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Sales Ethics
I run a small tree service in the Mpls. south metro area.The twin cities has been through a couple of "work producing" storms in the last two years or so.While currently most of the storm damage has been taken care of,(maybe a lingering hanger or two), there is to my knowledge still an onslaught of out-of towners with pick-up trucks and chainsaws currently doing business as "ARBORISTS".They knock door to door and solicit work merely to make money, all ethics aside! Now granted we all are in the business ultimatly to make money, there are those of us with strong ethical beleifs revolving around our industry.I guess my problem is this;I strongly believe and adhere to proper arboricuture in my practices,Even if I will lose money or not get the job because of my beleifs.
When these so called ARBORISTS come thru town,not only are they taking work away from me and all the other locals, but they are using out-dated practices and demonsrating poor workmanship in the tree industry alltogether!
I would someday like to see laws banning the use of spikes on live trees,or on the act of making flush cuts,etc.How about policing some of the issues faced with in our industry.
Do you live in an area where proper arboriculture is policed? Does such a place exist? If so who polices these issues? What are the consequences to those who dis-obey?
Is there a dramatic decrease in the amount of these pick-up truck jockies trying to "scab" work in the area? I am interested in any or all comments anyone may have. Thank You
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<Russ Carlson>
Reply to post by Jsirbasku, on November 27, 1999 at 10:43:48:

This is not an uncommon situation at all. Every locality faces it to some extent, I think.

The problem is not just one of regulation and jpolicing, though. The problem persists even in areas where arborists are licensed. I recall years ago a case in Maryland, where tree care practitioners must be licensed by the State, an unlicensed group of whackers were taking down a tree, dropped it backward into the street, and crushed a car. They packed up and left immediately, without even calling for assistance. Kind of extreme, but the point is that certification, licensing or anything else doesn't stop it.

In the US we value our freedoms, and most people resent regulation when it applies to them. So we end up with this kind of situation, those without the integrity to work honestly and to standards staying in business because they don't understand that it IS possible to do things the right way and still do it profitably. They only think that low price is what matters. But you never find these guys growing their businesses into multi-office companies. They still drive the beatup old trucks years later. They exist, some survive a while, but they almost never prosper.

I think the best way to combat this is education, on three levels.
1. Educate yourself; be the best you can at what you do.
2. Educate the consumer; ISA, NAA and ASCA all have promotional material that can help. It takes time, it's an ongoing, never-ending battle, but it helps.
3. Educate the competition; Invite them to join you for lunch, or to the organized meetings. Show them how they can improve themselves and their business. This is the toughest of the three, because some will never 'get it.'

A question was asked of me many years ago when I complained to a fellow arborist about the competition and my rather small 'sales territory' assigned by my employer: Has every tree in your area been worked on? Is there no tree work left to be done? Of course the answer was no, and the message was simply to pay no attention to those others as long as you can do your job. Learn to outsell them, and they will disappear from your view.

I've drawn on this in my consulting practice too, and have a motto hanging on my wall:

I have no competition....
but my competitors do!
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<Peter Torres>
Reply to post by Jsirbasku, on November 27, 1999 at 10:43:48:

Although I agree with some of yopur complaints, I do not want to see any more laws made regulating the industry, my business, or myself. I would prefer to see many laws out there now retracted. I prefer the free enterprise system. Regards, Peter
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Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on November 27, 1999 at 10:43:48:

Thank you for your input , you've both made some very good points I will try to keep them in mind when the senario comes about again.
(as I'm sure it will)
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Reply to post by jsirbasku, on November 28, 1999 at 12:52:42:

i have faced this problems for many years, and not only do these hackers butcher trees, but they charge maore than the local, certified, insured, licensed arborists. I suggest you do some PR stuff on the subject. Contact your local radio and television stations and write letters to the editors of your newspapers. Give talks to garden clubs and civic associations as well. You will never stop the problem, but you can help to educate the public.
very treely,
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<Mark Hartley>
Reply to post by lewbloch, on November 29, 1999 at 17:28:46:

I agree Lew,

The real problem is our business ethics. We believe that it is perfectly ethical to do
to business what theese hackers do to arboriculture. Surely we owe it to the comutity to
make enough profits to be able to educate the public on good tree care, to educate ourselves
and or our team how to sell professionally etc.

It is not unethical to have a highly profitable business, IMHO, it is unethical NOT TO.

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Reply to post by Peter Torres, on November 27, 1999 at 10:43:48:

Regulation is not to protect us in the buisness, but to protect the consumer from the unethical.

I would like to see it required that an operator licensed. This would show that, at a minimum, he is insured/bonded.

In Milwaukee we require it of any one in the Home Improvement buisness, but we let smoe "have chainsaw, will travel" hack drop a 60ft tree in a 20x20 backyard?

When bidding on tree or shrub pruning I can usualy beat the lowball bids because i take the time to walk through and explain the why's nd wherefore's of what i propose.

I cost more but I show i care that they be an informed consumer.
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