re-calibrating pricing for my trimming jobs

erwin

Active Member
Location
st. louis
after over 15 years in business, I'm at the point that I can almost name my price (100% referrals). Obviously every tree is different. Let's say a typical mature pin oak in a subdivision, with 24-28" DBH, 25% facing house 20' from the house) in the front yard, branches overhang the roof by 10-15', lowest ones almost touching the roof. I ran into at least a few every month. A full, very thorough trim will take me 3-4 hours time in the canopy. My ground guy is very good. He can finish chipping, loading wood and cleaning up in another 2-3 hour.

My first 5 years or so, I expect maybe 600 (too low, I know). later on I went to 800. Last few years, I realized that how I sculptured the tree is unique and what sets me apart. I should be compensated at at least the same rate I make on removals (200-300 hourly at end of day). The last job I did I was paid 1200 and it felt right. I did everything I could for the tree and the HO and the HO is super happy with my art piece. what do u guys think? I'm in st. louis MO.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
No judgment here, in my opinion the best way to define your pricing is to sit down and actually calculate out your costs. Use your accountant to help you if you don’t know how, but do it one way or another. And whatever you do, do not let your competitors define your pricing!

There’s many in business who think they’re making money, when in reality they’re basically working for free. I know, I was one of them for the first few years I was in business. I let my competitors define my pricing, and later discovered that many of them were working for free too.

These days, we base our pricing on our actual costs, with a reasonable profit margin, and write our quotes based on those numbers. We have a rather high quote conversion rate, largely because we get a lot of referrals, and they know we won’t be cheap, but we are good, and professional, and safe.

We do not reduce our rates for pruning, we bill the same rates because our costs do not decrease. Labor is the same, diesel doesn’t get cheaper. For us, every person and machine have an hourly rate, and all are used to calculate each quote. That means we are quite expensive when we are pruning, but our crane assisted removals are actually less expensive than many of our competitors.
 

Dr.Pants Esq

Member
Location
Winnipeg
So much Yes @Reach, it doesn’t matter if the other guy charges $300 if you need to make $350 to make money. @erwin if you are selling a superior product, charge more. There are people willing to pay for quality work, done safely, by professionals. You just need to find and sell to those people. There will always be a rotating cast of lowballers working themselves out of business just to be replaced by the next low baller, don’t be one of those guys.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
John Ball:
"People will pay you a little for something they can do, but just don't want to do." (mowing grass, for example)
"The will pay you a little more for something they think they can do but just don't have the equipment to do." (getting a "routine" tree down, for example)
"They will pay you the most for something they don't know how to do." (ex: structural pruning, technically difficult removals, plant health care, etc...)

Expert pruning should be more valuable by that reasoning.

Example from another profession: Much of what an orthopedic surgeon (one of the highest paid doctors) does, doesn't look all that difficult to do to me...but obviously there is a LOT of knowledge that goes into doing those simple-looking tasks and that is why they get paid so much.
 

erwin

Active Member
Location
st. louis
Pruning uses a lot less gear than removals. But I'm always happy to hear of other pruners who raise their rates, and whose market recognizes their value.
yes less gears, but way more intellectual, requires creative thinking and could be time consuming as well. The end result of two guys (not the same level) doing the same removal can hardly be much different. But, the end result of a full trim job will be very different. This is what I try to sell to my clients. glad that most of mine clients are referrals so they know what to expect.
 

TreeVB

Well-Known Member
Location
Boise, Idaho
It sounds like you pretty much have a handle on why/how you should cost more than the other guy. Another thing to consider is to use the word pruning rather than trimming. In my experience it opens up conversation with the client in ways that allows me to set myself apart from my “competition”. I know it just seems like a word but IMO there is a big difference between the two and being able to explain that will sell itself.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
I feel people it doesn't matter who of how someone safely removes a tree, or demo's a house.

Finding a high-quality or low quality pruner is like finding the high or low-quality finish carpenter, whose work you will see daily, and which affects long-term value.

Line trimmers and land scrapers Trim trees.
 

27RMT0N

Well-Known Member
Location
WA
Unfortunately the hard part is that most/many customers can't tell the difference between good pruning and bad pruning. Some just want to look up and see 'a lot has been done' which is usually the result of BAD pruning. This is where picking, or at least educating your customers comes in.

Edit: This is also where ones reputation comes into play and further illustrates the value of quality referrals.
 
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ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
I tell my clients I want them to have a friend over at their house when we are done pruning and tell them they had their trees prune today. Their friends may say "it sure doesn't look like that tree was pruned... When my guy is done you really know it!" I'd rather the tree still look like a tree when we are done...
 

metaspencer

Member
Location
Urbana, IL
after over 15 years in business, I'm at the point that I can almost name my price (100% referrals). Obviously every tree is different. Let's say a typical mature pin oak in a subdivision, with 24-28" DBH, 25% facing house 20' from the house) in the front yard, branches overhang the roof by 10-15', lowest ones almost touching the roof. I ran into at least a few every month. A full, very thorough trim will take me 3-4 hours time in the canopy. My ground guy is very good. He can finish chipping, loading wood and cleaning up in another 2-3 hour.

My first 5 years or so, I expect maybe 600 (too low, I know). later on I went to 800. Last few years, I realized that how I sculptured the tree is unique and what sets me apart. I should be compensated at at least the same rate I make on removals (200-300 hourly at end of day). The last job I did I was paid 1200 and it felt right. I did everything I could for the tree and the HO and the HO is super happy with my art piece. what do u guys think? I'm in st. louis MO.
Sounds good to me. Whatever the market will yield and you know your market the best
 

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