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Author Topic: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?  (Read 2815 times)

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Offline Spike60

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #60 on: February 09, 2022, 05:06:40 AM »
Mostly for Tom; about a mutual friend of ours, but too good not to share with everyone. The isnow/ce storm we had up here last weekend will be talked about for a while. Most around here were without power for 2-3 days. High temps only made it to the mid 20's and Sat night temps hit the low single digits. Locals are capable and experienced. The citiots are more or less helpless, so service providers wore themselves out doing what they could to help folks. Most were greatful, but some citiots have a high degree of self centered unreasonablness.

So Monday morning Billy comes in and along with some other guys the story telling commences. And I KNEW Billy would have the best one. Like many, his answering machine stressed that he would prioritize emergency situations. Most important were no heat situations and trying to keep houses from freezing up. Sure enough, one guy calls with a "serious emergency", and he has to get out. So, Billy heads over there, drops his plow and halfway up the driveway sees the guy out in full ski gear putting his skis in the car roof carrier. Stops and gets out of the truck and says, "THIS is your emergency. huh?" Dope says yes, we want to go sking. Billy made some un-postable comments, lifted his plow and backed out leaving the pile of snow right in the middle of the driveway. :)
Husqvarna-Jonsered
Ashokan Turf and Timber
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Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #61 on: February 09, 2022, 06:34:06 AM »
Yeah, that doesn't surprise me a lick. :D I bet they were going skiing and leaving their house with no heat. I wonder what their plan was going forward? OH right, no plan at all.

Pete's been running ragged trying to help those folks too, but many of them just left their houses because they got cold and went to a hotel or back to the city. I never understood that, Abandon your house and call somebody to deal with it?! SO those service providers have just been in 'mitigation mode' doing just what is needed to make places safe and/or warm, then move to the next emergency. They come back in the coming weeks to dress things up and finish it off.  I could have spent my time running around with Bill's crew puling trees and I did do one with them, but I have my own issues here I am still working through.
The next part is when they get the bills and start to complain about the cost. I told Pete, charge fair, but don't be shy and send the bills out right away before they forget how much trouble they were in. Some already are.

That's life in the country. :D

 Hey, did Bailey get his boots yet, or is the poor kid walking around with the wrong shoes on still? :)
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 562, & 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, but almost.

Offline mudfarmer

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #62 on: February 09, 2022, 08:32:29 AM »
It would be nice if people knew what they were missing, with nice DRY wood. It is pleasurable to burn, starts right up etc etc. Was at someone's house last week and they were pulling nasty wet frozen chunks from underneath shredded plastic under the snow bank generated by eaves of roof... 

They only had a few chunks left and I said gee, wish I'd known, already here with the dump truck could have brought a load of dry stuff to get you through the rest of the winter!

"Well I asked so and so to cut me some, he has dead standing elm and will only charge $50 delivered"

Have fun with that  :D  :D I have been the guy cutting dead elm in February to stay warm. It is not comparable at all.

Offline Spike60

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #63 on: February 10, 2022, 05:46:18 AM »
@mudfarmer Mid Feb is the time of year when running out of wood starts to become an issue. Scrounging for wood to make it through til Spring isn't fun. Folks cutting for heat are one of the few things I still truly go the extra mile for in the shop. Don't like the thought of people being cold. And if they are willing to gp out and do the work, (rare anymore), I'll make sure their saw is running OK.

Told this before, but a few years ago, guy comes in with a 445 that quit. Out of wood, and says, "I cut up enough wood for tonight with a hand saw, but I really need this thing" Pulled the rope she's wiped. Dude's broke and his face just dropped. We just gave him a Poulan Pro 42cc that had been abandoned a couple years before. Ran good for what it was. Only condition was don't ever bring it back for any reason, cause i hate those things. :)

Again, the key with these folks is they are willing to lace up their boots and go out and help themselves, so I'll do whatever I can to help them. It's a stark contrast to all of these people we have been talking about who won't lift anything but their phone and complain that everyone else can't solve their problems as quickly as they'd like.
Husqvarna-Jonsered
Ashokan Turf and Timber
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Offline Spike60

