Installing holiday lights is an extremely lucrative business opportunity. Whether you’re adding holiday light services to your already established business or you’re new to home service entrepreneurship entirely, there’s good money to be made. 

For seasonal industries such as lawn care, or window cleaning, installing Christmas lights is a great way to expand your business into the off-season, while continuing to give your employees steady work. After all, the demand is high with homeowners looking for a stunning light display without the hassle. 

Ready to give holiday light installation a shot?

1. Calculate Your Start-up Costs

While installing Christmas lights can be extremely profitable, it’s important to know that starting the business is not cheap. 

Before jumping in, you’ll want to make sure you have some savings ready to cover the start-up costs.

To get your Christmas light installation business off the ground you’ll need to invest in the following:

  • The right licenses and permits for your new business 
  • An inventory of lights, decorations, and supplies 
  • Installation and health and safety training
  • General liability and other insurance coverage 
  • Marketing tactics to grow your customer list 

READ MORE: 10 Winter landscaping services to keep a steady income all year

2. Register your Business

If you’re starting your new business from scratch, you’ll need to make sure you have the right documentation in place before you start installing lights.

Choose your business structure

Before you can register your business, you’ll need to determine your business structure. You can choose between an LLC (Limited Liability Company), sole proprietorship, or partnership. LLC is usually the preferred choice for small service businesses. This is because businesses have limited liability if sued.

Register your business name

Your business name will be on everything—from marketing materials to quotes and invoices.

Pick a name that’s both professional and descriptive of your business.

Before you register, make sure your business name is available. Try searching the web to see if any results come up. Or run a quick search on the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System to see if anyone has already trademarked the name.

Then register your business name with your local government.

If you already have a registered business, this step is optional. You can choose to either operate under your existing business name or register a new one.

Kirk Brown, owner of Dynamic Celebration Lighting chose to run his Christmas light installation business as a separate entity. He operates his lawn care and Christmas light installation services in different service areas and wanted to avoid any confusion.

Apply for the right licenses and permits

To operate your business you’ll need the necessary licenses and permits. Without them, you could face hefty fines, or be forced to shut down.

But depending on where your business is located, these requirements will differ.

Before you start scheduling jobs, check with your local municipality to make sure you obtain the right local, state, and federal permits and licenses to operate.

READ MORE: Christmas light installation: 8 tips for a profitable season

3. Get the Right Training

Though technically not required, investing in training can help you start your holiday light installation business on the right foot. In addition to improving your installation process, an investment in training can create a safer work environment for your crew.

Register with CLIPA

Kirk invests in a membership with the Christmas Light Installer Professional Association (CLIPA). Members can attend in-class and practical training that covers installation best practices and health and safety concerns. 

“My crew and I took the class for a much quicker, and more organized rundown. CLIPA had handout material and PowerPoint presentations – it was just like a classroom setting”

As an added bonus, your CLIPA membership gives you more purchasing power with access to member pricing on lights and decorations.

4. Build Your Inventory

Building an inventory of lights will be the bulk of your start-up costs. To stretch your budget, the earlier you can start building your inventory, the better.

“The closer you wait to Christmas, the pricing always goes up. The product is scarcer and vendors charge whatever they can, just to sell it.”

  • Kirk Brown, Dynamic Celebration lighting.

You’ll want to find a reliable source to buy wholesale lights. It’s important to invest in high-quality lights, too since commercial grade lights mean they’ll last longer. You’ll spend less time dealing with burnt-out bulbs or damaged strands. 

Here are a few things you’ll need to get started your first year:

  • LED lights
  • Holiday decorations
  • Outdoor extension cords
  • Light clips
  • Wooden ladders
  • Wire cutters
  • Zip ties
  • Electrical tape
  • Harnesses
  • Other safety supplies

5. Update Your Insurance Policy

Installing holiday lights inherently comes with risks—from working at heights to working with electrical equipment. 

Talk with your insurance provider to make sure you get the coverage you need to protect your business.

Make sure your Christmas light installation business is covered with the following:

  • General liability insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Commercial auto insurance
  • Workers compensation insurance

6. Create Your Pricing Strategy

It’s time to determine how you’ll charge customers for your services.

