How to Start a Christmas Light Installation Business

by Scott Young

outdoor Christmas lights

Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or adding services to your business, starting a Christmas light design and hanging business can be very profitable. Seasonal businesses can be sustainable, and everyone loves the appeal of holiday lights and light tours in the neighborhood during the winter season. Seasonal work also provides financial opportunities for many who are in their off-season during this time of year, especially for landscaping professionals and professional decorators who already have an eye for this type of work.

You're positioned to make great profits and spread holiday cheer by establishing a trustworthy neighborhood business. Read on about how to start a Christmas light installation business.

 1. Create a Business Plan

A business plan helps you outline the structure of your hanging Christmas lights business, secure funding and prepare for incorporation and operation, and outline its future growth. It's best to start small and expand your business, and answering the following questions will help you get started:

  • How hands-on would you like to be in the installation process? Before installation, you’ll need to design what everything will look like and configure power sources.
  • Is the business run solely by you and a friend, or will you partner with a designer and hire a small seasonal staff?
  • Will the customer supply the lights, or will you include the hardware and other decorations in the installation? Can the customer purchase directly from you?
  • Will you focus on small-scale installations, such as railings, trees and shrubbery, or larger ones in which you’ll need a ladder? 
  • Will you focus only on Christmas decorations or provide services for Hanukkah, Kwanza and Winter Solstice?

Aside from defining these service areas, you’ll also need to define your foundational business objectives like finances, marketing, operational efficiencies and hiring. Don’t scale up too quickly, but ensure you have a solid business foundation positioned for growth.

2. Narrow Down the Installation Service You’ll Offer

When figuring out how to start a Christmas light installation business, you need to determine who is your ideal customer. Think of how you can scale up your business in local neighborhoods and commercial areas, but first, you must begin with a small audience. Determine your service options and who they will cater to:

  • Residential Holiday Lights Installation: If you start with homeowners, you could target affluent neighborhoods, especially those near popular holiday lights tour routes. If setting up lights on a small scale, start with a neighborhood you know well.

  • Commercial Holiday Lights Installation: While a large building may be out of the question, currently, focus on popular neighborhood shopping strips. There are door and window lights, shrubbery lights and window displays to consider, and many stores look for these services when shopping for a Christmas light installer.

You could also offer a take-down service or a discount on one to those who book your installation services. If you're new to it, taking down Christmas lights can be as tricky as installing them, so be the professionals people can trust. Some people also love the idea of Christmas in July, and many installers may also offer lights that complement Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Pride events and other celebrations.  

3. Pinpoint Your Pricing Model

Remember to consider the competition as you determine your niche and ideal customer, when you pinpoint your pricing models as a Christmas light installer. How much do decorations cost? How much are competitors offering their services for, and what’s included? There may be a niche or neighborhood that no one is targeting. Knowing your pricing, as well as operational costs, will help you to provide an accurate and clear quote to your customers, which instills trust. 

4. Incorporate the Business

Are you a solopreneur or are you working with a team? The number of people in your Christmas light business will also help you determine what business structure you prefer. Many choose to incorporate as a limited liability corporation (LLC) which protects the business owner from liability. 

You can also work with a local small business incubator to get low-cost tips. However, it’s best to learn from someone in the hanging Christmas lights business, and Certified Lights has a training model that positions you for day one success. For example, you’ll need to apply for an EIN to file small business taxes in your state. You’ll need to know what you can write off as a business entity and what you can’t. You’ll need to know what specific type of insurance you need to protect your company and its employees.

5. Plan for Your Startup Costs

Setting out planning costs

Depending on your Christmas light business plan details, the costs included to get started may vary, but it’s important to outline these before you begin booking clients. The essentials will include:

  • Incorporation fees
  • Filing fees
  • Liability insurance
  • Marketing fees: website, email, business cards and ads  
  • Inventory costs: String lights, wreaths and other decor items 
  • Installation and take-down tool costs: light clips, ladders and other tools and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Portable generators for large-scale decorative designs
  • Transportation: vehicle, insurance and gas
  • Storage unit rental for both the on-season and off-season

6. Get Your Finances Together

Open a business bank account to keep all your finances in one area, and consider getting a line of credit if you need to make large inventory purchases. When working with customers, you’ll need to invoice them once the work is done, and you may also later consider apps that allow a customer to track the installation process. Another consideration is membership with associations like Christmas Light Installation Professionals Association (CLIPA) to remain updated on industry trends.

7. Promote Your Christmas Light Installation Services

Once you’ve the startup aspect of your business down, you’re ready to promote your Christmas lights business. Now it’s time to spread the word across social media, which may mean investing in ads on Facebook or Instagram, depending on your target audience, as well as talking to your neighbors on Next Door. Trusted friends can also help promote your business via word of mouth. Cultivate a strong services portfolio by providing free consultations.

Certified Lights can help you with the basics and beyond on what you need to know on how to start a Christmas light installation business. Create a free account to get started with training today.

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