Non-year round markets...what happens in the off season?

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
I have year round work. I don't melt in rain or heat (generally lukewarm in summer).

How does it work for places that shut down for the winter?

Layoffs? Unemployment?

How do you dependably staff-up when the busy season comes?

Just curious, no serious point to the question.
 

Jonny

Well-Known Member
Location
Buffalo
A few tree services here plow snow, but even that is hit or miss depending on the weather and how it’s priced. Also it is kinda rough on the truck. Alot of reverse and 1st gear.
Personally I think a tree service would be nuts to take on plowing contracts... it’d bite them in the ass if there was a blizzard that made a bunch of emergency storm damage work (Cha-Ching!) and a bunch of their trucks were tied up plowing to fulfill their contracts. Per diem plowing could make some cash though.
Firewood ain’t making many people rich, but there’s some money in it and it’s a way for tree services to try to keep their guys employed.

I wish the general public was better informed about when certain trees should be pruned. There should be more pruning work in the winter here.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
I've kept pretty busy past few years since going full time.

A lot of tree work, but have also done some forestry timber stand improvement (my degree/background is traditional forestry, so a good fit).

But that has always been "icing". We budget for down time rather than acting surprised when winter shows up again. I think it is wrong to layoff employees due to poor planning. It is my job to keep them working.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
We are semi-seasonal - our work slows down in the winter, and the weather often makes us lose a lot of days, so we do a lot of maintenance on the equipment. We also do commercial snow; we take on a limited number of nice contracts, not using all our trucks, so we are covered in case of a tree emergency in an ice storm, but we can still keep guys busier in the winter.
 

Boomslang

Well-Known Member
Location
NB
We typically shut down at Christmas and start up in April. Everyone goes on pogey. If something comes up (Storm work/emergency job) we can either bank our hours to be paid out when full time work starts back up or be paid out immediately (and declare it on our EI reports).

Personally, I like it. My hands are useless lumps in the cold due to possible onset of carpal tunnel, so I'm not much use below -15c. And we've never had a problem getting guys to come back. Probably because everyone else around here shuts down too, so there's no one to jump ship to....except Asplundh, but don't nobody wanna work for Asplundh.
 

marne

Member
Location
TX
If there is a Winter, I just go in hibbernation, end of December to beginning of March. After the busy autumn and pre christmas rush, it's a time I'm looking forward to enjoy and relax.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
I've kept pretty busy past few years since going full time.

A lot of tree work, but have also done some forestry timber stand improvement (my degree/background is traditional forestry, so a good fit).

But that has always been "icing". We budget for down time rather than acting surprised when winter shows up again. I think it is wrong to layoff employees due to poor planning. It is my job to keep them working.
How do you keep them working without customers, when there is extended bad weather, etc?
 

Jzack605

Active Member
Location
Long island
Those who have made the transition from employee to owner: do you find the winters easier/less anxious than when you were an employee? Was this fairly immediate or did it take some time after building your company?

I would think this would be a realization that was made more in hindsight, as there are other obvious stressors involved with starting a business.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
How do you keep them working without customers, when there is extended bad weather, etc?
We haven't had a customer shortage...

Admittedly, we haven't had extended bad weather since I've been full time. Forestry work can be done about any time except blizzard conditions or lots of cold rain. We were in the woods on a few days with close to 0 temps when I wouldn't have wanted to be in a tree!

There is always some maintenance that needs to be done. I have no problem with reduced hours, but still paying enough to keep employees around.

All goes back to planning ahead, budgeting and a willingness to keep people on payroll even if they aren't generating revenue for the day.
 

27RMT0N

Active Member
Location
WA
Where I am, life itself is very seasonal. The counties population roughly doubles in the summer with a mix of second-home folks coming out for the summer and the annual flood of tourists that are in and out. I do work year around for the other locals, but it is a fraction in the winter compared to spring/summer unless there are winter storms. It's just the lifestyle up here, we all have our 'winter projects' or just hibernate a bit. Possibly some travel. But I mean, I live on an island of about 200 people, essentially no commercial activity, on a large property with just my two cats. Quiet time is the norm for me.
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
Location
Maine Island
Those who have made the transition from employee to owner: do you find the winters easier/less anxious than when you were an employee? Was this fairly immediate or did it take some time after building your company?

I would think this would be a realization that was made more in hindsight, as there are other obvious stressors involved with starting a business.
Totally. Being made to work in blizzards was fucking lame. Spending hours getting trucks and equipment started, un-stuck, cleared of snow to work a couple of hours on a job... Now it is work when it makes sense and listen to the body.
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
We haven't had a customer shortage...

Admittedly, we haven't had extended bad weather since I've been full time. Forestry work can be done about any time except blizzard conditions or lots of cold rain. We were in the woods on a few days with close to 0 temps when I wouldn't have wanted to be in a tree!

There is always some maintenance that needs to be done. I have no problem with reduced hours, but still paying enough to keep employees around.

All goes back to planning ahead, budgeting and a willingness to keep people on payroll even if they aren't generating revenue for the day.
Doesn't sound like a partial-year market.
Where are you?

Temperate here. I've worked in 17* here, once. Cold and wet is harder than colder and dry, for sure. Machines prefer 34* to teens.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
Location
Ohio
Doesn't sound like a partial-year market.
Where are you?

...
I'm in NW Ohio... Last few winter's have been pretty mild. But we'll still get proper winter's and will deal accordingly.

No new calls come in over the winter, but I've had a backlog of projects. I start telling people in late Sept/October that timing to complete the project will be weather dependent...maybe late November, maybe mid-February, but we'll plan to get it done before Spring.
 

TCtreeswinger

Well-Known Member
Sell winter work all summer. We only prune oaks elms and fruit trees in dormancy. Trees in swamps/wet areas have better access with ground frozen. Associations and businesses get pushed to winter where possible. More emphasis is put on training new guys. Things get light after christmas but once tax returns start rolling in things pick up again
 
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