8 Tips for Hiring a Professional Christmas Light Installer
So you're thinking of hiring a professional Christmas light installer to put up your Christmas light display this year? That's not a bad idea. In fact, it's a very good idea. Every holiday season there's a frightful rash of injuries, trips to the ER — and even the occasional death — as homeowners perform light installation chores that are very unfamiliar to them.
Some Christmas Enthusiasts absolutely revel in the task of installing their Christmas lights. It's not dangerous drudge work to them; they love it! If that's you, this blog post might not interest you much (but we've got plenty of how-to help to offer you). But if the thought of installing this year's Christmas light display elicits from you a feeling more like dread than excitement, read on.
For you, hiring a professional to install your light display is an excellent idea. But just as do-it-yourselfer Christmas Enthusiasts need to know the proper techniques for designing and installing Christmas light displays, you need to know a few things about selecting and hiring a professional light installer.
In particular, the following 8 tips will help to ensure that hiring the job done won't turn out to be a bigger pain than doing the job yourself:
Don't Go Cheap
Is there an older truism than the ancient: You get what you pay for? Probably not. And it applies to everything. We always advise Christmas Enthusiasts to avoid cheap Christmas lights, because if you buy cheap, you get cheap. The same is true of professional installers.
The cheapest installers are cheap for a reason — probably multiple reasons. Hire cheap, and you'll likely get someone with little design experience and little installation experience. And you might have to deal with some reliability issues as a bonus.
Make Sure They're Insured
Installing Christmas lights can be a risky proposition — that's probably a large part of the reason you're not all that keen on doing the job yourself. There's certainly a potential risk to life and limb, but there's a risk to property, too. It's not something that warrants lots of worry; just make certain that the professional you hire is adequately insured — just in case. After all, that's what insurance is for.
Check Out Their Source for Lights
Find out where they buy their lights — that will give you a HUGE clue about the quality of lights you'll be getting. They don't have to buy from us (though that will ensure top-quality lights!). But you DO want to be sure they're buying from a dedicated, year-round Christmas light supplier. If they tell you they're buying from the local big-box store? That instantly tells you two things:
a. You WILL NOT be getting good quality lights
b. You're probably not dealing with an experienced professional (see item #1)
Consider Buying the Lights Yourself
Buy your lights yourself from a specialty retailer like Christmas Designers, and you'll be certain that your lights are of great quality. But it still wouldn't hurt to ask the professional installer where he buys his lights for other customers; the answer will provide a great clue about his professionalism.
Don't Pay Much Upfront
Is the professional installer asking you to pay more than half of the fee upfront? Politely decline, and look for another pro to install your Christmas lights. Paying a portion of the installer's fee upfront is common, but that upfront payment should NEVER be more than half of the total fee. If the installer is asking for more upfront, that's a red flag that should warn you away.
Ask for References
You're asked for references if you apply for a job, right? Why should it be any different for professional installers that want you to hire them? Anybody that's been in the business for a while and has lots of happy customers — exactly the type of person you want to hire — will be perfectly happy to provide you with plenty of references. So ask how long they've been in business AND ask for references.
Inquire About Problem Resolution Policies
No matter the depth of experience and the breadth of professionalism an installer offers, it's still possible that there will be some post-installation problems. Maybe some lights will go out before the holiday season comes to a conclusion. Or maybe you'll have some disagreements with the installation crew.
No professional can provide a guarantee that problems won't occur. What they CAN do, though, is to have a clear and ironclad policy for resolving problems and issues. Ask about that. And in particular, make sure that they won't charge you unreasonably for coming back and addressing problems that crop up after the installation crew has left.
Avoid the One-Man Show
Quite obviously, professional Christmas light installation is a seasonal business. So the people you'll be considering hiring will most likely do other forms of work during the remainder of the year. That's OK.
But what's NOT OK is if the person you're considering hiring is sort of a hobbyist professional: a one-man operation installing lights out of the back of his pickup to snag a bit of extra Christmas cash. Go with a professional operation that's established, and that has the manpower to handle your job on a timely basis, and respond rapidly to any problems or issues that arise.
Either Way Takes Planning…
Whether you install your own Christmas lights or hire a professional installer to do the job, a bit of planning will be involved.
If you're doing the installation, you'll need to decide the type of lights you'll need, and how many. You'll need to design your display. And you'll need to order your lights and supplies early to be sure that everything is on hand when needed.
And if you're hiring the job done, your planning will involve doing your due diligence in selecting the company that will perform your installation. It will also include contacting them and getting your service scheduled on a timely basis — in other words: EARLY.
But once you've done that initial bit of planning and have your installation service scheduled, you'll be able to just kick back, relax, and enjoy the holiday season — and your beautiful lights.
For lots of Christmas Enthusiasts, that's the best way to sail into the holiday season.