It's mid-April and I'm uncertain whether to find a crew to climb for this summer or go-it alone, need advice/counsel!

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
I charged $400 for a no-cleanup removal that took two hours, just because it had been struck by lightning 5 yrs prior. Tied into the tree behind it, went to work, sat on my spikes for 5 minutes halfway through, and was given $100 more when paid. People value our work. Don’t devalue yourself and the industry by being the cheapest guy in town. I tend to be expensive when doing side work, and only two clients have ever been unhappy with it.
When you go shopping and see 4 similar items, and one is half the price of the others, what goes through your mind? For me, I’ll usually buy one of the other three.
 

Z'sTrees

Well-Known Member
Location
NW NC
Being the cheapest guy in town is a race to the bottom. You'll never be able to grow or handle unexpected expenses, and you'll burn out in short order working way to hard for peanuts. You want to build a good client base, what do you think someone who paid you $20 an hr is gonna say when your asking $100 an hr because you've come to your senses. Don't set the bar low.
That being said, you can't expect to make the same hourly as a seasoned pro or someone running a legit business. Jobs are worth what they are worth, whether you plug awayat something for 3 days or a big crew with alot of iron does it by lunch. Shouldn't cost much different.

My 2 cents. Call up one of those companies you mentioned offering 401k's and shit. I think the best thing most "self taught" climbers can do is work for someone else. Or a few someone else's. Learning what to do, and what not to do will give you some perspective for when you do ( if you still want to) go out on your own.

You'll spend alot more time doing tree work and gaining experience as an employee than as an owner.
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
To piggyback here, don’t just think climbing for other companies. You mentioned the reputable companies aren’t looking for climbers- go as a ground hand to watch, ask, and listen. There is much to be gained from helping a skilled climber. In fact, if you climbed for them, you wouldn’t get as many chances to learn from their best. If you can live off of $15-20 an hour, then working as a ground hand shouldn’t break the bank. I still like working the ground when I’m with a climber I respect, because I know I’m likely to learn something.
 

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
United States
One of the reasons I decided to start my own business was because I know I’m very safety oriented and have a specific way of doing things. I don’t cut corners. So by owning my own company, I can set the tone and not have to worry about people complaining if take too long setting a tie in...or if I want to use a throw line to get a rope in the tree instead of just spiking up it, etc.

But you gotta find what best suits you. Some real good advice though is as a newer business owner, make sure especially at the beginning you don’t get involved with jobs that you really cannot do. Know your limits. Progressing to bigger jobs comes as experience is gained, etc. But you don’t want to make the mistake of thinking you can do everything and then start something and have to tell the customer you don’t have the means to finish it. Or you get spooked in the tree because it’s way beyond what you’re comfortable with and your skill / experience.

It happens. It happened a few times to me at the very beginning. It’s a learning experience. Eventually you start progressing to bigger things. You’ve gotta make sure if you start the job you can safely complete it.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
One of the reasons I decided to start my own business was because I know I’m very safety oriented and have a specific way of doing things. I don’t cut corners. So by owning my own company, I can set the tone and not have to worry about people complaining if take too long setting a tie in...or if I want to use a throw line to get a rope in the tree instead of just spiking up it, etc.

But you gotta find what best suits you. Some real good advice though is as a newer business owner, make sure especially at the beginning you don’t get involved with jobs that you really cannot do. Know your limits. Progressing to bigger jobs comes as experience is gained, etc. But you don’t want to make the mistake of thinking you can do everything and then start something and have to tell the customer you don’t have the means to finish it. Or you get spooked in the tree because it’s way beyond what you’re comfortable with and your skill / experience.

It happens. It happened a few times to me at the very beginning. It’s a learning experience. Eventually you start progressing to bigger things. You’ve gotta make sure if you start the job you can safely complete it.
I have to say from the bit I have read that this dude's not very experienced. So very slow should he get treeing. Talks a lot but the proof of the pudding is getting wood safely on the ground with no drama.
 

owScott

Well-Known Member
Location
Lafayette
100 an hour is base price. Anything lower is peanuts. My 2 cents. We are not packaging peanuts in a sack. Lets be honest treework is pure skill most times.
For me its not the time i spend but the service i provide. I think people get too hung up on how much things are worth based on how long it takes. If 2 climbers accomplish the same task equally and are paid equally by the hour but 1 does it in 1 hour and the other takes 3 hours why should the slower guy make more money.I charge what the job is worth, flat number. Hourly rate is just a lose guide.
 
