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Old 02-03-2016, 06:13 PM   #21
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How not to down a tree.


News article about the tornado that hit our campground last summer. Five minutes of storm... 500 campers and park models destroyed, 400 more damaged and 10,000 to 15,000 trees downed.

ONLY ON 13: Two months after tornado Woodhaven Lakes still worki - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Gotta be a better way.
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Old 02-03-2016, 06:18 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
How not to down a tree.


News article about the tornado that hit our campground last summer. Five minutes of storm... 500 campers and park models destroyed, 400 more damaged and 10,000 to 15,000 trees downed.

ONLY ON 13: Two months after tornado Woodhaven Lakes still worki - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Gotta be a better way.
Remember you posting about that storm - Real good to see you post again!
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Old 02-04-2016, 12:27 AM   #23
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I'm ready to spend thousands for help with a specialized task (not a tree removal project), but have located online only 8 candidate companies/people in my area. Beginning with 8 rather than 32 spells trouble. A week has elapsed and I've yet to find one real, live person answering their phone, or receive a reply via phone or email. Feels like lots of people are intentionally minimizing their income these days.
I doubt many contractors are intentionally minimizing their income. Perhaps the companies you are calling are simply to busy to take on one more job. It seems to be the misconception that most people think small contractors wake up in the morning about ten, have a couple beers, delete all of their messages without calling anybody back, smoke a quick joint, go do a quick shotty job collect a few hundred bucks and go back to the beer drinking. Most of these contractors are truly small businesses. The guy swinging the hammer or running the chainsaw is probably the same guy who answers the phone, estimates the jobs, collects the money, pays the bills, maintains the equipment, cleans the bathroom etc. Its not like the megacorps that most people here are accustomed to working at. There isn't a whole department for phone calls, bill collecting etc.

I am a small contractor and one day last summer I had 87 phone calls. There is obviously no way that I can get back to all of those people and still be somewhat efficient. If a regular customer calls I will definitely get back to them because obviously I already have the job. If someone calls and leaves a message saying that they want me to do a job, I will get back to them. If someone calls and says I am thinking about doing a project and getting several bids. The first thing that comes to my mind is do I have time to waste educating this person on how to do their job, give them my ideas so they can shop my method around to other bidders so they can save themselves a few bucks but waste my time and money. So, perhaps the way you are asking them to get back to you is why you don't get a call back.
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Old 02-04-2016, 12:40 AM   #24
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Yes, it's a common problem alright. My former neighbor who was a banker specializing in small business loans used to say "This is why most small businesses stay small."

My practice is to get a minimum of three estimates on jobs likely to cost over $1K, not so much about the prices but just to get a better feel for the people who are doing that type of work.

Or perhaps they chose to remain small because the cost of growing does not out weigh the benefits. Admittedly I chuckled at a banker saying such a thing. What could he possibly know about actually operating a small business?


I am assuming the estimates that you get for jobs in excess of $1000.00 are free estimates. If you had to pay for estimates would you still get three estimates or would you decide on a contractor in a different way?
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Old 02-04-2016, 12:59 AM   #25
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It seems like a lot of the self employed like to throttle back work to an "as needed" income basis. If you catch them when they have rent due, they will hop, if they'd just been paid for a job, forget it.

I can see how it may look this way from the outside looking in. The reality is that if a contractor is going to pay for keeping his license up to date, pay for his bonding, pay all of the insurances it requires to be in business, pay for continuing education, maintain equipment, pay office help, this list goes on longer than you can even imagine so I will stop there. There is not to many of us that have a luxury to "throttle back". Perhaps if you were able to get a contractor out at a specific time he got done with a job early or a job cancelled out its probably not that his rent was due.
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Old 02-04-2016, 06:56 AM   #26
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perhaps the way you are asking them to get back to you is why you don't get a call back.
A very good point.

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I chuckled at a banker saying such a thing. What could he possibly know about actually operating a small business?
Actually, this particular guy was very knowledgeable, since he operated his own small business on his own time.

