Hey everyone! It’s your North, FL Christmas light Elf, Sparkle! Now that Christmas is over, Santa has given all of us a much-needed break. And I gotta admit, it’s been a crazy year, sort of like how the team at Twinkle Nights has had a crazy year too. Tom asked me if, before I took the next few weeks off, I could put together a short 2021 Twinkle Nights Year in Review for him. And of course, I was more than happy to help out!
This year, Twinkle Nights expanded significantly into Jacksonville and St Augustine. We spent a lot of time staying in hotels to make sure that each customer in that area got exactly the type of holiday display that they ordered. In addition, some major inroads were made in Gainesville, Ocala, and The Villages. As Tom told me, “When you look for opportunity, it’ll be there.”
And there were a lot of opportunities for us this year! We received great feedback from virtually every client, including the areas we expanded into. In addition, we did some event lighting, which everyone loved and was highly impressed with!
There were several locations where we completely donated our displays, not charging for labor or materials. Those included:
- Kirby Family Farm;
- Gainesville Community Playhouse;
- The Triangle Building, and;
- The local Gainesville Community Library.
Of note is that the library is on one of the main roads in Gainesville, passed by literally thousands of commuters every day. Not only did it make the library look amazing, but it also brightened the day of everyone who had the pleasure of seeing the displays!
One of the first lessons Santa ever taught me was to delegate. Of course, he taught me that when he was delegating to me, but now that I’ve been with him for a few thousand years, I’ve learned the importance of asking others for help and assigning tasks based on skill sets.
One of the things most business owners learn right away is that they can’t do it all. You want to be involved in every aspect of your business, but in the end, you have to learn to rely on others to make your projects a success.
The leadership at Twinkle Nights has been incorporating this best practice all year long, hoping to improve our operational efficiency and overall customer satisfaction. It’s a best practice we also plan to continue well into 2022 and beyond so that we can continue to grow and expand our customer base.
Focusing on customer satisfaction
I think it’s that focus on customer satisfaction that has helped us become the amazing company we are today. As I mentioned, we had great feedback from every client, while at the same time seeing a huge increase in the number of families we served! One way we handled both the increased workload while meeting customer expectations was with earlier displays this year. We began setting up in October at some locations but didn’t hang any greenery or turn the lights on until well after Halloween.
We also improved our already great service with a dedicated team member who could handle any customer inquiries or requests. This cut down on our response time and increased customer satisfaction even higher.
All of this meant that Twinkle Nights was able to “light up” Christmas for more than double the number of clients they served during the year before.
Labor restructuring & team changes
As I mentioned, this is a part of an overall labor restructuring. As with many other businesses across the area, we faced challenges in the labor market. We responded by increasing hourly pay and jumping through hurdles to ensure our team members were prepared to deliver the best possible designs for every customer.
We hired a new Lead Design Elf (otherwise known as a Sales Lead) and a Lead Office Elf (Office Manager), who could ensure that our growth trend continued upward and onward (just like Santa on Christmas Eve)!
By refocusing on the team, Twinkle Nights helped add more jobs locally, supporting the local communities where our Elves and their families live and work.
Supply and labor challenges meant that the team was forced to run lean. Specifically, a supply hiccup meant that one of our light orders of C9 bulbs was delayed by seven weeks! Thankfully, we didn’t turn anyone away due to shortages and brought so much joy to Gainesville, Jacksonville, as well as the surrounding cities and towns. However, as a fun fact, at the end of November, we only had 500 feet of C9 bulbs left in our inventory, roughly enough to do one or two houses!
Plans for 2022
This year, we developed several key training programs, including installer skills, customer service, and basic sales training. Next year, we plan to continue adding additional and refreshed training for everyone on the team. Sales training in particular will be very beneficial for helping the team grow in all of our service communities, which will include SOPs and best practice standards. As an example, this will ensure that every column on your house is wrapped the same way for a beautiful, uniform look. The goal is to give the client exactly what they are paying for and to minimize post-install calls.
This year, we spent a lot of time staying in hotels when traveling in addition to the back and forth drive between Gainesville and other communities. Next year, the plan is to get a trailer that can act as a portable base of operations — effectively, plans for dedicated hubs for every Twinkle Nights community.
As always, we would love to expand offering permanent patio light setups for spring and summertime outdoor fun, and wouldn’t it be awesome if we could double our 2021 installs for next year too?
Summing up my 2021 Twinkle Nights Year in Review
It’s been a great year for everyone here at Twinkle Nights as well as up at the North Pole. There’s so much in store for Twinkle Nights that I can’t wait to see how 2022 unfolds for us. With plans to do more patio lights, looking for ways to bump up efficiency, and increased team training, I know that the team is just going to continue to get better and better with each install. Of course, the expanded locations helped a lot with that, and the donated displays demonstrate our commitment to our region. And with each install, we focused on increasing our customer satisfaction.
2021 was amazing, and 2022 is going to be even better. So, before I get too busy, it’s time for my annual Elf-style vacation. See you guys soon, and I hope you have a great 2022!
Here are some other resources to help light up your holiday season!