What can you do to stand out from competitors? For many, offering “free” services is a way for them to stand out from the crowd and attract new business. But, is this really a good idea? For example, in the tree services industry, many businesses market free estimates, but industry professionals actually advise against it. “This practice can be costly,” explains Jeffery Ling in an article for Tree Care Industry Magazine. “Many tree care professionals will invest an hour or more on a potential jobsite, identifying problems, detailing specifications, even making informal risk-tree assessment, and not charge a fee. This ‘free’ time is wasted when it doesn’t result in a sale.”
What he does encourage doing is making the value of this fee-based visit crystal clear to potential customers. It will require some thought and discipline, but in the end, Ling believes that this method will actually generate more new business that results in both increased loyalty and revenue.
He goes on to explain that there are typically three types of groups to whom you will be selling:
- Clients, often individuals with a minimum threshold yearly income level
- Customers, who do repeat business, but don’t necessarily offer the same long-term value as clients
- Casuals, who are people potentially seeking tree care services
Find your unique value
All three need a different approach, requiring you to determine clear visit criteria and limits for each, as well as clear expectations for time to be invested. Take the time to sit down and quantify your expertise, ultimately deciding how much value your time is worth. Ask yourself the following:
- What is my opinion worth?
- How is my expertise valued?
- Am I assessing myself accurately? Confidently?
- Am I resolute in my level of technical knowledge?
Hopefully, you’ve been able to realize the very real value of your visits. Ling suggests even rethinking how you view these services, suggesting renaming them “client guidance” or “expert sales,” rather than simply an estimate. “When recognized, planned and engaged, when professionally presented and delivered…these services can (and should) produce compensation,” he writes. “Are you worth a fee? If so, prove it!”