The Plight of the Bottom-Feeder
This past spring, we in the Boston area experienced four nor'easter's in the period of three weeks. The cleanup continues and there are more than a few in the tree removal business driving around in brand-new pickup trucks. When my wife and I wanted some pine trees removed from our backyard, we made some calls to local companies. Most had full voicemail machines while others simply didn't return calls. One guy showed up and didn't even turn his truck off. He stepped out of the cab, barked out a number, shook my hand, and left in his $65,000 Silverado.
Taking a walk on Monday morning, Allison and I came across a tree crew setting up and we asked for a business card. To our surprise, the owner (a young man of about 25 or so) showed up two hours later to give us a price that was $3000 less than his closest competitor. I immediately got the feeling that he would've come down even lower had I balked. When I asked how soon he could get the work done he replied, "How's Wednesday look?" Still, his team showed up in their Sanford & Sons-quality pickup truck and despite the fact that they were lousy communicators (days went by without hearing from them), they completed the work and did a great job.
Here's the thing, you don't need me and my little blog to tell you that selling on price can lead to financial disaster. And just about everything that I do has the common message, "Sell solutions, not print." But today, I want to step away from that theme and speak to those who low-ball that first order just to get in the door.
The mistake that our young tree-remover made wasn't just that he left money on the table, it's that he missed on a few opportunities to expand on his $2900 sale. What about thinning the other trees on the property? And stump grinding? Could we stick his sign in our front yard for a couple of weeks? Do we know of anyone else who needs tree work?
Returning from Print 18, I learned that he left a helmet and the toolbox behind so I will be seeing young Zach again and hope to get the chance to sit down with him and offer some advice …
You can undercut the competition on price, but make up for it with service and quality and that low bit becomes an investment.
This example isn't a perfect correlation to print sales because there are not a lot of solutions to be offered in the tree removal business. Price and reputation are your door-openers. The key is to make the most of the opportunity or else you will go the way of those low-budget airlines like Primera Air, which announced on October 2, 2018 that they were shutting down operations just two weeks after flying my youngest daughter from London to Boston and back.
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