where do we draw the line at extras?

treehumper

Well-Known Member
A lesson I had in sales, once you've given a price, shut up. Let them respond, if you've done your job of building rapport with them and they like you they'll let you know what they think of the price. Then you can adjust.
 
I think we can all agree that we belong to a pretty unique culture, in which we make our living working in and around trees. But, at the end of the day we are providing a service. A service that requires expensive, specialized equipment and an extensive skill set.

So, when I hear about clients nickle and diming and asking for free work, it REALLY gets to me. I once had a co-worker that did a great job putting it all into perspective for me. We had just completed a few large removals for a client (who was more than happy with our work and attention to detail), yet she still asked for the stumps to be removed for free. After the client went inside, my co-worker turned to me and said "If you were to order a pizza, and it was the really good, would you call the pizza shop and ask where your free breadsticks were?"

I know the cost comparison between the two services (tree care and pizza delivery) aren't equal, but the principle remains the same. If someone provides you with courteous professional service, don't ask for more work for free. Although many of us are very passionate about our work, this should not be an opportunity for clients to abuse the situation and request free work.
Just my two cents worth...
 

SamCRTC

Member
I will always grab as much deadwood In a tree as I pass by it. A few times my boss has told me to leave it cause it wasn't in the bid, but most of the time the dead wood is right there in your way so why not cut it.
 

treehumper

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
So, when I hear about clients nickle and diming and asking for free work, it REALLY gets to me. I once had a co-worker that did a great job putting it all into perspective for me. We had just completed a few large removals for a client (who was more than happy with our work and attention to detail), yet she still asked for the stumps to be removed for free. After the client went inside, my co-worker turned to me and said "If you were to order a pizza, and it was the really good, would you call the pizza shop and ask where your free breadsticks were?"

I know the cost comparison between the two services (tree care and pizza delivery) aren't equal, but the principle remains the same. If someone provides you with courteous professional service, don't ask for more work for free. Although many of us are very passionate about our work, this should not be an opportunity for clients to abuse the situation and request free work.
Just my two cents worth...

[/ QUOTE ]

The principle isn't the same. Most people shopping for an expensive item do ask for an extra freebie. Cars are a good example. You've taken it for a test drive and love the look, feel and handling. Still, the question is asked, throw in the mats or upgrade the radio, etc..... Contractors are faced with this all the time. With food often the freebie is up front, as in, can I have a taste of that first before I buy.

If we don't get ourselves all bent out of shape over this and see it as an opportunity to either improve our selling skills (btw, it is one of the key skills needed in our job) or to educate the client on the nature of the work and associated expenses.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
I will always grab as much deadwood In a tree as I pass by it. A few times my boss has told me to leave it cause it wasn't in the bid, but most of the time the dead wood is right there in your way so why not cut it.

[/ QUOTE ]

Another perspective might be that the bidder asked at the sale if the customer wanted deadwood with the pruning for a fee. The customer said no. Performing the service that the customer declined is spending the owners' money for them, and removes the ability for the bidder to sell the pruning on the next pruning cycle that pays people's wages, worker's comp/ GL/ commercial auto/ unemployment insurance, etc.
 

TC

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]

In my opinion, deadwooding is a "given" in all of my tree pruning bids, unless it's just removing a limb or 2 over a structure. Our job is to keep trees healthy.

[/ QUOTE ]

Shigo says in Modern Arboriculture to leave deadwood where appropriate for habitat for insects and birds etc (obviously not hazard wood)

So if the client's tree has a large dead limb low in the canopy.......say 10ft from the ground which overhangs a field where no people ever go, why not leave the limb on?

Its never as simple as removing all deadwood. Deadwood in a tree does not mean the tree is unhealthy, deadwood is gold for nature's critters.

Maybe we need to go back and re-read Shigo's principles.
 

Northwind

Member
TomD: Interesting local insight. More universally recognized term would be "Comped".

