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Tree Service Business Leads: the Plan & Strategy
If you are looking for the best lead generation plan and strategy for your tree service business, you have come to the right place. No hyped-up marketing, only real-world marketing examples of results for tree care operators. As a tree service leads provider and tree service digital marketing agency, we have had our share of experience, good and bad. This works, so let us jump in.
10 minutes from now you will have a better grasp on how to generate tree removal leads, tree trimming leads and stump removal leads that will pull more of the market share from competitors and make you the top dog in your local marketing area.
If you will not spend 10 minutes to learn the actual world of lead generation for your tree company, you will spend a fortune and years trying to figure it out.
There is no magic pill, just a process or formula that works. It is in this article. Click away or keep reading.
In this article we are going to use three tree service companies, that are our clients as an example.
- A young Start-up tree service business in the Gulf State Region, competing with established companies. (The Start-up)
- 2nd Generation tree care business in the Northeast Region who does not want to lose market share. (The Sustainer)
- 2nd Generation tree service company in the Upper Midwest Region, who wants to grow his business. (The Grower)
All have different goals, budgets and need a different lead generation system to achieve their marketing goals.
Tree Service Lead Generation Table of Content
- The only 3 methods used to generate business for your tree service.
There are a few tools you need to have to generate tree service business leads. They are a website, Google My Business, two or three social media accounts with ad accounts, email service provider, Google Ads account, CRM, and a plan.
Ok, let us look at the only three ways any business, from Apple to the local pizza shop to your tree business gets customers.
The Only 3 Lead Generation Methods
The first lead generation method is the cheapest, most often over-looked, and the one that a start-up or careless business owner does not use.
The second one is powerful and a long-term plan. It is one that should be used daily.
The third is the most expensive in terms of paying for, but has a high rate of return, when done strategically and managed.
Leads that you OWN.
By owned I mean your list of past customers, friends, family, prospects, people you have given estimates to and never heard from again and people in your network.
These are all lead generation sources that need to be produced leads. Yes, it is word-of-mouth, and the leads it produces are some of the best ones, because they come as a referral.
If Google and Facebook died tomorrow, and you could not advertise there, and no one could find you in the search engines, this list of OWNED lead source would still work for you.
The only cavate is it is unpredictable to a point.
How do you get leads from this owned lead method?
Newsletter and email marketing is the cheapest method. You can send out a direct mail postcard or even a written letter. Some tree care business today, even uses SMS or text messages to communicate with their list of customers and network.
But the key is collecting the contact information, having it in a CRM and using the damn list.
It is not baseball cards you collect; they are opportunities at your fingertips.
How we use this OWNED leads list for my three clients.
Client #1 The Start-up.
No list, no past customers, just starting out. Small family, few friends, not network. We pulled lists of local businesses that align with tree care companies. Like solar installation companies, builders, large property owners and management firms.
Contractor Marketing Network, (my company) wrote articles that would be of interest for the groups of people in the list. We sent them an email, introducing ourselves and links to the articles.
How to Install Solar Panels without Removing a Tree. (solar companies) Some homeowners do not want to remove a tree. Most homeowners and solar companies do not want to pay to have a lot of trees removed.
The Cost-Effective Way to Keep Your Land and Right-of- Ways Cleared. (property owners) Cost effective way is to use the tree service during the companies, slow season or a progressive over time management process. This way they do not get hit with a big bill all at once, and the tree company can fill in gaps in the schedule.
Foot in the door, great way to introduce the company and get more OWNED people on the list to market to.
We send a monthly newsletter with relevant information on this list. Working on building relationships never being salesy.
Client #2 The Sustainer
The sustainer has an extensive list of past customers, a larger list of people whom he gave bids to. The only problem, they were not kept organized. So, after a month of pulling teeth, we put together all the people’s emails he could gather.
With this list we broke it down into 2 segments.
One customer, the other estimate prospects. The customers get a quarterly newsletter, letting them know what the company has been up to, what things are affecting trees, and some landscape/DIY tree health tips and a subtle ask for a referral.
The estimate prospect list gets a monthly email regarding tree removals, tree trimming, etc. plus, company news, recent reviews, and a coupon for $100 off a service.
Client #3 The Grower
With this client, we use the methods of both the above. We outreached to people who have never done business with us, or who have not asked an estimate. But align with the tree services and their needs.
Plus, we have the list of past customers and estimate prospects.
Since this business wants to grow and gain market share, we are quite aggressive, but never salesy with our communications.
NOTE: All these three have a blog with content we put on there weekly. That way they have something to say when they reach out to people. Content marketing is a powerful part of a lead generation strategy. Which we are going to jump into with the next lead gen method. Earned!
Tools you use for Owned Lead Generation System:
Newsletter, email, and direct mail. Some can use text message marketing.
The Leads You EARN
Earned markets are just that, you earn them. You do this through social media posts, writing articles on your website, spending time, and posting to your Google My Business. (We handle this for our clients) But, if you are trying to generate leads for your tree service, this is how you earn the leads. By getting your name out there on social media, optimizing your GMB/Google Maps and writing good articles for your website blog with keywords for SEO, so you get found online.
