How To Sell Christmas Trees Online And Make Extra Money This Holiday Season
The Christmas tree industry is more profitable than ever before. Now is a great time to jump on the wagon and earn some extra money. It can be a somewhat complicated industry that demands patience, attention, and diligence. However, it’s also known for its very friendly community. Competing companies are often on friendly terms with one another. They share advice, help newcomers to the industry, and arrange for annual competitions.
The internet has helped fuel the growth of the Christmas tree industry over the past several years. Even Amazon has started selling live Christmas trees in their online shop as of 2018. While you may not be able to have your trees listed on Amazon (they have an exclusive partnership with a tree farm) you can still sell Christmas trees online. Online sales aren’t typically very plentiful, but they will make a great addition to the local sales you make at your lot.
But what if you don’t have a lot yet? What if you’ve never sold a Christmas tree before? It’s not too late to join the industry. Here’s a breakdown of the steps necessary to start selling Christmas trees in your local area as well as sell Christmas trees online via your own website.
Choose A Supply Method
The first thing you’ll need to determine is exactly where you get your Christmas trees from. You will have two options available. The first option is to grow your own trees on a local farm. The second option is to purchase trees from a tree farmer and then sell them at a marked-up price. Both of these options are popular, can be very profitable, and have their own advantages.
The main advantage of growing the trees yourself is that the profit margin is significantly higher on every tree. The average sapling may cost less than $0.50. A 10-acre farm can grow roughly 15,000 trees and you might sell between 500 and 1,000 of those in a year (more or less depending on your location and marketing strategy). Finally, consider that the average seven-foot Fraser fir is around $70.
With these factors in mind, you’re making roughly $69.50 per tree sold and averaging between $34,000 and $69,000 for the year. This doesn’t take into consideration all of the additional overhead costs associated with caring for the farm, managing the lot, and running the website. But even with overhead costs, you are still making an impressive profit each year.
The major setback for growing your own trees is the time that it takes. Christmas trees take between 6 and 8 years to grow to maturity. After which, you will replant however much is sold each year to ensure that you have continuously available stock. But it’s that initial 6-to-8 years that makes it difficult for newcomers to commit to growing their own trees.
Alternative: Purchase From A Farmer
If you want to sell Christmas trees online this year, then you simply can’t wait 8 years for your trees to grow. That means you will need to purchase the trees from a tree farmer and sell them again at your Christmas tree lot. The profit margin per tree is not nearly as high, but it’s faster and it’s much easier to get started using this method.
You should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the tree farmers in your local area. Tour their farms and find who you believe to be the best supplier. Don’t only consider the price of their trees, but also their quality, size, and appearance. These trees will be representing your brand.
Trees purchased directly from a farmer are still cheaper than Christmas trees sold at a lot. A general rule of thumb is to charge twice as much for a tree as you paid for it. If you buy a tree for $25, then you should be charging at least $50 for customers. And it’s entirely possible to get even better margins depending on the trees and your relationship with the supplier. Farmers can afford to charge lower prices for trees because they sell a huge number of trees to various retailers and tree lots throughout the area.
Meanwhile, it’s a great time to invest in your own tree farm as well. You can purchase your first trees from a supplier, but also plant a few acres of saplings during your first year. Within 8 years you’ll no longer need to buy trees from a farmer and can rely on your own supply, thus increasing your profits.
Choosing A Lot
Your goal may be to sell Christmas trees online, but a large portion of your sales are going to come directly from your lot. This is an area of land where all of your trees will be stationed. Potential customers will be able to walk through the lot and choose the tree that they like the most. As with any physical business, the location of your lot is extremely important.
First, you want to make sure that there isn’t any competition nearby. People in this business are generally friendly and helpful. That doesn’t mean they are going to be too happy if you set up your lot right across the street from theirs. And you don’t want to start your business by trying to compete directly with well-established companies.
You’ll also want a location that will have a decent amount of traffic passing by. Even with extensive online marketing, a great deal of business comes from people who notice your lot while driving by. They pull over, check out your trees, and wind up driving away with something. But if your lot is tucked away down a dirt road, then nobody is going to see it and your business is going to suffer.
The size of the lot is important as well. If you’re taking the time to grow your trees, then you’ll likely have a very large supply. You don’t need to put all of your trees on display at your lot, but the more you can show at once the better. If your lot is too small, then you’ll need to make constant trips to pick up more trees to display, which will waste time and gas.
Setting Up For Business
You’ve got your trees and you’ve got your lot. Now it’s time to set up your physical location for local sales. This means bringing out as many trees as possible and putting them on display with enough room between them for walking. Some plots of space out rows of trees wide enough that a trailer or car can be pulled between them. How you arrange your trees will depend entirely on your lot, your supply, and your personal preferences.
Most people will set up an overnight office while selling trees between November and January. This doesn’t mean you have to sell trees 24/7. The main reason to stay on-site overnight is for security purposes. Sleeping at your lot in a camper is enough to deter most potential thieves. Otherwise, you’ll need to invest in professional security, which can be expensive.
The final piece of the puzzle is the lighting. You want light poles, light panels, and string lights. A lot of tree sales happen after dark because winter months have shorter periods of sunlight. The lights ensure that the entire lot is illuminated when choosing a tree. It also makes it much easier for drivers to notice your trees when passing by.
You should also choose whether you want to be Ltd or PLC.
Creating A Website For Online Sales
Once your physical location is properly set up you can launch your website and begin to sell Christmas trees online. It’s always best to invest in professional website design if you have the funds available. Your website doesn’t need to extremely complicated or flashy. However, since you’ll be selling products online, you want to ensure it is secure and that the store section is fully functional.
Selling your trees online opens you up to competition from the rest of the country. You’ll need to put a significant effort into marketing if you hope to compete with other companies that sell trees on the internet. Search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and social media are three marketing tools that you should familiarize yourself with.
Once again, you can choose to invest in a professional third-party marketing firm if you want the best results. It will cost more upfront but has a much higher chance for success. Otherwise, there’s still plenty that you can do to market your website without hiring a professional. One such way is starting a blog on your website.
Enjoy Those Sales
With a physical lot and an online store, you’ll be pushing the limits of how much a person can make selling trees. It’s not uncommon for a single location to make more than $20,000 in profit selling trees. The addition of the online store won’t double that amount, but it can add several thousand dollars to the margin. And that margin will increase as your website becomes more popular with time and as you begin to grow your own trees to sell.