Advertising

Mark Chisholm

Administrator
I was just wondering how many of you choose to advertise? And what types of techniques have worked the best for you?
 

rborist1

New Member
Great topic.........but I know for a fact some of my competition lurk on this board and I ain't about to let the cat out of the bag.............so if ya wanna know what is workin awesome for me, you will have to PM me. /forum/images/graemlins/tongue.gif
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
After having "Yellow Fever" and buying a larger ad in the main YP I realized that the advertising was costing a bundle and not paying off. I cut my ad back to a smaller box and finally a one-line freebie in the big yellow pages. Instead, I ran larger ads in the community YP books. The cost was very effective. They had discount promotions that were enticing. More books, lower cost. Pay the whole year in advance instead of monthly, more discounts. In the end, I had more calls in areas that I wanted to work instead of calls from all over town.

Sending magnetic business cards with the billing was effective too. Several people said that they kept the mag card around.

Tom
 

Babberney

Well-Known Member
As a one-man show, I've been able to do pretty well just on referrals, with a few ads in neighborhood newsletters. That can be pretty useful, since it allows me to target the neighborhoods I want to be in, but also frustrating since it's usually a volunteer-run operation.

I also just put an ad in a book put out by a local temple--no results yet to speak of, but I was mostly helping out a client who produces the thing anyway. It's really too early to say if it will produce results.

This year's phone book will be the first one I'm in. I've used a cell for my bus. number, so no free listing was available. I had avoided a listing so I wouldn't be chasing lowballers all the time. Recently I've heard people say it was hard to find me, so I decided I'd better get in the book. I am worried about it--three times they called to confirm things or ask me a question, and every time they had me listed under tree work, which I expressly said I did not want. I hope to find they sorted it out and listed me under "arborists". I hope this will screen out some of the bargain hunters. Getting in the bus. white pages was my real goal anyway.

Not much help to you, I'm afraid, but that's where I am.

K
 

Mangoes

Well-Known Member
Nice to hear Babberney. You and I are in the same boat. I am only in the YP because I have business phone line. Company name Advanced Tree Care, not to get to the top of the list. Dreamt that name up when I was in college. So I AM near the top of the list. Guess what? 2-5% of my calls come from there. Horrible, don't care to invest any more money there. Best money spent is not at all, referals. I do an honest days work for honest pay, if I overbid I usually adjust my fee. People LOVE that! Only other source is in a local paper's "Business Directory" I don't mind taking home a little less revenue if I don't have to commute into the big city. Commuting SUCKS.
 

Rupe

New Member
I've spent a load of money this year on ads in yellow pages for two regions in the UK. I've had no work from either!! I also tried a glossy magazine called Cotswold Life which is mostly sold to rich upper/middle and upper class homeowners
in the cotswold area where I live. I've had one enquiry from there but I bid too high to try and regain some advertising costs and didn't get the work.

According to YP, their website has 200-300 hits a month just for tree work (we don't have a separate section for Arboriculture) in this area. I thought that was really quite good, yet I've never had any work from that, although it is free so no worries. I've worked out what all those hits are though. Its from marketing companies and telesales people who use it and then phone me up and try and sell me advertising space, fax machines etc etc.

Strange thing is though I'm never short of work. I'm booked up well in advance and I'm twice as busy as last year. Its all from referals.

My advertising budget for next year is a big fat zero! I'll still have free line entry in YP and that will do.

I do a good job and I'm very tidy. I always say that the most important tool is the back pack blower. The customer doesn't care about how many saws you have, or how much the climbing kit costs, but if you clear up well it makes all the difference.

I'm interested about what you say about charging less if you feel you've overbid. That has been suggested to me before and I might try it. One question though, if you finish a job a couple of hours earlier than intended, do you make up those hours elsewhere and therefore make it possible to reduce the costs?

If I bid for two days work and do it one and a half I can't always charge less and then go and do a half day somewhere else. I tend to just spend more time clearing up and blowing the lawn and maybe other areas that we didn't even work near just to use up the time. Also I'll take a longer lunch and do some maintenance work on saws etc so the customer feels that we havn't rushed off early.
 

