Daily rate freelance

Fivepoints

Active Member
Remember this all varies due to location. Here the pay is low for employees compared to other places but the cost of living is also very low. $150K will buy you a nice 3 bedroom house on half an acre in a good part of town for instance.

Contract climbers in our area are around the $300/day mark. This is in Alabama.
 

Mowerr

Active Member
Here in upstate new york the cost of living is crazy but there's so much competition that its hard to get more than 300 a day unless your one of the best, fully insured with gear and all that. Most guys would rather settle for a scab that works for their daily fix...
 

Mowerr

Active Member
I've known guys that'll bring their own dump truck, or bucket or grinder and still have a hard time getting in that 6-7 range unless your splitting work on the day but that's more like a partner agreement
 

Serf Life

Member
Similar here with high prop values etc but lots of competition and relatively low wages. Many companies pay climbers (even foreman) less than $20/hr. Had another one-man-show help for a 9hr day of two tight removals inbetween house and garage. He came with f550 with chipper and insurance for $400/day.
 

Flex Abednego

Well-Known Member
I’ll probably start another thread specifically for this question ...
For those of you who have a state contractors license and contract climb, are you registered as LLC, S Corp, or Sole proprietor? Reason for your choice?
 

Mowerr

Active Member
Similar here with high prop values etc but lots of competition and relatively low wages. Many companies pay climbers (even foreman) less than $20/hr. Had another one-man-show help for a 9hr day of two tight removals inbetween house and garage. He came with f550 with chipper and insurance for $400/day.
Don't get me wrong from what I said before, not all guys that work for cheap are addicts but I see a lot of guys working for cheap around here compared to the numbers you guys are talking. Maybe something to do with the fact that you don't need any license or certs to run a tree business like other states. So I'm thinking maybe that opens the door for anybody with a pick up truck and saw to undercut all the guys that know what their doing, in the end driving down prices.
 

CanaryBoss

Active Member
I used to freelance a lot. I had a small tree service and an excellent climber and bucket truck. Me being on site was like having two chippers there, pointless. So I started freelancing. I guess i just wanted to see what other people were doing. I feel I gained a lot from it. When I started this company, I tried to add up all the good ways I saw companies being run to make my own culmination of it.

Anyway, this was thirteen years ago. It was in central Florida and I was a ace climber for sure. I did not use my own insurance for them and never needed to. Still, I was climbing for $400+ a day. I would think the rates were much higher today, but I don’t know for sure cause I don’t use any freelancers. What if somebody got seriously hurt? I mean hurt bad? As the owner of this company, I would be left holding the bag. What if I didn’t have the money to pay for his injuries? What if he couldn’t take care of his family because of it? I couldn’t live with. Not to mention, it this litigious society we live in, what if my customer lost everything they worked hard for to pay for some guys injury that they just trusted me that I was responsible for?

I’m rambling I guess. I don’t know if I’m even adding value to this thread. Just thought it was interesting and wanted to chime in.

I have a question for you top notch freelancers out there, what would it take for you to accept a full time job?

I hear guys say, “I make more freelancing”. I don’t know if it’s really true, but at what point does the value of consistency weight in? Paid vacation? Workers comp? Time and a half? Tracked lifts and bucket trucks to use instead of always climbing? Insurance benefits? Being part of a team? ...

I really try to lead the industry in my area in pay. I want my guys to have a good quality of life. I really do. But I allow no freelancing. It’s us or nothing. Name your price. What would it take to get you on our team? We are hiring, but I’m asking out of curiosity really.
 

RBJtree

Well-Known Member
The last couple times I did any climbing without my own crew it was for a landscaper I know. If he gets a decent sized tree or something he doesn't trust to someone cheaper, he calls me. I sent my guys out to do stumps once or twice and worked with him for a day, for $600. No truck, no chipper, just me and my gear. When I first started my business I went out by myself and did 500-700 a day with a dually pickup that I built sides on and no chipper. But for me, its more of an inconvenience most of the time. I feel it's my responsibility to keep my crew busy and serve as many of the customers who call me as I can. But then again, a landscaper who calls me is a customer. Now I am rambling. Thanks for listening, lol.
 

Jem4417

Well-Known Member
I used to freelance a lot. I had a small tree service and an excellent climber and bucket truck. Me being on site was like having two chippers there, pointless. So I started freelancing. I guess i just wanted to see what other people were doing. I feel I gained a lot from it. When I started this company, I tried to add up all the good ways I saw companies being run to make my own culmination of it.

Anyway, this was thirteen years ago. It was in central Florida and I was a ace climber for sure. I did not use my own insurance for them and never needed to. Still, I was climbing for $400+ a day. I would think the rates were much higher today, but I don’t know for sure cause I don’t use any freelancers. What if somebody got seriously hurt? I mean hurt bad? As the owner of this company, I would be left holding the bag. What if I didn’t have the money to pay for his injuries? What if he couldn’t take care of his family because of it? I couldn’t live with. Not to mention, it this litigious society we live in, what if my customer lost everything they worked hard for to pay for some guys injury that they just trusted me that I was responsible for?

