Scare Tactics. Facts for Hiring a Tree Trimming, Tree Service or Tree Removal Company in Tucson.
My friend got an estimate for Commercial Plumbing of Office Buildings twice in the last year. Each time it was the same experience, one contractor came in at 30,000$ while the other 2 were respectfully at 12,000 and 6,000$. We talked about how the prices could be that far apart? The answer that we came up with (he more than I, as he has been a business owner in Tucson for more than 40yrs), is that the 30,000$ contractor is still not in touch with our economy. He is still living in the unrealistic economic "BOOM" were he could throw prices like that out there and get it due to everyone living on debt and RE FI's. As time goes on and less people buy what he is selling and more contractors adjust their prices to the new economy learning to make a profit with affordable pricing, He will be out of Business. The same is true of tree care.
Companies use scare tactics to get the job or to sell you on that higher price. The ones with honor sell themselves and their ability. Others try to scare customers into higher prices by "saying" that others do not have workers compensation insurance, liability insurance, licensing (Arizona lacks licensing for Tree Service), certifications, big equipment, accreditations and sometimes just go into personal attacks about other tree companies. I have seen it all, and wanted to write a blog helping you with some facts about how to hire a tree company. Following my heart and the motto that I started this company on I will try to set a few things straight in hopes that you find this a help and a free resource.
Lets talk facts about Scare Tactics Facts for Hiring a Tree Trimming, Tree Service and Tree Removal Company in Tucson.
The problem with Tree Service in Tucson and Arizona is that they do not recognize it as a licensable service with the ROC. So there are limited regulations. Some guys do have a ROC License for "Landscaping" or "Landscaping/Irrigation Installation", but these DO NOT include tree trimming, tree removal, stump grinding and tree service. Crazy huh? Check California Statutes and they have a category all for tree trimming, tree removal, tree service and stump grinding. So Arizona may be way behind the curve, but that may be a good or bad thing as alot of States do not License Tree Care as it is a SERVICE and California has become an example of how to "not do it". So Fact one is that if someone uses the scare tactic of them being LICENSED and the other guy not having one, they are lying and their ROC license is not for Tree Trimming, Tree Removal or Tree Services like Stump Grinding. If you call the ROC you will get different opinions depending on who you talk to, but obviously the statute for Landscape Irrigation is not for tree care. Do you want the guy Licensed for Irrigation removing your 100 foot Eucalyptus Tree? does he even have the right training or equipment? And how does a Arborist pass an Irrigation Test and pose that he has 2 years experience in Irrigation? Instead of admitting that Tree Care is need of its own licensing (at one point in Arizona, Home Inspectors where not Licensed either) they often try to push you into an unrelated area and as far as I can tell excavating is the closest applicable License. I have stayed in touch with the ROC and as of 12/02/2011 I called Licensing and clarified that tree maintenance and removal IS NOT Licensed by the ROC, and the only licensing required is a LOCAL and STATE Business Licenses. From time to time you will get a varied opinion but this one I got today is the truth. Insurance for landscapers and tree services are different for a reason. There are about 2 Tree Companies in Tucson with a Tree Planting License, they may pose as Licensed Tree Care trying to scare customers into a higher price, instead of going to the TCIA and asking for them to petition for a Tree Service License in Arizona on our behalf.
The next biggest scare tactic is workers compensation. It is a Law area. Workers Compensation must be present for employees. The catch is that alot of Tree Companies are LLC's and by Law the Member or Partner or Corporate Officer is acting as an extension of the LLC and does not need workers compensation. So alot is made of this point and I personally carry Workers Comp, but the truth is that if a company shows up with employees, (fact 2) they must have workers compensation or they are in violation of the Law. Some skirt Workers Comp by being members of an LLC then slide in helping hands here and there for big jobs. Make sure to see insurance policies, a tree company should have about 3 different kinds or more. If someone starts talking about how the other guy is not insured, make a point to check both companies insurance as I have seen the BIG Company casting doubt on others being the one with no Workers Comp while saying they have more insurance than anyone. Trust me when I tell you if someone says they are insured do not believe them without seeing a policy for 3 types of insurance.
Fact 3. Insurance. Different that workers comp this covers and accident or damage. We carry 2 million dollars of general Liability, 500,00.00 of workers Comp and a 10,000.00 Honesty Bond, but you can pick your comfort level. Alot of scare tactics are made about insurance because it separates the boys from the men. Remember we are talking about a non regulated trade in Arizona, so landscapers, and anyone with a truck and saw try to get some of the Tree Dollars in Tucson. Why not a landscaper who is insured? Their insurance does not cover over 15 feet. They are "land"scapers. So really tree businesses stand alone, yet the money during monsoons is tried to be got by all. Fact 3 is that there is no law stating a tree company must be insured, but it is advisable, and most memberships with TCIA and ISA request a basic copy to make sure you are properly insured for Tree Service. Make someone show you always what insurance they have. Again, I will tell you up front, that people will lie to you and say they are the best at this and that. Get facts and compare apples with apples. When we buy a car we compare gas mileage, warranties, extras and stuff comparing to make an educated decision, we do not get our facts from the salesmen trying to sell us the car.
