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Low prices for tree service?

Joe Masters

Joe Masters

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You have too much overhead. I'm in the Poconos and I've made a living underbidding to the big guys.
I don't need a bucket truck when I know how to climb. I don't need a loader when I can roll rounds right into a trailer. I use mechanical advantage instead of bigger machines. I don't even need a chipper most of the time because half of my customers will do the cleanup themselves to save money. All of these things contribute enormously to the bottom line.
Also, don't forget the value of hard work. A lot of times muscle power will do the job just as well as any machine and your crew will see that you are not afraid to sweat.
 
Marshy

Marshy

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You have too much overhead. I'm in the Poconos and I've made a living underbidding to the big guys.
I don't need a bucket truck when I know how to climb. I don't need a loader when I can roll rounds right into a trailer. I use mechanical advantage instead of bigger machines. I don't even need a chipper most of the time because half of my customers will do the cleanup themselves to save money. All of these things contribute enormously to the bottom line.
Also, don't forget the value of hard work. A lot of times muscle power will do the job just as well as any machine and your crew will see that you are not afraid to sweat.
That's basically where I'm at also. There will always be a market for guys with your business model. Plain and simple, the average person cant afford $1200 or $1700 to have a couple of trees removed. Lower overhead guys will get those jobs.
 
knockbill

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Very interesting thread,,, altho I'm a retired self employed electrician, not a tree expert... Here's from a customers view,,, I had a huge Pin Oak removed a while ago... Tree was in the front yard, easy street access... I got estimates from a bunch of guys, starting with two I had used over the years to trim/clean it out occasionally... They wanted way more for removing it than seemed fair(m I figured they needed to rent equipment), so I called a couple others... The one I hired was in business locally for a long time,, owned his bucket truck,,, crane,,, stump chipper,,, branch chipper, and other gear... His price turned out to be the lowest I got, in fact was exactly half the highest,, which came from a newer company, with tons of advertising... These guys(yep two) came to estimate in a new Yukon, with a computer in back, so they could print out the ridiculous estimate!!! They weren't willing to leave the wood,,, which the guy I hired not only did, but blocked it and helped me barrow it to the back... They took the trunk in 3 long logs...
I guess the moral of this rant is,,, you gotta listen to your prospective customer (or contractor, in my case),,, and learn(quickly!!) to size them up... Sometimes walking away from a job is the best choice you can make, as I did with the high priced, hard sell clowns... However the cheapest isn't always the worst you can get...
Best of luck to you new guys trying to make a living on your own,,, Clean, hard work, polite conversation with customers will work wonders....
 

bck

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Very interesting thread,,, altho I'm a retired self employed electrician, not a tree expert... Here's from a customers view,,, I had a huge Pin Oak removed a while ago... Tree was in the front yard, easy street access... I got estimates from a bunch of guys, starting with two I had used over the years to trim/clean it out occasionally... They wanted way more for removing it than seemed fair(m I figured they needed to rent equipment), so I called a couple others... The one I hired was in business locally for a long time,, owned his bucket truck,,, crane,,, stump chipper,,, branch chipper, and other gear... His price turned out to be the lowest I got, in fact was exactly half the highest,, which came from a newer company, with tons of advertising... These guys(yep two) came to estimate in a new Yukon, with a computer in back, so they could print out the ridiculous estimate!!! They weren't willing to leave the wood,,, which the guy I hired not only did, but blocked it and helped me barrow it to the back... They took the trunk in 3 long logs...
I guess the moral of this rant is,,, you gotta listen to your prospective customer (or contractor, in my case),,, and learn(quickly!!) to size them up... Sometimes walking away from a job is the best choice you can make, as I did with the high priced, hard sell clowns... However the cheapest isn't always the worst you can get...
Best of luck to you new guys trying to make a living on your own,,, Clean, hard work, polite conversation with customers will work wonders....
That’s part of the tree business. Unless it’s an emergency, people tend to shop around until they find a price they like. The tree isn’t going any where so they have time to get many many multiple bids. There is always someone that will do it cheaper.
 

ATH

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There is also always someone who will do it for more ;)

If you have the equipment working, having expensive stuff doesn't have to be bad. If it makes you more efficient than what it costs and is used in the right circumstances, it makes sense. For example, if you want low overhead, go chip out a stone ax head and get chopping. A chainsaw is a lot more expensive, but it saves a lot of time. A crane is really expensive, but it saves a really big lot of time - in the right setting! A heavy lift helicopter can get trees out that a crane cannot...but there are far and few circumstances where that cost is justified. The key is finding that balance and working within the balance.

@knockbill highlighted the fact that the expensive guys rolled up in a $60K (?-guessing, I don't shop new pickups!) pickup truck. Does that make their estimates more efficient? The computer in the back improves efficiency...but it would do the same in a much less costly truck.

Just my $0.02
 
Paolastreeservice

Paolastreeservice

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I’m also from Fairfield County in CT and for one of the richest counties in the country the prices I get hit back with during quotes are absolutely sickening. Some of the companies that low ball quotes just to get the job are not only hurting other companies but themselves. I am the main climber for my company and and a friends and we both would rather let the other company grab the job then climb and risk my life or companies for nothing because I feel rushed it’s a tough situation but at the end of the day we are a different breed and do a job most can’t handle. If only the companies that don’t realize they’re hurting the industry and giving communities false expectations of pricing.
 
