You Might Want to Read This Before Hiring an Arborist or Tree Service.
Are you thinking of hiring an Arborist or Tree Service?
If so, differentiating between a professional tree service and an unprofessional tree service may be the difference between a good experience or a bad one. The latter of the two is an accident or a fatality waiting to happen and they are the reason the fatality rate and insurance premiums (yes you read that right, the FATALITY RATE) in our industry are so high.
Why is there such a wide range of professionalism and knowledgeable staff (or lack thereof) in the industry?
Unfortunately, there is virtually no regulations – and what few there are, are rarely enforced – in the tree service industry here in British Columbia. Ironically, this is where some of the worlds largest trees in a residential setting are being removed. The scary part about this lack of regulations is that there is no laws preventing any idiot with a chainsaw from self proclaiming himself an arborist and climbing up a tree and attempting to cut it down with hopes of living to tell the tail. Sure, these guys often get the job done, however, they are accidents waiting to happen and these accidents do happen, a lot.
The good news is that there is a new generation of tree service providers and young aspiring arborists – the real ones that spend time and money to become certified, to educate themselves, and invest in the most up to date equipment- that are taking the industry by storm. How do you tell them apart?
There are essentially three types of tree services in Vancouver (two of which you want to avoid):
Professional Tree Service: These tree services are professional on every level and will have certified arborists on staff. They have a strong and professional online image. They spend the time, money, and effort to continuously improve quality of service and safety, by engaging in continued education by way of courses, networking, and events. They invest great sums of money in order to always be equipped with the most up to date equipment in a continuous effort to improve safety and efficiency. They cost a bit more, and it is worth every penny.
Unprofessional Tree Service: These tree services rarely have a Certified Arborist on staff (however, they often will lie and claim that they do). These companies often use ancient equipment and old beat up trucks and chippers that are outdated and not safe to use and may or may not have insurance. They cut corners constantly in an effort to increase profit, out of a lack of education (remember, there is no regulations, one must take it upon themselves to keep up to date), or because they do not generate enough revenue to be able to allocate resources to keep their employees, clients, and the properties they work on safe. They lack professionalism in most areas of their business. These tree services may be difficult to differentiate from a professional tree service at first glance, read below to find out how to tell them apart.
Guy with a chain saw and a pick up truck: These “tree services” are easy to identify. It will be a guy with a chainsaw and a pick up truck claiming to be a tree service. These guys almost certainly do not have insurance, proper equipment, or training and should be avoided at all costs. They are around and so it is was worth the mention.
Now for the reason you are reading this article, good indicators and bad indicators to help you choose a professional and safe tree service and to avoid the rest.
Good indicator: Look for tree services with a professional and up to date website. They should not have grammatical errors and most reputable tree services will have industry specific images often of their own company in action. A professional website is a good indicator of a professional tree service provider.
Bad indicator: Tree services with out dated websites or of poor quality. First impressions are important and any good business owner knows this. If they do not care about the first impressions they make, what else do they not care about? A poor website is an indicator of a unprofessional tree service provider. The same could be said for just about any company. You don’t walk into a restaurant that looks dirty and out dated so why would you hire a company with a website that is the equivalent?
Good indicator: The images and videos that a tree service posts online can give you a lot of information about their level or professionalism and level of safety. Look for tree service companies that have images of their own company in action, this indicates they are proud of their image and their quality of work. What are the workers wearing? Look for matching t-shirts or high visibility clothing, as well as up to date and adequate personal protection equipment including hard hat, eye protection, hearing protection, and chainsaw pants.
Bad indicator: Avoid tree services with zero photos of their actual company or crew. Why would they use stock photos of a tree instead of real world images of their company and crewmen unless they are not proud of it? Avoid tree services with images or videos of their crew working without adequate personal safety protection as outlined above. This may look like a worker wearing regular street clothes, no high visibility clothing, and little or no PPE. This is not a good indicator or a professional tree service.
Tip: If there are images of an arborist in a tree working, look to see if they have two points of attachment while operating a chainsaw. This is both a legal requirement and common sense. I have seen images of tree service workers in trees cutting with only a single lanyard which is an accident or fatality waiting to happen and a huge indicator or a tree service that is neither professional or properly educated.
Good indicator: A professional tree service will have a presentable and well taken care of chip truck and wood chipper. Look for companies with chip trucks and chippers than look well maintained and cared for. Any reputable company will also have professional signage on their vehicles.
Bad indicator: Avoid tree services with old and beaten up looking trucks and chippers. There is nothing wrong with older trucks or chippers if they are well maintained and cared for but if it looks like the Beverly Hills hillbilly’s would drive it, than it is out dated which begs the question, is the rest of their equipment and their knowledge out dated as well? Do you want someone trying to cut down your tree using a 25 year old chainsaw and a rope from the early 20th century?
Also avoid a tree service that doesn’t even have a wood chipper. Would you hire a carpenter with no tool belt?
Good indicator: Generally, any tree service that has established a reputation and that has a strong online image also has insurance. That being said, if you are not sure, simply request proof of their commercial general liability and their good standing with Work Safe. If they can’t provide this, seek a different tree service.
Bad indicator: Avoid any tree service that does not carry adequate insurance.
When in doubt, ask questions:
If you aren’t sure about the reputability of a tree service, simply ask them some questions to help you better decide their level of professionalism. The answers you get will say a lot about their level of expertise and professionalism. If they get annoyed or defensive, that is a strong indicator that they know they are inadequate in their profession. A professional and confident tree service representative will have no problem answering your questions and will do so with a smile.
Do they have an ISA Certified Arborist on staff? Is so, request their ISA Certified Arborist ID number.
Do they have insurance? Ask them to provide proof of insurance if you are not sure.
Do they employ staff proficient in spur-less climbing techniques, what techniques do they use? Spurs are spikes that climbers have attached to their boots to aid in climbing a tree. They should only be used for tree removals, this is a bylaw and best practice. Look out for anyone trying to climb your trees with spurs for pruning or anything other than removal, this is clear indicator of a unprofessional and uneducated tree service and this is a bylaw infraction.
Do their climbers use two points of attachment? They should answer yes. This is both a bylaw and common sense for anyone who enjoys being alive. Avoid any tree service with climbers using a single lanyard with no climbing line. They are working with techniques from 20 years ago.
At the end of the day, a serious lack of regulations pertaining to the tree service industry is the reason there is so many accidents and fatalities and why it is so important for you as a home owner, to research the tree service you plan to hire and ensure they have the right equipment, experience, and expertise to do the job safely and efficiently.
ArborGreen Tree Care Specialists has earned one of the best reputations in Vancouver for excellence in professionalism, safety, and quality of service. Call 778 288 2521 for a free quote or for any advice pertaining to the tree service industry!