WHY I BOUGHT
For Franchisee Gary Fouts, Christmas Decor Has Been the Gift That Keeps on Giving
After a record-breaking holiday season in 2020, the longtime Christmas Decor franchisee is continuing to see huge sales numbers in 2021.
More than 20 years ago, Fouts, a landscaping company owner in New Lenox, Illinois, attended a show for the green industry and stumbled upon the brand Christmas Decor.
While Fouts’ business was thriving during the warm months, it went into hibernation during the winter season, and that meant his staff had to find other employment. Some of them didn’t come back in the spring.
With more than 300 units across the country and in Canada, the leading holiday decorating brand offers entrepreneurs like Fouts the opportunity to generate significant revenue during the holiday season by installing displays of festive lights in homes and businesses. It also allows them to retain staff year-round.
For Fouts, it was the perfect solution to a problem that plagues many businesses in the outdoor industry. In January 1999, Fouts became a Christmas Decor franchisee. “I decided I’d give it a try and see what happens.”
Fast forward to 2021, and Fouts is running a successful year-round business thanks to Christmas Decor.
“We start putting lights up in September and October — usually roof lighting, windows, trees and shrubs — but we don’t turn the lights on until later,” he says. “Greenery goes up the first part of November, and then we’re busy all of December.”
Last winter, however, Fouts was busier than he’s ever been in 22 years. “We actually increased our sales by 30% last year,” he says. “We probably didn’t do as much commercial work as previous years, but we more than made up for it with residential orders. If you think about it, everybody was home, their vacation budgets weren’t getting used and they just wanted some good things to happen, so they increased their holiday decorating budgets.”
In just one holiday season, Fouts generated more than $600,000 in revenue.
Fouts’ 2020 success wasn’t an anomaly. Christmas Decor president Brandon Stephens says he’s never seen the kind of phenomenal growth the company experienced in 2020. “Our numbers were up 20% year over year,” he says. “That’s a big number that speaks to unprecedented demand. We took a huge step forward last year, and we’re expecting that momentum to continue.”
According to Fouts, the average homeowner spends an average of $2,000 on their holiday lights. While the majority of his orders come from homeowners in upscale neighborhoods, that’s not always the case. “For the most part, it’s the people that have disposable income who can afford it, but it’s such an emotional thing for people, so you just never know.”
For clients who are on tighter budgets, Fouts offers payment plans of up to 10 months, which guarantees monthly income for his business while increasing the number of orders he gets. It also allows him to take early orders.
So far, 2021 is looking good. “We’ve sent out re-proposals to our existing clients, and we already have more people signed up than last year,” he says. “We still have another sign-up that we will send out in June, so we’re way ahead of last year.”
With a solid retention rate of 80%, Christmas Decor’s loyal customers mean franchisees don’t have to spend much time on marketing, as each year builds upon the next.
But for Fouts, Christmas Decor has done more than help him generate income during the holiday season. It’s allowed him to keep his landscaping business running, saving him the trouble of finding new employees every season. “It’s really helped us retain staff and keep good workers,” he says. “Other landscape companies can’t compete with that.”
With more than 25 years of experience, the brand and its many franchisees offer another important thing for entrepreneurs like Fouts — support. “There’s 300 franchises out there in the U.S. and Canada, and many of them have done it a long time,” Fouts says. “If someone buys a Christmas Decor franchise right now, they’re going to get a lot of help. It’s a group effort that helps ensure you’ll be successful.”
About Christmas Decor
Founded in 1986 by Blake Smith, Christmas Decor has become the leading holiday decorating brand in the U.S. and Canada. Originally created as an off-season supplement to the landscaping business, the Texas-based franchise now brings holiday cheer to over 300 communities across North America, ultimately creating jobs for 3,000-plus seasonal workers that might otherwise be unemployed. Backed by a strong business model and double-digit revenue increase year-over-year for the last 11 years, Christmas Decor is looking to grow in markets across the U.S. and Canada. For more information on Christmas Decor, please visit https://www.christmasdecor.net/franchise/.