Storms...How best to prepare your business?

ROYCE

Well-Known Member
So, Just trying to pick some brains of you veteran business owners. I am not paranoid, trust me!! I just want to be prepared for when a large storm rolls through the area. Could be any kind of storm where my services in relation to tree removal will be needed. What can you do months, or even years before a large storm hits to be prepared? Maybe one never will.

Buy a few chainsaws that are brand new and kept until needed?
Of course make sure all equipment is ready to go to action.
What about behind the desk issues? How do you handle increase in phone calls, scheduling with your existing work load?

Thoughts?
 

DTS

Well-Known Member
I don't think you can ever be totally ready for a big storm even if you have plenty of equiptment you still will have problems. I've been through plenty of storms and I always have extra saws, chains, bars, ropes, oils, and other gear ready at all times. You can get caught up in all the action pretty fast. During hurricane sandy I bought an extra truck and chipper that work out great to the storm ended they they sat around never again. You can have your business phone forwarded to your cell or have a friend or relative help man the phones. Everyone is a tree service when a storm hits my best advise is don't take on more work then you handle and be honest with your customers about scheduling because they will be someone else's if your not.
 

treevet

Well-Known Member
You need big equipment...chipper, chip box, log truck, bucket, crane, stumpers, and all ready to go including saws etc, and ideally backups of everything if you are a small company.

When the proverbial sh.t hits the fan, I consider myself shopping for jobs as opposed to the public shopping for tree services. I want the best and fattest of the available jobs nearby.

What next...after I have established that the job is mine and $ arrangements made after the contract it is time for Triage. Make safe and move on and come back in increments to ensure all the jobs you have committed to, you can handle to make the client satisfied. Partial performance establishes a contract.

Every big storm in my locale I generally get the best job and most often the best jobs. The quality of job and client wanes over the next few weeks...unless it was a hurricane or major ice storm etc.
 

TimberJack

Well-Known Member
Great topic!!! I don't own a buisness, but have been involved in enough storm efforts to have made my own mistakes and witness management mishaps. I agree with Tree vet, triage is important and starting jobs and leaving them at the first good stopping point (ie. Houses, drive ways, service drops, ect.) All clear of hazards is a great way of doing so. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement but try and keep the mindset that we are not the fire and rescue department. We are not responding to emergencies, if it was a true emergency then they would call 911. Lastly don't push your people and listen to there needs cause you can't be everywhere and know everything.
 

treehumper

Well-Known Member
Fuel. Have plenty of it for all your equipment. Oil for the saws and engines. You may want to get a tank for diesel in your yard. You can buy in bulk to save some money and then you're also not reliant on the stations having fuel or power to run their pumps. Portable back up generator if the power goes out for your office. Tarps to cover any holes in roofs. It's a nice added service you can charge for and the clients appreciate. Plenty of chains and bars, files, etc… Pull cord is another one. Stuff that is likely to fail but is an easy field repair.

Create a storm response plan for you and your crew. Numbers they can be reached at, Who will do what to prep when the call comes in. What will be your response time to a call? Set up a prioritizing system, our first step was those who wanted an estimate were pushed to the back of the line. It's not an emergency or even urgent if they want an estimate first. Existing clients first, new clients second. Have a standardized response that becomes your mantra, opening access to homes, driveways, especially for elderly or handicapped clients. So, to that end, you'll want a series of questions you'll ask to determine how you'll rank a call. Pricing, is important. You don't want to be seen as gouging but there does need to be a storm rate that will cover you for additional overhead in the form of O/T for the crew, meals, housing if they need to be put up for a night. And on that note, you may want to work out an arrangement with a local hotel for rooms to put your guys up.

Have some sort of mechanical advantage device for lifting. Not sure if you got your crane but if not, get friendly with a crane op you trust and know will follow thru. Negotiate rates and what your standing is with them so you know what to expect. How much lead time do they need, etc…

Instead of having a bunch of saws crated for just in case, have a maintenance program for your tools that insures they're always in good working order. Same with your rigging gear.
 

treevet

Well-Known Member
If you have frequent (profitable) storms in theory it is great to THINK you can have a good enough relationship with a crane company for them to dedicate to you...but in reality you might get 1 or 2 jobs up front. But if you expect them to follow you around you are living the dream.

