I have been in this business 8 years now and so have gained an insider’s perspective on the tree care industry. In addition to our own booming little tree business I have been a climber for about 20 different companies. Some people say I was “on the bounce.” I was kind of a mercenary tree guy. Most of my climbing experience has been in Arizona, California and Hawaii. It has been a great way to travel! California and Hawaii definitely have some huge trees but Arizona has a few as well. So, in no particular order here are some thoughts on how to choose a tree company.
First of all, let’s clear up this Certified Arborist myth. I am a Certified Arborist and I pride myself a little in that. Unfortunately, “Certified Arborist” means little if it is only a codeword for “salesman.” The lion’s share of tree work is accomplished by someone who is not a Certified Arborist and with no Certified Arborist on sight. One might argue that the the guy with the clipboard, “the arborist,” has been doing some training with the “non arborists,” and therefore they have a better product. This is hard to verify and, from what I have seen, generally not the case. They probably haven’t been training at all. Having a Certified Arborist available while the job is being done is very important to the end result. It doesn’t really matter if a company has Certified Arborists if they are not available to the customer.
A key point is whether the salesman/arborist speaks the same language as the non-arborists. The language barrier between English and Spanish speakers is a pretty high wall in some cases. I speak Spanish yet I have a hard time communicating technical details critical to safe tree work. I side with the Spanish speaking worker here because they are the ones who can be hurt if training is lacking. Make sure there will be someone on your job who speaks English in addition to any Spanish speaking workers.
There is much risk involved in picking up the phone book and calling the tree service with the biggest, most colorful ad. Many companies with strong ethics and customer satisfaction hardly advertise at all. You don’t need to rule out the big ads, but make sure there are other criteria that go into choosing a tree service. Traditionally the Better Business Bureau has been a good resource for the consumer, however I am aware of one member tree service that currently has had 39 complaints in the last 36 months. Wow, that’s service. Our company, Top Leaf, has 0 complaints in the past 6 years. There are a lot of other companies with the same good track record.
The last point I would like to go over is that of the hard sell. So you think used car salesman can be pushy? If someone is invited to your house and tries to pressure you into deciding now, signing now, or “we’ll do the work right now” then you have a moral obligation to send them on their way. In short, don’t support a business that has only their own best interest at heart. Take your time in choosing an arborist and hang on to him if he takes care of you. When you need tree service give Top Leaf Tree Service a call.
Let me recap this essay by listing these steps:
1. Get estimates from Arborists certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.
2. Make sure the Certified Arborist will be on the job while the work is being performed.
3. Make sure the Certified Arborist can communicate effectively with his workers.
4. Spend some time researching through the Arizona Better Business Bureau website.
5. Check our company’s ratings at Angie’s List.
You shouldn’t have to do this research too often. Find the company you like and hang on to them.