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– What Happens In Fall?
– You Want To Rest, This Winter? Or Are You Still Hungry For Business?
– Our 22 Tree Service Marketing Ideas This Winter
– #4. Call New Customers – Local Prospecting
– #12. Offer Winter/Spring Service Extensions
– #22. Become A Prime Bidder for a Long-Term Government Contract
– Referrals from General Contractors and Construction Companies
– Another Reason to Align With Contractors
– Referrals from Landscapers and Lawncare Companies from March onwards
– Combine 3 or 4 Tree Service Promotion Ideas to Start – an example
– What We Didn’t Include and Why
– If Your Tree Service Company Is Still Struggling to Find Customers
– Get More Customers
Can tree service marketing make a difference this winter? Can tree service marketing help to reduce the annual drop in business at this time of year? We give a resounding ‘heck, yes’ to both questions. Get it right and you can buck the national trend of lower seasonal business. It can also set your firm up for a great leap in business in early spring.
What Happens In Fall?
Customer phone calls are slowing down now for tree service companies in most U.S. states. The Google Trends graph below shows why. Searches on Google for ‘tree service, ‘tree removal’ and ‘tree trimming’ have been tracked over the last three years and the national results revealed above. The graph reveals a distinct and repeated annual pattern for searches by customers wanting help with their trees.
Tree service business slows down sharply in the winter months except for our southernmost States. Customer demand for tree removal and tree trimming work in December drops to less than half its peak summer levels. Searches are also slow to pick up in January and February. Don’t be fooled by the upward blip in the graph early January. This is linked to Christmas tree removal/disposal rather than everyone dropping large oaks in the New Year.
This trend may seem inevitable. However, there is much you can do this winter to keep your business going, your crew employed and your income stable. Use a sensible combination of a few of our 22 tree service marketing ideas together. This could make all the difference to your business fortunes this winter.
You Want To Rest, This Winter? Or Are You Still Hungry For Business?
Some of you may be grateful for the respite in work. Others will be hungry for business to keep up payments on machinery and keeping your best team fully employed.
The success of your business is in your hands and there’s many options to pursue. To save wasting your time, we have rated each idea in terms of time involved and financial cost. Don’t just do one idea – combine several you feel are best for your business in your stage of development and in your geographical location.
Our 22 Tree Service Marketing Ideas This Winter
1. Door-To-Door Hustle
Target an affluent neighborhood in your service area and make sure you have leave-behinds such as fridge magnets or business cards available for you and your crew. Alternatively, once you have finished a job, ensure that you at least ‘cloverleaf’ homes immediately next to and opposite the work site. Be sensitive to residents’ concerns about COVID-19 and wear a mask abd keep a respectable distance. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – Low
2. Send out Postcards
Multi-purpose use explored in detail in point five of this separate post. DMA confirm response rates 9 times that of email and paid search. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – Medium
3. Call Previous Customers – Customer Relationship Management
They know your work and are warm to you. Offer seasonal tree care advice e.g. pruning/tree pest control. Ask if they need anything done with their trees. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – Low
4. Call New Customers – Local Prospecting
Call builders, construction companies, golf-courses, realtors, apartment landlords, property maintenance companies, property-flippers. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – Low
5. When Prospecting, Offer a Value-Add e.g. Free Inspection
A value-added offer will make your local prospecting more effective. Time Cost – Low; $ Investment – Low
6. Check Your Local Listings
Update local online directory listings. Explore online bid listings including for State Department of Transport (DOT) & your local city municipalities. Get found! Time Cost – Low; $ Investment – Low
7. Move to Southern U.S. States or Coastal Areas in Winter
Stuff still grows there in winter. Caution – competition heavy there too. Care – high promotional costs. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – High
8. Hang Out with Your Truck at a Busy Gas Station
Passive Prospecting! ‘Ambush’ passing builders/ construction companies. Works best if you have reflective or illuminated vehicle signage as detailed here. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – Low
9. Refresh/ Illuminate Your Vehicle Signage
Regard your trucks as large mobile billboards. Pick out your brand & telephone number in reflective vinyl or Electro Luminescent (EL) materials. Both options explored in depth here. Time Cost – Low; $ Investment – Medium (investment higher depending how many trucks in your fleet)
