Every home with a chimney and every (real) BAR-BE-QUES needs firewood. The homeowner or restaurateur seldom has the time or means of to go after and cut his own firewood. On the other hand, there are farms and lots covered with leaves and heavy brush whose owners don't have time or energy to clear. If you combine these two problems the solution to both may be a profitable business!
Cut firewood sells for $50 to $200 a cord these days (depending on the season and part of the country).
A cord of wood is 128 cubic feet (a stack 2 feet wide, eight feet long and eight feet high, or four feet wide, eight feet long and 4 feet high), or a good 3/4 ton pickup load.
A couple of people with a chain saw could fill their truck with poles (small logs), take them to the "yard" and saw them into firewood, then load, deliver and stack the wood in a few hours time.
With a larger truck, they could do two cords at a time: twice the profit with only about 25% more cost and effort. You can cut poles to insert in the pickup or truck bed to form a "rack" to hold the maximum load. Be sure to run a cable or heavy rope across the load at the top of your rack poles to make them secure (keep them from bending outward).
It would also be wise to measure your truck so you can show marks to indicate a half cord, full cord, etc.. to save loading time and possibly, arguments.
An easy way to do this is to compute the area of the bed and divide that into 128. For example, if your truck bed is 4 x 8 feet, or 32 square feet, divide that into 128 to get 4. This means when the wood fills the bed and is 4 feet high, it is one cord of firewood.
Prices for firewood vary with type (oak or elm), age (green or dry), whether or not it is split, the amount purchased, and if it is delivered and/or stacked by the seller.
Split, seasoned wood brings the highest prices -- some vendors invest in hydraulic wood splitters for this reason. The price of firewood is also affected by the season and often, for a temperature. A cold winter stirs yearning for a nice warm glow in the fireplace -- especially Christmas.
For this business, you will need a place to saw to length, split and store your firewood; preferably a place where people can come load their car trunks and pickup.
A truck is a necessity, as are a couple of chain saws and crosscut saw -- and a wood splitter would be nice. Your yard does not have to be in an exclusive area - just so people who want firewood can find it and it's not too far out.
Put signs on your truck so people can get your name and phone number when they see a truck loaded with firewood.
Put a small ad in the paper as winter approaches, and if you can afford it, also put an ad in the yellow pages.
This is not a business where fancy letterhead stationery and business cards are all that important, but it would not be a bad idea to have a business card to hand out to people who might want to call on you later.
You must have a telephone, however, and it would also be wise to have a sign at your wood yard, especially if it can be seen by passers by: why waste the advertising opportunity?
In your wood yard, arrange your products by category and make EASY to sell. Stack your firewood by type wood, size of the logs and length (you will soon learn the most popular wood and size in your area. You can also save a few poles that can be cut to custom lengths (some people have unusual sized fireplaces or barbeques).
If you live in an area with termites, invest in a gallon of chlordane and spray the ground (never the wood) before you stack the wood. It is also advisable to place a treated wood (like landscape timers) as a base, so your firewood does not actually touch the ground (this keeps it cleaner too).
You can apply the chlordane with a inexpensive hand sprayer -- just be sure to follow the directions on the label EXPLICITLY.
DO NOT get the spray on the wood, as it is extremely toxic and could cause dangerous fumes when burned.. A single chlordane treatment will last up to twenty years (it does not break down like many other chemicals).
During the summer quiet times, make a few wood holders that measure out a half, quarter cord when filled. These can be used to measure wood that is loaded into the trunk of a car or back of a pickup.. Smaller holders can be used to measure out bundles of wood and/or kindling that is tied into bundles.
If you do a lot of sawing at the yard, save any valuable sawdust, like hickory or mesquite, which can be sold as "flavoring."
Note that if you burn charcoal or ordinary wood, you can dampen hickory sawdust and sprinkle it around the edges for a hickory smoked effect. It may not be the same as real hickory smoke, but it is better than nothing - this idea has been profitable to many a wood yard!
Another trick is to tie bundles of wood of about 15 pounds and wholesale them to stores for winter sales. You can also sell these bundles along the highway on cold days, especially during the holiday season. Vendors have really make good money doing this.. The price per cord for wood sold in these small bundles is awesome. Also, don't throw away those small pieces -- package and sell them as kindling.
If you have enough business, it could even be profitable to invest in a com[poster -- something like the city uses to chop up trimmed tree limbs so they will fit into their truck (consider buying their chopped brush!).
With a composter, you can turn waste sawdust, leaves, small branches and twigs into compost that can be sold by the sack or cubic yard. When considering a composter, make sure to think about using it a work sites.
For example if you clear a large lot, you can compost the trash and harvest the firewood. This would undoubtedly make your clearing service more valuable.
You might also check into picking up left over lumber from lumber yards, construction projects and tree trimmers. Perhaps you could even sell newspaper logs ( or the machine that makes them).
The message here is to figure out how to make a profit from what would otherwise be wasted time, effort or material. This is often the difference between a successful business and one that just survives.
Naturally, your heaviest firewood sales will be in winter, which means your income may be limited in summer when you are preparing for the selling season.
It is possible to receive some income from clearing lots and removing trees, however, and there are always the restaurants and barbeque houses. The bottom lines is that with a part-time summer effort and a modest investment, you can have a very nice winter income.
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I would say the most frequently asked question from beginners about opening their own business is "What should I sell?" I then proceed to ask them, "What interests and hobbies do you have?" Most don't know how to answer that question because they ...
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