Am I Paid Fairly as Estimator? New here!

YellowLeaf

New Member
Location
NA
I fell into this job and have zero close contacts (outside of my coworkers) in the tree care industry, so I’m not sure who to ask for an honest opinion.

I started almost three years ago in the office, but began estimating six months later out of necessity and my own interest. 2.5 years later, the business has gone from grossing $400k before I stepped into sales to now surely hitting $1 million this year. We do not pay to advertise.

I’m paid hourly and am the only estimator on staff. No commission or benefits have been offered. I majored first in my university class in sales and marketing. I love arboriculture and will sit for the exam as soon a I hit my three years of experience.

Thoughts or opinions on what most sales arborists make before or after earning ISA credentials? THANK YOU!
 

Jzack605

Well-Known Member
Location
Long island
No benefits as in no healthcare?

and you were a part of adding 600k to their yearly gross?

time to sit down and have a serious convo. There’s some good paying positions as sales reps at companies that offer benefits and other incentives (like commission). I know my sales rep can easily make 6 figures a year.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
Did they add more staff going from 4k to 1MM?

No commission or benefits bare necessary if they pay you a good hourly wage, right?

With "no advertising" you should have a relatively easy job. With most no advertising companies the clients calling got a good referral and you just need to give a reasonable price and you've got the job...right?...or are you doing cold calls?

Is your pay in line with other mid level management in the company?
 

YellowLeaf

New Member
Location
NA
No benefits as in no healthcare?

and you were a part of adding 600k to their yearly gross?

time to sit down and have a serious convo. There’s some good paying positions as sales reps at companies that offer benefits and other incentives (like commission). I know my sales rep can easily make 6 figures a year.
No benefits as in I just make an hourly wage without healthcare or retirement etc. thanks for your feedback! I’m good at my job but maybe not six figures worth. That seems outlandish at this point!
 

YellowLeaf

New Member
Location
NA
Did they add more staff going from 4k to 1MM?

No commission or benefits bare necessary if they pay you a good hourly wage, right?

With "no advertising" you should have a relatively easy job. With most no advertising companies the clients calling got a good referral and you just need to give a reasonable price and you've got the job...right?...or are you doing cold calls?

Is your pay in line with other mid level management in the company?
Did they add more staff going from 4k to 1MM?

No commission or benefits bare necessary if they pay you a good hourly wage, right?

With "no advertising" you should have a relatively easy job. With most no advertising companies the clients calling got a good referral and you just need to give a reasonable price and you've got the job...right?...or are you doing cold calls?

Is your pay in line with other mid level management in the company?

Thanks so much for feedback! The company has an awesome owner and we get incredible word of mouth and reviews. So yes the jobs do seem to come easy for that reason. There is really only the owner and myself managing things. One person has a phone with her at home to take quote requests. Three climbers (one added since I started) and ground crew of 6-7. Im very happy with the job, just doing my due diligence here!
 
Last edited:

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
Any new equipment? Not hard to gross 1MM with lots of heavy iron, but it costs a lot to make that money.

I'm not a fan of commission. I get it: if you are rocking it, you should reap the rewards. But I personally think it is more important to offer great service to the client and not put pressure on you to sell more stuff just so you bring home more money. It sounds like you do well now so don't need that kind of motivation. But it is certainly fair to talk to the owner about your value to the company. Frankly, I don't care a whole lot what the rest of the market is doing. Do you love what you are doing and do you feel you are justly compensated for the value you add to the company and is that a livable wage- if so, great. Don't make this a weekly conversation, but ask.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Welcome! I have some thoughts, but they’re dependent upon what you do exactly, and the size/makeup of your company. Do you do sales full time, and only sales, or do you do something else? If you do only sales, what is the average profit margin on the jobs you sell? If it’s high, you should be compensated well. If not, you might need to work on your selling skills before asking for a raise.

Your location matters too, the average pay for a salesman here is much different from that of LA, or Richmond. You can get an idea of what you might expect from the TCIA wages and benefits survey if your company is a member. If not, the federal government does an annual survey with reports by area that might give you an idea what to expect. For example, here’s an Arborist, in the Philadelphia area: https://www.erieri.com/salary/job/arborist/united-states/pennsylvania/philadelphia

More important than all that though, are you happy with the company you work for? If so, stay, and don’t worry about the paycheck too much. Money isn’t everything, I would rather do something I enjoy for $20k a year than work somewhere I don’t like for $200k a year.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
...Money isn’t everything, I would rather do something I enjoy for $20k a year than work somewhere I don’t like for $200k a year.
I agree and alluded to that in my post too... but want to reiterate that each employee's compensation should reflect the value they add - and increase as they improve and continue to add more value, (not just because they have been there for x years). I don't care if I have employees making more than me as the owner of they are that bring that much to what we do.
 

YellowLeaf

New Member
Location
NA
Any new equipment? Not hard to gross 1MM with lots of heavy iron, but it costs a lot to make that money.

I'm not a fan of commission. I get it: if you are rocking it, you should reap the rewards. But I personally think it is more important to offer great service to the client and not put pressure on you to sell more stuff just so you bring home more money. It sounds like you do well now so don't need that kind of motivation. But it is certainly fair to talk to the owner about your value to the company. Frankly, I don't care a whole lot what the rest of the market is doing. Do you love what you are doing and do you feel you are justly compensated for the value you add to the company and is that a livable wage- if so, great. Don't make this a weekly conversation, but ask.
Honestly, I do enjoy not having the pressure. I put enough pressure on myself anyways. I care a lot about the business and making sure my guys have lots of work!

