Starting a tree removal business gives you a great opportunity to work in the fresh air and control your own rates and schedule. Having a vision for your tree removal company is just the first step. Getting it set up requires paperwork, funding and some business sense before the real fun can begin.
Business License and Insurance
Because the act of tree removal poses a threat to yourself, your employees and your clients' property, make sure you're well protected by completing all necessary paperwork. To start, you need to have a business license to operate in your city or state. Each municipality has different laws, so the best course of action is to call or visit your local chamber of commerce and explain that you want to register a new tree removal business.
You may need to register for a contractors' license as well, and you should ask about the protocol for obtaining permits for tree removal if needed. With that taken care of, you'll next want to talk to an insurance agent about a robust plan to protect yourself and your business. If a tree falls on your client's roof (or the neighbor's roof), you don't want to be held personally liable for the damages. Instead, your business insurance should cover it.
Insurance should also cover your company's vehicles and other assets. Because you'll need employees to successfully complete tree removal projects, your insurance should cover them in case of any accidents on the job. You'll also want to think of an insurance benefits package to offer your employees and their families.
Purchasing Tree Removal Equipment
Tree removal equipment can range from a humble ax and chainsaw to a monstrous hydromulching machine that practically eats trees for breakfast. To do an efficient job, you'll likely want a stump grinder, root raker and a large mulcher for cleanup plus a bucket and lift to reach as high as possible. Next, you'll need a truck and trailer to haul your tree removal equipment from site to site.
List all of the equipment you need to get started and research the cost of purchasing, renting and maintaining your fleet. You'll also need a place to securely store your equipment when it's not in use, which means renting warehouse space or using your personal property.
You'll likely need to secure a business loan to buy or rent all of the equipment, so your next step should be to talk to different lenders and find an affordable interest rate and payment plan. Open a business bank account and hire a bookkeeper to help you track expenses for tax season.
Hiring Employees for Tree Removal
Some businesses can operate as a one-person show, but a tree removal business is not one of them. You need a team of people to ensure the tree removal proceeds safely. You'll also need enough people to drive all the necessary trucks.
Determine how many people you need on your team to get the job done and factor it into your budget. How much will you need to charge per project in order to pay for your team, your equipment and your insurance while still leaving you with something left over to feed yourself and your family?
After you know how many people you need on your team, it's time to start hiring. Look for people with clean driving records, experience operating heavy machinery and previous experience either in tree removal or in general labor so you know they can handle physical work.
Finding Tree Removal Clients
The most important thing to do in the beginning is to make sure your tree removal service is easy for customers to find. Get listed in the Yellow Pages and have a web presence with either a website, a Google My Business page or a Facebook page. Advertise services in the newspaper after a storm.
Once you get your first few clients, ask them to leave you a review online to help with word-of-mouth advertising. You can only go up from there!
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.