OPEN SEASON for Commercial Accounts?


New Orleans, LA
Let me set the stage -

I made the leap and started my own business in September of 2020. I climb, usually have at least 1 groundie, a F350 and a dump trailer. Things have been going awesome, thankfully! I have focused 100% on residential. Prior to getting into arboriculture, I was in B2B outside sales (not tree related) and was pretty dang good at closing new or cold accounts.......

I want to start targeting some small-to-medium sized commercial accounts. Here are my questions: What are some good types of commercial accounts for a smaller startup to go after? What are some selling points you use to overcome objections like "my landscape company works on my trees, I dont need another vendor."? Any other points or suggestions?

Thanks & Happy New Year!


Well-Known Member
I used to be in charge of the grounds and building maintenance at a children's mental health hospital, and so I can tell you that often with commercial properties it is much more about the bottom dollar and not the quality of the work.

Its possible that it is different for a privately owned business rather than a state owned like I worked for. Any project cost over $500 required jumping through hoops and multiple bids. Any projects over $2500 required authorization from a separate committee located in Indianapolis (2.5 hrs away) and often took multiple years for authorization and funding.

Best of luck to you in getting a good contract that values quality work, but be ready to jump though multiple paperwork hoops and rebidding the work multiple times as each time a project is considered they will need quotes that are less than 30 days old.

Once again, maybe a private business will be different


Well-Known Member
Atglen, PA
Commercial accounts are hard to find. We are 95% residential, not by choice so much as by available work. Commercial accounts are generally looking for the cheapest work, and most are looking for value-added services, so the lawn guy has a huge leg up. You might do better calling local commercial lawn care providers, and local property management companies to let them know you’re in the area.

That being said, our marketing company began targeting larger commercial accounts for us a month or two back, as we are hoping to break in to the higher end commercial market. So far we have not even had any bid opportunities, but we’re not giving up yet.


Well-Known Member
My Island, WA
I'm mostly residential but do have a few gold commercial accounts. I work for 3 condo associations, and our local Main Street association (essentially all city parks, and downtown street trees).
Focus on quality of contract, and not volume of sales. I work 50 weeks per year, and have about a dozen annual contracts (residential), and about another dozen twice or quarterly. Then of course there is the commercial which is about another dozen working days of the year.
50 work weeks = 200 work days - 36 maintenance contracts is nearly 25% of my annual work load that I just have to show up and do...


Well-Known Member
Boise, Idaho
If you are set on staying small then I would suggest reaching out to property management companies. Putting together a small “presentation” explaining why they need an arborist to take care of their trees rather than a landscaper could help overcome their concerns. Things to look out for is usually they take a bit longer to get you paid so keep that in mind. Stay away from real estate company’s because they tend to waste a lot of your time and are usually just looking for bids to help them negotiate in their sale. As said above, reach out to local landscape company’s and tree services as well. In my area the bigger company’s are more than happy to give away the smaller work which if you are great at what you do will turn into larger work in the future. Sorry this response is all over the place but my mind is scattered at the moment.
congrats on the start up! It is fun but can be challenging sometimes. Good luck!


Well-Known Member
Not to be rude...but honest question: why should they hire you instead of the landscape company? You said your previous work wasn't in trees - do you have a tree background before that?

I can only speak to my experience: the commercial accounts I have camr about because they wanted better quality (based on knowledge of trees and their proper care) than the "landscaper" could offer. There are some larger landscape companies who contact me when bidding a job because they want to include quality tree care in their bids...if they win the bid, they subcontract trees to us. Then my job is to make them look good. It is not that they don't have the staff or don't want the work - they just recognize we'll do a better job than they will and trees are a smaller piece of they pie that they have to address well if they want to whole pie. It works out great because I don't have a lot of those headaches mentioned above.

So in summary: figure out which companies are doing commercial landscape and make friends with them. Be their tree guy. Prioritize their work when they call.


Well-Known Member
One more thought...if it is going well with residential, why not just keep growing that area? Commercial accounts are bigger...but that goes both ways. If one account is 25% of your work and you lose it, you have a big loss. If one residential customer goes elsewhere, you lose very little.
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New Member
Stick to residential, look for reoccurring contracts. Come back to prune in 2-3 years or do their hedge HQ each year etc. Best kind of work possible.

Especially when it's removing suckers off of fruit trees with hand snips each year. Sometimes I feel like saying screw climbing, I charge the same when removing suckers and doing hedges. Probably would be best for future employees too.
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