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I am assuming the estimates that you get for jobs in excess of $1000.00 are free estimates. If you had to pay for estimates would you still get three estimates or would you decide on a contractor in a different way?
I am absolutely willing to pay for good estimates. Frankly, it has always amazed me that so many are willing to give them for free, considering the time involved.
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Old 02-04-2016, 07:59 AM   #27
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I am a small contractor and one day last summer I had 87 phone calls. There is obviously no way that I can get back to all of those people and still be somewhat efficient. If a regular customer calls I will definitely get back to them because obviously I already have the job. If someone calls and leaves a message saying that they want me to do a job, I will get back to them. If someone calls and says I am thinking about doing a project and getting several bids. The first thing that comes to my mind is do I have time to waste educating this person on how to do their job, give them my ideas so they can shop my method around to other bidders so they can save themselves a few bucks but waste my time and money.
Thanks for your perspective, always interesting to see thing from the inside out instead of other way. From the customer view, getting bids, when he/she has no clue how mush the service should cost, seems valid. the other stuff you point out, not so much.
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Old 02-04-2016, 08:40 AM   #28
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Chopping down a big tree is tough. And to pour concrete over the area, the root structure must be dug up. This is even tougher, particularly for evergreen trees that spread their roots out instead of going down deep.
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Old 02-04-2016, 08:42 AM   #29
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I am a small contractor and one day last summer I had 87 phone calls. There is obviously no way that I can get back to all of those people and still be somewhat efficient. If a regular customer calls I will definitely get back to them because obviously I already have the job. If someone calls and leaves a message saying that they want me to do a job, I will get back to them. If someone calls and says I am thinking about doing a project and getting several bids. The first thing that comes to my mind is do I have time to waste educating this person on how to do their job, give them my ideas so they can shop my method around to other bidders so they can save themselves a few bucks but waste my time and money. So, perhaps the way you are asking them to get back to you is why you don't get a call back.
I'm sympathetic, but your phone message should state that if you are not a current customer, you probably won't even call back. Why waste your time and ours?
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Old 02-04-2016, 08:47 AM   #30
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[QUOTE=braumeister;1692681]A very good point.


Actually, this particular guy was very knowledgeable, since he operated his own small business on his own time.

I hate to keep blasting apart this bankers opinion but this is part of the problem. What the real story seems to be is that he makes his living being a banker. His health insurance is paid, groceries are bought, mortgage (if he has one), retirement plan are all covered by his full time day job. So whatever he makes on his own part time side business is just fun money. I don't think until you have shouldered the responsibility and dealt with the stress of actually operating a real small business you don't deserve an opinion.
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Old 02-04-2016, 08:53 AM   #31
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.....I don't think until you have shouldered the responsibility and dealt with the stress of actually operating a real small business you don't deserve an opinion.
As a customer, I think we do deserve an opinion. And I express that opinion with my dollars. No call back, no follow up, no $$$.
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:05 AM   #32
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A very good point.



I am absolutely willing to pay for good estimates. Frankly, it has always amazed me that so many are willing to give them for free, considering the time involved.
I am a huge opponent of free estimates. I think the person who originally thought of this should have been burned at the stake.

An estimate doesn't start and stop with the contractor pulling into your driveway. If there are materials required, we put together a material list and send it out to several vendors. These businesses will have time involved in calculating up the parts cost. If there are subcontractors required, they too will have to calculate their estimate. As you can plainly see, the amount of hours wasted on one simple estimate can be astounding.

