The ongoing long term success and profit of any tree care business relies on finding and converting new customers. That’s why lead generation or marketing is necessary to your tree service business. Because without one or the other (or both), you won’t get in front of new customers. So, when you do get in front of a potential customer, it’s important to maximize that lead/opportunity and not waste it.
Is there such a thing as good tree service leads vs bad tree service leads? Not really. You see, hiring a marketing company or lead gen service is about getting your phone to ring everyday with new leads. If your marketing guy or lead gen company isn't making your phone ring everyday with potential new customers, that’s a problem. But, if your phone is ringing everyday with people looking to hire a tree company and you’re not converting those leads into customers, you can’t turn around and complain to the lead generation or marketing company and say the leads were no good. After all they made the phone ring, which is what you paid them to do. The difference is not in the lead but the lead generation service. There's a reason Home Adviser charges rock bottom prices per tire-kicker tree lead and why so few marketing companies work with tree service companies. Because they think most tree companies are unprofessional and don't have the wherewithal to run and grow a business.
Turning the leads into into customers is your job. If you're not closing as many new jobs as you like, then the solution is to stop blaming and get some help or training in the sales process. Having a process, being able to convert the lead, up-sell the lead and charge top dollar for your service could help your tree service grow by leaps and bounds, especially when you have people calling you everyday. If you spent time on the property with the homeowner doing an estimate/bid and it didn’t turn into a paying job then something went wrong. And that something wasn’t that it was a bad lead, it was something else. Let's look at a couple of scenarios.
The Job was too small for you. If the job was too small why did you waste your time going there and doing a bid in the first place. You should’ve qualified them over the phone to make sure they're a match for your services.
Someone underbid you. You didn’t do a good enough job selling your quality services, safety credentials, insurance or your differentiating factor. Which should be something other than a lower price. Did you qualify this homeowner on the phone? There are ways to find out if customers only care about a cheap price and not about quality work.
They hired another tree service. Either you weren't as professional as the other guy or you didn't educate the consumer enough on why they should hire your company. Professionalism goes a long way when you're standing on a strangers property talking about removing trees. There's potential safety issues and property damage looming. The customer wants to know you're prepared for these contingencies. That means you have the proper training credentials and insurance to handle any potential mistakes. Professionalism also means dressing the part. Are your trucks clean and branded? Are your shirts branded with your logo? Do you answer the phone properly - not just with a hello?
Customers will have unrealistic expectations about the budget and scope of the work they want done. They don’t know about the the tree removal process, they never took a class on it. They’re lucky if they know what type of tree it its. All they know is that they have a tree on their property that they have to deal with. If you encounter a customer that thinks your service is to expensive and the only way you can convert them is with price cuts or deals then hold off. Providing discounts will undercut the value of your service. If a lead cannot realistically buy your products or services, there’s very little you can do to accommodate them without doing harm to your own business. You’re either compromising on price or value. In these cases, the best approach is to simply cut them loose if you can’t be accommodating. There are plenty of other tree companies out there that work on price.
A lead is someone who has the capability and motivation to do business. Though a few leads may land in your ideal customer zone, most will not. Some leads will be people with unrealistic expectations or budgets, lack of a concrete timeline, or even an ambiguous understanding of what they need done. When you encounter your less than ideal lead, a customer who is not a fit, then you have a choice to make. Ignore it and move on or spend time educating and nurturing them to see if you can increase the value of the work by up-selling other services. Everything is an opportunity A lead is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get onto their property and prove yourself. But you need to qualify that lead when they call in, before you go out to visit them and bid the job. Somebody might have a need for your service but they might not be a fit for you.
If somebody has a need and they're not a fit for your service or price it’s not necessarily a bad lead. It’s up to you to determine what the lifetime value of the customer might be like and whether it will be worth it to nurture the lead for future jobs. If you don’t see any future opportunity in the person's front or backyard then you may want to give them a big bid anyway, pass it on to a colleague or you can book it out until you’re not so busy. Give them something - you have to give to get. And remember, sometimes the most profitable word in any business is a flat out ‘No’. Increased jobs and less profit usually means headaches down the road.