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The Reality of Running a Tree Business

“There are always lessons in business,” says Niko, “it takes time to up-skill yourself in any new business and it won’t happen overnight.”

Niko Kurta is well-versed in the realities of work within the tree industry. He has been running Jim’s Tree & Stump Removal since 2012 and in that time he has helped the franchise to generate over 100,000 new leads.

Running a tree business is not like running a retail business. You don’t need to think about leasing a shop, negotiating your lease renewal, stocking your shop, dealing with rent increases or property equity.

Instead, you need to think about whether to buy an existing business or start one from the ground up. You have to learn how to bring in new clients, which clients to keep and how far you’re willing to travel for them. You’ve got to be aware of different rules within different council areas and the challenges unique to those locations. Then there’s the equipment you use and the staff you employ. In this article we discover exactly what it takes to run a successful tree business.

“ Business is so much easier if it has good will ” – Getting Started

One of the very first decisions you will have to make when starting out is whether you create your own business or buy an existing one. The advantage of buying into an existing business is that you start with a platform to grow your business from. This is a result of the good will that comes from a mature brand with a good client list.

Starting out on your own gives you freedom to make all of the early business decisions yourself. This is generally a more difficult path as you have to attempt to grow your business without brand recognition or a client base.

“I tinkered with the idea of getting into the Tree Industry for a while,” says Niko, “I recognised that it could be very lucrative but felt that a brand and business system have great value… Business is so much easier if it has good will.”

When buying into a franchise like Jim’s Trees, you have this same choice but with a stronger platform. You can buy a new franchise, giving you the opportunity to start your own business with the benefits of the Jim’s brand to give you public awareness and the Jim’s network for support.

Alternatively, you can buy an existing franchise, which allows you to take on their client list. Generally the longer the business has been around, the better the quality of the clientele and the good will of the business within the community.

“ All you have is your time to sell ” – Clients

Once you’ve decided whether to buy into an existing business or to start your own, you then have the core challenge of every tree business, clients. There are so many challenges involved on the client side of business:

How Do You Acquire New Clients?

  • How do you keep them?
  • Are they all worth keeping?
  • How far should you travel to keep them?
  • How do you keep them happy through winter?

In retail you can rely on foot traffic to bring customers into your shop. In the tree business it’s not so simple. You have to consider how to reach them, where to advertise and how much to charge. While digital platforms make targeting demographics easier than ever, it also means that you are competing with other businesses who can do the same.

Client acquisition in the tree industry is variable to competition, weather, price and cost per lead. All of these things must be weighed up and there is no simple answer. Instead, you’ll need to experiment, iterate and adapt. After learning how to acquire your new clients, eventually you’re going to have to decide whether all of your clients are worth keeping.

“Being a franchisor, we sometimes talk about the quality of clients, ” says Niko, “ I grade them as A, B, C or D. It’s up to you how many, if any, D grade clients you have. If you are in a small business – all you have is your time to sell .”

As a seasonal business, it is important to retain your clients through the low winter months. This is where prioritisation of clients can be important, as you will want to make sure your best clients are kept happy through summer so that they’ll be there for you in winter.

“ Distance is Crucial”- Location

Tree businesses aren’t confined to any one location, which can be both a benefit and a challenge. Having the capacity to drive to where the demand is can be a huge asset. However, if you drive too far then there is a chance for that travel time to eat into your profits. This means that too much travel can actually cause you a loss.

“Distance is crucial,” says Niko, “ downtime needs to be taken into consideration .” For this reason it is important to research the potential market of the locations that you wish to work. If an area shows a lot of promise for clients, it may even be worth moving there to cut down on your unprofitable travel time.

Being unrestricted to a single location poses other challenges too. Moving between different councils means you will need to navigate different council rules. Each council has different laws around tree maintenance and removal. As such, you will need to be familiar with a number of different variations of similar rules. Different suburbs also have different challenges in terms of demographics and accessibility.

Some regions might have dense urban forests, but tight streets. Others may have demographics less inclined to pay for tree maintenance, while others may have strict council rules that make your job more difficult.

There are many obvious challenges of a roaming business and others that aren’t so clear.

The best way to plan for this is to do your research, familiarise yourself with the area and speak to local professionals familiar with working in the region.

