Looking for ways to reduce quote time

farleyjg

New Member
Location
Troy
Hi All - a fellow tree service business owner directed me here to post a question I've been researching.

I work with a number of different tree service owners and they all spend a significant amount of time quoting potential new business. I've been spending some time attempting to understand if there's value in automating that process in some way, shape, or form.

I'm sure this has been looked at and attempted before, but the opportunity seems too great not to explore.

I know there are A LOT of variables that go into quoting jobs... so I'm not necessarily looking to be able to quote 100% of the jobs this way, but maybe 60-80%?

If anyone would be willing to chat about their quote process... what you look for, major cost drivers, etc, I'd be super appreciative. I certainly don't have everything about this idea hammered out, but coming to get expert opinions is a good place to start.
 

ppsavage

Active Member
Location
tucson
I find that gathering a lot of info before the bid to get a good idea of what you're getting into speeds things up a lot. The most important part for me is to qualify the potential customer. Saved a lot of time and headache by skipping jobs that don't sound like a good fit.

But it sounds like you're trying to come up with a general formula for pricing which in my opinion could not work successfully there are just too many variables.
 

farleyjg

New Member
Location
Troy
I find that gathering a lot of info before the bid to get a good idea of what you're getting into speeds things up a lot. The most important part for me is to qualify the potential customer. Saved a lot of time and headache by skipping jobs that don't sound like a good fit.

But it sounds like you're trying to come up with a general formula for pricing which in my opinion could not work successfully there are just too many variables.
I acknowledge what I’m looking to do is a bit aspirational, but if it were easy, it would’ve already been done! :)

I think coming up with a formula that could take care of half or more projects is potentially feasible. I’m not looking to be able to quote the really odd jobs automatically.

Would you be willing to share the more significant cost drivers for your quoting process?

From the consumers standpoint, it’s a process even to get to a price. Buying tree service is not easy.... not to mention not very transparent. I think even having a tool allows for some transparency and builds trust from the customers side of things. Even if the tool wouldn’t be a binding quote, but more of a ballpark estimate.

Thoughts?
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
Do you want to cut your contact time, or make the contact time to closed sales dollars more effective.




While pre-qualifying the customer, I try to use Google satellite and car imagery.

Time onsite---It's quoting, and it's rapport building, demonstration to attention to detail, and a showing of the salesperson's knowledge base, hopefully reflecting the knowledge of the hands-on crew.

Sometimes, IMO, spending more time is what may win the job or lose the job, especially if you're not the low-bid.


Every tree I look at is potential work.
I looked at several dozen trees at a property this afternoon that I've worked at previously.

I noticed one tree, 5" from the roof, progressing in display of bottle butt, plus a pitch leak in the butt that could have been easily overlooked, in addition to some damage higher up.

It's the neighbor's tree. Access to a new customer.
 

KevinS

Well-Known Member
Location
ontario
Unfortunately we deal with people with tree problems as a general rule of thumb. People don’t call up and say my tree is perfect doesn’t require anything so you best get out here quick lol.

I look at google images to narrow some things down but I insist on going out to every job. Google doesn’t show you that 1 water tap out 1” too far to get your stumper in or the new shed they just built under the tree.
As far as customer information I may sound prickish but I take it at face value and always assume it’s 50/50 until verified if not they say come cut down my 40’ pine it’s an easy one and after you’re done you find out no they meant the 60’ spruce beside it.

I think it’s better for a quoter to spend half an hour then me saddling up a 3 man crew in a bucket truck to commute there find a problem screw around for an hour sorting it out then maybe not having time to do there days jobs.
The office answering phones and emails is your first filter sales rep is your second filter so things should be clear for the crews.

I hear you that better is definitely better but there is a million and one variables. What gear, what crew, etc.

We use pre fab carbon copy sheets with check boxes and delineated areas sometimes I just take a video talk and point so it’s clear and simple.

But it’s a good idea. One thing I am seeing though that is great for business is more operators, better machines, etc to do the work bigger badder faster great business give me the money all the money. But what I’m seeing in tandem is less skill and artistic touch to there work sometimes. Improve your bottom line but arborists don’t work on assembly lines IMO!
 

ppsavage

Active Member
Location
tucson
I know some municipalities solicit removal and pruning bids based on a per inch rate. you may contact some folks in that end of the business or try to find contractors who have worked contracts like this for some info. utility arbs also may have some insight to something along these lines, just a guess.
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
The best thing to streamline quote time imo is having a “preflight” checklist- equipment access, material paths, tools needed, etc.

Also, some short video snippets from your portfolio demonstrating how you plan to approach any special needs you find. If quoting with a tablet, you can showcase your competency and gain a client’s trust. Quick access to those videos can mean a quick close.

I think it’s difficult to automate our quoting process, but streamlining and maximizing it are great places to explore. Honestly, among trades, I believe our quoting might be the simplest/shortest if you consider remodelers, custom builders, and other construction work.
 

flushcut

Well-Known Member
Location
Delavan, WI
IMO walking on somebodies property is not a get in and get out affair. It is where you build trust with the customer. It is where you assure them that you will not destroy their property. You are building a relationship hopefully a long lived relationship. You need to get to know the person learn what their vision is for their property. Pick their brain find out what they know about trees and how to care for them. Educate them if need be or sit back and follow their lead if need be.
Once you have that trust often times the estimate will be a phone call in the future.

But knowing what it takes to do the work efficiently and how long it will take is KEY to selling. That makes the difference between profit or loss.

If you have been in the business long enough you should have an idea what base line pricing you should use. i.e. $250 for a light prune, day rate, hourly, shoot the moon and hope they call somebody else, ect......
 

