How to keep your tree care business busy in the off-season
Many countries experience winter to some degree. As a tree care business owner, that means you probably have an off-season. Instead of slowing or shutting down during this time, there are several opportunities to develop new revenue streams to help keep your business busy.
A large component of your wintertime strategy should be marketing efforts. You know you can still do tree care work when the temperatures drop — but homeowners don’t. Educating your customers or potential customers on the services that are still available is part of marketing. For example, run a discount or promotion for customers who book services December through February (or whenever your slower season is). Use your company social media channels, blog and website to reach customers. You could also send them a direct mail piece or hang up a door knocker.
Once a company has had time to establish itself and build up its success, it’s important to look to the future and ensure the company remains strong for years to come. Winter is the perfect time to develop a succession plan while business is slower. A thorough succession plan can help guide a company through transitions — both planned and unplanned. Many of the tree care companies we’ve worked with are family businesses, and having a plan in place will help make those transitions easier when it’s time for the next generation to take the reins.
Storms can do quite a bit of damage in the middle of winter. Trees can blow over or be severely damaged by strong winds, blizzards and prolonged ice storms. Consider positioning your company as the expert in storm cleanup. Before doing so, however, ensure you (and your employees) can reach customers immediately following a storm or blizzard. Not living in a snowy climate? Hurricane cleanup is another necessary service your crew can explore during the off season.
Landscape companies are known for making the transition to snow removal in the winter. Some tree care businesses may be equipped to do so as well. Some transform company trucks into a snow plow with the investment of an attachable blade. Others make compact utility loaders (CULs) winter workhorses.
In 2014, Americans purchased an estimated 26.3 million real Christmas trees. After the holidays pass, many communities offer tree disposal services to homeowners. What happens to all the trees? You may consider inquiring with municipalities for opportunities to chip the trees. For example, one Vermeer customer in the northeast has made this an additional revenue stream during the slow season.
What’s Christmas time without lights? Many tree care service companies have crews with strong climbers and employees that are trained in using bucket trucks. When trees are dormant for the season, tree care companies can put those skills to use in hanging lights for both residential and commercial customers alike. Arborguard Tree Specialists has entered this market to stay busy during the winter months.
Some tree care companies will move to warmer climates during the winter months to continue their work. This opportunity may not be ideal for every business, though. You’ll need to take into account travel expenses and hotel accommodations. Research prices and services in the city you are targeting to ensure you can not only be competitive but also make a profit. For example, a tree care business in Minnesota travels south to St. Louis for two weeks each month of winter. Over the past 10 years, they’ve managed to develop repeat customers.
What advice do you have to stay busy in the off-season? Comment below!