I just had my “Tree Guy” tell me he wants a divorce. I’m not kidding.

Diane and I live in Pennsylvania (Penn’s Woods is the translation) and believe me, we’ve got trees, a lot of trees, in our yard. All kinds of trees: evergreens, deciduous conifers (didn’t know they existed, did you?), Japanese Maples, Cryptomeria that are over 80 ft. tall, Cherry trees, and in the front yard two very large Sugar Maples.

It all started with the Sugar Maples

Maple treesThe Sugar Maples are big, mature trees and we should’ve had them trimmed a while ago, because they really obscure the view of the house from the street. So late last year I called a neighbor who works with a company that does landscaping (he had done a job for us a year ago in our backyard and I could still remember his name) and asked him if his crew would trim our trees back hard. He said, “Sure!” and then took months to actually show up. I had to bug him multiple times and he just kept apologizing. 

But eventually the guys showed up and did a great job. You could really tell that they’d been trimmed. 

That’s when the trouble started.

Looking out our window I could see my Tree Guy

I heard our dog barking – going totally nuts, as she does when someone dares to get within 50 yards of our house. So I looked out the window to see if I needed to arm myself, but to my surprise my tree guy was in the yard spraying the stuff that is supposed to keep my trees healthy all over everything. “Good!” I thought. I needed to tell him that the guys who trimmed my trees had told me that the Cherry trees had something called “scale” and needed to be sprayed.

Cherry treesI went out to tell my tree guy all about it and he stared at me while I was telling him about the scale like I had a fish head mask on or something worse. When I finished he said, “I see you had your trees trimmed.”  “Yes,” I said, “that’s how I know about the scale.” Still staring at me he slowly cocked his head back and said, not kindly, “I’m trying to decide if I’m going to divorce you.” 

Being pretty sure that I’m married to Diane, I said, “What?” He said, “I’m thinking I might have to divorce you. I trim trees you know.”

“Oh,” I thought, “He’s mad at me for having Drew trim the trees. OK.”

“Well I will remember that and I’ll be sure to call you next time,” I said.  And that was pretty much that. I think he is still my tree guy. If he doesn’t’ show up again I will have to get a new tree guy which will be a pain.

It’s not my fault

Now, my tree guy was in no mood to be coached by a marketing expert about the fact that everything was his fault. But I will share the lesson with you.

Was it my fault that I didn’t remember that he trims trees? The answer is absolutely no! That is his fault.

Here is the funny thing. I don’t want to have Drew and his crew trim my trees again. It was way too much work to get them here. Excellent job, but I need much better customer service.

In fact, upon further reflection, I remembered that my tree guy did trim my trees, maybe 4 years ago. But…and here’s the big point…it’s not my job to remember this obvious fact. It’s his job to always remind me. It’s his job to protect and nurture the relationship that we have; to ensure and protect a pipeline of future business from me and hundreds of his satisfied customers.

He’s just the guy who sprays stuff on my trees

TreesNow, I want to be very clear here, my tree guy is a real, honest to goodness, tree expert - an arborist. He is the real deal and I respect his knowledge and ability. 

The problem for him is that over time, he has become the guy who keeps my trees healthy and I didn’t think about the fact that he could trim them.

I did say to him that I didn’t remember that he did this and he said, “C’mon, when I came out here the first time (over 5 years ago, by the way) I brought our truck with the bucket lift!” Oh yeah…that’s right. Whatever.

Are you making the same mistake with your patients?

It’s not my job to maintain my relationship with my tree guy. It’s his job. In fact, it is the most vital business development activity he needs to be doing and yet he does none of it.

What would have happened?

What would have happened if he had simply sent me a newsletter in the spring that said ANY of the following?

  • You should expect the following things to be happening soon in your yard as winter comes to an end….
  • The first trees to break their buds are…, followed by….
  • We will be visiting you for the following treatments; here is why we do that…
  • This is the optimal time for trimming your trees and we get very busy. Call us now at (phone number) to get your trimming lined up. Call ASAP, as we will get booked and it will take us longer to get to you.


I would have read that thing cover to cover. I LOVE stuff like that. I’m always wondering what the plants in my yard even are. I would love it. I always read the real estate guy’s newsletter because it tells me what houses in the area are selling for and other cool stuff. He’s not even my real estate agent. And mine doesn’t send me anything. Hmm….

You know what would have happened?  I would have canceled Drew, because it took an act of Congress to get him to show up, and I would’ve booked my tree guy. Guaranteed I would’ve done that.

But no…he just blew it. Big time. And then lectured me for his non-existent marketing.

How guilty are you?

How many times have you found out your patient had someone else do their surgery because they didn’t know you could do that for them too? How many of your patients have you in a box like the one I had my tree guy in? Just the guy who sprays my trees. Just the doctor who trims my toenails, or helped me with my sprain. I need to go to a surgeon for my surgery. What?!?!

I’ll tell you how guilty you are. Are you communicating online and in print to your patients every month? Are you sending them an interesting newsletter that they want to read?

If you can answer with an enthusiastic “Yes!”, then you are free to go. If you can’t, then I find you GUILTY AS CHARGED, and I sentence you to fix your marketing problems.

Top Practices makes nurturing your patient relationships as easy as it can be.  

You need help fixing your marketing problems

Doctor, it’s not your fault that you aren’t exploding your practice growth with excellent marketing. Nobody taught you this vital (ESSENTIAL) skill. Nobody taught my tree guy how important this is to his business.  He might be the best tree guy in the country, but if uninformed people like me keep going to someone else, he won’t be in business or he will be constantly struggling to build his volume.

You might be a fantastic doctor, but if your uninformed patients, referral sources, or anyone in your market go to someone else, then you will be struggling just to pay your bills. 

It does not have to be that way.

Build your list into a referring dynamo by simply communicating in an appropriate and educational newsletter every month.

If you have questions, we have answers. Just contact us for more information about the program. You can reach us by e-mailing answers@toppractices.com or call (717) 725-2679. We’d be happy to help you decide if the newsletter program is for you. 

Rem Jackson
Founder and CEO of Top Practices, LLC
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