5 Steps for Starting Up Your Own Tree Service

Posted by Professional Tree Climber on 8/28/2018 to Climbing News
5 Steps for Starting Up Your Own Tree Service

Nearly Every Business Has a Humble Beginning

If you’ve ever watched an established tree company work, you might assume it started out exactly the same way you are seeing it today: established. That probably couldn’t be further from the truth. The amount of times I’ve heard an owner of a tree service say he or she started with nothing more than a pick-up truck and a saw has happened more times than I can remember.

Looking from the outside in, sometimes it’s hard to remember, or even imagine, where people started. In case you’re thinking about starting up your own tree service on the side, or even full time, here is a great list we’ve put together to show how anyone, if they take the right steps, can easily and reasonably start out and progress in business without breaking the bank immediately.

These 5 tips for starting up your own tree service apply under the assumption that you are educated in the basics and safe practices of tree work, and that you have the minimum amount of gear required to enter a tree and perform work.

The Five Steps to Starting Up Your Own Tree Service


1. The Bare Minimum: Chainsaw and Pick-Up Truck Set Up

More than 75% of the climbers or owners you know probably started out in this way, taking on jobs here and there. Do not be intimidated by large equipment or crews. There are jobs for you and money to be made with this basic set up!

The key to step one in starting up your own tree service is simple: start small. Large removals are not going to be your top priority. Try to focus on getting smaller pruning jobs, dead wooding trees, and always encourage the home owner to let you perform a “leave all” job by explaining you can cut their wood up into reasonable lengths, but can save them hundreds of dollars by having them do the bulk of the clean up themselves. By leaving the heavy loads, this will save you A TON of lifting and gas/time in back and forth travel to get it all out of their yard. 

More than likely the client will want all the brush removed, as it’s the most difficult to deal with, and this is going to be the part that isn’t fun for you… but it can be done. Rent or borrow an additional trailer if you can and load that bad boy up with as much brush as you can, strap it all down, and collect your check.

Remember, by starting small you can easily make some extra income without having to start out heavily in debt. Allow these jobs to pile up, save your money, and begin preparing for step 2!! OR! If equipment and a large crew isn’t for you, but hard work and climbing is, then you may want to consider being a contract climber! This is a great system for those who like to travel and get different experiences throughout the year working with various crews for days or maybe even weeks at a time! But that’s a whole new conversation!

2. Dump Truck and Chipper!

As soon as you can, progress to this step. MANY people stay at step two for YEARS, and that’s because it’s fool proof. First off, your chipper! The second you get on a job and see that huge branch go through that chipper and land in the back of the dump truck box you are going to want to throw a party! No more fighting and stomping on branches and strapping them down. That limb just became a tiny piece of dust, not to mention limbs 10x the size of that tiny branch you fought with on the last job can also be disposed of through the chipper!

This set up is going to save you SO MUCH TIME in travel and will now allow you to charge that extra money you were trying to avoid before. Now stress to the client how much of a mess will be left after you drop the tree and how you can easily clean up their whole yard for them as if you were never there! Understand your situation and while being honest with the client, work towards jobs you are best set up for: big or small. This step in starting up your own tree service will do SO MUCH for you.

3. A Mini and a Dump Trailer

When you hit this stage, you’re going to feel like a rockstar! You basically just came up with a business-related reason why you get to invest in a new toy that will NO DOUBT make your jobs unimaginably easier. Where do I even start on why this step in starting up your own tree service is so awesome? First, the mini can honestly do the work of five men and it never calls in sick.

The mini, paired with the dump trailer, gives you the ability to now move LARGE wood so much faster and get the whole job cleaned up in half the time. Not only is the machine saving your back, it allows you to fit more jobs in in one day. The more work you can do, the more money you can make, so this is a smart decision for so many reasons.

4. The Bucket Truck

Ok. So now you’re really looking to be efficient when starting up your own tree service. Climbing everyday was fun, but now it’s time to get in and get out! Not to mention, day after day after day of climbing can wear on even the best fit person, so this is a great way to give your body a break while still beating the clock. This also allows that person on your team who’s a hard worker, but not the best climber, to really excel.

With this piece of equipment, you just upped their skill level, allowing your crew to take on jobs it couldn’t before, which opens up more time for you to go bid jobs, tie up loose ends, or possibly run two crews simultaneously.

This is also a great investment, depending on the type of work you normally get. If you’re constantly trimming trees next to sidewalks or driveways, this may be a better choice for you up at step two, but moneywise, it is considerably more costly than a dump trailer.

5. The Spider Lift or Crane

Now we’re playing with the big dogs and talking money. In and out. Again. When starting up your own tree service, you have to spend money to make serious money. If you’re big into removals, these pieces are NO brainers.

The amount of time they will save you is incomparable. When a crane can come in a pick up a 40 ft tree in one pick, we’re no longer talking tree work, we’re talking construction with trees in tight spots. Using a crane on removals is one of the best decisions a larger tree service can make. The investment in the crane will easily pay for itself in a year’s time!

As for the Spider Lift, this equipment will open up possibilities you never thought possible when it comes to tight setups and small backyards! Some of these lifts can fit through a 36” gate and still reach up to 80 feet! A winter’s worth of Oak pruning in Michigan could easily pay for this machine AND it will make the pruning easier! Awesome!

Happy Growing (and Trimming)

Hopefully you picked up some helpful tips and ideas on starting up your own tree service. You can grow your company from a pick-up truck and saw setup to a high end, full scale removal wrecking crew! Keep in mind this isn’t a definitive list of how to grow your company and in no way are we telling you that this will guarantee you money! We are just giving you some ideas and would also LOVE to hear your ideas and comments in the section below! Thanks for reading and CLIMB ON!


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