How to Start a Small Firewood Business and Grow it Big!
Last Updated on
With all the scams and the pie in the sky business opportunities floating around the net, here is a down to Earth way for you to start your own business that can make you some extra cash or even a nice living.
I have been in the firewood business for over 25 years. It’s not something that I have gotten rich from, but it has made me an honest living. The business has been great to me. I am my own boss, I work when I want, and don’t have to answer to anybody. The firewood business has provided me with a low-stress lifestyle and a nice living for me and my family.
Many of my friends over the years have often told me how envious they are of me. While they are scraping by working to make their bosses rich, I can take vacations when I want, and work from my own schedule. I have no boss, no deadlines, I have control of my own life. I sometimes tell them they can do it too, but for some reason, they don’t even try. But that is ok, I never really wanted the competition.
Now that I will soon be retiring from the business, I am going to show you how you can have this same kind of lifestyle. I am about to share all my secrets of the business that I have accumulated over 25 years. Whether you want to make a little extra money or an entire living, you can definitely do it with your own firewood business.
No need to quit your job right away. With the low start-up costs and simplicity of the business, you can start as small as you want or as large as you want. Sometimes small can be more profitable and definitely lower stress. You can work this business part-time or even spare time. Weekends, evenings, whenever you want.
Of all things, why start a firewood business?
One of the reasons firewood is different than most products is its simplicity. It’s a product that requires very little processing from its raw material. It needs no refining or altering from its original form.
It only needs to be cut up into smaller pieces so people can simply burn it. It doesn’t even need to be cut into precise sizes. It is not fragile or perishable and needs no special packaging or handling equipment.
A Novices guide to commencing a flourishing firewood supply business.
Fueled by the need to manage energy bills and create an intimate home ambiance, a lot of Americans are opting to burn wood. Although manufacturers of wood-burning stoves are drawing the benefits of the states revived nesting instincts, the popularity from wood fires brought forth a need for firewood that’s near impossible to fill.
This demand has resulted in the price to virtually double across the past several years. And as there is an increase in new homes being constructed with fireplaces, and a lot of people experience the pinch of increased electrical energy and heating oil costs, you are able to expect the going price for a cord of firewood in your region (a 4×4×8 foot stack) to increase by 5 to 20 percent for each and every wintertime for the future years to come.
From suburban homeowners to city inhabitants, most families using firewood just do not have the chance to cut their own — and most would not know how to commence even if they did. And that is where you come in. You are able to get a piece of this profitable market by commencing your own firewood supply business.
The market for firewood is big enough to keep various suppliers busy in just about all areas. Once the weather becomes chilly, your gross sales will rise. And during a long cold time period* you can anticipate sales to rocket. Furthermore, firewood sales are not confined to the colder northern countries. Everybody with an open fireplace or wood burning stove constitutes a portion of your market.
It does not take special training or educating to become a flourishing firewood provider. As a matter of fact, one of the real mysteries is merely understanding how come the families in your area burn firewood and ascertaining when and how frequently they require it. Afterward, all you are required to do is position yourself to adjoin to those needs. These steps should help you get rolling:
1. Decide the type of firewood you will sell: mill ends, sawed up scrap lumber, whole logs or stove firewood which is cut or split according to the general demands of your clients.
2. Line up a source of wood supply for your business. Seal in numerous suppliers to prevent shortfalls. And once your business develops, consider becoming a wholesale trader of firewood in your region by extending several different varieties of firewood to adjoin to everybody’s demands.
3. Ensure that you have the equipment you need to manage the cutting and splitting of firewood you will need to do. Embark on a heavy-duty log splitter if you’re looking at a smaller operation and look into the rewards of possessing a firewood processor if you’re thinking of “becoming big.”
Not certain what type of wood is better for your business? This quick primer should assist you to decide:
Best source: lumbermills. You should be able to chance on any number of small lumbermill operations within a 200-mile radius.
What to purchase: Buy a truckload of mill ends, bring them home, and bundle them into small stacks of firewood — sufficienct for one evening’s fire.
Profit picture: A load of mill ends that you might purchase for $100 would be prepacked into 200 small stacks of firewood that could sell for $5 per batch, giving you a gross revenue of $1,000. That’s pretty beneficial, allowing your sources of supply could maintain with the demand from your clients.
Advantages:Mill ends are clean, burn well and fast, and put out a good deal of heat. Broken down into more small-scale batches, they’re ideal for apartment inhabitants or other people in hotter climates requiring firewood for just a a couple of cold spells for each winter.