There is no such thing as free estimates. In our little company, we spend around $30,000 - $40,000 a year just estimating. This is a cost we have to build into the rest of our projects so essentially everyone is paying for free estimates. I would like to see contractors charge for estimates, even if it was only $50 or $100. It would eliminate the tire kickers getting several estimates for a small job.
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:15 AM   #33
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I'm sympathetic, but your phone message should state that if you are not a current customer, you probably won't even call back. Why waste your time and ours?
That is an excellent point. during really busy times I have tried using a message like you stated the problem is that most people don't even listen to the message and leave a message anyway. The other side of it is I may have the time to do the job at the time they call so I would hate to chase them away. I am not one who makes a point to not call people back just for fun but if we are completely swamped and there is no end in sight, we are working sun up to sun down I may let an opportunity at doing an estimate slip by.
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:20 AM   #34
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I doubt many contractors are intentionally minimizing their income. Perhaps the companies you are calling are simply to busy to take on one more job. It seems to be the misconception that most people think small contractors wake up in the morning about ten, have a couple beers, delete all of their messages without calling anybody back, smoke a quick joint, go do a quick shotty job collect a few hundred bucks and go back to the beer drinking. Most of these contractors are truly small businesses. The guy swinging the hammer or running the chainsaw is probably the same guy who answers the phone, estimates the jobs, collects the money, pays the bills, maintains the equipment, cleans the bathroom etc. Its not like the megacorps that most people here are accustomed to working at. There isn't a whole department for phone calls, bill collecting etc.

I am a small contractor and one day last summer I had 87 phone calls. There is obviously no way that I can get back to all of those people and still be somewhat efficient. If a regular customer calls I will definitely get back to them because obviously I already have the job. If someone calls and leaves a message saying that they want me to do a job, I will get back to them. If someone calls and says I am thinking about doing a project and getting several bids. The first thing that comes to my mind is do I have time to waste educating this person on how to do their job, give them my ideas so they can shop my method around to other bidders so they can save themselves a few bucks but waste my time and money. So, perhaps the way you are asking them to get back to you is why you don't get a call back.

In my experience this is pretty much right on the money. I've watched independent plumbers and carpenters and painters on the job and seen them have the phone ringing constantly. Not easy to get a job done with a plumbing snake in one hand and answering the phone ringing in your pocket with the other. Double edged sword though - don't answer the phone and many customers just move on to the next contractor on their list. And often those customers are the ones who want a job done now - not looky-loos or price shoppers or PITA nit-pickers with horrible jobs no one wants.

Grow your business by taking on a phone/office person? Now you get to play with another layer of government and tax filing/SS withholding etc - as well as training the person so they don't obligate you to jobs you don't want or offend your best customers. And your forte is fine carpentry, not personnel management! Small business ain't for the faint of heart!
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:28 AM   #35
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....... And your forte is fine carpentry, not personnel management! Small business ain't for the faint of heart!
And that is the crux of it. If you want to be a fine carpenter, work for someone else and draw an hourly wage. If you want to be a small business owner, do the whole job, warts and all, take the extra profit for your trouble, but don't whine about it.
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:42 AM   #36
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When it's too large to do yourself:

1) Search for area aborists, landscapers, ground maintenance companies, etc. whose web sites claim they remove trees. Make a list of 32.
2) Telephone all 32 and find 16 of those phones have been disconnected.
3) Of the 16 working phones, no live person answers, so leave a message. Also send email.
4) Of those 16, 8 do not reply.
5) Of the 8 that do reply, 4 say they don't do that kind of work.
6) Of the 4 that do the work, schedule with all 4 to come to the site to review the job.
7) Of those 4, only 2 show up. Ask both to provide a price estimate.
8) Of those 2 only 1 provides a price estimate.
9) That one person gets the job!
I didn't read all the replies but my experience would add the following:

10)The one person who gets the job breaks the news that they are 6 months out getting to your job
11)after 7 months you call to see what is the status to get to your tree project and the response is like...Uh, who are you again? Oh, yeah due to all the rain they are running a little behind schedule but they should get to it in a "couple" of weeks
12)after 8 months you call again, just to check status. You are told, well my Son who works with me hurt his back so you are still at least a couple weeks away
13)a week or so later you talk to your neighbor across the street and complain about how your "tree guy" seems to be putting you off. Neighbor tells you that he has been waiting at least 6 months longer than you for the same guy to come and cut down the tree in his back yard and he had better not be cutting down my tree before he cuts down his tree!

