver a better lighting installation service:
Customer work request forms help you collect specific details about an installation to better quote and schedule the work. You can customize these request forms to efficiently collect information about lighting preferences, budget, and preferred installation days.
Use on-my-way text messages to let clients know you’re headed their way or running behind.
Or two-way text messaging to manage conversations with clients in one place.
Schedule automated appointment remindersto remind clients when you’ll be taking down their lights after the holidays are over.
7. Create a more productive daily schedule
Once the holiday season starts, you’ll have a short window to tackle all your light installation jobs.
With route optimization software, you can determine the quickest route for each team member to help you get more done in a day.
And if a last-minute job pops up, you can assign it to the closest team member on the map.
8. Take the right safety precautions
From working at heights, to running electrical, operating a Christmas light business comes with risks.
While CLIPA provides invaluable safety training, protect your crew with a couple other health and safety precautions.
Invest in PPE
Set your crew up with the right PPE to keep them safe on the job. This includes:
- Wooden ladders
- Ladder levelers
- Ladder standoff arms
- Roofing shoes with replaceable pads
- Work gloves
Create a safety protocol checklist
Then create a health and safety checklist for your team to use on-site. Here’s what that looks like using Jobber’s job forms.
Your safety checklist may include the following:
- All light strands and extension cords are rated for outdoor use
- All light strands have been inspected and tested
- We are using a wooden ladder to install the Christmas lights
- The wooden ladder has been inspected and is in good condition
- The wooden ladder extends past the roofline
- If installing lights on trees, verify that no trees are in contact with power lines
- No electrical outlets are overloaded with too many lights
- All extension cords have been tucked away and are not a tripping hazard
9. Automate your invoicing
Automating your invoicing process means less time in front of the computer, and more time with family in front of the Christmas tree.
Use Jobber to create and send professional invoices to your customers. Once you’ve marked a visit as complete, you’ll have the option to create an invoice with just one click.
The same job details will then be converted into a professional invoice that you edit or send to your customers for payment.
10. Strike a healthy work/life balance
Finding success in your Christmas light installation business shouldn’t require you to sacrifice your mental well-being. After all, the holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
Here are a few ways to tackle small business struggles like work-life balance and truly enjoy the holiday season:
- Block off time in your calendar to enjoy seasonal festivities you love, like baking, Christmas movies, and holiday parties.
- Don’t be a hostage of your business. Stick to your set work hours and then disconnect (literally) by turning off your phone.
- Bask in the joy you are bringing to your customers. If there’s anything better than a happy customer, it’s the beautiful twinkle of Christmas lights. And you’re making both! Take a minute after each project is done to truly enjoy the magic of the season, and don’t forget to snap a few before-and-after photos of your work.
Originally published November 2021. Last updated on October 28th, 2022.