Managing a Pumpkin Patch and Christmas Tree Lot

Managing a Pumpkin Patch and Christmas Tree Lot

Wow! It has been a while since I wrote a blog post. My internet service has been practically non-existent the past few months. We got to our lot in California the end of September. It was in a busy neighborhood surrounded by places like Costco, Home Depot, LA Fitness and fast food.

We had electric and water on site and the company had a truck come out every Monday to pump our tanks. We worked six weeks for the pumpkin patch, had a few weeks off, and then Christmas tree season lasted five weeks. Our hours were 1-9, or 9-9. Some days we stayed open until 10pm. We worked every day with no days off.

At least one of us had to be on the lot at all times while pumpkins or trees were there. We also had inflatable obstacle courses and slides for kids during the pumpkin season.

We had to hire staff, handle all of the registers, money and deposits, tickets for inflatables, safety checks, set up most of the lot, unload, water trees, provide security, deal with customers, manage schedules and buy items to run the business.

I really feel like potential managers should have to work on another busy lot for a season before managing their own lot. Our lot was small, and had much less traffic than most of the company lots, yet we felt like we could have had a lot more help and training.

Many times it was assumed we knew what we were doing (like we were one of the managers that had been with the company for years.) Luckily, Craig and I got to stay on one of the busiest lots while we were waiting for our electric to be hooked up. Those managers really helped us by showing us some of what we needed to know. Some of the newer managers left after the first week.

It was both fun and frustrating! The inflatables during pumpkins were the most annoying for me. Some people ignored the safety warnings and tried to drag infants on the 60 foot slide, make their scared kids go on for pictures, jump at the top, slide head first or try to sneak on without tickets over and over. Most customers were great though. They were from the local neighborhoods and enjoyed the lot.

It was hard finding people to work seasonally since the hours really depended on how busy the lot was. Some days were crazy and some were dead. It was also hard to judge how to schedule help. We had a labor budget we had to follow. Craig and I wound up doing 90% of the work so we would not go over budget. Many times we could not have the slides running due to awful high winds. The weather where we were caused many issues! We also had lots of competition during Christmas tree season. Costco trees were $30 while ours stared at $65. Costco, Lowe’s and Home Depot were right next door.

We made decent money and it is allowing us to travel up the coast for a few months and back to Florida. I liked the owners and wished we could have dealt with them directly more. The company had two nice dinners for us during training classes and paid us fairly. I just wish we had more support when we had needed it.

After we travel for a while, we are heading back to The Disney Wilderness Preserve to volunteer for a while!

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