Christmas Tree Lot Tips
source for the information on this page: Oregon Christmas Tree Association Website
  



WHEN

Many lots open the first weekend after Thanksgiving. However, if you wait until the first weekend in December, you will need less labor and your customers will have fresher trees. Advertise early and often, emphasizing your trees are the FRESHEST.

FENCING

Put the fence up early and put advertising on it. This is a good place for your organization’s sign and logo. Create a single entrance/exit for your lot past the cash register.

DISPLAYING TREES

Trees standing in a rack without water dry out more quickly than you may realize. Therefore, it is better to display as few trees as possible but in an interesting arrangement,restocking the area frequently. If possible, stand the trees in water while on display. Maybe you can add a sideline business – selling stands with adequate water reservoirs. Leave the major portion of the trees in a protected area out of the sun and wind. Propercare of your trees can make a big difference in repeat customer satisfaction and should not be taken lightly.

You can direct traffic on the lot by organizing it carefully. Giving the lot the atmosphere of a “forest” might be a good play. Islands of trees, rather than long rows, could be amore interesting display. The islands could be staggered so the customer winds through the trees. Keep areas facing the street full of trees as the season progresses. Make it look as if you have lots of variety. Place a few lower quality trees near the entrance so your customers have something for comparison.

GROUND COVER

If the area will become muddy with trampling feet, provide some kind of ground cover. It is much more pleasant to walk on bark chips, sawdust, or gravel (get owner approval before adding material to the site).

LIGHTING

Make the lighting attractive as well as useful. You need general area light to see and several spotlights in appropriate places high enough not to shine in customers’ eyes or be disruptive to traffic or neighbors. Christmas tree lights can be strung overhead along the display aisles to add to the Christmas spirit. You may need several heavy-duty extension cords. Be sure to keep all cords away from walkways to prevent accidents. Also, clean up baling twine and limbs immediately.

SHELTER FOR PEOPLE

It will be cold and often wet on the lot. You might provide coffee, snacks, and a place to get out of the weather for the workers (a camper, trailer, or small building might be used). In some areas you may need someone to stay all night for security reasons.

SHELTER FOR TREES

Some kind of shelter from the wind and sun will protect your trees from drying out. Cover the trees with a light colored tarp, shade cloth, or place them under a roof. Keep them damp, sprinkling at least once a day with water in warmer climates. Good tree care makes for happy customers.

SIGNS

Provide large identification signs for your lot indicating the sponsoring organization. These will need to be waterproofed. Prominent signs denoting species and price prevent customers from being disappointed after they have selected their tree. Signs placed where extra trees are stocked is helpful to uninitiated sales people.

SUPPLIES

You will need a saw, pruning shears, or loppers for trimming branches or cutting off trunks of trees for customers. Choose a small chainsaw for quick work (electric chainsaws provide instant cutting power). Carry a pocketknife for cutting twine. Include the following in your supplies: pens, markers, cards, stapler, tape, scotch tape, tags, receipts book, and measuring stick for sizing and pricing trees, as well as a cord or rope to tie trees to customers’ cars.

You will need a cashbox. Have adequate change for customers, but don’t leave a large amount of cash in the box. Arrange for cash pickup each day to protect your hard earned sales. You may also want to consider electronic payment options such as Visa. Arrange to have trash barrels available. People tend to use the barrels if they are convenient. It’s easier to keep the area clean than to get it clean. The first year you will have a high overhead for equipment and supplies so it’s wise to think through the project with an eye toward continuing for several years.

PRICING

Essentially you should double your costs if you are going to make any money. If the tree costs you $3/ft, you should charge $6/ft. That should cover the entire overhead as well as provide you with some profit. Specialty trees of large sizes will be more expensive. Generally, people are more willing to pay higher prices for trees when the proceeds will benefit a non-profit service organization. Each tree should be tagged with the price to make it easier for the sales people. Have tags attached tightly as some customers may switch the tags. Have some inexpensive trees at the front of the lot and the nicer trees near the back for the customer to use for comparison. Some people prefer the less expensive trees.

