Being Okay with Turning Down a Job

climbingmonkey24

Active Member
For those of you who have bucket trucks and cranes, etc. there’s probably not much you’d pass from. But for those guys that don’t have all that big equipment, you ever feel that it’s better to pass on some jobs rather than getting involved with renting and sub contracting? For certain situations of course.

Obviously every situation is different. Depends on the job.

I guess what I’m saying is you gotta be ok with walking from something if you feel it’s too much to get involved with. Do you guys agree?

Because it definitely isn’t good to get in over your head and then the job because more stress and headache than it should.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
There was a time when I was first starting out that we gave away everything that required a crane, and some technical rigging work. Now we have changed, our specialty is technical rigging and crane work. Instead, we will sometimes give away projects that are too small, or located in the city where we cannot effectively park all of our equipment.
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Agreed on most counts, as another climbing-only outfit. However, from a standpoint of return customers I've taken many hits to get a job done and have a client.
There is lots of competition and I am better equipped each year so what I was passing up three years ago is easy pickings now. Rent a chipper because you may own one next year, pay a subcontractor for a big job then get called back for trimming around the house or planting. Plus, the odd crane job is a blast.
The other possibility is having a relationship with a larger outfit like @Reach where some jobs get passed to the better fit company but benefits both in the long run.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
You can definitely go from the guy taking the small jobs to only wanting bigger jobs, because of changing line-ups.



What seems like a hassle one day, like getting a sidewalk closure, is easy money another day, as you are paid to do all that work, but takes more thinking than another house clearance job.

Renting a lift isn't that big of a deal if you bid for the amount YOU need, and have it delivered, so you don't have to drive back and forth, which is economical for a Homeowner, but a $50/$100 delivery/ pick-up fee is not worth it to a biz, if it sidetracks other stuff instead of getting work done.

I just bid a huge, declining maple removal. I put enough money on it that if I want to crane out wood, I can. If I have the ground-worker(s) I need, I can choose roping and free-dropping. Don't shoot yourself in the foot to get the job. "Loss Leader" is a term I've heard about selling milk cheap to get people in the door. If you have a Great opportunity for gaining a loyal customer, decide if you have the nest-egg set aside to take a job closer to cost, like if you have to rent a lift for a couple hundo, but have an Strong opportunity to gain a lot of work.
 

Birdyman88

Well-Known Member
But for those guys that don’t have all that big equipment, you ever feel that it’s better to pass on some jobs rather than getting involved with renting and sub contracting? For certain situations of course
I used to pass on most big stuff. My reasons were pretty much what you mentioned, that and the fact that I didn't want neighbors making comments about how long "the tree guy" next door was taking. But, admittedly, there was also just that general uneasiness with taking on something BIG. So many new processes to deal with forcing me out of my comfort zone. It's a human thing, probably genetically passed on as a result of staying away from woolly mammoths or saber tooth tigers. That and maybe a little ADD that makes longer jobs seem more stressful. But, I have been involved in some pretty big long-term projects in a past life and know I can get them done.

A couple of years ago, both my son and my youngest daughter joined the military. Sounds silly, but that woke me up a little, and I realized that if they could make it through boot camp, why the hell can't I step up and take on some bigger stuff in my business. Like my son told me, just get up and take it one day at a time and don't think too much, lol. So what if I have more hoops to jump through with rentals and such - that's just extra time and leg work - I have all the skills to do the job, so just get over it and do it. Price accordingly though, and if you don't get the job, then so be it.

Just due to customer/neighbor perceptions, I am still wary of doing something like a monster tree in the middle of a suburban neighborhood that's going to take us forever and get all the TreeBuzzer's yacking about the hack they saw the other day , but in a rural or low population density environment (which I am getting a lot more of), I'll probably take it on. I'm always up front with the customer about the time-frame and the process and am pretty clear that they need not come out and try to speed up my schedule - like asking why I don't just climb up and drop a 10,000 lb section in one shot. Everyone has been pretty good so far. From a man-hour perspective, and comparing that to my estimated equivalent man-hour capability of cranes, buckets, chippers, dumps, and skid steers, we are actually doing the jobs very close to on par with the machines. On big stuff, I usually have a mini kid steer rental, and have local service come haul away the debris for about $6/cu-yd. However, I finished one recently where the customer wanted everything cut into "human manageable" pieces (read 100 lbs +/-)so he could give it away for firewood rather than pay for disposal. He paid me my time to do so and the job cost more, but it was worth it.

Honestly, it was the best decision I ever made to get into some bigger stuff every once in a while. I know so much more now and my confidence is very high. I've ticked off a few other tree company's in the area, but hey. This is the USA, and that's how we roll here.

EDIT: so maybe next time I call them to come bid it as crane job, they will 1) show up; 2) not try to low-ball my finders fee, 3) put in a reasonable bid; and 4) not show such an aversion to subcontracting while their machines sit idle all weekend. There, I said it.
 