Babberney

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
If I bid for two days work and do it one and a half I can't always charge less and then go and do a half day somewhere else. I tend to just spend more time clearing up and blowing the lawn and maybe other areas that we didn't even work near just to use up the time. Also I'll take a longer lunch and do some maintenance work on saws etc so the customer feels that we havn't rushed off early.

[/ QUOTE ]

I've worried about this idea, i.e. client sees you leave early and feels cheated. What I've seen most of the time, though, is that they are impressed that you did the work so fast. They get the bid and approved the price; if you can do it faster without any damage or skimping, you've proved you know what you're doing.

Doing a thorough cleanup is a good idea and can really make a difference in how happy the clients are, but I think you can dispense with the saw maintenance, long lunches, etc. Don't waste your time trying to look busy.

k
 

Rupe

New Member
I hear what your saying. Mostly the client doesn't know how long the job will take. They get a fixed price for the job and thats that. I know in my mind its one or two days, they might think its a week!

Sometimes they want to know how long your going to be there and thats when I feel bad rushing off. I don't mind hangin around doing some maintenance and stuff, if its a nice day I'd rather do it there than at home, if its wet then no lunch (or tea) breaks and we're gone.

I'm working on a typical example right now. I went to bid for the job, for a nice elderly american couple in their 1million pound summer cottage (winters in LA) and I knew I was the only one bidding. The job was just pruning two large ash trees. I said I could just about do them both in a day but it would be a bit of a rush, and the reply was, don't rush, take two days if you want.

I sent them the price for two days. (Its miles from home so 1.5 days is not really practical, can't fit another job in) Today I did one tree with a decent lunch break, and left by 2.45. Tomorrows tree is smaller and easier. I know I could have done them both in 1 day but I said two, and I appreciate them allowing me to take my time, its a rare priveledge, when most customers want the cheapest job.

We changed chipper blades on site and sharpened saws, but also did a top rate job and left the place spotless. Tomorrow I'll take out a few shrubs for them, which are extra but I won't charge. They are really happy so far and real nice people, I'm not charging them a higher day rate but just allowing more time and they are happy with that so I'm not rushing off.

Shame they can't make a decent cup of tea though!
 

Mangoes

Well-Known Member
Rupe

That last example is much the same as how I would handle that kind of job. Traditionally here in TO winters are dead. Virtually no residential tree work can be found. So tree companies have to cover their expences AND profit with the productive time available in summer. Average person gets 2080hrs/year (40/week) a typical employee of a tree company can lose 2-3 months of productive hours, equals 8-12 weeks or 320-480hrs. Someone working in an office @ $20CAD/hr Gross' $41600/year. A tree worker @ $20/hr has lost $6400-$9600 because of the winter market. So a tree worker making $20/hr isn't really making that much in relation to the rest of the labour force.

So because the market dries up a tree service needs to account for all expences on a year that will only contain AT MOST 1600 productive hours per employee. Thats 160 10hour days. My rates are not based on my own expences but are set against competition rates, this allows me flexibility as to how many days I HAVE to work to cover my expences. Once I work those days everything else is icing on the cake. Hence the relaxed nature in which I work with my clients. I like it.

That being said I scrutinize my value pretty hard. If I bid 8hrs, work like a demon and finish in 4, I'll drop a couple hours, 'cause I worked hard. If I bid 8, dragged my arse for 4, include a couple trips to my beloved Tim Hortons, then guilt overides and I charge 4.
 

Rupe

New Member
Finished the second tree yesturday. It was really easy. Also took out four small trees as extra work but could easily do that in the time available.

Finished by 2.30 and that was taking it a slow as possible. There was a very intricate formal garden below the trees so a lot of care was needed. We cleared up to a high standard i.e not a flake of sawdust to be seen.

Handed in the bill for the full two days as it was a fixed price quotation. Recieved a cheque immediatly plus a considerably generous bonus for doing the extra work. I was amazed and a bit embarressed but they said they were very happy with the work, and it turns out they did get another quote which was much higher! They felt the other company were trying to rip them off so thats why they got me in. Everone happy at the end of the day.

