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How to start up a tree surgeon business

It’s worthwhile taking a short course in tree surgery approved by industry body, Lantra How to start up a tree surgeon business

If you’ve got a head for heights, can handle heavy equipment and love being in the great outdoors, a tree surgery business could bring great rewards.

Qualifications

There aren’t any legal requirements to train as a tree surgeon, but for your own safety, as well as others, it’s worthwhile taking a short course in tree surgery approved by industry body, Lantra. This will not only teach you how to climb and use the equipment safely and correctly, but also about the best way to manage trees, including identifying disease. Experience will however be key to doing your job well, particularly in terms of using ropes, harnesses and equipment. Volunteering for organisations such as the National Trust or the Woodland Trust can help you build your skills up, as will working for an existing tree surgery or ground management organisation.

Costs and fees

To start, you can work as a freelance tree surgeon working for other small businesses. Approach local companies to offer your services. You’ll need to invest in equipment such as chainsaws, as well as protective clothing including helmets and boots. You may be happy to stay working at this level, but you may also want to grow your business. To do this a truck is essential to remove trees, branches and greenery from the land or property which you’ve been working on. There is potential to sell the trees you take down as firewood, but you will need the space to store the wood so that it can dry out – remember that it takes up to a year for firewood to season properly. You’ll also need a chipper to grind up smaller branches. The chippings have the potential to be sold on for the likes of garden mulch. Again, you need room to store it, as well as the means to sell it. What you can charge varies across the country, but there are different prices for different services. Grinding up a tree stump may bring you in anything from Ј50 to Ј300, a tree survey and evaluation anything from X250 to X450. In London this may work out at a day rate of around X350 to X400, but it will be a very different picture elsewhere in the country.

Getting started

Once you have enough experience under your belt to go it alone, you’ll need to come up with a good name for your business. One of the best ways to promote your services is a leaflet campaign focused on areas with lots of trees and hedges in people’s gardens. Ensure your leaflets are informative and attractive, and list your qualifications and experience. A website is a must – people will Google for tree surgeons in your area. Make sure the style of it matches that of your leaflets to keep your branding consistent. Pin up leaflets on local community notice boards and at garden centres. You can also network gardeners, who you can recommend in return for them recommending you. Word of mouth will however be crucial to your success – if you’re good at your job, promoting your business will quickly become a thing of the past. You may be happy to continue to handle all the work alone, or may choose to employ or work with others, meaning you can take on bigger jobs and complete them more quickly, which will give you the edge on the competition. Read more like this

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