“ The more you travel, the less productivity ” – Expenses

Any business has to deal with expenses, a tree business is no different. Instead of rent and stocking supplies, your major expenses are wages, equipment and travel time. It is essential to have a good team of employees who are happy and hardworking. To achieve this, staff wages and superannuation must be a priority. If you don’t have a paid and happy staff, you won’t have a successful business.

Travel time represents another large part of your business expenses. “ Managing downtime is very crucial ,” says Niko, “ the more you travel, the less productivity in a day which will affect your bottom line.”

The final component of your major expenses is equipment.

“ Equipment maintenance is key to running any business with machinery and will serve you better for the long run ,” says Niko.

Your tools and your machinery are the foundation of your business. It is therefore advised that you do not cut corners wherever possible when it comes to the quality and maintenance of your equipment. Premium tools that last a long time will always provide your business with more value than cheap tools that deteriorate quickly.

“Not everyone is cut out to run a business” – Running a business

Once you’ve set up your business, chosen a location to focus on and started acquiring clients, you then need the management skills to keep the business running smoothly. These are the X-factor skills that you learn from practice and experience.

“ Not everyone is cut out to run a business ,” says Niko, “ time management is key, but so is business management, staff management and customer service .”

All of these skills feed into each other, so as you learn one you’ll improve the others. “ Better business management also teaches you better productivity so you can be more profitable .”

A successful business owner needs to be able to manage all of the areas we have discussed, while also having the humility to admit that you have more to learn. Business owners are constantly needing to learn lessons, accept failures and adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. While not everyone is cut out to run a business, anyone can do it if they are willing to jump into the deep end, learn from their mistakes and persevere.

“ We would like to hear from you ” – You Ready?

Whether you are an existing Tree business looking to improve, a new start up looking to grow or you’re thinking about starting a new business – we would like to hear from you.

Through our experience, support and network of professionals, we have a lot to offer. You can contact us through our franchise enquiry page or call 131 546 to register your interest

May 7, 2020 / by / in ,
Green Climber

Whether you are digging, trenching, slashing or dozing, the Green Climber makes mowing a safe job, with no compromises on precision and speed.

Meet the Italian made remote controlled Green Climber that is capable of tackling slopes up to 60 degrees. Green Climber is the ultimate mower to clear and maintain areas on steep, difficult terrain that can be found on roadsides, parks and acreages. Maintaining these areas can require multiple types of costly equipment and in most cases putting the operator in dangerous situations. Green Climber is so much more than a mower with attachments for finish mowing, slashing, trenching, grinding stumps, moving soil or heavy material. Whether you want to mow grass, mulch thick scrub, dig a trench or even grind tree stumps in any sort of terrain, the Green Climber is the machine capable of doing it all.

Thanks to the extendable undercarriage tracks and low centre of gravity, the Green Climber’s unbelievable grip on the terrain allows it to tackle steep gradients with ease, resulting in a safe job executed with speed and precision.

As a result, safety-conscious maintenance companies and councils across Australia are investing in Green Climbers to help them tackle those challenging areas. The operator can safely operate the remote from up to 100 metres away, allowing them to clear areas beside highways and other high traffic areas without closing off lanes and disrupting traffic flow. The remote-control system operates start/stop of the engine, engine revs, forward/reverse, steering, and all the hydraulic functions on the machine and the attachment.

Furthermore, it has a self-correcting steering system, that, in the event of very steep slopes can be used to correct the direction. All movements are controlled by a single joystick, allowing operators to have a free hand to use for other machine commands.

Book a test drive– take the controls and see for yourself how tough this versatile machine is.

For more information or to arrange a demonstration call 1800 088 567.

December 16, 2019 / by / in ,
Bandit Stump Grinders Great Deals

Bandit Stump Grinders – end of 2019 promotion.

Perhaps it’s not the most glamorous bit of gear in the fleet, but your stump grinder is an essential tool to finish the job, get a smile from the customer and get paid. So it’s important that your grinder is trouble free, easy to maintain and productive if it’s going to be a profit centre for your business and not a pain in the backside.

This is where Bandit comes in. Every Bandit grinder is hand built by specialised teams using extensively welded construction; they are built to last, and engineered to handle our tough, dry Australian conditions.