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swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
For me its not the time i spend but the service i provide. I think people get too hung up on how much things are worth based on how long it takes. If 2 climbers accomplish the same task equally and are paid equally by the hour but 1 does it in 1 hour and the other takes 3 hours why should the slower guy make more money.I charge what the job is worth, flat number. Hourly rate is just a lose guide.
I agree. I never use an hourly but as you say it is a guide. Folk in the US seem intent on using it so I threw that out.
 

J H

New Member
Location
London
Ok I have been an Arborist for 11 years, worked for a company, did contract climbing, and now run my own company. Just imported a spider lift from Europe this year, got tired of climbing.

To run a service that actually makes money, you need around 3 years of climbing experience, and you need to be a decent climber.
You need a truck, with box, preferably dump, and a chipper. I have done the trailer route and it sucks. Also takes too long.

You need 1 climber minimum and 1 grounds men minimum, no solo work, that is just dumb. Solo workers are dumb, they get paid shit, people don't respect them as professionals, and its super dangerous.

2 million liability insurance should cost about $1200 per year to start.

You should be charging minimum $100 per hour. But its better to price by the day. You should be making at least $600 - $800 per day, starting out. That is a short day 6 hours or 8 hours normal day. You work your guys 10 to 15 hours, per day and they will quit. Then you have to train new guys, not fun.

Advertise, most tree companies suck at advertising, find cheap ways to advertise and do a lot of it. Yellow pages is a scam, kijji or craigs list shit customers. Paper advertising is good, billboards are good, small signs are good, word of mouth is good.

Rule of thumb when pricing, look at the job, first price that pops into your head, then add 20 percent to the number.

If its a job that takes a day, price for day and half. If it takes 2 days price for 3. If it takes 4 days, price for a week. That way if it rains or something breaks down your ok.

Price high, you don't need cheap customers, let the other companies deal with them. Don't undercut much, it devalues the business. Let other companies have the shit jobs, you don't need the hassle.

Avoid debt.
 

J H

New Member
Location
London
You don't need certification, you should get certification, but you don't legally require it, unless your state laws are different.
But most States and Canada, its a voluntary trade.
Never was a fan of ISA, expensive and a lot of up keep, prefer the government certification good for life.
 

TreeVB

Well-Known Member
Location
Boise, Idaho
Ok I have been an Arborist for 11 years, worked for a company, did contract climbing, and now run my own company. Just imported a spider lift from Europe this year, got tired of climbing.

To run a service that actually makes money, you need around 3 years of climbing experience, and you need to be a decent climber.
You need a truck, with box, preferably dump, and a chipper. I have done the trailer route and it sucks. Also takes too long.

You need 1 climber minimum and 1 grounds men minimum, no solo work, that is just dumb. Solo workers are dumb, they get paid shit, people don't respect them as professionals, and its super dangerous.

2 million liability insurance should cost about $1200 per year to start.

You should be charging minimum $100 per hour. But its better to price by the day. You should be making at least $600 - $800 per day, starting out. That is a short day 6 hours or 8 hours normal day. You work your guys 10 to 15 hours, per day and they will quit. Then you have to train new guys, not fun.

Advertise, most tree companies suck at advertising, find cheap ways to advertise and do a lot of it. Yellow pages is a scam, kijji or craigs list shit customers. Paper advertising is good, billboards are good, small signs are good, word of mouth is good.

Rule of thumb when pricing, look at the job, first price that pops into your head, then add 20 percent to the number.

If its a job that takes a day, price for day and half. If it takes 2 days price for 3. If it takes 4 days, price for a week. That way if it rains or something breaks down your ok.

Price high, you don't need cheap customers, let the other companies deal with them. Don't undercut much, it devalues the business. Let other companies have the shit jobs, you don't need the hassle.

Avoid debt.
Ummmm.....agree with most of what you are saying man, but to call people dumb for working on their own isn't cool, by any standard. Some of us are perfectly safe working on our own as long as we dont accept jobs that could become unsafe on our own. I do most work on my own because I can schedule accordingly and not have to worry about an employee not showing up and messing the day/week up. Bigger jobs I sub someone in (all legally). The quality is done to my standards and I can work my own pace. I have a chipper and chip truck and make anywhere from $500-$1000 a day which is pretty decent money for working alone. I LOVE what I do and always go home happy and feel accomplished at the end of the day. I'm on lunch now after getting out of this tree, on my own.
 

