How to Sell Firewood

How to Sell FirewoodAs with any business, nothing happens until something is sold. Fortunately, firewood is easy to sell since your potential customers already know they want it. You don’t have to convince them that they want it. Every year they have to look for more wood to buy to replace what they have burned over the previous winter. This is the beauty of selling consumable products.

Firewood dealers don’t usually use expensive media advertising like radio and television. Although you could if you wanted to. Most of the firewood I sell is through low cost or free advertising.

Road signs. If your home or business is next to a busy road, you can put out a firewood for sale sign. My grandfather used to get most of his customers that way. He was fortunate to live next to a very busy road that accessed a lot of rural homes that burned wood.

The other variation of this is to park your truck or trailer on the street with a load of wood and a for sale sign on it. I see people doing this all the time but I haven’t tried it. What I don’t like about this method is I can’t use my truck or trailer while it is busy trying to sell wood.

Build a Website. I get most of my firewood customers from the internet. I have a website that shows up at the top of search engines when people search for firewood in my area. I would put a link to my website here but I don’t want this article to be about promoting my firewood business, this is to help you promote your own.

If you know how to build websites, and more importantly, how to promote them, this can be a great option. You can hire someone to build one and promote it for you, but that can be expensive. Another option is to go to the contact tab on this website and send an email stating you would like to advertise your firewood business. This site offers some low cost and even free website and advertising options.

Sell firewood on Craigslist. Probably half or more of the customers I have received over the past few years have been from Craigslist. That site is a woodcutters dream come true. It’s free and a lot of people go there searching for firewood. The downside is there can be a lot of competition. Part of my secret is to put a link to my website on my Craigslist ad. This way people can go to my site and read more about my business. The website makes it look like I am professional and trustworthy. This gives me an edge over the competition.

Sell firewood with classified newspaper ads. Before the internet, I used to sell most of my wood in the newspaper classified section. Many papers have a section for firewood. In one of our local papers it was “fuel and heating”. Believe it or not, people still do read newspapers. Although this is decreasing, classified ads still work. A lot of times it’s the older demographic that is more likely to read the newspaper and less likely to use the internet, and that’s who a lot of my customers are.

Now I have plenty of repeat customers and new customers from my website, so it has been about 2 years since I have tried advertising in the classifieds, but it worked then. A lot of wood dealers advertise in the cheaper low circulation or weekly papers. I used to pay more for the higher circulation papers. More readers and less competition.

Word of mouth. This is always a powerful selling tool if you provide a good product, reliable service and a good experience for the customer. I have several situations where I sell wood to several people in a neighborhood. It all started with one customer.

Just a few weeks ago I got a call from someone from one town, who was taking a walk through a park in a nearby town, and saw some wood I left in one of my customer’s driveway near the park a few days earlier. They really liked the loos of the wood, so they went to my customer’s door and got my number from them and it ended up being a 2 cord order for me. A quality product can help a lot with word of mouth.

Business cards. Get some business cards and leave one with your customer when you deliver their wood. You can try posting them on bulletin boards around town, although I have not tried that. I mostly use them so customers can keep my number on hand so they can call me when they want more, or so they have my number when someone asks where they got the wood.

You can get business cards printed free, plus a few dollars for shipping and handling, through vistaprint. You can find them by doing a web search for “vistaprint”. The only catch is they print their website on the back of the card. Not a big deal, it’s in small print and most of the back is blank. I use them.

More obnoxious ways to sell firewood. If you want to try being more obnoxious you could do things like look for homes with smoke coming out of their chimneys, knock on their doors or leave a flier or business card. I have never had a need to do this so I don’t know how it would work.

Keeping a customer list and calling them every year to remind them to buy wood will increase your income dramatically. I know people who do this and it works great. I don’t do it, except for a few customers who request that I do. Mostly because I get enough orders as it is.

Selling wood is easy. The hardest part can be the first few years while you are building up a customer base. As you get a list of repeat customers, the less advertising you will have to do. Eventually you can get to a point where you have enough repeat customers to keep you pretty busy, then maybe do a little advertising to keep a few new ones coming in.

 

How to Outcompete Your Firewood Business Competition

One of the advantages of a firewood business is it is very easy to stand out and beat your competition. Because the firewood business is so easy to get into, it can be done and often is done by people with very little business sense. Because of this, someone with just a little common business sense can blow the competition out of the water.

Firewood dealers often have a reputation for the following:

  • They bring less than the full amount of wood that the customer ordered.
  • They bring wood that is green or wet when they say it is dry.
  • They don’t show up to deliver the wood when they say they will.

So here is the big secret to out competing your competition. Are you ready for this? Here goes. Don’t do those things. It’s that simple. Instead of doing those things, do the opposite. Show up when you say you will, and if you can’t make it for some reason, call the customer and let them know. When you show up, bring the amount you agreed on. I like to throw a little more on, which makes customers very happy. And bring them wood that is dry if that is what was agreed upon. If it’s not dry, make sure they understand that before you sell it to them.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Assuming the quality of your firewood is good, if you can do those 3 things, you will out compete probably 90% or more of your competition. This is why my customers continue to buy firewood from me year after year.