VenasNursery

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
IMO walking on somebodies property is not a get in and get out affair. It is where you build trust with the customer. It is where you assure them that you will not destroy their property. You are building a relationship hopefully a long lived relationship. You need to get to know the person learn what their vision is for their property. Pick their brain find out what they know about trees and how to care for them. Educate them if need be or sit back and follow their lead if need be.
Once you have that trust often times the estimate will be a phone call in the future.

But knowing what it takes to do the work efficiently and how long it will take is KEY to selling. That makes the difference between profit or loss.

If you have been in the business long enough you should have an idea what base line pricing you should use. i.e. $250 for a light prune, day rate, hourly, shoot the moon and hope they call somebody else, ect......
So you think $250 an hour is to “shoot the moon” price?
 

farleyjg

New Member
Location
Troy
I really appreciate all the feedback... especially the customer rapport building part of the onsite visit.

I've worked with a number of different companies in my area over the years and the one thing I wish I had was a little bit of price transparency. Each time I've had tree work done, I know there are a number of variables that feed into the price, but each time it felt like the person doing the quoting (while always professional) was freewheeling the price based on what he thinks I'd pay -which I acknowledge is certainly part of selling- but it always bugged me. So I'd end up making the decision based on who I liked the most, not necessarily the price. But the lack of transparency has always stuck with me as something that had it been available, may have tilted the scales in someone else's favor as it would have cranked up my trust in that person.

Not often do people spend several hundred/ thousand(s) dollars on something without meeting the person doing the work. So that part may never go away... what could be of value for the consumer is a tool that could provide a ballpark price range - nonbinding- before they reached out so they knew what they're in for... potentially saving both their time and the tree service time.

Part of the qualification process?

Would anyone be willing to share a quote tool they use?

Thanks again all... really, really good feedback.
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
I really appreciate all the feedback... especially the customer rapport building part of the onsite visit.

I've worked with a number of different companies in my area over the years and the one thing I wish I had was a little bit of price transparency. Each time I've had tree work done, I know there are a number of variables that feed into the price, but each time it felt like the person doing the quoting (while always professional) was freewheeling the price based on what he thinks I'd pay -which I acknowledge is certainly part of selling- but it always bugged me. So I'd end up making the decision based on who I liked the most, not necessarily the price. But the lack of transparency has always stuck with me as something that had it been available, may have tilted the scales in someone else's favor as it would have cranked up my trust in that person.

Not often do people spend several hundred/ thousand(s) dollars on something without meeting the person doing the work. So that part may never go away... what could be of value for the consumer is a tool that could provide a ballpark price range - nonbinding- before they reached out so they knew what they're in for... potentially saving both their time and the tree service time.

Part of the qualification process?

Would anyone be willing to share a quote tool they use?

Thanks again all... really, really good feedback.
For meeting the team that will do the work, I found a solution when working for a friend’s company and managing his website- I turned the about us page into an introduction to the field teams with portraits and personal bios. We directed prospects to this page and our videos page to get an idea of who would do the work and the quality of work to expect. We had clients hire us before we gave them a price, and the website was the reason they gave for doing so.

While we didn’t itemize our expenses for clients, we made it clear that the equipment and training we invested in were what made us the safer, lower impact choice. Those investments come with a price tag. We framed it as cheap insurance.

I like the insight of how you felt when being handed an ambiguous number. How does an explanation of where we invest our resources and how it affects you as the customer change that experience for you?
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
My philosophy on this- your website/social media is your resume. Make sure the person you want to hire you has read your resume.
 

farleyjg

New Member
Location
Troy
For meeting the team that will do the work, I found a solution when working for a friend’s company and managing his website- I turned the about us page into an introduction to the field teams with portraits and personal bios. We directed prospects to this page and our videos page to get an idea of who would do the work and the quality of work to expect. We had clients hire us before we gave them a price, and the website was the reason they gave for doing so.

While we didn’t itemize our expenses for clients, we made it clear that the equipment and training we invested in were what made us the safer, lower impact choice. Those investments come with a price tag. We framed it as cheap insurance.

I like the insight of how you felt when being handed an ambiguous number. How does an explanation of where we invest our resources and how it affects you as the customer change that experience for you?
It helps for sure, knowing the overhead, insurance, workman's comp, etc. But what I don't understand is how it impacts the cost of the job and why two companies can be 300 bucks apart on the same job carrying the same type of insurance. Most folks may choose the least cost, but I'm curious what value the $300 provides? Perhaps that's the best deal. Some people are very good at articulating while others not so much.

Again... think some way of providing just a little bit of transparency will go a long way? For me, it doesn't have to perfectly accurate, just even appearing to be transparent would grow trust.
 

farleyjg

New Member
Location
Troy
My philosophy on this- your website/social media is your resume. Make sure the person you want to hire you has read your resume.
Completely agree (as it's the business I'm in :)), but I'm trying to come with some sort of separator as the vast majority of legit tree services have a pretty decent, self-promoting website.
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
It helps for sure, knowing the overhead, insurance, workman's comp, etc. But what I don't understand is how it impacts the cost of the job and why two companies can be 300 bucks apart on the same job carrying the same type of insurance. Most folks may choose the least cost, but I'm curious what value the $300 provides? Perhaps that's the best deal. Some people are very good at articulating while others not so much.

Again... think some way of providing just a little bit of transparency will go a long way? For me, it doesn't have to perfectly accurate, just even appearing to be transparent would grow trust.
That’s tough, because 3 different arborists might approach a job 3 different ways. $300 might be finding a dump site vs having one at the shop. It might be how many trucks will be needed to transport the right equipment. Out of what is usually over $1k, it would seem to me that $300 is trivial in the face of trust. If you trust a company based on interaction and research, would you go against your gut to save a little?
 
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