Other sources: local lumber yards, carpentry or furniture manufacturing firms, and home building or remodeling contractors. In a lot of cases you could propose to stop by these places just about one time a week and clean up the work place by hauling away the scrap lfirewood. Frequently they will allow you have it without cost. The sole drawback will be that you will have to separate this wood and saw them up into the sizes you require for your bundles or stacks.
Smart business: once you have got your wood prepared to package into bunches, we advocate using plastic shipping bands. The banding instrument is affordable, it makes a close, neat stack, and the band can be easily cut off with a pair of scissors.
You’ll save time and increase your earnings by employing a couple of senior high school or university student. They can develop a number of bunches in a short time period, piling the entire load onto a pallet or in an area for selling. Build a pay rate for 100 complete bunches. Check the time it takes two students acting upon at a moderately fast clip to bind 100 bundles. Knowing the current minimal by the hour wage rate, you can then find out the labor value of for each one bundle and compensate them consequently.
Best Source: A lumbermill or logging operation near whereby you prefer to open your business.
What to buy: Arrange to have whole logs (lumber rejects) delivered to your wood lot.
Profit picture: Your costs should not run very much more than $3 per log even for superior firewood, but will depend upon the sizing and amount delivered in to each one load. Charge twice as very much per log as your cost. If you plan to offer full-service to your clients, they will choose the lumber they wish cut (at two times your costs) and compensate you $10 for sawing them into the desired lengths, $10 for splitting it, and added $10 for loading them up onto their vehicle. This comes to $150 to $200 per cord of firewood. If you can have your assistants working in teams efficiently, it would be adequate to net you $100 per hour.
Advantages: If you can supply a desirable location not too far from home where clients can saw and split their own firewood (or use your firewood processor for a nominal feel), you will have a steady flow of clients.
Other Sources: Contact the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management in your region for a license to cut firewood in government preservation areas. Then you go out into the forest, saw up felled trees into eight-foot lengths, load them up into your vehicle and haul them to your woodlot. Talk to farmers in your region and offer to “reduce” areas of standing timber or downed trees. Often, you could get this firewood at no cost other than offering the landholder a portion of the timber you take out. Don’t forget about the road building, building companies, and commercial and residential developers as sources of supply. When you get into this business, you will find sources of supply bounded only by your own initiative in making contact with the landowners.
Smart Business: You’ll need a large vacant lot — approximately one/half to a full acre, preferably on the fringes of town. Put up a six-foot-high cyclone wall around your lot, setting a small garden shed or establishment to one side of the entrance gate to serve as your agency.
Run an advertisement in your local paper asking for “do-it-your-selfers” to come out and cut their own firewood. You could need to have assistants available to move some of the logs about, pulling them behind a lorry by a length of chain. Think about leasing chain saws, axes, and the use of your power splitter. Permit the customer to choose the log of his choice, and then have your hired help saw, split, and load this firewood into the customer vehicle. The ultimate in service would be to include delivery and piling of this wood at the client residence.
Benefits of Starting a Firewood Business
Low Start-Up Cost
With just a few common tools that are already found around many homes, you can be in business. Unlike most other products, producing firewood does not involve any precision engineering or expensive equipment.
Your product can be made from materials that are usually inexpensive and often free. In some cases, people will even pay you to take the raw material that you can them turn into your valuable product.
With skyrocketing energy prices and lack of firewood suppliers, people are paying premiums for firewood in many areas. Much of the cost of firewood comes from the time and effort it takes for you to produce it. With low overhead and material cost, most of the cash from firewood sales can be pure cash profit for you!
Huge Never Ending Demand
With a firewood business, you never run out of customers. People literally burn up your product and always want more every year. Firewood has year-round demand for home heating, cooking wood, outdoor fireplaces, and campfire wood.
You can forget about sitting in an office all day and forget about paying for gym memberships, forget about dieting. Producing and selling firewood will get you outdoors and can get you into amazing shape!
Tips on making your firewood business grow!
Tip #1: Work smarter, not harder
The more you can divide a basic cord of firewood into bundles or pallet loads, the greater profit you’re going to make from each cord of wood you sell. Selling a large number of small stacks or bundles will increase your profit over the selling of a single truckload of uncut wood to one dealer.
Tip #2: Don’t expect to do all the work yourself
If you can set your business up using several part-time workers to do the physical labor, you’ll realize greater profits and not have to do too much strenuous work.