Scare tactic number 4, Certified Arborist in Tucson are the Regulated Tree Workers for Tree Care. Not true. The ISA Certifies Arborists and they are not connected with the State its Statutes or Regulations. The different Dental Associations in dentistry are a good example of this in another field. One dentist may be a member and another not, because it is not the regulating statute over its field. So some Certified Arborist in Tucson sell you on the scare tactic that they are Certified to sell you on the higher price. Certified does not mean you are good at business, a good tree cutter or have good judgment, and most of all it does not make you "Legal". I have seen some of the best tree cutters in Tucson who have yet to become certified. Certification has no training on Running saws and some of the basic things needed to be efficient in our trade. Growing up cutting big tree's in Arkansas I have a built in respect and knowledge of tree cutting, it shows in our work and a company should stand on its accomplishments. (ACCIDENT FREE) Fact 4, Certified Arborist does not make you a Legal Tree Cutter. With all that said I suggest complicated Tree Maintenance be done by a Certified Arborist or other tree expert. I have yet to find the time to get Certified but still have trained and completed Arborist Courses such as the Tree Care Academy by the TCIA and am a Member of the ISA. I strongly recommend hiring one of the many "hacks" with little or no knowledge of tree care.
The next big scare tactic is equipment. Alot of guys will sell you on chippers, buckets, climbing prowess etc. Having a chipper does not make you a real tree guy, it usually only puts you in debt. Chippers are nice for trimming but have little to no place in removals. Tree Removals take longer with a chipper and the company often finds themselves in a perdicament on what to do with big logs. Some guys will sell you on the environmental factor of chipping the chips up and how they recycle them. Well we all recycle at the same place, (Except for the guys who go to the city dump, which few of us do, mostly only illegal tree workers). Fairfax has clean green recycling and accepts no trash. Those of us who go there know that the chipper guys material is not recyclable as compost due to the fact that most times they mix palm fronds in with the tree debris. Do not let a guy with a chipper sell you on a higher price. Bucket trucks are nice but the same as above. Our company uses a crane nearly 200 times a year and find it safer and more effective than bucket trucks. Cranes are rated for weight and bucket trucks 300 to 600 lbs. So a guy with a bucket does a removal with his bucket cutting 200 lb branches, shock loading the weight and risking an accident? You may get scare tactics sold to you about equipment, and then pay a higher price for improper techniques. A bucket truck is for lifting a man, no more, and in Tucson I have seen the Bucket guy's using it like a crane. Cranes are rated from 15 to 40+ Tons and can handle picking up the whole tree. See our videos on you tube. Fact #5, a bucket truck and chipper does not make the work safer or better by any means.
I really think that Tree Service in Tucson has gone crazy. I have heard so many lies told that it is insane. Who do you believe? Tonight I was told that someone had told a customer that if Blue Stake was not called for any tree removal that the customer should not use the other companies and that the other company would be dangerous and reckless if they did not call Blue Stake. Really? Blue Stake? HUH? where does it all end? I have news for you, if you manipulate the ground through moving, you need and ROC license for excavation. So if you are moving the soil, grading, etc, and need blue stake, I understand. But the excavating companies are not competing for tree cutting dollars, so the truth is that another company is employing Scare Tactics to Tucson Tree Removal. Tree Stump Service, as defined by a state that has an ROC License for it and regulates the trade, is defined as manipulation of of stump through grinding. If someone is digging up stumps then they are in need of calling Blue Stake and more than that in need of Licensing with ROC to make sure they know what they are doing. For those of us who know how to do tree stump grinding and understand that our grinder is for wood, not dirt, carry on. I have talked to Blue Stake and have a registered Company, understanding how to properly use equipment is important, scaring customers with lies is a result of no ROC Licensing for Tree Service in Arizona.
Fact #6 Do I need to also say that Blue Stake does not need to be called, and if they do, you are excavating (not stump grinding) and are not properly licensed for what you are doing?
Commercial vehicle insurance and Commercial vehicles. All of the big companies have it, but mid range tree companies drive around with a personal insurance policy. I have news, they are lying to their insurance agents and if something happens in or around the vehicle, or they run into something, that million dollar insurance policy does not mean a thing. Fact #7 You must have commercial Vehicle Insurance.
Is it your problem that some company does not run in the black? Is it your fault that their insurance rates are high due to accidents? Is it your fault that the are in Debt over their head? I think the answer is no. So what is a fair price? Some would argue that a fair price is whatever you can get someone to pay. I live by a different conscience and have actually given refunds. I am not above giving a high price from time to time, especially during monsoon storms when supply and demand laws are in effect and my guys are getting overtime. But if I have a choice, I always try to shoot a fair price. Other's shoot a high price then tell you why they are the best. (or lie to you, however you look at it)
I am a fairly humble man and know I am not the best. I may not be the best climber, I may not be the best sawyer, I may not be the best businessman. But I am who I am, and I shoot for perfection every time in my work. So far that has allowed us to put a first class product on the table every time.
I Hope all this helped. I think the bottom line is that Tree Care in Arizona is not regulated by the State and it should be. Too many scare tactics are used and defamation of others character, lies and etc. is used to secure jobs. Tree care is a hard business being very seasonal in Arizona like crab fishing. So those of us that do it for a living year round struggle during off season. The lack of regulations leave too many questions about every company, and allow "Bottom Feeders" and people unsuited for business and professional services to pose as Legitamate Companies.The ones claiming to be Legal are lying because the is no trade license with the Arizona ROC definition for what we specifically do in Tree Care. We are not Licensed with the ROC because the statute for tree care does not exist. Arizona may need to follow California on this one to help us all have an even playing field. It will also allow for information about accidents, bad work and more to be available to all, plus put an ROC investigator in the mix for regulation and mediation.
I started this company on good faith and I hope I have followed through with that by writing this blog. All I know about other companies weaknesses stays with me on the job. I have some character, I may blow some steam with friends, but on a professional level I believe what goes around comes around and we all make our own beds. I hope I behave in a way that is looked at as honorable by others. And most of all I hope this blog about Tree Removal in Tucson was a help to you for hiring a Tree Service Company in Tucson.