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #64 on: February 10, 2022, 06:34:39 AM »
Tom; Preventing freeze ups became the top priority for these guys, and it was a gruling round the clock routine. Power was out up here for 2 1/2 days. Down tree jobs got the basic approach: Just open up the driveway or get it off the house, and the clean up can wait. Had to cut myself out Friday morning but the mess is going to be there til the weather gets nice. :)

One guy was babysitting several houses of those people who left their houses, or in some cases simply didn't come up last weekend. Some of them were maintaing/filling generators. They could be done on about a 6 hour rotation. There were about 5 houses that he had to visit every 2-3 hours to keep the woodstoves going as the only option to prevent the places from freezing up. Some of the stoves were smaller units that were barely up to the task, and you pretty much had to run them wide open, so 2 hours and they'd need wood. One guy went from the generator list to the woodstove list when Tim went to fill it and found the generator sitting in a puddle of oil. :)

So, what to charge these folks? Tim charged $50 per visit, plus gas for the generator, or firewood if the customer didn't have any. Only one person complained, (so far). He said "Do you realize what my quality of life is right now doing this round the clock with no sleep? I'd be more than happy to take you off the list and you can simply call a plumber, electrician, sheetrocker, and carpet/flooring installer when you come back up here." Complaint was witdrawn. :)

These guys all deserved whatever they charged. Even at their age they're all saying it's going to take their bodies a week to recover. And there's plenty of work still to do.
Husqvarna-Jonsered
Ashokan Turf and Timber
845-657-6395

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #65 on: February 10, 2022, 08:44:35 AM »
I think 50 bucks a visit is more than reasonable. Who are you going to get to come to your house at 3am to feed the stove for that? Filling stoves or generators is a basic simple chore anybody but the very infirm can do easily. If they need/want somebody to do it for them, they should just pay the bill.

 Pete managed to buy 2 generators at over a grand each and worked with an electrician buddy to dead bug them into heating systems to get the houses up to heat, then go back, pull it, and move it to another house. Hopscotch them around like that around the clock. At one house while they had everything running on the generator and were just looking for new problems, Pete finds the homeowner had a proper legal generator hookup installed with a service lockout, then he found the proper cable to fit his generator hanging in the garage. The homeowner 'forgot' to mention that. It would have saved a lot of time and work. Come to find out they even had the generator, but it was at another house on Long Island, they just never got around to bringing it up. Pete asked for advice with billing on these folks and it's tough to figure. One house he spent 8 working hours at working hard to unfreeze pipes and replacing split baseboards units. Others he was in and out of 4-5 times, plus he has the generator costs to make up. From what I gather he will not make a killing, he was just get his investment back plus a fair working profit for the labor. He has takers for both of those generators, which makes the difference up. I think he should have billed more. Especially the one whiner he had who stood over him while he worked telling him how to do everything, but didn't do anything for himself except make new problems.

 It's one thing to need help, but it's an entirely different thing to remain helpless. Like you, I will bend over backwards to help folks who will help themselves but I have a hard time shedding a tear for the intentionally helpless. You and I have seen plenty of both.
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 562, & 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, but almost.

Offline aigheadish

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #66 on: February 10, 2022, 09:01:34 AM »
Man, I don't know anything about the economy up in your neck of the woods, but with vacationers and their 2nd (3rd, 4th?) houses it sounds to me like you guys don't charge nearly enough for your work. Between keeping houses unfrozen, unblocking driveways, and general tree and power maintenance, it makes my heart hurt to hear that you guys don't seem to sit on a substantial pile of money to play around with. 

I don't mean any offense by this just seems like you all bust your butts and it sounds like there is a fair amount of breaking even or just making a profit. I'm totally on board with helping neighbors and breaking even on that sort of thing, but it for these out-of-towners it sounds like a good contract could make it so you'd be making out on the deals. 

It seems like you guys have the market on keeping that area afloat, which means you make the prices. Now, maybe if the prices get much higher the druggies come out and undercut you, but can the general population of vacationers trust them? I doubt it. 

Again, I'm not trying to be a jerk, you guys seem to work very hard for your money and it seems like the money should be better! Maybe I'm way off base.
New Holland LB75b, Husqvarna 455 Rancher, Husqvarna GTH52XLS, Hammerhead 250, Honda VTX1300 for now and probably for sale (let me know if you are interested!)