Bandit Tree Equipment tell us they have great deals on their grinders from now until the end of the year; more info below. Here is a short run down on the Bandit range.

Bandit Model ZT1844 Track

Since hitting the Aussie market in 2016, Bandit’s ZT1844 has backed up the claim that it’s “the most productive compact track mounted stump grinder on the market”. Dozens of local contractors have taken the plunge (pun intended) on the ZT1844 with excellent results.

Fitted with an easy starting 38hp Kohler EFI petrol engine, it’s engineered from the

ground up with more rugged components than competitor machines. The cutter wheel is designed to run with just 8 of the 900 series Greenteeth for better performance, lower tooth costs and quicker maintenance. With zero turn tracks and a super narrow 74cm width, the ZT1844 fits through a standard doorway. The low centre of gravity makes grinding fast, safe and easy. Type “Bandit ZT1844 Review” into YouTube to see this little beasty in action.

Bandit Model 2550XP, 2650XP and 2900XP

Bandit’s larger wheel and track driven grinders, the 2550XP (44hp diesel), 2650XP (62hp) and 2900XP (114hp) use oversized hydraulic pumps and motors to directly power the cutter head. This ensures maximum power and torque gets to the stump with minimal hydraulic losses. Be careful on that point – some machines on the market go cheap and use small pumps and motors to drive the cutter wheel, meaning their cutting performance suffers dramatically.

Bandit Model SA- 25

Bandit’s Model SA- 25 will turn it any mid to large size skid steer into an awesome stump grinder. The SA-25 features a massive hydraulic motor and cutter wheel; the same size as those found on the 114hp Bandit 2900XP. Extremely robust and less than one third of the price of a regular 115hp stump grinder, if you own a skid steer then you need a Bandit SA-25 in your fleet.

As mentioned above, Bandit Tree Equipment are running a major end of year promotion on their entire stump grinder range with heavily discounted prices and low interest finance deals on the table. Might be time to grab yourself a bargain!

To get the full run-down, call Bandit Tree Equipment on 1800-681733, and visit www.banditchippers.com.au

December 10, 2019 / by / in ,
Stump Clearing

As stump clearing is a service in high demand, broadening your service has now become easy and affordable with the new range of Predator grinders.

There are a variety of reasons why people choose to remove trees from their gardens. Safety, landscaping, and legal requirements are just to name a few. However, many people often forget one crucial aspect of tree removal: the stump. Stumps can often be located in back gardens – with tough access, side alleys and other obstacles to navigate. So, it’s no surprise that many arborists refuse to offer stump clearing as part of their services.

When it comes to removing stumps, the Predator’s range of narrow access grinders are highly sought after. With a full range of sizes, all Predator grinders are made to be compact and manoeuvrable, so it is easy to find the right kit for your business. Designed to work efficiently from 7hp through to 50hp, these grinders are known to punch above their weight. However, power is not the only winning element to determine how well it performs. Compact design, low operator fatigue, fuel economy and cutting system all play critical roles.

ST661 and ST880

The ST661 and ST880 stump grinder attachments are a real game-changer for arboricultural professionals. More often than ever, customers will ask to remove the stump as well as the tree. In the past owning your own stump grinder may have seemed unaffordable or just too large and cumbersome to be worth transporting around, but with the ST660 or ST880 attachments there is now an innovative solution.

Instead of subcontracting the stump grinding or hiring gear for the day – resulting in lost profits on rental fees, fuel and travel time – the ST661 or ST880 attachments are a stump grinder attachment that is designed to utilise your existing Stihl MS661 and MS880 chainsaw engines. Starting from 25kgs dry weight, the attachments are the lightest on the market, and are small enough to take on site with the rest of your tools, easy to carry, and capable of delivering results quickly and efficiently. Now many arborists can offer stump removal services anytime, anywhere.

P360

In the category of pedestrian machines, Predator’s 360 grinder is without doubt the most versatile and effective. The central pivot system makes it a real winner – jobs that are normally hard work can now be tackled and repeated without straining or tiring the operator. The P360 has been known to increase productivity up to two to three times compared to grinders without a pivot, allowing more jobs to be completed and earning you a return on your investment.

