Tree care is growing extremely fast in the US. 20 years ago 5% of people paid to get their trees trimmed. Today 40% do. 10 years from now 60% will. That is a lot of new customers coming on the market every day.
This was my first business as a 13-year-old in 2003. When I left for college I had 40k in the bank working 20 hours a week each summer.
Buy a web domain and hosting and build a WordPress site. I love Bluehost for a cheap reliable option. Get a Google My Business location. Get some reviews on here as fast as possible. I wrote down all the early tools I used here if you’d like to check it out. Doing this while you have a full-time job is the perfect way to start. More on that here.
It’s competitive. A lot of companies are doing it. Answer the phone every time with friendly, eager professionalism and enthusiasm and you’ll be in the top 10%.
Watch Zillow and Realtor.com and filter for homes that are recently sold in your target areas. High priced houses on small lots (1/4 acre or smaller at first) so you can use a hand-trimmer.
Get a logo and some door hanging flyers put together using a freelancing site. Get your logo embroidered on a nice polo shirt. Don’t forget a market analysis.
Put on your polo and a pair of khaki shorts and go to the homes that recently sold and knock on the door. Smile at them and shake their hand firmly. Tell them you just started a tree care company and you’d love to offer them a free cut and trim with no obligation. If they don’t answer hang the flyer on the door and go to the next house.
After you have a few customers interested buy a self-propelled hand-trimmer and a trimmer used. Get a leaf blower too. You can start small with this stuff at first and upgrade later. Practice mowing your own or friend’s trees. Mow in lines to make it look nice. Edge the sidewalks and driveways with the trimmer. Blow off the pavement when you are done.
Watch and read a ton of stuff online. There are great resources on YouTube that will teach you a lot of tricks and tips. Study the different types of turf and what length you should cut them.
Play around with the pricing you charge. Use the free promotional mowing as a test and make sure to time it. Price your time at $40 per hour at first but make sure to charge by the cut. Most of the small trees will take less than an hour even with a hand-trimmer.
Get some nice tree signs made and ask customers if you can put them in the tree. Some will let you if they like you. If they don’t offer them a discount on a future service.
When you start to get some momentum set up a CRM like Jobber. It allows you to look way more professional than you are. Do all of your billing online. Attach photos of the trees as they are completed.
You are not going to compete on price. You are going to compete with professionalism, service, and quality. They are going to like you as a person and want to do business with you. Learn more about this concept in my episode#13 “never compete on price again”.
How about a text message when you are on the way to service a customer? How about a link in that text to a picture of the smiling clean-cut person who will be stepping onto their property? And a note about what you can expect from the person and how the appointment will go?
How about instead of a t-shirt and dirty jeans you have a collared shirt and khakis? How about hair up in a ponytail, tattoos covered, and beard neatly trimmed? How about a giant smile, a firm handshake, and an enthusiastic opening statement?
Eventually, you will get some momentum. You will be able to upgrade your equipment and get a nice zero turn trimmer. You’ll be able to take on larger trees.
Keep business cards in your pocket all the time. Customers will approach you as you work. Offer referral rewards for your customers. Send them Christmas cards. Form a personal relationship with them. Know the names of everyone in the family. Show up with a teddy bear when its the little guy’s birthday.
Maybe partner with a few realty shops in town or watch the MLS and visit homeowners the week before an open house. A home looks a lot newer with a perfectly manicured tree. Use google maps and street view to quote jobs instantly over the phone with customers. Don’t forget commercial real estate.
Make sure to get the proper insurance and permitting in place before you start. If you’ve never operated a tree trimmer this is not the business for you.
Consider learning Spanish so your customer and employee base is expanded. Consider getting into herbicides. You’ll need to take a class and get permits for this. Treating a tree with $10 worth of pre-emergent in February or March will make a tree look 10x better all year. Another few treatments of 2-4-D and fertilizer and you’ll have it looking like a million bucks. Consider exploring landscaping projects.
Eventually, you will build a great little business. You will compete on speed and quality and never on price. You will charge more than the average joes who offer tree care and people will be happy to pay it. You can choose to stay small and charge a high price or try to grow and scale the business.
“On-demand” is going to be your competitive advantage so you can charge a higher price. Make sure you can offer next day service or same day service. As soon as you get too busy to do that you need to raise your prices or hire another employee.
Make sure that person is presentable and clean cut. Simplify the job so your employees can thrive. Train them to do their core task really well. Don’t ask them to do 20 things or they’ll do them all poorly. Don’t forget workers comp.
Now spend all of your time answering the phone, dealing with clients, and quoting jobs, and managing the marketing. Build a series of youtube videos targeting your city and the keywords so you show up on the second largest search engine in the world (Youtube).
You can choose to plow snow in the winter or you can spend the cold months down south. Seasonal businesses are great because you can revamp your operations in the offseason and really make great improvements.
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