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!

eyehearttrees

New member
Location
Tampa-Area
Its wild seeing "I can manage with 15/hr," and "no one should charge less than 100," so close together.
Pricing work has always thrown me through a loop. I am usually not involved in that aspect at all, so when I get my own jobs for friends I have told them 50/hr and I am UNINSURED. I did a job today with my gf, no cleanup, took 3.5 hrs. Jobs with the company get 5 star service. So I usually feel weird about leaving the whole thing in the back yard and saying gimme Benjamins. But when I said, "how does 300 sound?" They looked at me funny, like, "pfff that's it?" I came back with, "well you could gimme 350!" And I made the 100/hr I am supposed to get on company time!
So I guess I'm saying, people want to pay more than you expect. Especially when they see what the fuck you can do plus be friendly and profesh. So why not ask for a little more than 20/hr? I bet they want to give you more, especially when you are the bottom price...WITH insurance.
This has plagued me for over 5yrs as a general-services contractor and is so much harder now that I'm doing tree stuff, for instance now that I have a polesaw I'm offering certain clients a polesaw-hour-fee so I can just go do an hour on their palms (am embarrassed to say how low, again I'm coming from $20 and was at 15 just 2yrs ago before enough customers made-clear they wanted me at 20....I am the absolute worst at pushing for $ in fact this week I got yet-another "you should be charging more" comment from a client and it was just a simple trimming job no chainsaws just the trimmer&blower)

Do you think that, with existing clients who are used to an hourly-fee, that it's smarter to "bump that hourly" or simply move to a quote-system wherein the aim/average works-out to the bumped-rate? Does hourly ever make-sense, or make sense w/ any regularity, with pricing tree jobs?

Am looking for a local company to work for so I can learn this more than anything else (yes, am excited to see others' techniques, of course, but between differentiating palms//trees and just pricing-in-general here in FL I need to see/experience more than I personally have / more than I've witnessed via the 2 putzy groups I do some climbing for..)
 

eyehearttrees

New member
Location
Tampa-Area
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.
What state are you in? Do you (or *anyone*, of course!) happen to know if there's anywhere that's indexed arborist/tree-surgery pricing by-state or by-region (or even by type-of-work)? Would LOVE seeing whatever industry-data is available but uncertain where to even begin looking (hmmm should probably peruse ISA's site some more :D )

I fully expect to get paid a fair-compensation once I've established myself, in the meanwhile I only care about the quickest route to getting-established lol so I'd much sooner get more work done at a lower-hourly if it meant I was at a "higher tier" in half the time, yknow?
 

eyehearttrees

New member
Location
Tampa-Area
market and skill set dependent.
OMG this is so true, have only recently begun noticing this but some guys are focusing on palms, some guys have a bucket and only want to use that....am still having a tough time breaking-down which skill-sets are the best, I think using "best" is flawed actually since, if I prefer climbing but felling trees is more-profitable, I'd still choose to be a climber...not aiming to be rich(ever...wouldn't give it away lol but it's not a goal) only comfortable, and know that I can get there w/ any line of arborism :)
 

Reach

Been here a while
Location
Atglen, PA
What state are you in? Do you (or *anyone*, of course!) happen to know if there's anywhere that's indexed arborist/tree-surgery pricing by-state or by-region (or even by type-of-work)? Would LOVE seeing whatever industry-data is available but uncertain where to even begin looking (hmmm should probably peruse ISA's site some more :D )
The ISA probably has those numbers, and likely TCIA does as well.
 

AdkEric

Participating member
Location
Adirondacks
[...] or simply move to a quote-system wherein the aim/average works-out to the bumped-rate?

Move to a quote system. Know how many hours it will take you to do the work, sometimes you'll be wrong about this. Shit happens, we've all under bid jobs. Know how much it costs you to do the work. Know what your time is worth to you. People are calling you because you know how to do something they don't and have the tools and insurance to do it. That's worth more than $20/hour. Don't settle for breaking even. Take what your time is worth plus what your overhead is then add a percentage for some profit. You need to make money to live AND your business needs to make money to live.
 

climbingmonkey24

Branched out member
Location
United States
I recently added a smaller sized chipper to my operation over the summer. For jobs where it’s worth it if there’s enough debris it allows me to clean up faster, chip right into the dump trailer.

So I’ve been able to branch out into bigger jobs, storm damage work, etc. while still keeping overhead down.
 

dspacio

Participating member
Location
Narragansett Bay
It's great to read the insights on here. While mainly focusing on contract climbing right now, I continue getting word-of-mouth referrals and have been taking them on as they come.

For the original question of the thread, finding a decent crew to work with is preferable, as an upstart. (I started learning orchard pruning and forest felling 12 years ago, have 2+ fulltime years as a groundsman working with climbers (occasional practice), now working with my own climbing gear this April.)

With a crew, I am able to talk out tricky situations with experienced guys who I feel confident rigging for me. There are so many little ideas I pick up from them, can ask about knots or verify that a rigging plan looks good. there's no replacing that.

I enjoy taking on the jobs that are coming to me, but working with an established team is ideal.

That said, referrals continue, and bidding is a puzzle. At this point I am ranging between $50-100 per billable hour. What changes this range is: associated danger, my enjoyment of the request and work it will take, is it a chance to gain new experience or just repeat labor, and to some extent the relationship with the client (as these have all been direct referrals). I am carrying insurance covering the level of jobs I am taking on.
At this point that has been working. Some jobs haven't come and that's fine, all the ones I really wanted to do have happened, but for one.

I don't have truck equipment, so have been pulling favors paying local crews I work with to chip stuff. It's an annoying process but works for now. I am thinking of stepping up to the dump trailer set up. It's great to get back into climbing after a few years return to carpentry. A lot of good ways to do it.

Thanks for encouraging us to charge well for the work.
 
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