 

What is Biochar?

Biochar has been used by humans for thousands of years as a soil amendment. Long forgotten by much of modern civilization, it is recently becoming talked about more as both a soil amendment as well as a carbon sequestering tool.

What is biochar? Biochar is the material that is left over after burning biomass, such as wood straw and other plant materials in the absence of oxygen. This material is mostly carbon, in the form of what is commonly known as charcoal.

Biochar has been used as a soil amendment for thousands of years. One of the most well known examples is the terra-preta in the Amazon. These are areas that have deep carbon rich fertile soils. The carbon in these soils are remains of large amounts of biochar that were added to previously infertile the soils by humans over 2000 years ago. To this day these soils are extremely fertile from the biochar that was added over 2000 years ago. Studying the success of this example is a big part of what has created a recent interest in the benefits of biochar.

Biochar works by its ability to absorb water and nutrients. It holds them in place, instead of them leaching away and eventually becoming runoff. This moisture and nutrients are held in the root zone where the biochar is so they can be available to plants and other soil organisms.

Turning biomass into biochar is called carbonization of biomass, which is done through a process called pyrolysis. Pyrolysis is simply done by heating biomass to temperatures high enough to support combustion in an environment without oxygen. Without oxygen, the material cannot combust, instead it breaks down and gives off gasses until all that is left is the biochar.

 

Where to Get Wood for Firewood

Unless you live out in a barren desert, grassland, or in the ocean, wood for firewood is usually not far away. And even if you live in those places, it can sometimes still be found if there are people and towns around. In most parts of the US and many other countries, wood is very abundant.

Wood from forest land. If you are fortunate enough to have your own forest land, well, most people are probably totally disgusted with you right now, out of pure jealously. But aside from that, consider yourself to be very fortunate. With the right management strategies, you can provide a sustainable source of firewood material indefinitely. Although it may be tempting to just start cutting trees, it’s best to consult with an experienced forester. If you can determine how much wood per acre per year your land will grow and not over cut, and which trees to selectively cut and which to leave, your land will produce far more wood in the long term.

Wood from other people’s forest land. Unfortunately most of us don’t have a large piece of forest land. That’s ok, neither do most successful firewood business owners. There are many land owners who have forest land who would love to see someone take wood from their land. Contrary to what many of us have been taught, most forests are over stocked with wood. A build up of dead wood and overcrowded trees can create a huge fire hazard and contribute to slow growth and disease.

With a little creativity, it shouldn’t be hard to find landowners who will be glad to let you have some of this excess wood for a small fee or in exchange for cleaning up the property. Some people who become experienced with managing forests even charge landowners money for these services. If you can get paid by the landowner, and get paid for selling the wood, not a bad deal.

Landowners can be always found that are clearing trees to make way for construction, roadways, ponds, pasture, etc. I can’t count the number of times I have seen all the trees being bulldozed into huge piles and set on fire. Sometimes dozens or even hundreds of cords of prime potential firewood and money being burned. If you asked some of them really nice, maybe they would let you have some of it or sell it to you for a small fee. You can always offer to help clean up the mess or in some way provide them some value in exchange for the wood. Maybe offer to burn the slash (limbs and debris) in exchange for the wood. Save them the expense of piling and burning.

This summer I bought a bunch of trees that a land owner was clearing to build a road. I got the wood cheap, and all the logging was done for me. I made more money with that than if I had spent the time cutting trees on my own land.

¬†Wood from urban forests. In urban areas, trees are always coming down or being trimmed. In any sizable town or city you will find a list of tree services in the yellow pages. Many of the trees and limbs get taken to the landfill or chipped or both. Most tree services are too busy being tree services to get into the firewood business. It probably wouldn’t be hard to convince some of them to let you have the wood and save them the expense of disposing of it.

A lot of times I see people post ads on craigslist trying to get rid of wood that is sitting in their yard. They may have had a tree removed or trimmed and they don’t burn wood or have a use for it. Another source of cheap and sometimes free wood.

Wood from industry. If there is logging and other forest harvesting in your area, this can be a great source of wood. In the lumber industry, there is only a certain percentage of the material harvested that is suitable for making lumber. There is usually a lot of material that is left to rot or is burned on site. You can sometimes make a deal with loggers or landowners to have this material or to buy it. In some areas it’s common for loggers to sell these firewood logs and deliver them in log form with a log truck. You can then cut them up and sell the firewood to your customers for much more.

Lumber mills and wood manufacturing businesses can be a source of scrap wood. Trimmed ends and culls are discarded from many of these types of businesses. A lot of times they are chipped and utilized for other products, but sometimes they can be more valuable as firewood.

Recycled wood. If forests are scarce in your area, you can get wood from demolition, pallets, scrap wood on people’s property, fences being torn down, etc.