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Opening a tree service business

ElevatorGuy

ElevatorGuy

What are you doing with the wood?
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
357
Location
Maryland
Anyone knocking on my door soliciting work would never work for me. That means you walked passed all the no soliciting and no trespassing signs. Make sure you smile for the cameras and you’ll probably be greeted with 2 angry German shepherds and a gun.
 
DannytreeLLC

DannytreeLLC

ArboristSite Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
76
Location
Independence
Wish we only worked 5 days. We work 6 full days and every other Sunday afternoon. I am replacing the guy that I had to let go soon. Our average day is around $7-8000 although sometimes quite a bit more if it is emergency work. That is gross obviously, but our expenses remain somewhat fixed so I have a good idea of what net should be on a given day.
 
capetrees

capetrees

Tree Freak
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
13,409
Location
MA
Wish we only worked 5 days. We work 6 full days and every other Sunday afternoon. I am replacing the guy that I had to let go soon. Our average day is around $7-8000 although sometimes quite a bit more if it is emergency work. That is gross obviously, but our expenses remain somewhat fixed so I have a good idea of what net should be on a given day.
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lone wolf

lone wolf

MS 200T King
Joined
Oct 5, 2009
Messages
57,837
Location
Prowling The Pine Barrens
Wish we only worked 5 days. We work 6 full days and every other Sunday afternoon. I am replacing the guy that I had to let go soon. Our average day is around $7-8000 although sometimes quite a bit more if it is emergency work. That is gross obviously, but our expenses remain somewhat fixed so I have a good idea of what net should be on a given day.
As much money as you have you can recruit lots of help with all that money to spare. If you really make that much you can pay your guys triple the norm! I got to call BS!
 
DancesWithTrees

DancesWithTrees

New Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2020
Messages
1
Location
Florida
I’m not the least bit desperate. I live a very comfortable life with my current profession. I have extra money and time and am considering putting that into a line of work I thoroughly enjoy.

I enjoy being in the tree or on the ground as limbs are dropping. On the saw eating the chips, dripping sweat in my eyes cutting up a monster log or stump. I’ve mostly done residential with few commercial but the only real difference was it’s in a parking lot vs next to a house. I’ve worked at garden centers for years and am knlowgevale on landscaping and trees/plants so I love the entire industry of “plants”. I’ve been in way more dangerous situations than cutting down a tree lol. Like I said I am a combat veteran.

Yes I know 10K isn’t going to get me much at first so sure I can save or another 10 maybe. Puts me at 20k. I also wanted info on what’s the best equipment to have starting a brand new company. Someone states a bucket truck. I agree. A bucket truck w dump.

I find it hard to believe every tree company started out with the following..

bucket: 30k (used avg reliable starter truck maybe)
Utility trailer for bucket truck: 10k
Mini ride on w grapple: 15-20k used
Stump grinder: 20k
Chipper:15-20k
Chip truck: 20-30k
That’s all rough estimates on used equip maybe say $150k. No way everyone out there went to a bank and took out a loan and started their business.
Keith, I'm new here, and new in business myself. I can't tell you a lot, not even sure if you're going to see this- but the one thing I can tell you is this- get as much education as you can first, maybe an Associate's degree or whatever you can afford. At the very least, read all the books you can get ahold of. Once you understand ANSI standards, maybe work for someone for a while- but make sure they are certified, or at least follow ANSI. Sounds like that will be easy where you are; it's not so much where I am. Once you go out on your own, the hardest part is building reputation and getting steady work. Until you start getting a lot of people talking you up and referring you to their friends, it is a tough ride. I'm still at that stage, doing work for cheaper than I would like to just to get my name out there. It kinda sucks, but in any business you have to pay your dues until people know who you are. I built my website, studied some SEO, found a great book on that- and using some free tools I figured out that 90% of people in my area are searching Google for specific companies they already know. That means I'm fighting with the hordes for the other 10%. It's tough. But you survived combat, so you know how to be tenacious. You'll need that. For equipment- you will need a pickup truck. Everything else you should rent as needed until you get steady work, or your debts will destroy you. I use a utility trailer and accumulate brush in my back yard (I have a few acres) until it's enough to justify renting a chipper for a day and reducing it all down. It's not optimal, but it keeps my equipment costs down. And I agree in principal with whoever it was as far as qualifying people for tree removals before running out to their house and working up a bid. I've figure out that much- make sure they are not going to balk at a job that costs a couple of thousand dollars. If that's out of their league, don't waste your time and fuel making a bid that they are just going to throw away anyway. Focus your early efforts on marketing more than equipment. I used Yelp to get a few leads. It's not paying for itself on paper, but it did connect me with at least one good person who is talking me up. Also, talk to your realtor who you bought your house with. They should know people, and might be helpful in connecting you with potential customers. Keep up the fight, bro- you can do it if you want it bad enough.
 
Silmaril

Silmaril

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Jul 7, 2020
Messages
24
Location
Ohio
Hey Keith,

I've read this whole thread and I'm going to try to actually give you advise based off what you asked. For some reason almost no body wants to do that, it looks like most everyone here just wants to complain about their situation, not yours.

