A&A Wrap Up Five Weeks As Christmas Tree Lot Managers In South Florida
End of Week #82
Hart-T-Trees Christmas Tree Lot, Margate FL > John Prince Park Campground, Lake Worth FL
Miles traveled since last week's post = 33 miles
Total miles traveled to date = 11,856 with trailer
It's hard to believe we are already finished with our second workamping job on the road, as we have finished the Christmas Tree holiday season several days early. We closed up shop on Sunday morning, and were out of the city lot and onto our next campground by early afternoon. Thankfully for us, we only had about 30 miles to travel to our next destination, making it an easy transition after a hard 5 weeks of work! This is the earliest in the season Hart-T-Trees has ever closed lots, as they started closing some locations as early as December 18th. A typical year is a good year if they can sell out of trees by the 21st, but of course 2020 showed them a whole new ballgame.
We will be spending the week here in Lake Worth FL, just a bit north of where we just were, but closer to the ocean. We are at a nice county campground that is very large and packed with RVers this week. It feels nice to have the whole week to enjoy ourselves, catch up on rest and relaxation, have a few cocktails, and celebrate another holiday on the road. I am also super grateful we were able to take a cute little tabletop Christmas Tree with us when we departed, so now Adam and I have our FIRST EVER real tree together, and our FIRST EVER tree in the RV. It's absolutely perfect!
Adam and I are sending our love to all of our friends and family across the country this week, and hope everyone gets to spend some time enjoying themselves in some way.
Week Five as Christmas Tree Lot Managers
As slow as the last week was, it honestly went by really fast! We ended up releasing all of our lot helpers last Tuesday, and finished off the rest of the week with just the two of us running the lot. The days were extremely slow and at night we would have mini rushes, however half of the people that showed up would end up leaving because we did not have any trees left that were the size they were looking for. It seemed everyone in South Florida was still looking for a tree 8 feet or taller, but there were none in existence between Hart-T-Tree lots and all of our competitors, such as Lowes, Home Depot and Happy Holidays. Tall trees were bought out extremely early this year and unfortunately those that waited too long to purchase their tree ended up missing out.
We ended up selling trees for exactly 4 full weeks, from Saturday to Saturday, equaling 29 days of selling. This past Saturday night was our last night, and Sunday morning the crews came to tear us down and pack us up. My phone continued to ring (through an app called One Talk) all day Sunday and Monday with people still wanting to come to our lot to buy trees, but we were already long gone and the trees left were moved to another location that remained open. They began condensing lot locations on the 18th, and left just a few prime spots open through the 23rd, as there really was not enough trees or traffic to spread around to all 14 locations throughout South Florida.
Rookie season reflections & statistics
Going into this experience, Adam and I obviously didn't fully know what to expect in terms of what our net sales would be or what we could achieve. Adding in the fact that it's a 2020/Covid year and you could easily chalk everything up as completely unpredictable. At the beginning of our training sessions we were given a binder with all of last years statistics - for weekly sales, daily sales, and overall sales, broken down by types of products sold. Last year the lot ended with about $182,000 in net sales and sold about 1830 Fraser firs. Adam and I quickly decided we would set a goal for ourselves of $200,000 net sales and do our best to see what we could achieve!
We hit our first $50K in net sales within the first 7 days, and we actually hit $100K within the first 12 days. We had to reach $100K in net sales first, in order to receive our full sign on base salary with the company. From there, everything we achieved we would receive a 4% commission on. The first two weeks of the season were by far the busiest compared to the last two weeks, and in the end it became a slow crawl to the finish line. Paired with the unfortunate event of getting shut down by the city for a full day of sales, we did fall short of our goal, and ended the season with $188,128 in net sales, and 1831 Fraser firs sold. While this was not our goal, it still exceeded what the lot sold last year, and was a great rookie start for us! The funny thing is that even though we had higher net sales this year, we still only sold a few more trees than they did last year. I believe we ended up selling more other products than they did (such as tree stands, fake snow spray, etc.), and I believe we also sold a lot more larger trees than they did!
All in all it was a great 5 week workamping position for us, and we learned a LOT through this process. With some of the most important things being the fact that we learned we can MANAGE TOGETHER under high pressure, high stress situations. We were a team through this entire process, and I can confidently say that this type of workamping job is NOT for everyone. Not just because of the intensive labor, long days on your feet, and long days in general - but also because not every couple out there can handle or enjoy completing these type of tasks TOGETHER with their spouse. I am happy to say that each of our individual skill sets definitely shined these past 5 weeks and I feel like this experience made us level up in our partnership. I am insanely impressed with Adam's ability to manage the "show floor" our lot help, day to day operations and even the cash register too! The man is a damn rockstar and I'm lucky to have him as my partner. I never doubted our ability to tackle this job, but I'm absolutely thrilled with how well we really did. Our mentors told us from day one: you have to make sure you still like each other at the end of each day or you'll never get through this - and I can say firsthand that is VERY true!
