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Every law that was ever written opened up a new way to graft.
Robert A. Heinlein

Why Does It Work?

Why are we successful?

Why is our little tree farm doing so well when so many other sectors of the economy are struggling?

Here are nine reasons why our business is growing so well, and what we plan to do to make sure it keeps growing when we pass it on to you.

*Reason #1: Solid warranty. *Everything but seedlings is warranted for a 13 months. (13? Why? 13 months gives us one-up-man-ship on Walmart, and it also keeps clients from pulling trees if we have a late spring. ) We trust our clients to take reasonable care of it. They are there. We aren't. If it dies, bring it back. We will make it good, either with a replacement or credit. So far there has been no abuse of this and only a few claims per year.

*Reason #2: Word of mouth. * I try to make a point to tell people, "If there is a problem, tell us. If they thrive, tell everyone" This could be improved with following up and asking for testimonials -- ideally after a year. I know this is working even when we don't get a reference: Bluffton, AB, a town of only about 1200 people in it has given us about 5 customers.

*Reason #3: Good website. *The website's purpose is to educate potential customers. It works. We are getting increasing numbers of people who found the website, then call with a specific question. Each year, I rework pages to fill in gaps. It can be better. See the Notes section for info.

Reason #4: Kijiji. We advertise extensively on kijiji. The ads run year round -- right now we have 35 ads. The items we advertise get a lot more inquiries. This needs better management, with a targeted landing page for each ad. We are in the process of moving to paid ads. This allows much easier management, and more frequent presentations.

*Reason #5: Strong participation on local facebook groups. *I try to visit Edmonton Permaculture; Edmonton Horticultural Society; Alberta Hardy Fruit and Nut Group on a reasonably regular basis. I am far more successful in winter than in summer. The idea is to answer people's questions and help with decisions.

Reason #6: Solid advice, expert knowledge. This is something we provide something that isn't at the Big Box Stores. I spend between half an hour and two hours making a sale, getting to understand what people want, sometimes, educating them on a better course, often suggestion a bunch of different ways to find their dream. (A good realtor sells you a house. A great realtor sells you a dream. So with trees. Many customers have an inarticulate dream -- a shaded play area in the back yard, hammock under trees, a patch of forest land in the midst of prairie, picking food off their own tree. ) I expect this to be hard to scale. You will be the primary 'Answerer of Questions' until you have additional multi-seasonal employees.

*Reason 7: Increasing dissatisfaction with the Big Box Stores. *More and more people appreciate and are looking for local products. They are willing to pay a premium for them, or to travel an hour out of the city for them. They are also tired of buying trees that are not zone hardy, but marketed as if they are. Plant in Spring, dig up stick next Spring.

*Reason 8: Good value for money. *Not all of our prices are better than city prices but many are. Example: We sold apple trees for 75, including GST, this year. At Canadian Tire they were 79.50 + GST.

*Reason 9: Different selection. *We often carry plant material that is hard to find in town. Indeed to make it worth people's time we either have to have better selection in that category, sizes that aren't stocked in the BBS, or better value. You see that already: Not many others carry seedlings; No one carries 2 gallon Laurel or Golden willow, no one else carries 6 kinds of apple. We tend to go for trees that fit one of our niches. Or that I find interesting.

Typical Pine

Lodgepole Pine in our front yard.



Got something to say? Email me: sfinfo@sherwoods-forests.com

Want to talk right now? Talk to me: (8 am to 9 pm only, please) 1-780-848-2548


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Copyright © 2008 - 2017 S. G. Botsford

Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.