They want the big $ too and have to move fast...if it means moving AROUND you ...to others ready to fire. This is the perfect time to assess and see the rationale of owning your own crane. I am on my 4th and probably will buy a 5 upgrade at some point. But what I've got will handle just about anything. Any size crane from 12 ton/70' and up will make money in storms.
 

ROYCE

Well-Known Member
If you have frequent (profitable) storms in theory it is great to THINK you can have a good enough relationship with a crane company for them to dedicate to you...but in reality you might get 1 or 2 jobs up front. But if you expect them to follow you around you are living the dream.

They want the big $ too and have to move fast...if it means moving AROUND you ...to others ready to fire. This is the perfect time to assess and see the rationale of owning your own crane. I am on my 4th and probably will buy a 5 upgrade at some point. But what I've got will handle just about anything. Any size crane from 12 ton/70' and up will make money in storms.
Your statement on cranes is why I bought a 30 ton swing cab with 105 feet of boom. Because if I have to wait for a crane during a storm event then I am loosing money. I can get out and strike and not have to work around someone else's schedule. Nothing worse than having your crane rental company tell you that you only have them for two days this week, yet you have three weeks worth of crane work.
 

ROYCE

Well-Known Member
Fuel. Have plenty of it for all your equipment. Oil for the saws and engines. You may want to get a tank for diesel in your yard. You can buy in bulk to save some money and then you're also not reliant on the stations having fuel or power to run their pumps. Portable back up generator if the power goes out for your office. Tarps to cover any holes in roofs. It's a nice added service you can charge for and the clients appreciate. Plenty of chains and bars, files, etc… Pull cord is another one. Stuff that is likely to fail but is an easy field repair.

Create a storm response plan for you and your crew. Numbers they can be reached at, Who will do what to prep when the call comes in. What will be your response time to a call? Set up a prioritizing system, our first step was those who wanted an estimate were pushed to the back of the line. It's not an emergency or even urgent if they want an estimate first. Existing clients first, new clients second. Have a standardized response that becomes your mantra, opening access to homes, driveways, especially for elderly or handicapped clients. So, to that end, you'll want a series of questions you'll ask to determine how you'll rank a call. Pricing, is important. You don't want to be seen as gouging but there does need to be a storm rate that will cover you for additional overhead in the form of O/T for the crew, meals, housing if they need to be put up for a night. And on that note, you may want to work out an arrangement with a local hotel for rooms to put your guys up.

Have some sort of mechanical advantage device for lifting. Not sure if you got your crane but if not, get friendly with a crane op you trust and know will follow thru. Negotiate rates and what your standing is with them so you know what to expect. How much lead time do they need, etc…

Instead of having a bunch of saws crated for just in case, have a maintenance program for your tools that insures they're always in good working order. Same with your rigging gear.
Great advice. I like the storm response for my crew. Something set in place so if a storm rolls through we can all get going and doing what is needed.
 

treevet

Well-Known Member
Your statement on cranes is why I bought a 30 ton swing cab with 105 feet of boom. Because if I have to wait for a crane during a storm event then I am loosing money. I can get out and strike and not have to work around someone else's schedule. Nothing worse than having your crane rental company tell you that you only have them for two days this week, yet you have three weeks worth of crane work.
Got any picts?
 

ROYCE

Well-Known Member
Got any picts?
Sure!! Not the most amazing crane around but I got it for a good price. Was able to put a large down payment on it and have been super happy with it. Now we are cranking out the work. However I thought it would help to decrease my work-load. It has actually worked the opposite way. Boom goes up and people come from all over the neighborhood to ask about getting estimates.
 