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #67 on: February 10, 2022, 09:50:03 AM »
Well, I think you are probably right and I think pretty much the same thing. But we have a lot of higher end companies up here too that charge accordingly. Those folks get hired and used by other commercial business and private folks who rarely look at the size of the bill, or have their financial managers 'handle it' for them.
 The smaller guys make a living off of the "wanna be rich" who have good incomes and manage to buy a 2nd property but they are living and spending 'on the edge'. SO they get that vacation home as their status symbol, but when big expenses roll in, they cry and don't really have the deep pockets to cover it easily. They spend lots of money on hot tubs, garden plants, cars, and toys but then go as cheap as they can when the heating system goes bad or the roof is leaking or they call somebody in to install outlets for their new entertainment system in their den. Those folks can be more hassle than they are worth and they complain loudly they can't find people to do work for them.

 Many that have the money act as if they own the small contractors and can make demands because they are spending so much. My son dropped his largest single client 2 years ago an estate he managed for a guy from FL with plenty of bucks. The guy would call my son at 10pm on Sunday night to 'discuss some things' and he would do stuff like that all the time and demand his work was done first. My son had enough and politely told him to start looking for somebody else. He gave him 5 months notice. The guy was ticked. My son lost over 20k in billables, but never regretted it.

 Sometimes people just suck. ;D
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 562, & 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, but almost.

Offline aigheadish

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #68 on: February 10, 2022, 10:46:15 AM »
Ya know... Thanks Tom, that's a good explanation, I didn't think about the folks that only kind of have the money and it makes sense. 

Ouch to the 20G's of lost income, I get it but ouch!
New Holland LB75b, Husqvarna 455 Rancher, Husqvarna GTH52XLS, Hammerhead 250, Honda VTX1300 for now and probably for sale (let me know if you are interested!)

Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #69 on: February 10, 2022, 12:14:51 PM »
Ya know... Thanks Tom, that's a good explanation, I didn't think about the folks that only kind of have the money and it makes sense.

Ouch to the 20G's of lost income, I get it but ouch!
Funny thing was he had time to pick up work from a lot of his other clients he had to take a pass on previously. He looked at his numbers a year later and he made out the same or better with a lot less aggravation and extra off-hours work. So there really was 'no loss', it just took some courage.
Tom Lindtveit, Woodsman Forest Products
Oscar 328 Band Mill, Husky 450, 562, & 372 (Clone), Mule 3010, and too many hand tools. :) Retired and trying to make a living to stay that way. NYLT Certified.
OK, maybe I am the woodcutter now.
I can work with wood, but I am NOT a Woodworker, but almost.

Offline Spike60

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #70 on: February 10, 2022, 02:03:14 PM »
Well, aigheadish, (what the heck is your name?)  absolutely nailed it above. My friend Tim was in and he's looking at what he's going to net from all that agony and it's not anywhere near enough for all he went through. So, as you said he charged way too low. Like half of what he should have been charging. 

In the last laugh category, one woman told him not to do anything, said she'd probably be OK. 3 story house. TOTAL mess. skating ice in one of the bathrooms. Heat was hot water base board. All kinds of stuff wrecked. Floors, walls. Called in some big home disaster company, insurance company as well. Tim did have the pleasure of sending her the pics of the place.  :D
Husqvarna-Jonsered
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Offline aigheadish

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Re: Firewood Sellers: What would you want your customers to know or understand?
« Reply #71 on: February 10, 2022, 02:15:24 PM »
I've got to imagine that it's pretty tough to price stuff like that. I was tempted to start a backhoeing-on-the-side job, and once I started taking on a few jobs I quickly learned I didn't know how to quote people, and considering all the work, fuel, and future maintenance to the backhoe I was not making any money and I was stressed that the machine would break while I still had loads of work to do at home, where I really bought the machine for. While I'm sure I could have learned I imagine that is more difficult in a home management operation where it wouldn't be as easy to say it's 50 bucks this time, but oh wait, that wasn't enough so it's now 75 bucks. 

@Spike60 my normal handle is aighead, but I signed up to FF wrong once, with that handle so it was taken upon successfully signing up. My name is Austin. I probably should have let Jeff or the mods know that...
New Holland LB75b, Husqvarna 455 Rancher, Husqvarna GTH52XLS, Hammerhead 250, Honda VTX1300 for now and probably for sale (let me know if you are interested!)


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