You earn these leads by putting in the work. If you can’t do it, outsource it. It is worth it to you in the long run.
Tree Service Client #1 The Start-Up
We were aggressive with optimizing his Google My Business. Uploading pictures daily, writing post updates weekly, make offer posts monthly.
We wrote 2 articles a week to give his website the need SEO boost and for him to have something to post to his social media. Hey, people can only take so much look at me in a tree post. They want to be engaged, so tell them something.
Tree Service Client #2 The Sustainer
With this client we trickled in articles to his website at one every two weeks. Uploaded images made posts updated to his GMB and posted a few times a week on social media showing tree removals or trimmings and explain why they had to be done.
This gives the client enough earned exposure to keep a steady trickle of leads coming from the earned market bucket.
Tree Service Client #3 The Grower
This client is looking to expand, so we write and publish city/location specific pages on his website for the locations he wants to break into. We write location specific article once a week, plus; we optimize his GMB to stretch his reach with Google Maps.
His social media posts are still to his core area, but when he does a tree trimming or removal out in the new market area, we do everything possible to promote that post. From that location’s hashtag, to geo tagging the image to mentioning the area in the location part of the social media platform. Facebook and Instagram have that feature, use it.
Tools use for Earned Lead Generation System:
Website, Blog, Google My Business and Social Media.
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Leads You PAY For
Paid markets are just that, you are paying to get your message, your tree service business in front of people that you do not own or have not earned. So, you pay to advertise to these people.
There are several paid methods, but Google Ads and Facebook Ads are the most popular. I will not get into how to use those two in this article, but will explain how we use them for the three clients.
IF you don’t have or use the first two, you need to use this method. If not, you will lose a lot of business, from lack of exposure. Driving around with a logo’d up truck works for a job or two, but not like paid ads.
Tree Care Client #1 The Start-Up
This client’s budget is low, hey, he is a young go getter, just short on funds for paid ads. No worries. We told him about what the cost of a lead would be, and the cost to acquire a customer. With that information, we told he for every job he did to drop $50 into his paid ads budget. Until we reached a point where the other two methods could grow and sustain him.
The best part about running paid ads is Google and Facebook let you run ads on their dime for a little while. So, if you know how to run ads, you make the ad budget back in revenue before the bill collector comes knocking.
That is what we did for him, and it worked.
One year in and the ad bills come, and it is not even thought of as he is business making the money. He sees it as an investment. Which it is. $50 in $1000 out. Like clockwork.
Arborist Client #2 The Sustainer
With this client, he has been around a long time, is well known in the area, but we still run ads for him. Here is why. Past customers move or pass away. His area has a lot of competition that advertises and if he did not, he would lose market share.
Plus, we use the paid ads like a faucet, turned on when he needs to fill in the schedule, and turned off when he is booked up for a good amount of time.
Tree Service Business Client #3 The Grower
This client is trying to break into markets where his website does not show up yet, he has no customer base, and his Google My Business is not reaching that far. So, for him we must run ads to get in front of people in those areas.
How we generate the leads is by using the ripple effect. We do not jump over areas. All our paid ads run connected geographically. We did this by design, so it worked with the other two methods from above.
Since this client has a firm hold on the area within a 20 miles radius of his shop, we spend more of his ad budget on the outer edges. Which has worked well for expanding his marketing area!
Lead Generation Tools used for Paid Markets:
Google Ads (search and display) and Facebook Ads.
What does a lead cost and what is a lead worth?
Lead costs are going to vary from one method to the next, and there is not a set cost. The lead generation brokers like Home Advisor, Angie’s List and Thumbtack have numbers, but they also have profit built into them.
Remember, they have shareholders to pay.
If you are generating your own leads, you and only you will have to decide of what you will pay for a lead. I am sure if there is no work, and the mortgage is due, you would pay more for a lead than when your bank is fat, and your schedule is full.
The lead generation broker mentioned above prey on tree care business owners who do not understand the methods I mention here to produce their own leads.
So, the cost of lead is high, not just in dollars, but in waste. Wasted because the lead quality is bad or not the right type of service. I have seen countless times where a tree removal company paid for a lead that was for tree planting or something off base.
When used right, the lead generation methods above have a subtraction factor or multiplier according to how you want to look at it.
If you run paid ads for your lead generation method and say the lead cost $50. But the lead turns into a customer and refers you or the neighbor see’s you and hires you? You can say you got a twofer, or one was free. Either way, in the end it amounts to $25 per lead.
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For the sake of this article and taking the data we have for all tree service clients, from all areas of the county, with different competition levels, and populations.
- $35-65 is a good estimate for tree trimming.
- $40-80 for tree removals
- $20-45 for stump removals
According to the Small Business Administration, a small business should expect to spend 2%-10% on marketing. That is a wide net and is for all marketing expenses. I tell my clients to budget around 6% give or take.
Example: a $2,000 tree removal, figure that tree job lead is worth $120.
Budgeting for Tree Service Leads
Generating lead for your business is part of your overall tree service marketing plan. A good number to set for your business is 8-15% of your gross revenues. With lead generation being 50-75% of that. Based on your business goals, you can be on the aggressive growth or start-up, side at 15% or on the sustainable business model and on the low side at 8% over all marketing expenses and have a lead budget of 4% of gross revenue.