10. Network with General Contractors/ Real Estate Developers
At least 10% of construction/remodeling work involves some form of site preparation/tree removal. Forming business relationships with a few general contractors is a great way to increase business in winter. This paragraph below explains why this is a huge opportunity for tree service owners to increase and even out annual cash flow. Time Cost – Low to Medium; $ Investment – Low
11. Improve Your Website
Use this quiet time of the year to review your website and list the areas you want to improve. For example, you may have great visibility in your home town. But can you be found easily online in the neighborhoods from which you would like more inquiries? And do you have comprehensive web pages on your site for all your services? Are examples of the work that you are proud of shown on your site? Are your customer testimonials up-to-date? There’s a lot you can do yourself. Prioritize what’s left so you can give your SEO provider/web designer a clear brief. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – Medium
12. Offer Winter/Spring Service Extensions
Without diluting your main tree services offer, consider offering related winter tree services such as fruit tree pruning, elm tree pruning, oak tree trimming, tree pest control etc. Combine with 3. & 4. above. Ideally, start promotion in fall for a full winter appointment book. Add service pages to website, adjust citations/listings. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – Low
13. Offer 24/7 Emergency Tree Removal
Prepare for winter storms/ gales. As a minimum, add service page to website, citations in directory sites e.g. Yelp, Manta, Angies List. Use MarketingDirector.com (us) to push you to the front of the queue for emergency tree service type live calls. Time Cost – Low-Medium; $ Investment – Low-Medium
14. Offer Firewood For Sale
Need dry cords of wood, storage and marketing e.g. service page, citations, listings. Care – low margins. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – Low-Medium
15. Offer Line Clearance
Does Asplundh give their thousands of staff the winter off? No. They keep them busy, for sure. Call the state power companies. Check online bid listings. Care – dangerous work (even more so). Need Line Clearance certification. Begin with power line work for residential tree trimming to gain credibility and valuable/life-saving experience. Need new service pages on website displaying new capabilities and certifications. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – Low-Medium
16. Offer Snow Removal
Requires additional heavy equipment, service page, local listings, municipality/DOT listings etc. Time Cost – Medium; $ Investment – High
17. Hire Marketing Manager
Bold and expensive step for a new business. Check local marketing experience, successes, training and qualifications very carefully before hiring. There are better, lower cost, pay-as-you go options especially for a young company. Time Cost – Low; $ Investment – High
18. Hire a Lead Generator
Paying just for live phone calls on a pay-as-you-go basis works well for many tree service businesses. Hire us! Time Cost – Low; $ Investment – Low-Medium
19. Hire An Advertising Agency
Uber-expensive in most cases. Agency will recommend an array of offline/online media, creative & digital solutions to ensure success. Not all channels will work. Time Cost – Low to Medium; $ Investment – High
20. Become a Marketing Expert
Learn the ropes of local marketing yourself. Takes time and you need calls now. Not all solutions will work. Not all learning course will be worthwhile. Beware ‘shiny object’ syndrome! Time Cost – High; $ Investment – Medium
21. Obtain and Display Trade Certifications
ISA and TCIA are most well known and respected. ISA needs study & exams, TCIA doesn’t. Display widely on all materials and signage for credibility and customer trust benefits. Time Cost – Medium (ISA requires study time); $ Investment – Low to Medium
22. Become a Prime Bidder for a Long-Term Government Contract
There are just over 400 long-term (i.e. lasting >12 months) tree service-only government contracts that exist in U.S.A., based on our count for 2019. But getting just one of them either as prime bidder or teaming up with a larger tree service firm will make a huge difference to your winter cash flow. On average, each is worth $385,400 p.a. …for several years. Much more detail here including ‘how to’ in our separate advice article. Time Cost – Medium-High; $ Investment – Low
Referrals from General Contractors, Construction Companies and Real Estate Developers
The timing in Idea 10. Business Referrals deserves a fuller explanation.
Notice the blue line on this Google Trends graph. It represents a stable online search pattern for general contractors year-round. If there is a small dip in December, there is a much faster bounce back in early January. It’s the same for construction searches. National inquiries for tree removal (red line) are far more seasonal in nature.