Remember, as the business owner and operator your time should be devoted to selling the final product. Choosing the right wood processing equipment can also cut down on the time and energy you need to spend on building your wood supply.
Tip #3: Don’t micro-manage
If you try to be a part of every aspect of the operation, all your time will be spent completing small chores. Use your skills to procure, advertise, and sell the wood, and let your helpers use your power splitter and stack wood.
Successful advertising can only be done by you, but any number of helpers can cut and stack firewood.
Tip #4: Hire pros if you go wholesale
If you decide to become a wholesale supplier, you’ll need to hire commissioned salespeople to call on the retail outlets in your area. You’ll definitely need help in covering all the possible opportunities for retail sales of your firewood by other dealers.
You’ll also need a higher grade of wood processing equipment, such as a splitter designed to process longer wood lengths and firewood processing equipment that gives a single operator the ability to manage the whole operation.
Tip #5: Specialize
Think about concentrating on the wholesale marketing of pre-bundled wood. Many grocery and convenience stores like to purchase pre-bundled wood to offer to their customers during the Fall and Winter months.
Have your salesmen call on all the possible retailers: grocery and convenience stores, fireplace shops, apartment or condominium managers, Christmas tree lots, and other retail firewood suppliers.
Tip #6: Advertise
If you decide to do all the selling yourself as a retail outlet, you’ll need to advertise widely and consistently. Start with a large three-column wide by four-inch deep display ad in your local paper.
The sports section is often a good location. Most newspapers will offer you all the help you need in laying out your ad.
Tip #7: Open with a bang!
Plan the appearance of your first ad for a Saturday morning paper to coincide with your Grand Opening. Make your opening a big event, the same as any store’s grand opening or special sale. Serve free coffee and doughnuts, and have balloons for the children. I
deally, this opening should be staged on a weekend in late September or early October, and be designed to acquaint the people in your area with your firewood business.
Don’t forget to show your wood processing equipment in action. Once your potential customers see how easily you can split logs and turn them into firewood, they’ll be less likely to tackle the job by hand on their own.
Give away free prizes requiring the visitors to your event to fill out simple prize drawing forms with their name, address, and phone number. The prizes can be a free cord of wood, dinner for two at a local restaurant, or even theater passes. These names, addresses, and telephone numbers will be used later for advertising your services and soliciting orders via direct mail or telemarketing.
Tip #8: Learn what your customers want
The whole purpose of your grand opening is to let people know that you’re available to serve their needs, to help them to discover your location, and to plant in their minds the idea that you can supply them with the best means to keep warm when the weather turns cold.
Many will find your services to be more convenient, time-saving, and less bothersome than whatever methods they’re currently using to get firewood. As you talk with your customers, listen to their complaints about firewood procurement, and then alleviate those problems with the services you provide.
Tip #9: Keep your business visible.
Buy a small 2 by 4-inch display ad in the yellow pages of your telephone directory. Post advertising circulars on all the area bulletin boards and leave a supply of business cards with woodstove and fireplace suppliers, insulation and remodeling contractors, and lumber yards in your area.
And follow the lead of the snow tire stores.
Whenever the weather forecast shows a cold front or winter storm moving into your area, invest some money in radio and newspaper advertising. If you can advise people of your availability in the moment of their need, they are more likely to buy from you upon impulse than to shop around and inquire of your services in the months they don’t generally buy wood.
Tip #10: Use your “database.”
You can begin profiting from the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people who turned out for your big opening event. Set up a telephone selling program to follow up on those who had registered. Call and inform each customer that you’re offering a special price on firewood.
Are they prepared for the coming cold months ahead? Can you offer them a special deal? How much would they like you to deliver? You can generate a large amount of business just by reminding folks that they need to be well prepared with wood to beat the high cost of heating fuels and to maintain a comfortable, cozy home this coming winter.
Also, consider mailing a postcard or letter offering a special discount if the recipient will come to your location within the next ten days and make a purchase.
Tip #11: Build customer loyalty with an outstanding product and service
Hardwood burns the longest and gives off the most heat. Firewood that has been cut in the spring and seasoned through the summer is the best and most people will be willing to pay premium prices for it.
Giving the customer a little extra for his money, perhaps more wood, a sack of kindling, or seasoned wood for no extra charge, will result in greater and longer lasting success than a quick profit scheme. People remember the extra service and kindness they’re shown and will reward that service with buyer loyalty.