This is one reason we at Contractor Marketing Network have package prices for marketing and offer custom marketing packages. Every tree business is unique. With different goals and objectives or situations.
When people ask me how much to budget for lead generation, without knowing the details, I say, “How long is a string?”
But to throughout a number, 10% of gross revenue keeps me conservative and safe.
Tree Care Business Customer Generation Plans and Strategy
Many people get plans, tactic and strategy mixed up. One of the best ways that it was explained to me was like this story.
There was Helen, a Trojan Horse and a place called Troy. The Greeks wanted Helen back. That was the plan. The tool they used was the Trojan Horse. The strategy was deception. Sorry, if I lost you, but to me that was the best explanation of the plan, tool, and strategy meanings.
Your plan is based on your goal. Your goal is to get more customers for your tree business. The tools you will use will vary based on your strategy. But you will use most of them which I mention in the 3 methods for lead generation above. Your strategy is going to be centered around what your goals are.
- Goal: Get more commercial tree care customers.
- Tools: Website content, email outreach, strategic placed ads.
- Strategy: Be seen a leader in commercial tree maintenance.
- Goal: Get more residential tree trimming customers in a specific location.
- Tools: Location specific blog articles on website, paid ads targeting that micro area, social media posts paid to show in that area.
- Strategy: Been seen as that area’s best local choice for tree service.
- What is your goal?
- What tools are you going to use to achieve it?
- What approach or angle are you going to use to achieve it?
You can have multiple micro plans and strategies.
It may not be specific to an area. But a service. Like the BIG tree removal company or the best-looking tree, tree trimming company.
The key, stand for and behind something, build your brand off it. It makes it easier to generate customers when you are specific. Customer who needs your specific branded service will search you out. Which makes getting leads easier.
Tree Service Lead Generation Q & A
Step 1: Define Your Objectives and Goals.
Step 2: Define a Lead and Set the Value of Your Raw Lead.
Step 3: Select Appropriate Lead Generation Message and Channels.
Step 4: Develop a Response Process.
Step 5: Have a CRM Database and Utilize It.
Define what source you can get the most customers from and use them to their fullest. Think lowest cost to highest cost and from short term and long term.
- Determine your target audience (homeowners, specific area, etc.)
- Set campaign goals (X amounts of leads in X amounts of days for X amount of expenditure)
- Determine what offer will attract your ideal client. (Quick Service, Affordable, Professional, Etc.)
- Build your landing page. Yeah, you need one to match your offer or message.
- Have a follow up system ready.
- Integrate with technology. (Think CRM, Email marketing and automation)
- Test your campaign. No one will hit a home run right at the first at bat. Test, test, test.
- Drive traffic.
- Analyze, optimize your lead generation marketing. (Keep looking at data and keep improving)
93% of business purchases begin on the web. Is your website optimized for this purpose? Do you have offers that would make someone want to respond?
What assets do you have to generate leads? If you do not have any, then a lead generation company is worth it. If you do have marketing assets, such as a website, social media, email marketing and traditional marketing tools. The start doing SEO on your website, develop a social media marketing plan and execute it. Start a newsletter. Start running paid ads to your website landing pages.
If not, you must get a consistent flow of leads somewhere. So, lead generation company may be your only option right now.
There are several costs that can be associated with lead generation:
- Media agencies and operations: the costs to hire an agency for your lead gen efforts.
- Media placement and distribution: the cost of paying external sources such as Facebook and Google for your ads.
- List purchases: the cost of buying or hiring third parties to receive or generate lists.
- Campaign creation: the internal costs of developing an effective marketing campaign.
- Incentives: Reward costs e.g., discounts.
A good lead generation company is worth their weight in gold. A bad one will drain your bank quick or at best, make it break even.
For our three clients used in this article:
- The Start-Up $1,000 – $1,200 a month. (Revenue between $20-30k)
- The Sustainer $800-1,200 a month (Revenue between $30-50k)
- The Grower $2,500- $3,000 a month. ($80+k per month)
Since the main aim of any lead gen campaign is to maximize efficiency and increase revenue, you must understand how many leads you need to hit the goals of your organization.
This analysis requires information about your tree company such as:
- Target Revenue: the amount of revenue you aim to reach at the end of a period.
- Marketing Driven Revenue: the portion of total income that is acquired due to marketing efforts.
- Average Sales Price (ASP): Net Sales / Number of Tree Jobs Sold
- Marketing Driven Deals: Marketing Driven Revenue / Average Sales Price
- Lead to Opportunity Ratio: how many leads it takes to turn one into an opportunity (%)
- Opportunity to Close Ratio: how many leads it takes to turn one opportunity into a customer (%)
There is a lot of ways to generate leads for your tree business. How you approach your lead generation, what methods you choose to use and many other factors dictate the cost per lead. But, once you have a lead system in place and see that money in produces large paybacks, the only problem you will have is find the help to deliver the tree service.
Need to get more customers for your tree care business? Fill out the form at the bottom, we would be glad to talk about your goals and specific needs.