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LimbLoppa

Well-Known Member
First off, reach out to FEMA and find out what you need to do to get on "the list". There will be plenty of work out there, but if you have a FEMA contract, you will be head and shoulders above everyone else in your area. As stated above, make sure you have all the provisions needed (mix oil, bar oil, chains, files etc), but also concentrate on preparing for work in inclement weather (rain suits, extra signage, head lamps, spotlights etc.) Have a list of all employees available for storm response, their skill level and how to contact them. It might not be a bad idea to reach out to a few trusted people (like those on this forum :)) to set up a plan if the possible need for additional manpower/equipment arises. Are you just trying to get prepared for local storm response or nationwide? The preparation for both are completely different. You seem to have a keen business acumen and a good attitude towards safety and quality work-I think you'll do just fine Royce.
 

ROYCE

Well-Known Member
First off, reach out to FEMA and find out what you need to do to get on "the list". There will be plenty of work out there, but if you have a FEMA contract, you will be head and shoulders above everyone else in your area. As stated above, make sure you have all the provisions needed (mix oil, bar oil, chains, files etc), but also concentrate on preparing for work in inclement weather (rain suits, extra signage, head lamps, spotlights etc.) Have a list of all employees available for storm response, their skill level and how to contact them. It might not be a bad idea to reach out to a few trusted people (like those on this forum :)) to set up a plan if the possible need for additional manpower/equipment arises. Are you just trying to get prepared for local storm response or nationwide? The preparation for both are completely different. You seem to have a keen business acumen and a good attitude towards safety and quality work-I think you'll do just fine Royce.
Thanks @LimbLoppa! Great advice. I am looking to only service my area should a storm roll through. Mostly focusing on my customers and then adding more customers if needed. I never really thought about making sure to have the staples like rain suits, extra signage etc.
I think that is where I am heeded. Looking around to get smaller companies who have less equipment sign on with me. If they are good we could go out with a mixture of crews and equipment to make sure everyone is taken care of.
 

treevet

Well-Known Member
Sure!! Not the most amazing crane around but I got it for a good price. Was able to put a large down payment on it and have been super happy with it. Now we are cranking out the work. However I thought it would help to decrease my work-load. It has actually worked the opposite way. Boom goes up and people come from all over the neighborhood to ask about getting estimates.
Very nice....congratulations.
 

96coal449

Well-Known Member
Royce, where in VT are you? I've a shit load of gear, small dump, and working on a 20'' chipper. Have a few other trucks that are almost ready for work. I'll still be in NY for the winter till I move south.
Here's another idea .... establish a link with the local emergency network. This way you can be reached by them for your services.
 

guymayor

Well-Known Member
1. Learn how to prune storm-damaged trees.

2..Behind the desk, build relationships with insurance companies. Try to make them, not the tree owner, your client. They will pay for pruning if part of the tree hit a piece of defined property--fence, roof, hardscape.
 

Treezybreez

Well-Known Member
Take care of your loyal customers first. They are usually the clients who take the time to refer your services to others. They deserve priority service especially after a storm.
 

treehumper

Well-Known Member
Do you have an established dump site for chips and wood? If not be sure you've got that covered. When we were hit by Sandy it was a major challenge.
 

treevet

Well-Known Member
1. Learn how to prune storm-damaged trees.

2..Behind the desk, build relationships with insurance companies. Try to make them, not the tree owner, your client. They will pay for pruning if part of the tree hit a piece of defined property--fence, roof, hardscape.
They almost exclusively will only pay to remove the piece from the structure.
 

guymayor

Well-Known Member
They almost exclusively will only pay to remove the piece from the structure.
It depends on how it's worded. The last one I did, the insurance company allowed $1000 to remove it from a structure. Which was a concrete Well housing. And another $525 for hauling.
Which is why I recommend building relationships And finding out the maximum that are covered. There is no reason a tree owner should lose money on the removal of the tree that is damaged in a covered event.

When we prune parts of the tree that was damaged in a storm and parts of it hit a structure, such as leaves scratching shingles on a roof. That is removing hazardous portions of the damaged tree. That can be covered.
 
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