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Thinking about getting into the tree service business...what do I need to know?

Discussion in 'Arborist 101' started by Rangerbait, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. Rangerbait

    Rangerbait ArboristSite Operative

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    Howdy all,

    I will be retiring from the military in about 3 years, and considering starting a tree service as a next venture.

    Any resources, advice, criticism is welcome.
     
  2. Jed1124

    Jed1124 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Thank you for your service. What is your experience doing tree work?
     
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  3. BC WetCoast

    BC WetCoast Addicted to ArboristSite

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    If you have no experience in the biz, that puts you at the mercy of your crew, specifically climber/foreman. Not a good thing IMHO.
     
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  4. Rangerbait

    Rangerbait ArboristSite Operative

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    No real experience besides clearing land and cutting firewood. I’d like to spend the next couple of years getting schooled up and getting some hands on experience. Any recommendations? Looking to start out small, not go headlong into a major enterprise.
     
  5. no tree to big

    no tree to big Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Step one since u have zero tree service experience is go apply at a tree service and start from the bottom... you need to know how this **** works. It's better to learn from someone else n get paid vs loose thousands of your own dollars....

    Sent from my SM-G900T using Tapatalk
     
  6. Rangerbait

    Rangerbait ArboristSite Operative

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    I figured that was going to be my approach...just hoping that there’s a service that’ll let me work here and there since I still have a full time job for the time being + family responsibilities.

    I realize this must sound like a hair brain idea, especially since I already have a 23 year career that I’d have no trouble finding a six-figure salary working an office job after I “retire”...but frankly, I hate being stuck indoors, and want to run my own show after spending my youth working for Uncle Sam.

    I have three sons (7, 4, and 2), plus a 25 year old stepson. My vision is to work with my 25er to get the business off the ground, and then build something that I can eventually include the little dudes into.
     
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  7. Brian72

    Brian72 ArboristSite Guru

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    Find a local service and volunteer to help. You have 3 yrs. so that gives you plenty of time to learn and there's nothing better than on-the-job. You'd be surprised how many companies have a hard time finding reliable workers. Most are thrilled when they find someone who wants to learn.

    Sent from my Moto E (4) using Tapatalk
     
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  8. no tree to big

    no tree to big Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Just don't tell them you are going to start a company in their turf.... that won't get u far haha

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  9. Brian72

    Brian72 ArboristSite Guru

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    I think that depends on how you approach it. I do small removals from time to time and I've been able to create good relationships with a few local companies. They send me smaller jobs and I send them bigger stuff that I'm not equipped to deal with. I even help them with some jobs. It's more about mutual respect. There's enough work to go around if you run a reliable and trustworthy company. I think it's actually been beneficial for everybody.

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  10. Rangerbait

    Rangerbait ArboristSite Operative

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    That’s going to be my approach as well. There’s more dead Ash around here than a thousand tree service companies could possible get to.
     
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  11. Brian72

    Brian72 ArboristSite Guru

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    Same here in PA and much of it is near houses and power lines. Getting pretty dangerous actually.

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  12. BC WetCoast

    BC WetCoast Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Do you really want to give up a 6 figure income for a 4 figure income?
     
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  13. Rangerbait

    Rangerbait ArboristSite Operative

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    I could always go back to my primary career...but that does raise a good question: what are you tree service owners making in this line of work?
     
  14. Big Natey

    Big Natey ArboristSite Operative

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    As others have said, there is a lot more to tree work than running a power saw. You might get a job with a local tree service and realize it's not something you want to do the rest of your life.
     
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  15. Rangerbait

    Rangerbait ArboristSite Operative

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    I appreciate all of the feedback and cautions so far...how about the good stuff? What do you guys like about the business? Or is it all misery, liability, and poverty?
     
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  16. no tree to big

    no tree to big Addicted to ArboristSite

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    If you don't have the big equipment it's all misery...
    do you plan on being out on the crew or just sitting back in the office/doing estimates? How are you going to estimate the work when youve never done it before? What kind of mechanical/fabrication skills do you have? Can you fix your own **** when it breaks or is it going to the shop?

    If you have zero climbing experience that means you are relying you whole operation on your climber if you can find one. Climbers are picky sensitive creatures! You must treat your climber like a king or he'll leave, a good climber can have a new job by the end of the day if he decides to leave.
    How much money are you planing to invest in this? Do you have a place to park your equipment, a shop, dump sites?
    If you don't want to spend money from the start your gonna get a bunch of broke down crap and your life will suck. If you spend some coin and you get a bunch of nice stuff that is more reliable and higher production it makes things way easier. It also is higher risk if u fail, but it also will increase your chances of success. At an older age your body is less forgiving for you to learn and do it the hard way. you are also less likely to keep employees if you are doing it the hard way.

    What are you planing on as a business model? What is your initial investment?
    We did 1.2 million this year, it took a lot of money to make that million and after insurance fuel and payroll the company made jack crap. We have 4 owners that are on payroll that take about 60k home if you offered any of them 100k a year to get out of this they'd take it in a heart beat. If you can sit in an office somewhere and make that kind of money do it it is the best option.
    You also don't just start a highly profitable tree service out of knowwhere it takes time to build a customer base and get your name out there. This is also where the quality of your trucks helps. A potential customer sees you working you have nice trucks they are more likely to call you and trust you. If you have a bunch of rusty crap the only people who r gonna call you are the cheap bastards.

    Most folks that have profitable companies are guys that were climbers for years that went out and started there own show. These people knew everything there was to know. Just like many other industries, knowledge means money. They had the knowledge so they made the money they didn't have to pay someone else to come into the company to use his knowledge to make them money...


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  17. Zale

    Zale Addicted to ArboristSite

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    You're right, it is a hair brain idea. Stick with your day job.
     
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  18. Rangerbait

    Rangerbait ArboristSite Operative

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    Points taken. Where would you say the profitability sweet spot is?
     
  19. Rangerbait

    Rangerbait ArboristSite Operative

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    Why are any of you doing it then? You can go manage a Target and make that kind of money. Guess I’ll stick with my day job then.
     
  20. no tree to big

    no tree to big Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Well I'm not an owner but I make almost what the owners do... but I have zero liability. Why do we do it? Cause it's a job, not everyone is blessed with a gravy job pulling in 100k+. Some owners make tons of money but it's not gonna happen in a year or two.
    This industry is not a get rich quick scheme. Everybody and their brother thinks it's easy money in our area we get 20 new companies a year and most of them fail. Can you sell 100 thousand dollar trees? OK now you need to sell another 200 now you made enough money to pay your expenses. Just as an example our insurance costs this year (liability, auto,wc,umbrella,health,dental) were 365k that's 1000 dollars a day.. obviously you starting out won't be at that level but to gross 1.2m this year it cost us 1.2m give or take a few dollars the owners still went home with their hourly pay so it wasn't a total loss but it's not all profit. This year was bad normally we are 1.5 minimum up to 2


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