The holiday months are drawing near and soon properties will be aglow with Christmas lights. If you’ve ever considering adding holiday lighting as service either to keep crews busy during the off-season, generate more revenue or both, here’s what one Christmas Decor franchisee has to say about his experience.
Arnie Arsenault is the owner of A. Arsenault & Sons Inc. a landscape design, construction and maintenance company based in Spencer, Massachusetts. The company has been family owned and operated since 1979. Arsenault says he added the holiday lighting service back in 1998 and it has now become a critical component for the business.
After researching holiday decorating and Christmas Decor, he decided that going the franchise route was the better option compared to doing it on their own.
“By buying into franchise system we were able to avoid spending years researching and learning what Christmas Decor had already experienced,” Arsenault says. “Another aspect that had developed with time was/is the networking that takes place with other Christmas Décor franchisees. We’re able to support each other, share best practices and learn in order to grow.”
Holiday lighting now accounts for 26 percent of A. Arsenault & Sons business. Arsenault says his service mix for holiday lighting is about 60 percent residential work and 40 percent commercial.
“We establish and maintain relationships with our clients throughout the entire year, offering them both lawn care and holiday lighting during the off-season,” Arsenault says. “In a way, the work we do during lawn season primes us for success in the ‘off-season.’ The two completely complement each other which has been a big difference maker for us.”
Arsenault adds that every year they gain more longstanding trusting clients, which helps boost their success.
Some of the main benefits of offering holiday lighting as service are the additional cash flow and the opportunity to retain key employees.
“We’d work hard during lawn care season to build a strong team but were only able to employ them during the season, which made holding on to some of our best employees a challenge,” Arsenault says. “Adding Christmas Decor has helped us retain our employees longer through the winter months, and now we have several employees on full time year-round.”
Arsenault says a number of employees look forward to when it’s time to start installing Christmas lights. The company also participates in a franchise-wide campaign called Decorated Family Program where people can nominate a deserving military family in the community to have their home decorated.
“Our workers donate their time and the reveal is always a heart-felt surprise,” Arsenault says.
The company has multiple crews that install holiday lights throughout the season. These employees transition from the landscape and lawn care divisions. Once they move to the holiday division, they work in that department until the end of January typically.
“Marketing and advertising to new clients typically starts in October, but sometimes we try a few advertising ideas earlier in the year for commercial clients – we also decorate businesses,” Arsenault says.
With existing clients, A. Arsenault & Sons stays in contact throughout the year and discusses any changes they might be interested for the upcoming seasons.
“Our installations begin the first week of October and sometimes the end of September for our clients that are looking to beat the holiday rush,” he says. “We usually begin taking down the lights the beginning of January, and plan with our clients accordingly.”
As for any current trends, Arsenault notes clients are decorating earlier than in years past. He says customers are also beginning to mix in colors more than traditional white. LED lights have become mainstream as well now thanks to versions that emit a softer light.
If you are still uncertain if holiday lighting is a good fit for your landscaping business, take the time to do your homework and research it thoroughly.
Some elements to consider is if you have enough employees, and the right employees to support a holiday division. Companies should also understand the electrical power limits allowed on circuit breakers and be aware of the number of lights that can be connected together.
Arsenault advises looking into all the safety considerations, such as working at varying heights or difficult rooflines. He suggests looking into using aerial lifts or bucket trucks to installations.
“Once you have researched adding a holiday division to your existing seasonal business, I highly recommend you go with a franchise model that will work best in your area and for your company,” Arsenault says. “I can only say if I was to do it all over again from the start, I would purchase the Christmas Decor franchise without hesitation. The support we receive from Christmas Decor is outstanding along with all the franchisees we have worked with over the years.”