I’m rambling I guess. I don’t know if I’m even adding value to this thread. Just thought it was interesting and wanted to chime in.

I have a question for you top notch freelancers out there, what would it take for you to accept a full time job?

I hear guys say, “I make more freelancing”. I don’t know if it’s really true, but at what point does the value of consistency weight in? Paid vacation? Workers comp? Time and a half? Tracked lifts and bucket trucks to use instead of always climbing? Insurance benefits? Being part of a team? ...

I really try to lead the industry in my area in pay. I want my guys to have a good quality of life. I really do. But I allow no freelancing. It’s us or nothing. Name your price. What would it take to get you on our team? We are hiring, but I’m asking out of curiosity really.
I have a feeling and I’ve been saying this around my way for a while that being a large full service tree business will phase out. There’s just too much overhead to stay competitive with all the gear and equipment climbers need/want/require. Between the cranes, bucket trucks, lifts, loaders, log trucks, chip trucks, chippers, saws, climbing gear, and whatever else you can never catch up to latest “best way”. Not to mention the training you have to do so your top guys can operate all of that efficiently. I’ve just recently started my own thing with sub work as my main income and in the last eight years of Saturday and Sunday work I’ve been on so many sites with four different subs. Each guy has a different piece of equipment or something to offer and they all just get jobs and use each other. This way everyone’s getting their piece of the pie and has incentive to do well because their working at a premium. And if you have a few main guys you work with you can rest a little easier when your phones not ringing with work. Utility work is the exception but I just have found it rare for a career tree guy to go the distance at one place. I could be wrong but there’s a million tree services in my area all with relatively the same story
 

Sgfinco

Member
I used to freelance a lot. I had a small tree service and an excellent climber and bucket truck. Me being on site was like having two chippers there, pointless. So I started freelancing. I guess i just wanted to see what other people were doing. I feel I gained a lot from it. When I started this company, I tried to add up all the good ways I saw companies being run to make my own culmination of it.

Anyway, this was thirteen years ago. It was in central Florida and I was a ace climber for sure. I did not use my own insurance for them and never needed to. Still, I was climbing for $400+ a day. I would think the rates were much higher today, but I don’t know for sure cause I don’t use any freelancers. What if somebody got seriously hurt? I mean hurt bad? As the owner of this company, I would be left holding the bag. What if I didn’t have the money to pay for his injuries? What if he couldn’t take care of his family because of it? I couldn’t live with. Not to mention, it this litigious society we live in, what if my customer lost everything they worked hard for to pay for some guys injury that they just trusted me that I was responsible for?

I’m rambling I guess. I don’t know if I’m even adding value to this thread. Just thought it was interesting and wanted to chime in.

I have a question for you top notch freelancers out there, what would it take for you to accept a full time job?

I hear guys say, “I make more freelancing”. I don’t know if it’s really true, but at what point does the value of consistency weight in? Paid vacation? Workers comp? Time and a half? Tracked lifts and bucket trucks to use instead of always climbing? Insurance benefits? Being part of a team? ...

I really try to lead the industry in my area in pay. I want my guys to have a good quality of life. I really do. But I allow no freelancing. It’s us or nothing. Name your price. What would it take to get you on our team? We are hiring, but I’m asking out of curiosity really.
I think tree care prices and wages have been so utterly stagnant for so long no one from clients to owners has any real expectation of rates ever going up.

For me to take a job as an employee it'd take $28 per hour starting with the end goal being $32-34 per hour with paid vacation, holidays, and benefits as a production climber and crew leader. A culture of safety and training to move into a training focused role would be a must. Not everyone wants to grow up to do sales.

The biggest issue I had working for a larger company was the sales first culture, sell the work and get it done at any cost. And the fact that working for a singular company is boring as sin. With the proliferation of lifts and loaders every salesman at that company thinks they can send a lift and a loader with a few dummies to run it and they can low-ball the price then get pissed when their arbitrary man hour goal isn't met.

I ran a crew at a 6 crew company and I was their hot shot climber, I got to climb a real tree once a month maybe, otherwise their climber crew was shaping crabapples and hedges and their lifts we're backlogged for 8 months.

I guess what I'm getting at is I'd much rather be on jobs that require my level of skill every day. I'm not above ground work, when I contract climb I drag brush, I move cribbing and plywood and show up with my own rake, shovel and backpack blower.

If you keep me entertained and pay me enough to buy a house and raise a family comfortably, I'd be all in. Being an owner is a headache I don't want to deal with really but it seems to be the only way to make enough money as a climber these days.
 