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RBJtree

Well-Known Member
Before I started my own company, I worked for three different companies who had Crane and bucket trucks and did large and difficult removals on a regular basis. Once I had a couple years climbing experience, I was the guy who did most of the hard climbs in technical rigging to. So because of that experience, there has been very little that I had to turn down since I started my own business. I just recently got a bucket truck, but before that I would sometimes turn down a job that was just too dangerous to climb. Sometimes I climbed the jobs that I should have turned it down. I definitely did a few large removals that I didn't make as much money on for the time that I should have. Couple years ago I found a really good crane sub and now if I can use him, I will just figure his cost into my bid. And usually doesn't change the price very much versus doing everything by hand, because the job gets done a lot quicker with the crane. In my experience, it is well worth it to find good people who you can team up with who have some equipment that you maybe don't. If you don't have experience with a certain aspect of the work, such as doing large removals, your strategy should maybe be different than mine. If you absolutely want to keep certain clients in house, maybe find a good contract climber for anything you're not comfortable with or find a company who your friendly enough with to team up with and not worry about them trying to steal your client or doing a subpar job.
 

climbingmonkey24

Active Member
I used to pass on most big stuff. My reasons were pretty much what you mentioned, that and the fact that I didn't want neighbors making comments about how long "the tree guy" next door was taking. But, admittedly, there was also just that general uneasiness with taking on something BIG. So many new processes to deal with forcing me out of my comfort zone. It's a human thing, probably genetically passed on as a result of staying away from woolly mammoths or saber tooth tigers. That and maybe a little ADD that makes longer jobs seem more stressful. But, I have been involved in some pretty big long-term projects in a past life and know I can get them done.

A couple of years ago, both my son and my youngest daughter joined the military. Sounds silly, but that woke me up a little, and I realized that if they could make it through boot camp, why the hell can't I step up and take on some bigger stuff in my business. Like my son told me, just get up and take it one day at a time and don't think too much, lol. So what if I have more hoops to jump through with rentals and such - that's just extra time and leg work - I have all the skills to do the job, so just get over it and do it. Price accordingly though, and if you don't get the job, then so be it.

Just due to customer/neighbor perceptions, I am still wary of doing something like a monster tree in the middle of a suburban neighborhood that's going to take us forever and get all the TreeBuzzer's yacking about the hack they saw the other day , but in a rural or low population density environment (which I am getting a lot more of), I'll probably take it on. I'm always up front with the customer about the time-frame and the process and am pretty clear that they need not come out and try to speed up my schedule - like asking why I don't just climb up and drop a 10,000 lb section in one shot. Everyone has been pretty good so far. From a man-hour perspective, and comparing that to my estimated equivalent man-hour capability of cranes, buckets, chippers, dumps, and skid steers, we are actually doing the jobs very close to on par with the machines. On big stuff, I usually have a mini kid steer rental, and have local service come haul away the debris for about $6/cu-yd. However, I finished one recently where the customer wanted everything cut into "human manageable" pieces (read 100 lbs +/-)so he could give it away for firewood rather than pay for disposal. He paid me my time to do so and the job cost more, but it was worth it.

Honestly, it was the best decision I ever made to get into some bigger stuff every once in a while. I know so much more now and my confidence is very high. I've pissed off a few other tree company's in the area, but fuck 'em. This is the USA, and that's how we roll here.

EDIT: so maybe next time I call them to come bid it as crane job, they will 1) show up; 2) not try to low-ball my finders fee, 3) put in a reasonable bid; and 4) show such an aversion to subcontracting while their machines sit idle all weekend. There, I said it.
That’s one thing I’ve thought of the too...the type of neighborhood you’re in.

If you’re in one of those neighborhoods that come from money, everyone’s yard has to be proper and clean, etc. eyes are gonna be watching you.

It’s little to do with technical rigging or the tree itself but the actual equipment you have and how fast and efficient you are for certain types of clients and the area in which you are working.

If you’re equipment is smaller or you don’t have all the big equipment it might take longer to do a bigger tree removal manually versus a company that has all the fancy machinery. People will talk if they don’t like something they see even if you are doing everything right but it isn’t to the neighborhood’s “standards.”

Maybe they see it as too long, you’re not cleaning stuff up fast enough, etc.
 

Birdyman88

Well-Known Member
Maybe they see it as too long, you’re not cleaning stuff up fast enough, etc.
It appears to correlate with home value, but I've actually had some wealthier customers that have honestly have been very good to work with. It's the burb customers from .25 acre upper middle class neighborhoods (like mine) where I see issues. It's what my wife and I call the "you're not wealthy, but you're well off enough to think you are" attitude. That and the HOA's (voluntary or involuntary) adding to the mix. I totally cater to rural customers. They always seem to understand what you're doing, why it takes the time it does, and appreciate the hard work you put in. I totally kiss their butts when I get those customers, and always try to find a way to get it done no matter the size.
 
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Jehinten

Well-Known Member
In my experience, it is well worth it to find good people who you can team up with who have some equipment that you maybe don't.
@climbingmonkey24
I was going to say this same thing as above. Net working with other companies can be a huge benefit to all involved. If your smaller company, team up on occasion with other small companies who have invested in other equipment. Work out a deal where you help on some of their jobs as payment for them working on yours, or just hire them outright as a subcontractor. Depending on their experience vs yours you may learn some new tricks as well.

As a bonus if you have a piece of equipment down they may have a backup for you. If not for working with others I'd have been at the shop repairing my chipper today instead of taking care of a couple of hazzard trees for some new clients which have a lot of work lined up for me.
 

evo

Well-Known Member
I’ve made turning down jobs an art form. The trick is figuring out if I’m going to turn it down before the phone call
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
By the way, my crane sub is also a small tree service owner. He brings us in on jobs occationally, but we bring him in to help us more often. Always just pay each other what ever our day rate is.
Do similar but discount each other by 25% so there’s always a little gain by selling the sub’s work, and there’s wiggle room if something goes wrong on-site. We tend to be balanced in jobs shared - If the work was very one sided I don’t think that discount would work as well...
 
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