I have a very similar situation to yours. I am a veteran, I have a credit score over 800, I have a full time job, I started a tree company within the last year.
That being said, we have some differences too. I have a few years of climbing experience with a very good tree care company that focused on being an arborist, not a log humper. They sent me to a climbing school, and since I left that company I have climbed recreationally since for about 7 years. I am no master but I am comfortable and am aware of what my limits are. I also have experience (the last 7 years) working at a dealership for outdoor power so I know how to fix saws and engines, how to properly run and maintain them.

So when I started my business I did it with a partner. He doesn't have experience or financial backing BUT he is a hard worker and it allowed me to have someone else to share the load. PLUS you really do need someone else to do tree work, just from a safety aspect but also a practical stand point.

We didn't have a lot of money either, far less than you in fact. The first step for us was getting incorporated. From there we opened a bank account and then got insurance. Bingo bango, we were in business. We already had saws and climbing equipment (which it sounds like you have as well) so everything else outside of that is just there to make it easier for you, NOT requirements. So guys who say $100,000 to start simply have no perspective of BUILDING a business.

We did the jobs that we knew we could handle with the equipment and experience we had. And we worked hard. If someone had three pin oaks next to their house, 90 feet tall leaning over the house... guess what, we said no. We took the small jobs, saved up more money. We also market ourselves as expert pruners and a tree CARE company, not Joe-Shmo with a Ford Ranger and chainsaw. My experience was in formative and structural pruning. I stay up to date on the best practices and techniques for what is best for the tree. That being said, of course we do removals but it's not our primary area of expertise so we often price ourselves out of jobs. If the person says no, great, we aren't looking to do that kind of work anyway. If they say yes, great, we priced it so it was well worth our time. Maybe this type of business model isn't for you but our area has many tree-conscience people so we can.

So we got a number of jobs under out belt, got great experience and banked what we made. The key to our scenario and to your scenario that everyone on here seems to be ignoring is that you and I are NOT relying on the tree company as a living. We both have successful careers. This allows us to build the company over time, as long as you have patience.

So, all that being said we found that outside of the obvious stuff (saws, ropes, climbing gear, etc.) the next most important thing was a chipper and then in turn a truck to pull said chipper. We are a small outfit, we don't need the biggest, baddest, newest stuff. We found a couple local auctions that sell these things used. So we got a solid chipper and truck to make our jobs easier and it allows us to more competitively quote. These set us back about 12K. We went with a regular dump truck too because it does what we need and is cheaper and more available than a chip truck or bucket truck.

We do on average 3 jobs a month and make at this point about 3k per month. As a side business that is perfect. It adds some to what we already make and it's not so much work that we are killing ourselves.

I agree with Danceswithtrees about education. In your free time, research tree care. You want to show up at a job well informed of what you are looking at. And all the marketing stuff, sure that is great and I am well versed in it but you are going to get a ton of work from word of mouth. Show up on time, presentable and do good work. Word will travel quickly. That will get you further quicker than any SEO techniques or Yelp reviews (again, not saying those aren't important but you are just starting out).

I feel bad for you that a lot of people on here are bashing you. It sounds like you are doing this in the smartest way possible and you are researching before you make the plunge. How can anyone knock you for that? I commend you and wish you the best. If you ever need any REAL advise, reach out to me I am always happy to help a fellow tree care specialist and veteran.
 
Blue Oaks

Blue Oaks

ArboristSite Guru
Joined
Mar 28, 2017
Messages
935
Location
Silicon Valley
OP- My advice would be to go work for the company and learn the business on someone else's dime. I did the same when I went to work in a machine shop. I learned over a few years that I didn't want to have my own shop after all, and it didn't cost me my life's savings to figure it out.
 
TreeDoctorsoftheWorld

TreeDoctorsoftheWorld

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Jan 30, 2020
Messages
23
Location
Nanaimo, BC
Make sure you have the right software/tool to assist you with your company. It will be a lot easier.
We heard so many positive reviews with Arbostar Business Management Platform.
Try to look it up on Google, this would make things easier for you especially the accounting side.
 
AshleyTree

AshleyTree

New Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2020
Messages
3
Location
Toronto, ON
TreeDoc, I think you need to look into the thread a little. He's not anywhere even close to needing software. Simple accounting software is plenty at the outset. I wish I had my old account but I have been able to get to where I am today from next to nothing like a lot of people but that came from a few things that this person doesn't have:

A: I got an College Degree in Arboriculture
B: I climbed for a company for many years and then became a municipal arborist
C: I got connected to the industry early in my career by getting certified (ON-1320A) and going to conferences
D: I am not doing this 'part time' so I actually understand the industry

If you want my advice, if you want a side line and enjoy tree work - you need to UNDERSTAND what the jobs require and how to do them first or your taking a huge risk, people are going to have to trust you and your far far out of your league in almost any situation if your representing yourself as anything other than a handy man. Please don't take this as an insult but even a savvy homeowner at this point can stump you on tree ID or technique and your coming to him as a "Tree Service". People who get started with next to nothing have many years in the trade and can build there way up based on their foundation. Which you NEED. Your side line will go horribly wrong until your at least competent with the many facets of tree care, even if it simply a surface level understanding.

Work with your friend for at least a year, keep saving money for a 3/4 ton and take on only what you are ABSOLUTELY sure you can handle. In a small rural area you can ruin your brand and your rep if you don't work carefully at first.
 
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