How to Enjoy the Holiday Season as an Interiorscaper
It seems to me, the older I get…the faster time disappears. Without a well-planned schedule, those hours and days can vanish right before your eyes. Chronic, misused time can turn a profitable holiday season — into something only the Grinch would love.
Like myself and many people I know, I’ve been guilty of procrastination. Working in this mode can create additional stress, profit loss and even the occasional mental break down. So if you prefer a joyful season that is organized, efficient with larger profits and zero melt downs, here are some of my methods to achieve it.
If your interiorscape services include holiday displays, rentals and installation, every client should have finalized their holiday choices and preference of installation date. Go through your list of previous clients and make sure everyone has been approached with this year’s design options. Repeat clientele is a company’s biggest asset and failing to follow up with just one is like throwing away money in your company’s wallet.
Offering two or three year contracts with a rollover option can make future seasons much more efficient as well as profitable. In this uneasy economic state, I find customers hesitate more to committing to additional years. To help overcome this obstacle, I offer better discounts to any client that signs up for a two or more year lease contract. Should they use the same material / color scheme each year, I provide another price break since it frees up more of my design time as well as offers a bigger return on last year’s material cost.
Once selections have been finalized, collect deposits and nail down installation dates. When Halloween hasn’t even past, companies tend to be resist submitting checks for something that is months away. As an incentive, I give paid clients first choice for their installation date. As in most instances, everybody wants their tree up Thanksgiving weekend. By informing all my clients of this situation, it creates a sense of urgency and most will make sure their check is sent immediately.
Another option I provide my customers is a layaway plan. By splitting their balance into two or more payments, that huge balance doesn’t seem so daunting. And in some cases, it allows a company more spending room to add on even more items.
Every summer, I go through my holiday inventory and confirm what is available and what is still needed. Once I have everything for a client project grouped together and labeled, it’s all set to install. Hopefully, this organization prevents needed material from being left behind. There’s nothing more frustrating than when your crew gets to a job site and pieces are missing. Traffic in my city gets very hectic and it’s even worse during the holidays. Stress levels rise quickly when you are driving back through traffic and hitting every red light all while knowing you are the one holding up the installation.
If you’ve been in the holiday decorating business as long as I have, you will find having the right tools and equipment can be the difference between a smooth installation that runs on time and one that is plagued with hurtles, major stress and goes way over the time you estimated. Even the most organized job site will have some issues that you couldn’t predict. For those trouble shooting instances, I make sure every project site has these items:
- Light tester: While it’s best to make sure all light strands are working before arriving at the account, it doesn’t hurt to have a light bulb tester on hand. Whether this step was simply forgotten or something happened in transport, this item can save time and frustration when trying to figure which bulb went bad and is in need of replacement.
- Extra light strands, replacement bulbs and fuses.
- Glue gun and glue sticks: These items can be invaluable should ornaments crack, come off or need a strong adhesive.
- Floral wire, tape, fishing line and assorted suction cups: I’ve found the 3M removable tape works good for light items, while suction cups are a good option for window or glass areas. I always test the weight load with suction hooks and double sided tape since they are not always able to handle heavier items. It can also be embarrassing if your client calls to tell you one of your wreaths fell down and hit someone in the head.
- Thumb tacks: These are less damaging then nails and usually can be hidden with clear tops.
- Hammer, assorted nails, screwdriver, and assorted screws: Make sure putting holes in the building is approved by owners, otherwise you can be liable for property damage. I reserve this option only if wire/double sided tape or suction cups won’t hold décor properly.
- Scissors: You can never have enough back up scissors.
Save time by fully decorating trees at your shop and then wrapping them in industrial size cellophane. This can drastically shorten labor costs at the job site, but be sure that the entire tree will fit through door openings and in elevators. Otherwise, all that hard work will have to be torn down and reassembled.
Decorating for the holidays is a great niche for interiorscape companies like my own. No matter how many trees, wreaths or garlands I have to design and install each year, I never get tired of creating new color schemes and watching how they can transform a lobby. While that part is very enjoyable, we all know that meeting deadlines, dealing with malfunctions and working non-stop until the 25th, can be exhausting. By sharing some of my methods, I hope I’ve helped others lessen their frustration and instead see the more of the enjoyable side of the holiday season.
Featured image by Baltimore RecNParks