Regardless of whether the construction work happens on green field, brown field sites or as renovation or as property extensions, the site will still need clearing beforehand. Position yourself for this work correctly i.e. ‘Lot Clearance’ and you could see yourself busier than most of your competition earlier in the year.
By position yourself, I mean adding a relevant page to your website for Lot Clearance, adjusting your listings and seeking referrals from local contractors and construction outfits.
Another Reason to Align With Contractors
It’s not just about seasonality. From our research into the Business To Government (B2G) market, there is another strong reason why tree service owners should form relationships with local contractors and construction companies.
Our calculations reveal that the number of new government contacts awarded in 2019 for Tree Services alone was just 1005 across whole of U.S.A. Yet, the number of construction contracts awarded by the U.S. government in 2019 was 51,722. Even if just 10% of these involved some form of tree removal or replacement, such construction contracts number more than 5 times the number of pure tree service contracts available for bid. Surely, that potential work is worth a few phone calls and visits.
Referrals from Landscapers and Lawncare Companies from March onwards
We suggest that before March and April, you switch your attention towards getting referrals from landscapers and lawncare firms. You’re right, their business is even more acutely seasonal than tree service. However, both customer searches and demand accelerate more sharply for them in April and May. Check out Google Trends for yourself to see this and other waves you can ride.
Most landscapers and all lawn-care outfits won’t have the right experience or kit for heavy tree work beyond light trimming of small trees. So they will rely on a tree service company to help them out. Of all the 60 or so competitors in your county, let that tree service company be your own!
There’s No Single Magic Bullet in Tree Service Marketing
By all means adopt one of 22 the winter marketing ideas listed above. And do it well. But bear in mind that it won’t work well just on its own. Customers can find you in many different ways. They respond differently depending on the approach, media or message used. Some will rate online reviews higher over a personal message on their doorstep and vice versa. Also some new prospects will need to hear from you between 7 and 20 times before they call you. So it’s best to make an intelligent combination of several ideas working harder together.
Combine 3 or 4 Tree Service Promotion Ideas to Start – an example
A multi-idea approach will work best. For example, the following selection could work well together:
1. Hustle door-to-door
3. Call previous customers
4. Call new prospects (local prospecting)
10. Business referrals
1., 3., & 4. will have an immediate impact to increase your sales. Idea #10 is a slower burn but ideal if you want sales to pick up faster in January and February.
However, note that some local builders and construction companies may be looking for something in exchange if they are to give you referrals in the New Year. After all, what’s in it for them? It’s unlikely that you can reciprocate with a bunch of building leads. So how about offering to take their business card with you when going door-to-door (1.)? This shows that you’re serious. It also builds a lot of goodwill with your construction referrer.
Also, when phoning new customers in your service area (4.), offer to come round and look at their trees to see if any of them need attention.
Review the 22 marketing tactics and decide which combination would work best for you in your city.
What We Didn’t include and Why
There are several routes to market we haven’t included. The main one is building a website. Yes, a website is an important ‘must have’ for serious tree service firms with employees and heavy equipment. In time, a good website will position you in the top third of all the 60 or so tree firms in your county. Because at least two thirds of all tree firms don’t have one! And a website lies at the heart of the ideal tree service marketing model shared here.
BUT your new website’s content will take time to be visible in the search engines, even for local search results. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a much longer process nowadays. You want sales now, hence the focus on more immediate sales and marketing ideas.
If Your Tree Service Company Is Still Struggling to Find Customers
And if you’re not in the mood for all the hustle, let us make the phone ring for you.
We generate and sell phone calls from local prospects specifically interested in your tree services, in your specific service area. Remember there are around 40-50% fewer inquiries for tree services averaged across U.S.A in winter. But we can put your business much closer to the front of the queue for the live calls that remain.
John Hackwood helps tree service owners get 15-40 NEW customers per month. He is an expert at helping them get clients using proprietary methods and making things super simple to understand. He has been a marketing professional since 1988 and is using this considerable experience to help small businesses in the U.S. tree care sector.
If you’re interested in learning how John can help you grow your tree service business with high-quality tree service leads then click on blue button below.