SALES PROMOTIONS

Various sales promotions can go a long way toward boosting tree sales. Some ideas are:

• Well placed gift certificates in the hands of the Community Action Center or charities, to give to those families who cannot afford a tree.  (Advertise that fact.)
• “Care for your tree” tags/brochures
• Refreshments – free or for sale
• Flashing Christmas tree light strings
• Stands & ornaments to buy
• Wreaths & Garlands
• Place the tree in the stand, especially for older folks and apartment dwellers
• Tree Delivery
• Pick up after Christmas
• Chipping trees
• Fireproofing (some cities require this)
• Flocking

SCHEDULING

Most sales will occur after school during the week, and after 10:00 a.m. on the weekends. Plan your sales times with that in mind. Arrange to have enough sales people around, but not so many that they overwhelm your customers. Overlap the work schedules to allow new sales staff to learn the important business of the day from those going off duty.

POST SEASON CLOSE DOWN

Plan to clean up immediately. Return the lot to original condition or better. There is an advantage to returning to the same lot year after year, and leaving the lot in excellent condition will help ensure you get the space again for the next season. • Pay your bills and count your money.

 

 


CHECK YOUR COMPETITION

__ How many lots were (are) there in the
     area?
__ Where are (were) those lots?
__ How close to you?
__ What types of trees were sold on these
     lots (species, size, quality, cost)
__ Did they have a sales promotion,
     refreshments, giveaways, etc.?
__ Is there room for another lot in your area?__ What is the potential sales estimate?

LOT LOCATION

__ Access from major, well-traveled street
     or highway?
__ Easy to reach and get in/out of?
__ Good visibility from the street?
__ Adequate parking?
__ Safe parking so children do not cross
     a right of way?
__ Good lighting, or can you enhance it?

SPACE CONSIDERATIONS

__ Room to display trees to good advan-
    tage, preferably on or in stands?
__ Room for customers to roam through
     the display?
__ Space for storage and flocking of trees?
__ Storage of additional trees?

FENCING

__ What type would be best for you? Chain
     link, chicken wire, or something else?
__ Can you rent or must you buy?
__ How will it be put up? Posts, wire, nails? __ What will it cost?
__ Do you have permission from landowner
     to do what you plan to do?

UTILITIES

__ Access to electricity and water?
__ How much will it cost to hook up?
__ How much lead time do you need?
__ Do you need a deposit, how much?

GROUND COVERING

__ Get permission to apply bark dust,
     gravel & landscape cloth, etc.

PERMITS

__ What do you need and what is the cost?
__ Business license?
__ Utility permits?
__ Sales tax?
__ Cleanup bond?
__ Liability insurance coverage?
__ Workers’ comp?

BUYING TREES

__ What species do you want?
__ What sizes do you need?
__ What quality do you want?
__ How many do you want?

FINDING A GROWER

__ Will he/she give dependable service?
__ Quality trees with good selection?
__ What will be the type and method
     of payment? (up-front, halfway, or
     end of the season?)
__ Need for certified check?
__ Down payment?
__ PayPal?

TRANSPORTATION

__ Who will arrange trucking of the trees?
__ Payment of trucker?
__ How much lead time?
__ When will they be delivered?

ADVERTISING

__ Timing, quality, type?
__ What kind works best in your area?
     Radio, TV, billboards, newspapers,
     flyers, banners, internet?
__ How far in advance do you need to
     be ready?
__ What is the cost?
__ Check for free adverting, such as group mailers in bank statements and utility bills.

SETTING UP THE LOT

__ When will you open?
__ What will the lot look like?
__ How will you display the trees?
__ Is there room for flocking?
__ What kind of shelter is there for trees
      and employees?
__ Do you need ground covering?
__ Where will people park?
__ How will you hook up to utilities?
__ How will you secure the trees?