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swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
Ummmm.....agree with most of what you are saying man, but to call people dumb for working on their own isn't cool, by any standard. Some of us are perfectly safe working on our own as long as we dont accept jobs that could become unsafe on our own. I do most work on my own because I can schedule accordingly and not have to worry about an employee not showing up and messing the day/week up. Bigger jobs I sub someone in (all legally). The quality is done to my standards and I can work my own pace. I have a chipper and chip truck and make anywhere from $500-$1000 a day which is pretty decent money for working alone. I LOVE what I do and always go home happy and feel accomplished at the end of the day. I'm on lunch now after getting out of this tree, on my own.
I will second that. I work alone often. Prefer it that way sometimes. Employees can be my greatest headache. I was going to reply earlier but got sidetracked. I am a pro and confident in my skillset. You said loads of great stuff but the working alone is dumb comment reeked of horseshite.....
 

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
United States
You don’t need a truck, chipper, box etc. to make good money and have a decent business.

For a lot of people just starting out investing in that equipment might not be realistic right at beginning.

I run a 2 man crew. Me as climber and 1 ground guy. I have a small-medium sized dump trailer that I built up with sides to do cleanups. We have the operation nailed down to a tee so things go reasonably quick and smooth. He loads brush and I stand in trailer with big saw and cut it up and we end up being able to hold way more than what the trailer looks like it holds. And it has hydraulics so I don’t have to pull everything out after.

Sure it may take longer than a chipper, but it’s less expensive and a good way for someone to get their foot in the door and get started.

Gaining experience and building a good business is more important at the beginning than trying to complete a job real quick to move on to the next one. If a job takes you all day, then you just do the next job another day.

The other thing to think about here is it takes time to build up a business where you have enough work. If you start out with too much overhead you may not end up making much money and it could even run you into the ground.

Accumulate equipment gradually as you can afford to. But you certainly don’t need everything at the beginning to do well.

Just my personal opinion. Obviously you have to figure out what route is best for you.
 
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swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
You don’t need a truck, chipper, box etc. to make good money and have a decent business.

For a lot of people just starting out investing in that equipment might not be realistic right at beginning.

I run a 2 man crew. Me as climber and 1 ground guy. I have a small-medium sized dump trailer that I built up with sides to do cleanups. We have the operation nailed down to a tee so things go reasonably quick and smooth. He loads brush and I stand in trailer with big saw and cut it up and we end up being able to hold way more than what the trailer looks like it holds. And it has hydraulics so I don’t have to pull everything out after.

Sure it may take longer than a chipper, but it’s less expensive and a good way for someone to get their foot in the door and get started.

Gaining experience and building a good business is more important at the beginning than trying to complete a job real quick to move on to the next one. If a job takes you all day, then you just do the next job another day.

The other thing to think about here is it takes time to build up a business where you have enough work. If you start out with too much overhead you may not end up making much money and it could even run you into the ground.

Accumulate equipment gradually as you can afford to. But you certainly don’t need everything at the beginning to do well.

Just my personal opinion. Obviously you have to figure out what route is best for you.
I have done this for 12 years.....will continue to do it this way. I however use a guy with a dump truck. Only thing I want is a mini with branch manager type attachment.
 

TreeVB

Well-Known Member
Location
Boise, Idaho
You don’t need a truck, chipper, box etc. to make good money and have a decent business.

For a lot of people just starting out investing in that equipment might not be realistic right at beginning.

I run a 2 man crew. Me as climber and 1 ground guy. I have a small-medium sized dump trailer that I built up with sides to do cleanups. We have the operation nailed down to a tee so things go reasonably quick and smooth. He loads brush and I stand in trailer with big saw and cut it up and we end up being able to hold way more than what the trailer looks like it holds. And it has hydraulics so I don’t have to pull everything out after.

Sure it may take longer than a chipper, but it’s less expensive and a good way for someone to get their foot in the door and get started.

Gaining experience and building a good business is more important at the beginning than trying to complete a job real quick to move on to the next one. If a job takes you all day, then you just do the next job another day.

The other thing to think about here is it takes time to build up a business where you have enough work. If you start out with too much overhead you may not end up making much money and it could even run you into the ground.

Accumulate equipment gradually as you can afford to. But you certainly don’t need everything at the beginning to do well.

Just my personal opinion. Obviously you have to figure out what route is best for you.
Nailed it M8!
 

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
United States
I just finished pruning two trees, ground guy loaded up the trailer while I was working (no rigging today), then I hop in the trailer for 30-60 seconds and cut that sh*t up with the 24 in saw and I’m off and the trailer looks like there’s hardly any brush in it cuz it’s all diced up. Press one button and it lifts up and dumps.
 

climbingmonkey24

Well-Known Member
Location
United States
I have done this for 12 years.....will continue to do it this way. I however use a guy with a dump truck. Only thing I want is a mini with branch manager type attachment.

I’ve seen a lot of people talk about mini’s or chippers being one of the first pieces of bigger equipment they invest in but personally I’ve been thinking a lot about a spider lift.
 

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