Sometimes due to unforeseeable situations, certain services become more important than others. When this happens, the amount of money one can make for these needed services, during such times can increase, but be forewarned. Such times usually don’t last long and when demand scales back, the part of your business that provides these services will have to scale back as well. Here is a great example from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, on how these situations can play out.
One entrepreneur owner wrote “I am a tree climber who got his start working for lawn care businesses. A bunch of years back, my area got hit by a couple of tornadoes and I saw a huge spike in demand for tree services. At that point I decided to fully focus on tree care and get back to what I loved best, climbing! But the full time need for tree services was short lived and now I am kicking myself for focusing all my energy on it. With the changing business environment, if I am to survive, I will need to get a lawn service going for the steady cash flow. I have learned a valuable lesson. Tree services are either feast or famine.
During high school I worked at various landscape, lawn, and tree care companies over the summers. At one point, the employer I had at the time asked if I would be interested in climbing and I eagerly answered yes. This was how I learned the ‘ropes’ as they say.
Many years later, I was out of college and needed work, so I worked for a local lawn care service. Then one spring, two tornadoes came through the central part of my state and destroyed our community. Thinking there was an opportunity to make some money, I went to the owner of the lawn business and asked him if he would be interested in providing this service for his company. I told him, I could do it on the weekend with his trucks, trailer and employees. I would be in charge of estimating, scheduling and choosing my staff. He thought it might work and we hammered out a deal on the money and went from there.
Within a couple of months I had more tree work than I could do on the weekends so I asked for more time and equipment. He didn’t want to do that so I left and started my own tree service company.
I ran that company for a year and a half, full time and was very successful. I eventually had to slow down though due to a drop in the need for tree care and an increase in the number of tree care companies. During this peak time, I didn’t foresee a decline in business so I didn’t prepare for it. This forced me to have to go back and work a full time job. Now for the last two years I have worked full time while cutting trees on the weekend.
Slowly but surely I have been putting money away and I figured this year I would try to get my own business going but I now know how much I need another service beyond tree care to help support myself. I know lawn care and landscaping so I figured that lawn service would be a great cash flow creator.
Learning to climb, cut and remove trees is not that hard. The main thing to remember is that it is one of the top 5 most dangerous on-land occupations. If you have tried offering these services and felt out of your league, you are better off letting someone else do it and not getting yourself hurt.
Simple pruning of fruit trees and decorative dwarf trees is very simple to do and can be done from the ground with the proper equipment. Notice that I didn’t say from a ladder! If you are interested, you can find some great resources online, to learn to properly prune such trees and do alright at it.
When offering tree cutting services, insurance is another thing you need to be aware of. A $1mil in general liability insurance policy will usually be sufficient, and you should already have that! But when you get into climbing, rigging, bucket trucks and chippers, you are going to be nailed with workman’s comp. The job code for this is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE! So if your starting out, my advice is to stay on the ground, get a pole pruner or power pruner and learn about ornamentals, fruit trees, and other proper pruning techniques.
If you are running a lawn care business, my advice is to not give it up too easily. It is a great way to have a steady income. Then if you want to expand, do so, but not at the cost of shutting down your lawn care business, or you may find yourself regretting the decision like I did.”
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