Now these last few points may sound a bit strange, but that is EXACTLY where I am at with my "Tree Guy" as of last fall. I suppose I will call him again to see if he intends to get to it this year.

Reality is, all of the tree removal services operate the same way around here. If my tree wasn't overhanging my glass sunroom I would do it myself.
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Old 02-04-2016, 09:49 AM   #37
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I had a "tree guy" I used every couple of years to do my trimming. The phone number still works (always get voicemail) but after some 7 or 8 messages over a few weeks I gave up. He had been so reliable I was sure he would call back or just show up and do the job.
I finally left him a message that I was going elsewhere. It took another several weeks of voicemails to other services that were never returned. As luck would have it, a tree service was cutting down a few trees right down the block.
I high-tailed over there, spoke with what turned out to be the owner, and finally got my trees trimmed one day later.
None of those tree services that I left messages with ever returned my calls.
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Old 02-04-2016, 10:11 AM   #38
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I've cut down several by myself with my handy dandy 20'' chainsaw. Wish I had a "bigger one" I found even the really tall Pine trees in my area are easy to cut down and saw up. (still a dangerous job) I've actually used some of the Pine logs for outdoor chairs (stools) and a few other uses around the barn. Hardwood trees (like some of the Oak varieties) are a lot harder and much more dangerous to cut down (IMO). I cut down one (once). I'm sure it was 50 to 60 feet tall, maybe more, and probably almost that wide (tree branches tip to tip). Never again.

A couple of years ago, I had a local tree service cut down 3 Oaks that had died. He had a crew of about 4 guys and finished the job in about 3 hours. They cut them down, saw them up, pickup all the branches, and hauled them to my timber pile. (Most folks out here have dead wood piles somewhere on their property) He charged me $750, which was cheap IMO. Also, I made sure I hired someone that was insured.
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Old 02-04-2016, 10:22 AM   #39
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I've cut down several by myself with my handy dandy 20'' chainsaw. Wish I had a "bigger one" I found even the really tall Pine trees in my area are easy to cut down and saw up. (still a dangerous job) I've actually used some of the Pine logs for outdoor chairs (stools) and a few other uses around the barn. Hardwood trees (like some of the Oak varieties) are a lot harder and much more dangerous to cut down (IMO). I cut down one (once). I'm sure it was 50 to 60 feet tall, maybe more, and probably almost that wide (tree branches tip to tip). Never again.

A couple of years ago, I had a local tree service cut down 3 Oaks that had died. He had a crew of about 4 guys and finished the job in about 3 hours. They cut them down, saw them up, pickup all the branches, and hauled them to my timber pile. (Most folks out here have dead wood piles somewhere on their property) He charged me $750, which was cheap IMO. Also, I made sure I hired someone that was insured.
Years ago I removed a branch from an oak. And the entire porch that extended across the front of our house. House was insured and I was surprised to find stupidity on the owner's part was insured against. New porch was much nicer and more appropriate to the home.
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Old 02-04-2016, 10:28 AM   #40
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Wow, that Douglas Fir going down between the building was awe inspiring.

I've cut down a lot of trees in our yard. Sadly, most were ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer, but more than a few were osage oranges which I loath (2"+ thorns!).

I've been able to work my way up from smaller trees to tackling a few fairly large ones. A nice straight tree is pretty easy to aim once you know the technique (and practice a few times). But the really hard ones are the asymmetric trees. It's just not possible to lay down a north leaning tree in a southerly direction.

Luckily, my trees are away from the house and the main downside to misaiming a tree is that it hits another tree I'd rather keep.

I now have more firewood than I can burn before it all rots - can't even give it away since there is so many dead trees from ash borer :-( and you can't transport the wood across counties.
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