Who to Hire for a service professional to provide work at your residence can be a tough decision. There are many variables and factors, especially when it comes to tough and sometimes dangerous work such as tree service. This article explores a Top Ten list of things to consider when hiring a tree service company. These items are very informative and important to know when obtaining estimates for tree work.
1 – Safety
Safety is the most important aspect of tree work that needs to be considered when hiring a tree company. With the dangerous nature of our business, a culture and tone of safety first in a tree company is critical. Make sure that the tree company you hire has a Certified Tree Care Safety Professional on staff, follows industry safety standards, safety policy, and the company holds regular safety meetings.
2 – Certified, Licensed, and Fully Insured
Another important thing to look for in a qualified tree care company is that the company is fully insured with workers compensation and liability insurance. The tree company should have a minimum of 1,000,000 each occurrence and 2,000,000 general aggregate for General Liability, and 500,000 for workers compensation. It is not wise for a home owner to hire a tree service that is not insured for many reasons, the most important is – do you value your house, car, and belongings? If so, then make sure to hire a company that is fully insured!
Being licensed and certified are both equally important. Most of the time, it is OK for a tree company to hold a business license in the City or County where they are located, but some cities & counties require licensing in their jurisdiction as well. For certification, both the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) and TCIA (Tree Care Industry Association) certify individuals in Arboriculture. A tree care company that you are hiring should have a ISA Certified Arborist on staff, and a TCIA CTSP Certified Tree Care Safety Professional.
3 – Reputation & Longevity
Any service company that performs work at a residence should have a good reputation. There are “so called” tree professionals out there that will take your money and run. Never pay a tree service up front for a job, not even a deposit. Deposits are frowned upon by the true professionals in our industry. To determine whether the company you are considering has a good reputation some good questions to ask are these: How long have you been in business? How many certified arborists do you have on staff? Can you provide references? Do you own your own equipment, especially your crane? Another way to determine the reputation of a company is to check out websites such as Angie’s List or Consumer Checkbook. The best way though is to talk to your friends and neighbors – chances are they have stories to tell, both good and bad! A company like JL Tree Service Inc who has been in business for over 35 years and has worked for both homeowners, businesses, and municipalities is most likely going to provide quality tree service.
4 – Equipment
We all remember the old expression; it is not the arrow but the Indian! Well, this is definitely true since tree work takes a special talent. However, good equipment is absolutely necessary to get the job done efficiently and safely. Make sure that a tree company has equipment such as bucket & chipper trucks, chippers, flatbeds, chainsaws, etc that are relatively newer and well maintained.
5 – Employees
Ask how many employees a tree company has. Since tree work is very dangerous, and takes special talent, it is critical that the right guys are there to do the job right. Who wants an amateur or unskilled laborer taking down a huge Oak tree over their house? Not me! A good and reputable tree company should have at least a few top climbers with over 2 years experience in large removals. A company like JL Tree Service Inc has over 18 top tree climbers with many years of experience in large removals and crane removals, 3 certified arborists & 1 certified safety pro on staff – this is what you want to look for.
6 – Location
How far a company is to your location may not seem very important, but it is. A tree company estimator must figure in the cost for travel time as a portion of the cost. If the company is close to your residence, naturally the cost should be better since travel time is less. A tree company located within 10-15 miles of your home is probably sufficient. We all know fuel prices aren’t cheap these days!
7 – Industry Standards
The tree care industry has OSHA and ANSI standards to follow as guidelines for safety, general work procedures, tree pruning, and more. Make sure that the tree service you hire follows ANSI standard pruning. There are many tree men that improperly prune trees and recommend poor tree maintenance. There are many different tree species, and each tree responds differently from a diverse set of tree pruning methods. Make sure a certified arborist, or tenured professional provides their professional opinion. Topping and cutting back trees too hard are examples of improper tree care.
8 – Accept all forms of payment
Be careful of who you hire. Some tree cutters who drive by asking for your business most likely are not insured, only accept cash, and are not professional. Many tree companies will provide a free estimate. If you receive 3 or 4 estimates, they will range greatly. For example, you may receive a low bid for $1800 and a very high bid for $4000. A few others will be close and in between around $2800 and $3200 – these are most likely the two companies you will want to highly consider. It is not best to always go with the lowest bid for tree work, as there are many factors as discussed in this article. Look closely at all bids and ask questions! A company like JL Tree Service Inc accepts all forms of payment including all credit cards.
9 – Services offered
If you are a customer with a good amount of tree work to be completed, make sure that you are hiring an actual tree company. There are many ‘tree cutters’ out there, who do not have the correct insurance for tree work. Be careful of who you hire, especially for the larger and more dangerous trees. Most of the professional and reputable tree companies provide services related to tree or landscaping, such as emergency tree service, tree removal, tree pruning, tree stump grinding, tree fertilizing, tree planting, tree preservation, landscaping, grounds maintenance, snow plowing, etc.
10 – Recycle wood & debris
I can’t tell you how many times I have received a phone call from a customer or municipality saying – “Can you go give me a price to haul the debris that a contractor left on the curb?”. Yes, a random tree cutter cut down a tree and did not include hauling the wood and debris with their price but did not tell the homeowner – that is why the price was so good! Now the home owner has to deal with removing the debris because the City or County will not pick up debris that a contractor leaves behind. Make sure that hauling or leaving the wood & debris is clearly and written on the proposal.