Choose your service model

Holiday light installers can choose to either lease or sell lights to their customers. Both come with pros and cons. Choose the service model that works best for your business:

Leasing model

Selling model

Pros:

  • Leasing offers your customers greater flexibility to change the color of lights or design year after year. (Without having to buy new lights.)
  • Leasing gives you a hard asset. If you lose a customer you still have a set of lights to use on the next house.
Pros: 

  • Selling is a more hands-off approach. Once you’ve installed the lights
  • Once you’ve installed the lights, your customer is responsible to maintain or replace any damaged strands.
Cons:

  • Leasing is more work for the installer. You’ll be responsible for installing, dismantling, storing, and maintaining all lights.
  • If a customer’s light goes out mid-season, you’ll have to provide the repair.
Cons:

  • Customers can get frustrated with hidden fees to repair or replace damaged lights
  • If a customer wants to change their light color, they’ll have to buy a whole new set of lights.

Calculate your hourly rate

Time yourself installing lights on trees or bushes, one-story houses, and two-story houses. Once you’ve determined how long it takes you to install the lights, use this formula to calculate your rate.

Price of Materials / Number of Hours = $ per Square Foot

Then multiply by the number of square feet of lights you are installing

Different jobs have different degrees of difficulty. Add premiums for installations that involve difficult trees, high or steep roofs, etc.

Build a quote template

It’s a quick holiday season. Having an estimate template ready to send can help you respond to quotes faster and close more sales.

Here’s what you should include in your quote template:

  • Your customer’s name, phone number, and email address
  • Your company name, logo, and contact information
  • A breakdown of the services you’ll be providing
  • Total cost—including labor, materials, and sales tax
  • The expiry date of the estimate
  • Terms and conditions
  • Space for the customer’s signature

Pro Tip: Kirk uses lawn care software for his holiday lighting business to create quotes, schedule jobs, and manage his holiday lighting crew as well.

Send professional quotes with Jobber’s free estimate template

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7. Hire Good Employees

If you’re transitioning from your seasonal business, installing Christmas lights is a great way to reduce turnover and provide longer employment for your employees.

But if you’re starting from scratch or looking to take on more business than your current team can handle, you’ll need to hire new employees.

To hire good staff for your holiday light installation business try the following:

Write an engaging job description

A good job description summarizes the role and sets expectations for applicants.

Make sure to include:

  • Company information and overview
  • A list of responsibilities
  • A list of qualifications
  • Preferred skills (if any)
  • Hours
  • Salary and any other benefits you might offer
  • Instructions on how to apply

Advertise the job

Post a job ad online through Indeed or Facebook Jobs to let people know you’re hiring. Then reach a broader audience by sharing the post on your business’s social media accounts.

Ask current employees for referrals

Set up an employee referral program and let your employees recruit for you. Ask your team if they know anyone who may be a good fit for the position. Then offer an incentive such as gift cards, or cash bonuses if their referral is successful.

READ MORE: Hiring and recruiting tips to attract employees that stick around

8. Get Your First Christmas Lights Customers

There are many ways to market your new business but remember—the Christmas light season is a short two months. To make sure you have a profitable season, use marketing strategies that offer a quick return on your investment.

Here are five affordable strategies to find new Christmas light customers:

1. Create a simple website

Build a professional holiday light website that lists your services, and makes it easy for customers to request work, or book your services online.

Website builders like GoDaddy or Wix make it easy to create a winning site for your Christmas light installation business.

How to start a Christmas light business

Kirk uses his stunning website design to promote Dynamic Celebration Lighting. 

2. Share images and services on social media

Create an Instagram and Facebook business page to share before and after pictures of your light installations. (With the homeowner’s permission, of course.) 

Setting up social media accounts for your business is free and will help you build brand awareness online.

3. Invest in lawn signs

Let your hard work advertise for you. Ask happy customers if you can put a sign on their lawn after the installation. When people stop to look at your light display, they’ll know exactly who to call for the same service.

Place the sign in an unobstructed location and make sure your company name, website, and contact information are easy to read.

4. Post tearaway flyers 

Reach your target market by posting tearaway flyers on bulletin boards in libraries, grocery stores, or community centers. Make sure to include your company name, the services you offer, and your contact information.

Pro Tip: Use Jobber’s tearaway flyer maker to create effective flyers in just a few clicks.

5. Send an email to your seasonal customers

If you run another service business, use that customer base to your advantage. Let your current seasonal customers know about your new business venture. Send an email to your existing customer list introducing your new services and inviting them to check out your website or request a quote.

Jobber’s MailChimp integration makes it easy to send effective email campaigns to grow your Christmas light customer base.

READ MORE: How to create an email list that grows on its own

Spread Some Holiday Cheer this Christmas Season

Starting a Christmas light installation business is more than just a way to supplement your seasonal income. It also offers a unique opportunity to boost the holiday spirit in your community.

It’s a short Christmas season, but don’t let that discourage your new business venture.

With room to expand into wedding or event light installation, your holiday lights side hustle could last you all year long.

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