Joshua: Shigo has written a few excellent books about trees. Next time you get to a bookstore, buy two of them, see if they'll throw a third one in for free.

Southsound: Love your take on it.

Treehumper: Very few people taking loans out to purchase treework. Free floormats on a $35,000 purchase NOT like free stumping on a couple removals. More like wanting free engine upgrade, A/C, oh, and the floormats too.

Treepractioner: Too weak with the pizza, but only because I get free breadsticks comped with every order.

Better conversation starters:

"I'd love to do that for free, but our registration as a charitible institution was denied."

"I could do that for free, if my insurance company let us get away without premiums this year."

"I'll do that for free, If you pay for my ground crew." If this even gets a nod, add: "Great, you set up their insurance, WorkersComp, entitled vacation, I won't charge you a cent."

Northwind
 

Frax

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
i love this shigo dude. i have not read any of his books yet.

[/ QUOTE ]

Well get right on it Josh! You have time right?

I saw Shigo speak here way back and I didn't know who he was back then. It was one of those talks that shifted my whole world. It's one big reason I am where I am now.
He was an amazing man.
 

flushcut

Well-Known Member
I call it candy or desert for the customer. When I bid a pruning deadwooding, crossed, grafted, sucker removal, form and balance is included in the pruning price. I don't leave them the opportunity to "add on" unless it is a completely different task all together. Then some times it's a freebee or a minimal charge.
 

roxy

Active Member
It's tree work, not free work.

Be careful with that I say. It costs you something: time, wear and tear (include your body in that) and time for employees (x WC, overtime, etc).

It don't cost nothing. It costs something.

You are the best judge for you.

As for me, I almost always add it into the bill.
 

treehumper

Well-Known Member
Sean nailed it. The sales person needs to spell it out on the estimate and or work order to be sure it is known to the crew. This way they aren't taken advantage of unwittingly.

Yep, NW, I agree with that. It was an on the fly comparison. More like buying a computer or home entertainment system. Point being people will ask for a freebie and sometimes it's way over what is appropriate (like an engine upgrade). Here is where our professionalism in sales comes into play.
 
heres what im afraid of. allot of my clients know eachother and im afraid if i start doing a few large extras here and there, people are going to start to expect that from me everytime i work on their trees. i need to figure out a good measure of what is considered to be too much and what is one of those "no problem, im in the tree anyway" sorta deal. stump grinding is WAY over board but taking out a few dead branches that need rigging is kinda boarder line on the too much side.
 

TC

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
heres what im afraid of. allot of my clients know eachother and im afraid if i start doing a few large extras here and there, people are going to start to expect that from me everytime i work on their trees. i need to figure out a good measure of what is considered to be too much and what is one of those "no problem, im in the tree anyway" sorta deal. stump grinding is WAY over board but taking out a few dead branches that need rigging is kinda boarder line on the too much side.

[/ QUOTE ]

When you arrive at a job assume your not going to do anything extra for the client, if, during the course of the agreed work - the client asks for something else tell them you'll need to negotiate a charge with them for the extra work. (unless the work is miniscule in comparison to the main job, like throwing a small dead shrub through the chipper).

Now, if they think the price your quoting for the extra work is too high, then dont do it, its their choice, you are selling a professional service, if they dont want to pay you extra then they are trying to take advantage of your good nature.

Remember your running a business not a charity. If people assume your easily manipulated into doing extra work for no charge then you'll be exploited and end up feeling miserable.

People have to understand the value of your work, by charging for extra work you are making them understand the value of your work.
 

treehumper

Well-Known Member
What Grover said. Be polite about it and let them know that the extra will cost a fee due to the time it will take. Point out that you have other work after them and that it will effect the time you have allocated to the following work.

How often has this happened to you? How many times have you agreed to do extra work at no charge? Could it be you've established a practice? This is part of the business and you'll need to create a norm or possibly recreate a new norm. Once you've done that you'll find clients will stop asking as often.
 

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