Paolastreeservice

Paolastreeservice

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Very interesting thread,,, altho I'm a retired self employed electrician, not a tree expert... Here's from a customers view,,, I had a huge Pin Oak removed a while ago... Tree was in the front yard, easy street access... I got estimates from a bunch of guys, starting with two I had used over the years to trim/clean it out occasionally... They wanted way more for removing it than seemed fair(m I figured they needed to rent equipment), so I called a couple others... The one I hired was in business locally for a long time,, owned his bucket truck,,, crane,,, stump chipper,,, branch chipper, and other gear... His price turned out to be the lowest I got, in fact was exactly half the highest,, which came from a newer company, with tons of advertising... These guys(yep two) came to estimate in a new Yukon, with a computer in back, so they could print out the ridiculous estimate!!! They weren't willing to leave the wood,,, which the guy I hired not only did, but blocked it and helped me barrow it to the back... They took the trunk in 3 long logs...
I guess the moral of this rant is,,, you gotta listen to your prospective customer (or contractor, in my case),,, and learn(quickly!!) to size them up... Sometimes walking away from a job is the best choice you can make, as I did with the high priced, hard sell clowns... However the cheapest isn't always the worst you can get...
Best of luck to you new guys trying to make a living on your own,,, Clean, hard work, polite conversation with customers will work wonders....
Although in my other reply I ranted about being low balled I do also believe some companies don’t give fair pricing and also don’t know how to accommodate the customer. If I ever come in higher then other fair offers I will work with them and also explain reasons why I believe my price is worth a little extra.
 
Groundman One

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Clean, hard work, polite conversation with customers will work wonders....
Reminds me, yet again, of what a local guy used to tell people about me and my climber:

"Those two idiots? They are impossible to reach, always show up late, and they're expensive. On the other hand they do a great job and they're really nice guys."

That's going on my tombstone. :cool:
 
chipper1

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Reminds me, yet again, of what a local guy used to tell people about me and my climber:

"Those two idiots? They are impossible to reach, always show up late, and they're expensive. On the other hand they do a great job and they're really nice guys."

That's going on my tombstone. :cool:
The first part or the latter:laughing:.

I walk away from more work than I take, I take work that I can do by myself. Rarely is the case where I undercut others prices, and I let my customers know that they can get the work done cheaper, they usually say "okay, when can you start", sometimes they ask if I can do a little extra and sometimes I do. As @knockbill said you have to listen to the customer, I'm not the most qualified to do the work and I can't compete with the speed of the companies, but theres a reason I'm at the clients home and someone else isn't. I find that word of mouth clients are the best, they are typically much like the previous customer to work with/for and are the type of people I enjoy working for, some of the jobs I don't take are purely because I don't want to work for the individual/company. If I don't feel good about the people I'm working for or the risk I'm out.
 

DSW

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That's basically where I'm at also. There will always be a market for guys with your business model. Plain and simple, the average person cant afford $1200 or $1700 to have a couple of trees removed. Lower overhead guys will get those jobs.
Don't forget just because someone can't afford something doesn't mean it ain't worth that.

Ferrari ain't gonna sell you a car just because 10k is all you have saved up.
 
Joe Masters

Joe Masters

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Def interesting thread...

My conclusion; have a baseline # in your head based on hours, risk, pain, etc. while keeping your overhead as low as possible. Then raise the price from there based on the value the work represents and your relationship with the customer.
 
kctree

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What iv found keeps me honest when i go look at a job and i feel helps with reputation which is huge when working in a small community like we work in, is to go in looking at the job with the mindset of: how cheap can i get this done and still make a good amount of profit. Instead of the mindset of: how bad can i rape these people and still get them to hire me? And we all know its not hard to fall into the second of those. We are a small outfit of myself and my brother, bucket, chipper, chip truck, skid/grapple, dump trailer, big pull type stump grinder. We can work pretty cheap as everything is paid for and no crew to pay. But we try to give fair estimates, we dont want the reputation of low balling everyone else.
 
chipper1

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What iv found keeps me honest when i go look at a job and i feel helps with reputation which is huge when working in a small community like we work in, is to go in looking at the job with the mindset of: how cheap can i get this done and still make a good amount of profit. Instead of the mindset of: how bad can i rape these people and still get them to hire me? And we all know its not hard to fall into the second of those. We are a small outfit of myself and my brother, bucket, chipper, chip truck, skid/grapple, dump trailer, big pull type stump grinder. We can work pretty cheap as everything is paid for and no crew to pay. But we try to give fair estimates, we dont want the reputation of low balling everyone else.
Welcome to posting KC :hi:.
Good stuff.
 
Oldmaple

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What iv found keeps me honest when i go look at a job and i feel helps with reputation which is huge when working in a small community like we work in, is to go in looking at the job with the mindset of: how cheap can i get this done and still make a good amount of profit. Instead of the mindset of: how bad can i rape these people and still get them to hire me? And we all know its not hard to fall into the second of those. We are a small outfit of myself and my brother, bucket, chipper, chip truck, skid/grapple, dump trailer, big pull type stump grinder. We can work pretty cheap as everything is paid for and no crew to pay. But we try to give fair estimates, we dont want the reputation of low balling everyone else.
I agree. I've always quoted based on what I can do it for. Know your own costs, have to build in replacement costs of equipment even though you don't owe anything on your equipment. My experience on replacing equipment has been more related to down time, not actual cost to repair. Down time on an essential piece of equipment just sucks.
 
Jed1124

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I’ve said this a number of times before but I’ll say one more time.
The price you put on a job is based on what your crew and equipment needs to make per hour times the number hours you will be on site. Regardless of the property you are working on. Whether they are wealthy or poor, they all get the same price, because your price is based on your cost of running your business.
That’s called integrity....
 
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