CanaryBoss

Active Member
That’s good info. I don’t know the cost of living in your area but if it’s similar then we are right on track. It’s good to know we might meet that standard. Our top climbers can get up to $40 per hour with all those benefits but usually start between 25 to 30 an hour. There is a lot of use put on our lifts. If somebody just loves to climb every day, they might not like it here, Although we do have climbing only crews. I have had guys quit cause they wanted to “climb more”. We also only work 4 days a week!
 

Sgfinco

Member
That’s good info. I don’t know the cost of living in your area but if it’s similar then we are right on track. It’s good to know we might meet that standard. Our top climbers can get up to $40 per hour with all those benefits but usually start between 25 to 30 an hour. There is a lot of use put on our lifts. If somebody just loves to climb every day, they might not like it here, Although we do have climbing only crews. I have had guys quit cause they wanted to “climb more”. We also only work 4 days a week!
I'd probably be in the climb more group haha! Pruning large trees is my big passion and I find it much more challenging to do from a lift, and I hate having my drop zone taken up. Glad there's companies out there that look out for their guys rather than chew them up and spit them out.
 

owScott

Active Member
I’ll probably start another thread specifically for this question ...
For those of you who have a state contractors license and contract climb, are you registered as LLC, S Corp, or Sole proprietor? Reason for your choice?
My company is a LLC. I file as a S corp. You can be a sole member LLC filing as a sole proprietor. Filing as a S corp I pay myself a salary like an employee. So I pay 1/2 the FICA and my company pays the other half. A sole proprietor takes draws. Its about how you pay yourself and how taxes get paid. My company pays quarterly taxes also. Its all still my money, my CPA said its an advantage this way. The more money you make the more critical these details become. As far as being structured as a LLC that provides liability protection. If something happens with my business my personal assets are safe. There are rules about how the money is handled and separated, the LLC is a separate entity. I recommend talking to good CPA.
 

CanaryBoss

Active Member
I'd probably be in the climb more group haha! Pruning large trees is my big passion and I find it much more challenging to do from a lift, and I hate having my drop zone taken up. Glad there's companies out there that look out for their guys rather than chew them up and spit them out.
I hate turnover. I love nothing more than to see my guys buy a new house or get that thing their family needs or even show up on a new motorcycle.

I have a nice quality of life because of my people and I want them to also. It’s sad how guys get tricked into being paid cash to save on taxes. They become slaves to the cash and can only live by it. They cannot develop credit to buy a home or finance a car and so on. They just live cash to cash and if they ever step up and buy something valuable, the IRS will come take it. How do people ever retire without assets? Do they just work until they die?
 

CanaryBoss

Active Member
My company is a LLC. I file as a S corp. You can be a sole member LLC filing as a sole proprietor. Filing as a S corp I pay myself a salary like an employee. So I pay 1/2 the FICA and my company pays the other half. A sole proprietor takes draws. Its about how you pay yourself and how taxes get paid. My company pays quarterly taxes also. Its all still my money, my CPA said its an advantage this way. The more money you make the more critical these details become. As far as being structured as a LLC that provides liability protection. If something happens with my business my personal assets are safe. There are rules about how the money is handled and separated, the LLC is a separate entity. I recommend talking to good CPA.
Also if you share any accounts or assets with a spouse who is not an owner, a lawsuit cannot touch them
 

evo

Well-Known Member
I always figure the person who can afford the best lawyer is the one on top. LLC’s arent bullet proof against liability.

Biggest advantage is that half of taxes that is with held goes against gross profit, reducing tax liabilities. That and any dividends paid to owners as a bonus gets taxed at a much lower rate than ordinary income.

Yes one can protect personal assets, one can even create a LLC that rents equipment to their other LLC so the business itself has no assets. For an example LLC A owns the mini, and tree chippers, two buckets, and 2 dumps. They rent this equipment to LLC B, LLC B gets sued and looses for 3 million but is only worth 1 million because it doesn’t own a thing.. All equipment says with LLC A and the slimy skum bag owner opens LLC c to DBA as LLC b, but because all this is owned by the same individual no one can come back to sue for the same DBA...
 

Sgfinco

Member
I hate turnover. I love nothing more than to see my guys buy a new house or get that thing their family needs or even show up on a new motorcycle.

I have a nice quality of life because of my people and I want them to also. It’s sad how guys get tricked into being paid cash to save on taxes. They become slaves to the cash and can only live by it. They cannot develop credit to buy a home or finance a car and so on. They just live cash to cash and if they ever step up and buy something valuable, the IRS will come take it. How do people ever retire without assets? Do they just work until they die?
You seem like an excellent boss! I agree cash is a bad way to go. I only take checks, I do everything by the book. Having reportable income is something that escapes a lot of people.
 
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