Arbor Age

Green Media Technology and Software Special Edition - Aug'14

For more than 30 years, Arbor Age magazine has been covering new and innovative products, services, technology and research vital to tree care companies, municipal arborists and utility right-of-way maintenance companies

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 19 of 25

20 Green Media / August 2014 B y P a u l J . D e l F i n o During the past three years, I have had the pleasure of conducting monthly marketing seminars for small business contractor entrepreneurs. I begin each session by asking some questions of the group. • What is the geographic range of your service area? Aver- age answer: 60 to 90 miles. • How much time do you spend on site doing an estimate? Average answer: 30 minutes. • What are you worth an hour? Average answer: $100 • What does each estimate cost you? Average answer: blank stare. It does not take an MBA to calculate that 1 hour drives to and from an estimate, combined with the time on site, then added to the paperwork and fuel has these entrepreneurs spending $300 to do an estimate. "No one else can do it" The revelation that these experienced small-business people are spending that much for a "maybe" is interesting to behold. It is usually followed by group discussions where, to a person, they conclude that: 1) They cannot trust anyone else. 2) They have no time to train anyone else. 3) They would look forward to delegating the responsibil- ity, but… Standards and sales disciplines At this point, I enjoy offering up a few more questions. • What is communicated to a prospect as a commitment when they contact your company? That is, how quickly will you follow up and be on site to look at the potential job. Aver- age answer: more blank stares. • Do you communicate by e-mail confi rming your ap- pointment for an estimate in the coming day(s), and include a photo and background of the estimator who will be visiting the site? Average answer: stares turn to smiles. • What is your closing ratio by geographic segments of your market, type of work, size of job, or referral source? Average answer: suggestions that I am from another planet. • Do you have a mechanism to touch base with each prospect with an outstanding pending estimate every week with an e-mail or phone call to expedite closing the deal? Average answer: confi rmation that I am from another planet. It is here that groups usually work to explain to me that: 1) Doing estimates is something entrepreneurs do before the job, at the end of the day, and on weekends. 2) No one in their size company has the resources with the skills and disciplines to do these "big company kinds of things." 3) If they hired someone to do all these things, they would not make money. But, to a person, they concede that in their industry such behavior by a smaller contracting fi rm would be a true differ- entiator, and a level of service and professionalism that could warrant increased perceived value and, therefore, potentially higher pricing and increased profi t. The tech solution During the past several years, new technology products have become available that allow small business contrac- tors to present an image and to deliver a level of service that mirrors the most sophisticated national service fi rms. It all started with Cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) systems. These tools allowed mobile entrepreneurs to deploy mobile devices to manage their customer contact information in real time. However, most recently, business app developers have perfected tablet soft- ware that is nearly plug-and-play, allowing contractors to easily execute each of the recommendations inferred in my questions to the group. BUSINESS MANAGEMENT BUSINESS MANAGEMENT The Estimate Money Pit Lower costs and increase effi ciency with technology

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Arbor Age - Green Media Technology and Software Special Edition - Aug'14