It has a great swing for such a compact grinder, at 812mm or sixty degrees, it’s unmatched by similar grinders on the market. At only 660mm in width, and with an impressive grinding depth, this compact machine will reach almost any tough access tree stump.

P50RX

The P50RX does not nibble at stumps – it eats them. Its variable width track base travels from 790mm to 1170mm at the touch of a button, allowing a big machine to fit through a gateway narrower 900mm with ease.

Predator uses the fully proportional, highly accurate and incredibly reliable Scanreco G2B radio control system. This is commonly found on cranes, it allows the operator to have the feel and control of a hydraulic lever, whilst having the flexibility and vision of a remote operator.

Whatever your requirements, a machine that can cut effortlessly to a depth of 380mm with a swing of 1500mm, fit through such a narrow gap, doesn’t have a belt or clutch in sight, looks as good and works as well as the Predator 50RX, has got to be worth checking out.

All Predator grinders come as standard with the patented Multi-Tip cutting wheel, which has two leading teeth, each with four cutter tips that can be changed in under a minute making it approximately 30 per cent more efficient than the same machine with finger teeth. This combination allows you to get maximum performance from a smaller machine and really makes the job easier.

With Brisbane based chipper specialists Hansa Products as the local distributor for Predator, you know you will be in good hands. With the full range of small, hand-held grinder attachments, pedestrian models, as well as larger remote-controlled models up to 65hp on offer, there is bound to be a Predator suitable for every stump you need to grind.

For more information visit www.hansaproducts.com.au – Hansa Products are the sole distributor of Predator grinders in Australian and New Zealand.

December 5, 2019 / by / in ,
Vermeer – Bigger And Better

When undertaking tree stump removal services, having the best equipment can increase productivity and efficiency, as well as allow you to take on a wider range of jobs to diversify your clientele. That is why Vermeer has designed a bigger and better tracked stump cutter, the SC70TX.

Shannon Nicholson, Environmental Equipment Product Specialist at Vermeer, said the new SC70TX takes the proven performance of the already-popular SC60TX Stump Cutter and enhances it for more power and efficiency.

“By enhancing the SC60TX, the SC70TX combines the mobility of a compact machine with exceptional power to deliver greater productivity on job sites, making it a great option for residential, commercial, municipal and rental applications,” Shannon said.

“We’ve already sold our first couple of units in Australia, and we’re certain contractors will like the extra power and speed, and ease of control that this machine offers.”

More Power And Speed

The new SC70TX comes with a 67hp (50 kW) Cat C2.2L turbocharged Tier 4 Final/ Stage IIIB diesel engine.

“Compared to the SC60TX, which has 60hp (44.7kW), the enhanced power of the SC70TX makes it ideal for tough cutting jobs and tough enough to withstand much larger stumps,” Shannon said.

“It’s also been equipped with an increased ground drive speed and is designed to help decrease ground disturbance, meaning you can get around the job site faster with minimal damage to the existing ground surface.”

It also comes with a stronger gearbox which directs the maximum amount of horsepower to the cutter wheel, enabling it to cut at speeds of 880rpm for optimal job site productivity.

Packed Full Of Features

The SC70TX also comes equipped with a number of other safety and performance features that makes the SC60TX and other machines in Vermeer’s stump cutter range so popular, including the operator presence system and SmartSweep control system.

“The operator control system is intended to help protect the operator. If the operator’s hands leave the cutter wheel control handles for even a second, the capacitance-sensors will sense it and cause the cutter wheel to disengage, come to a stop and the cutter wheel indicator light will go out,” Shannon said.

“The patented SmartSweep control system monitors engine speed and automatically adjusts the cutter wheel sweep rate to maximise power to the cutter wheel while reducing engine stress.”

It also comes with an optional remote control that allows the operator to manoeuvre the stump cutter while not standing directly next to it, and the Vermeer-exclusive Yellow Jacket cutter system allows for faster, easier and more convenient serviceability, as well as helps to extend pocket and tooth life.

“The SC70TX is a compact yet powerful machine and is ideal for anyone looking to boost the capacity of their fleet, while also keeping opportunities open for larger and smaller jobs.”

The new Vermeer SC70TX Tracked Stump Cutter is now available to order. Call 1300 VERMEER

For more information or a trial, visit www.vermeer.com.au.

November 26, 2019 / by / in , , ,