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AlhandNewSage

Getting Work

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A friend and I started a business a couple of years ago to aim for hedge laying and coppicing work. 

 

We're finding it difficult to find work. We've pisted an ad in the local Links and we're on the NHLS contractor's list and we're talking to people to try and get more work. 

 

I was thinking of approaching tree surgeons but I'm not sure how to go about it, any suggestions? 

 

Thanks for reading

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We do, but apparently there are a lot of tree surgeons who get approached for hedge laying, who don't do hedge laying, so I thought we could offer a percentage of the pay for them putting our name forward. 

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I got my biggest contract simply by card dropping in farm offices. Just walk in with some cards, introduce yourself and ask if they need a hedge layer. My main customer is a large organic farm. I assumed they'd have a hedge-layer already, but it was worth a try and it turned out they didn't and I got the work. 

Stick cards on the counter of your local agri-merchants as well (and remember to buy some chainsaw supplies or something from them..). Or any nearby livestock markets. Hunts can be possible clients too so card drop those or write to them or email. Just generally get your name out there. It usually takes a while for anything to happen but it's a numbers game and if you make yourself known to enough farmers and landowners, something will come from it eventually.

 

Having a logo and a professional business cards helps too. As does getting listed on your local coppice group, if you have one. Make sure you have photos of previous work too because clients often ask for them, especially for bigger jobs. 

If you have any dealings with Natural England through work on SSSIs for example, grit your teeth try and cultivate a friendly relationship with their people because they're involved with allocating grants and they're in direct consultation with landowners and they do get asked about contractors and tradesmen. They're not allowed to give personal recommendations but they can pass on details. 

 

One thing that didn't work very well for me was print advertising. I tried local and parish magazines and papers but got only one response from hundreds of pounds of advertising.

 

The NHLS contractor listings do produce results but they tend to be small domestic jobs. I've had a lot of non-starters from there as well with people calling me out pretty much just to give advise or to look at hedges that cannot be laid. Good luck trying to get contractor accreditation though. I've been trying for two years and struggle to get anyone to answer my emails or return calls.

Domestic clients looking for a hedge layer tend to use Google as a first resort and "find a hedge layer" takes you straight to the contractors page on the NHLS site, so time wasters aside, it's well worth the £75 subscription to get your name on the list.

Edited by Gimlet
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Thanks for that Gimlet! That's great advice, I've been thinking of turning up at farms, none of them seem to have offices though, it's all farm houses around here. We've tried calling them and some have shown interest, but no takers yet. 

 

Thanks again

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Put some flyers about the place and an advert in your local paper,May also be a good thing to include grass cutting and light gardening as you will get a lot more private work.

Edited by topchippyles

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1 hour ago, AlhandNewSage said:

Thanks for that Gimlet! That's great advice, I've been thinking of turning up at farms, none of them seem to have offices though, it's all farm houses around here. We've tried calling them and some have shown interest, but no takers yet. 

 

Thanks again

If you can have some introductory A4 fliers printed with a couple of pictures of your work, clip on a couple of business cards and stick them through farm letter boxes. 

I don't think farmers do a bottle of wine and Goggle of an evening. You need to put yourself under their noses.

Adding a gardening service as topchippyles says is a good idea. One job often leads to another. And when you do get some work, have some site signs made up to display over the finished hedge.

Clients can be nervous of employing someone they don't know without seeing their work first because a hedge isn't like a garden wall. You can't just push it over and do it again if it's no good. 

 

For the 2020/21 season I've got 700 metres of prime hawthorne hedge to lay right next to a main road. I've got permission from the landowner to put up 6' long signs for a few months so they can be read by passing traffic. 

Edited by Gimlet
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We've advertised for hedge laying, coppicing, grounds maintenance and fencing, I think it's partly a case of getting a customer base. We do have signs designed for when we get a promising hedge. 

 

I've started going through our pictures for an A4 sheet of advertising today, and we've got a fresh batch of cards which I'm pretty proud of. 

 

I'm also getting a list together of local tree surgeons who don't advertise hedge laying so I can ask if they'll pass our details if they're asked. 

 

I'm attempting everything, it's just frustrating not having the work when you're so keen to get on with it. 

 

Thanks again

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14 minutes ago, AlhandNewSage said:

We've advertised for hedge laying, coppicing, grounds maintenance and fencing, I think it's partly a case of getting a customer base. We do have signs designed for when we get a promising hedge. 

 

I've started going through our pictures for an A4 sheet of advertising today, and we've got a fresh batch of cards which I'm pretty proud of. 

 

I'm also getting a list together of local tree surgeons who don't advertise hedge laying so I can ask if they'll pass our details if they're asked. 

 

I'm attempting everything, it's just frustrating not having the work when you're so keen to get on with it. 

 

Thanks again

Grass cutting and garden maintenance is a good second backup to and always in demand.

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Go and do some competitions in your area, your land owners will be about there most of the time, (even if just catching up with friends) there see who's doing what, get few wins under your belt and your name starts to be known. 

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