To answer you, the business didn’t really add any machinery. We do everything by hand with exception of a skid steer and still grinder. The business was just disorganized previously due to being understaffed and didn’t have the sales part down. No one really wanted to do it.

I know I’m a very valuable employee but just have no idea how much anyone makes in this business. I was a stay at home mom for three years who did marketing from home. Now I find myself here, very happy and feeling taken care of for sure, but wanting to be sure I figure out what normal pay is especially once I’m a certified arborist. Commission seems the norm from the forums I’ve read and job openings I’ve looked at. Just hadn’t considered that before.

Thanks again for taking time to give me feedback!
I agree and alluded to that in my post too... but want to reiterate that each employee's compensation should reflect the value they add - and increase as they improve and continue to add more value, (not just because they have been there for x years). I don't care if I have employees making more than me as the owner of they are that bring that much to what we do.
 
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YellowLeaf

New Member
Location
NA
Welcome! I have some thoughts, but they’re dependent upon what you do exactly, and the size/makeup of your company. Do you do sales full time, and only sales, or do you do something else? If you do only sales, what is the average profit margin on the jobs you sell? If it’s high, you should be compensated well. If not, you might need to work on your selling skills before asking for a raise.

Your location matters too, the average pay for a salesman here is much different from that of LA, or Richmond. You can get an idea of what you might expect from the TCIA wages and benefits survey if your company is a member. If not, the federal government does an annual survey with reports by area that might give you an idea what to expect. For example, here’s an Arborist, in the Philadelphia area: https://www.erieri.com/salary/job/arborist/united-states/pennsylvania/philadelphia

More important than all that though, are you happy with the company you work for? If so, stay, and don’t worry about the paycheck too much. Money isn’t everything, I would rather do something I enjoy for $20k a year than work somewhere I don’t like for $200k a year.
Ok this is very helpful! I do estimates about 20-25 hours a week. 8 a day on average. The other work is just in the computer and helping with keeping business licenses, insurance and workers comp straight. I built and maintain the website and do marketing emails. I set the guys up on jobs when needed. It’s whatever I can do to help.

I’m not sure what my profit margin is because I’m not sure what our expenses are. I could guess pretty well I imagine. The owner tells me how much to bid for each hour a job will take and I’m almost always on target or higher. So I believe I’m doing great there.

Last question- would the climbing arborists generally make a good bit more than the sales arborist? They are completely different jobs from what I can see. Thanks!!
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
Ok this is very helpful! I do estimates about 20-25 hours a week. 8 a day on average. The other work is just in the computer and helping with keeping business licenses, insurance and workers comp straight. I built and maintain the website and do marketing emails. I set the guys up on jobs when needed. It’s whatever I can do to help.

I’m not sure what my profit margin is because I’m not sure what our expenses are. I could guess pretty well I imagine. The owner tells me how much to bid for each hour a job will take and I’m almost always on target or higher. So I believe I’m doing great there.

Last question- would the climbing arborists generally make a good bit more than the sales arborist? They are completely different jobs from what I can see. Thanks!!
So to me, it seems you are only part time in sales, which makes sense for that volume in annual sales. It also makes the hourly pay more understandable to me. Personally, I would not pay a salesperson on a commission basis if they did anything besides sales, it would be too hard to split the duties and wages properly.

Comparing pay of a sales arborist to a climbing arborist is not really fair or practical, as a rockstar climber will earn far more than an average or entry level climber, and a rockstar salesman should also earn far more than a mediocre salesman.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
Passing the CA exam is the tip of the very tip of the iceberg of tree learning. Keep going!


How are your tree id/ species specific knowlege and skills, disease and defect/ mitigation knowledge and skills, pruning/ preservation knowledge and skills, tree operations skills?

Getting up some trees is super important.
 

Sfoppema

Well-Known Member
Location
Central MA
Ok this is very helpful! I do estimates about 20-25 hours a week. 8 a day on average. The other work is just in the computer and helping with keeping business licenses, insurance and workers comp straight. I built and maintain the website and do marketing emails. I set the guys up on jobs when needed. It’s whatever I can do to help.

I’m not sure what my profit margin is because I’m not sure what our expenses are. I could guess pretty well I imagine. The owner tells me how much to bid for each hour a job will take and I’m almost always on target or higher. So I believe I’m doing great there.

Last question- would the climbing arborists generally make a good bit more than the sales arborist? They are completely different jobs from what I can see. Thanks!!
I've heard of quite a few salespeople making 6 figures in the tree business. I've very rarely heard of a tree climber making 6 figures working for a company. In central/eastern MA market. It sounds like along with selling work for the company for half the week, you facilitate day to day operations. Wise of the owner to have hired you in the first place. Sounds like you are valuable. I'd think at least 25-35/hr. 60k/yr manager/sales rep. Not much coming out of the owner's pocket for value added to get to 1m revenue with relatively low overhead.

Depends where you're at and what is actually going on at your company. I'm certain I've assumed many things in my figures. Just my two cents.
 

YellowLeaf

New Member
Location
NA
That’s a very real answer and I appreciate it so much. I’ll study hard through the winter and present my thoughts as a CA. Thanks for the encouraging words.
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
Did I get this right? No health insurance or vacation pay? Those should be the minimum perks after an hourly wage. After a 9 or 12 month emplyoument every worker should have them. Might only be a week vacation and partial payment of health insurance to start. On each year anniversary they should increase.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
There’s probably not one “best site”, check out a few - there’s listings here, and a lot of people use Indeed; some also post on Craigslist these days. You might also reach out to a local recruiter, there may be one who does searching for local tree services, and they could give you some guidance as well.
 

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