Every December, millions of people around the world make the traditional pilgrimage to find the perfect Christmas tree for their home. While those trees are rarely expensive, they account for a massive amount of consumer spending. In the United States, the Christmas tree industry is worth about $1.04 billion in any given year. Clearly, buying and selling trees during the holiday season can generate a ton of revenue for spirited entrepreneurs. If you want to make your own little fortune in the Christmas tree sphere, the following simple blueprint can work for anyone.
Perform Thorough Market Research First
Before getting started, it’s always a good idea to identify your preferred target demographics and their preferences. Some entrepreneurs will focus on 8-foot trees for families while others will focus on 3-foot trees for condo dwellers. You should also familiarize yourself with the more popular tree varieties such as grand, noble, silvertip and Turkish firs to name just a few. Find out what kind of tree your intended audience wants and tailor your inventory based on the intelligence that you’ve gathered.
Come Up with an Effective Business Plan
Eventually, you’ll need to figure out the dollars-and-cents portion of the equation to make your business profitable. Look at the price per tree that you’ll need to charge to turn a profit. Identify the best time frames for selling those trees to bring in the highest revenues. Figure out whether you’ll position your lot in an urban area or a more rural location. Finally, come up with a schedule for business hours that won’t seriously interfere with your 9-to-5 job or other side businesses.
Address Start-Up Financing Issues Early
The amount of money required to launch a Christmas tree concern depends on a number of factors such as location and local bureaucratic red tape. You’ll need to factor in costs like business licenses, permits, insurance and renting lot space. At the extreme end of the bell curve, starting a Christmas tree business can cost up to $25,000 in Los Angeles when all is said and done. Take out a loan or use a P2P lending service to acquire the necessary funds for a successful launch.
Lock Down High-Quality Tree Providers
Obviously, you’ll need to acquire a substantial stock of trees by late November to sell to the public. Come up with a short list of Christmas tree farms within a day’s drive of your hometown and start making calls. You’ll need to figure out how to get the product to your location in the most cost-effective manner possible. If you have some land that you can use to start your own Christmas tree plot, there are over 15,000 farms in the US that can sell you seedlings.
Source the Required Resources and Materials
If you’re going to run a Christmas tree business, certain tools and supplies are absolutely necessary. A few saws of varying lengths as well as pruning shears for trimming down branches are indispensable. Packaging materials like netting, twine, bungee cords and cellophane are also a must and should be purchased in bulk to cut down on expenses. A few hand trucks or dollies will make maneuvering larger trees a lot easier on your body. Buy everything that you’ll need at least a month in advance.
Secure a Retail Location or Storage Space
Unless you go out of your way to differentiate your business from the competition, a killer location is the path to higher profits. You don’t necessarily need to be right off the main drag in town or right next to the busiest corner to rake in the dough. As long as your lot is relatively easy to find, features convenient access and has plenty of parking, you should be fine. Sign a 30-day lease for an appropriate lot well before December.
Figure Out the Bureaucratic Red Tape
Most first-time side business hustlers are often surprised at how difficult it is to launch a quick-money venture. Local municipalities are usually the biggest obstacle to success. To be on the safe side, contact local and state authorities no later than August to sort out licenses, permits and tax details. After all, you can never be too cautious when it comes to dealing with government bodies at any level. As always, the local chamber of commerce is usually the best source of information in these situations.
Finalize On-the-Ground Operational Details
Prior to launching the actual tree-flipping concern, you should storyboard how the transactions will go down in real life. In almost every situation, you’ll need at least one helper to either ring up sales or load trees for customers. While a cash-only register is certainly convenient, many buyers will want to use their debit or credit cards to pay. Popular options for processing digital transactions include Square and PayPal Here. Many of these platforms allow merchants to use their smartphones and tablets to instantly make sales in the field at affordable rates.
Perfect Your Marketing Approach
In most areas, Christmas tree lots are a dime a dozen. If you want to make serious money without losing your hair from stress, getting your name out there early on is critical. Try the low-technology approach of tacking up flyers and coupons that advertise your lot around town to begin with. Make sure to look at how competing lots do business and find a way to set yourself apart. Use social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to reach out to consumers before the Christmas tree season begins.
Perfect the Pricing Model as You Go
According to the most recent statistics, the average Christmas tree costs about $40 in the United States. Most retailers set their rates based on tree species and height. Paying close attention to the pricing models of your competitors during the season is critical if you want to liquidate inventory on schedule and maximize profits. Many retailers jack up their prices as Christmas approaches. If you can undercut them as the season progresses, you’ll be able to steal customers and boost brand awareness for the following year.
Flesh Out Service Options for Greater Profits
Most consumers don’t expect much out of their Christmas tree supplier other than an 8-foot pine at a decent price. If a merchant offers anything more than that, they’re often seen as a novelty. You can make some serious extra cash by providing a luxury experience for certain buyers. For instance, curbside delivery is an easy way to tack on a few bucks to the bill without putting in a lot of effort. You could also sell local handmade ornaments and holiday candles at the lot.
Grow the Business in an Organic Manner
After a successful season, it’s time to really make some money by fine-tuning your operation. Partnering up with other businesses is a time-tested way to create synergy for entrepreneurs. If there’s a Christmas supply store in your area, you should definitely try to become their on-site tree provider if they don’t already have one. Party planners and organizers that specialize in holiday celebrations can always use decorations at a good price. Focus on building your brand gradually by making connections with other reputable companies.
Branch Out and Diversify the Enterprise
While reselling Christmas trees is all well and good, it will only get you so far. At a certain point, you’ll need to find new revenue streams to keep the hit parade rolling along. Raising your own trees is an obvious and easy choice since evergreens will grow well in many types of soil. Selling a variety of Christmas tree seedlings from a greenhouse is another fine option. If you stretch your imagination, you’ll find plenty of ways to profit from the Christmas tree niche.