Don't get me wrong - those first two weeks were ROUGH. There were plenty of moments, and plenty of days we absolutely did NOT think we were going to get through this episode of "Christmas Tree Bootcamp"... I can recall several times where we would lock eyes out on the lot and we both knew that each person was thinking the same thing, that this was absolute MADNESS. I remember being so insanely exhausted mentally and physically those first few weeks that there was literally no amount of caffeine or sleep that could save me. We would countdown the days and almost cry when we realized we were only on day 5, 6, 7... But somehow we powered through, and we mustered on, and we made it to the finish line!
Our future with Hart-T-Trees
We ended the season on a great note, and were highly appreciated by the owners and operations team of Hart-T-Trees. For all of the hard work we did, and all of the challenges we overcame on our lot during those 5 weeks, we were gifted with surprise discretionary bonus at the end of the season - on top of our base salary, and our sales commissions. They presented us with a beautiful Christmas card, holiday gift card, bonus check, and the cutest photo of Adam and I from training. I almost burst into tears when I saw that they also put our photo on a notepad too. The amount of thought that went into these gifts blew me away!
Hart-T-Trees has extended an invitation to us to return as Lot Managers again next year, and has also invited us to camp on the tree farm up in North Carolina if we are around that area at all in our upcoming travels. Both sound like wonderful opportunities to Adam and I and we definitely don't plan on turning down either of them.
Another winter in Florida, with one of the highest paying (but shortest term) workamping jobs out there?? Sign me up!
It breaks my heart to say that we never did end up seeing Fraser kitty on the lot again, after he disappeared a few weeks ago when it got cold. There was a random day, when it was just Adam and I, that we saw a cat by our dumpster that looked just like Fraser's markings, but it was way too large and fat to be him. It lingered for a bit, but from a distance, and part of me can't help but think that could have been his mother. They had almost the same markings and that cat looked much older, with the typical pooch belly cats develop. Maybe it was a sign, maybe it was just another random stray South Florida cat - but either way we have sent our well wishes to the little tree frolicking guy that surprised us on the lot at the beginning of the season. He will remain in my heart, and will be greatly missed.
Who knows, maybe he will randomly make a surprise appearance again next year??
Bengal Cat Updates
Right now I don't have too much to report on the Bengal cat homefront - as both kitties are doing well, and acting "normal". Roscoe has thrown up a few times in the past week, but that really isn't anything out of character for him, and could also be due to our recent food transition. There were a few days he appeared to be having cough attacks multiple times throughout the day, but now has not had one at all for the past two days. I can't help but wonder if that was partly due to all the dirt and dust on the tree lot. I will continue to monitor that as I know that can also be problematic in cats too!
Rahja on the other hand has been acting as normal as ever. Both cats seems to love sniffing out the little Christmas tree we have, and I know they will both be super excited when we finally take them for a walk tomorrow. I own them a ton of walks and will do my best to get them outside as much as possible in the coming weeks.
What's Next For A&A
As we wrap up 2020 and head into the new year 2021, we will be continuing to take it slow and enjoy a hopefully very sunny winter in Florida. I mentioned this last week, but we will be starting out with a nice long month in Naples, only about 140 miles from where we are now, but on the other side of the state along the Gulf Coast. From there we will travel a bit north through Fort Myers and Sarasota, to Palmetto, FL, which is just south of Tampa, to spend another relaxing month before we make our way north and out of Florida for the season.
I look forward to many meetups and reunions with friends and extended family members we know in Florida, and a few that will be traveling down to spend time with us. I am not sure if we will get to see any of our beloved immediate family anytime soon, but we sure will be thinking about them all winter long and sending our love from the beach!
In the coming weeks I will have more updates about our future plans for 2021, our travel route, any other upcoming workamping jobs in store for us, and whatever else we have up our sleeves. Right now we are wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday week, and will be sending love your way - from A&A!
We are already at the end of what has felt like the longest year of our lives! Next week marks my last post for 2020, and will include a nomadic year end review for our first FULL YEAR on the road - amidst the pandemic, lockdowns, campground shutdowns, workamping, and traveling all across the southern half of the country! I will include the things this year has taught us and what kind of intentions we are bringing with us into 2021.
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