Still your idea of charging less if you overbid is interesting. Theres an amount which I need to make each day, but also a higher amount that I can charge based on the market in this area. The diffeernece between the two is quite a lot so I could be flexible. However if my bid is succcessfull I use that to plan my week, bigger jobs start on monday and small cheaper jobs towards the end of the week. The whole lot is organised to achieve X amount by the end of the week. If I reduced the price for a job because it turns out easier than expected then I would fall short of the target by the end of the week.

I try not to make money the motivating factor, enjoying my work is still the priority, but bills need to be paid. I will however try your idea when in a new area with lots of potential new work from neighbours etc.
 

Mangoes

Well-Known Member
Rupe

On the note of working season, does your market dry up in the winter? I know the UK is a bit more temperate so I wondered if that extended your season. I would really enjoy working over there if it weren't for the rain. The hub of any vacation I've had there is a small village in Yorkshire dales National Park called Hawes. Apparently Hawes has the highest average rainfall in the UK......been sunny every time I've been.
 

Rupe

New Member
It usually dries up or slows down in Jan and Feb, but thats not so much because of the weather but more because poeple have no spare money after christmas or just because they are not really thinking about their trees at that time. Most companies keep going but may not be booked up much in advance. Weather wise its not an issue, I live in the south west and it will rain whenever it feels like it, there isn't really a season for it. This August was the wettest I can remember.

Rain is not as much of a problem here as people think. Maybe in Yorkshire, but in the south if you count the number a days you come home soaked its probably only 20 or so in year. I've never counted so I couldn't say for sure. Its mostly just a bit damp and thats not the end of the world.

If we get snow it lasts about a day and melts which is probably worse than decent snow that you get used to.

Going back to my last post, todays job took longer than expected, we have to go back tomorrow, so if I had reduced the price for the other job this week then I would be really behind.
 

Mark Chisholm

Administrator
Mangoes,

If you find yourself sitting idle for three months in the Winter, why not hop a car to NJ and hang with the TreeBuzz gang? Beats loosing all those hours. And since my wife is Canadian, she'd welcome a few "ehs" and "frig offs". /forum/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Seriously, we have a saying around here- Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you". If we are high today, we take it with no regrets. Tomorrow may be a bit different (if ya know what I mean). Like Rupe said, many clients get multiple bids and they are pretty educated about what they will get for their money. If you do what you said you would, when you said you would, most people are pleased as hell.

BTW, today the bear dinned on my arse! /forum/images/graemlins/mad.gif
 

Mangoes

Well-Known Member
That would be awesome, I'd really enjoy doing that. I'll keep you posted as to how things go. On another note, the numbers I identified earlier are the average. I have been blessed with the opportunity the last 2 winters to help teach tree climbing to arborist apprentices at Humber College. So I havn't exactly starved. You'd have to ask the students if they learnt much but for the most part I enjoyed it.

That brings another marketing technique I employed this year. Non-urgent tree work I offered a discount of 5-10% to the homeowner if they booked the work for the winter. I was able to book almost 4 weeks. I'll start dipping into that pot in early Dec.
 

Mangoes

Well-Known Member
Just did a quick perusal of our discussion here and I felt the need to mention that yes I do cut my quotes a little but 85% of the time my quotes are within .5hr of my guesstimate.
 

Nickrosis

New Member
You can consider scheduling work for the winter a business practice, but I recommend looking at it first as a sound arboricultural recommendation. Pruning during the dormant season is ideal for many reasons that don't need to be discussed at the desk, but removals are often far easier when the ground is frozen, and you can drive a truck across a lawn (or a fairway).

Our winter work is organized by neighborhood so we can spend a week on one street, another week on another street, etc. Some jobs are enough to keep 4-6 guys busy for more than a week.

But back to business, the winter cash flow is critical since the electric meter keeps spinning and the worker's compensation bill still shows up in January whether you did $100 of tree work or $10,000. /forum/images/graemlins/frown.gif

Like my accounting professor says, "cash is king" no matter what else happens. If you're not getting the money in the door, it doesn't matter if you're making collar cuts! But I'm quite confident someone making collar cuts stands a better chance of getting dollars in. /forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

Nickrosis

New Member
Nope, no sports til snow hits and the skiing begins. And no beer usually. I'm a pretty dry guy. /forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif
 
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