Hiring a Tree Service Professional In The Greater Milwaukee Area
Caring for trees can be rewarding and challenging – rewarding because of the benefits that come from verdant trees but challenging because of the risks associated with climbing, cutting branches, and getting out stumps of trees, among others. Indeed, many of the tasks associated with proper tree care should be handed over to a tree service professional.
A rule of thumb for non-tree service professionals: If the work requires the use of ladders, cranes, and chainsaws, let the professionals handle it. Keep in mind that working at height and working with heavy equipment require proper knowledge and skills as well as protective gear for best results.
Safety should always be the main consideration in tree care especially when risky variables, including wires and wildlife, are involved. Consider the damages and losses that can happen, too, with a botched tree care job, such as branches falling into your neighbor’s glass windows or electrical wires being cut.
But don’t just hire anybody who offers his services as a tree service professional either. Be sure to keep the following top tips in mind before hiring the right tree service professional for the job.
Ask for Credentials
Handymen are not the right persons for tree care jobs because of their lack of knowledge, skills and tools for the job. Instead, you should only consider one of the following individuals or companies with these credentials:
• A certified arborist in the Milwaukee area with certification from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This professional has the knowledge and skills related to arboriculture due to either his full-time work experience in the field or his degree in arboriculture, forestry, or horticulture from an accredited educational institute.
• A Certified Tree Care Safety Professional (CTSP) as certified by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) or a tree care business accredited by TCIA. The CTSP program addresses the safety challenges involved in tree care including incident and hazard control and prevention.
• An Approved Line-Clearance Arborist as trained under the ACRT Urban Forestry Training program. The program is designed for tree workers who come within 10 feet of the safety zone around electrical wires.
The bottom line: The more knowledgeable and skilled the tree care professional is, the more value you can get for your money in terms of cost-efficient, results-effective, and safety-conscious results.
Furthermore, ask the tree care professionals being considered about their possible actions should any untoward incidents happen. This is especially true when the planned work involves working near electrical wires, telephone cables, and utility pipes, among others.
Does the tree care company have other qualified professionals like electricians and plumbers on board? Does the company ensure that appropriate measures are taken to reduce, if not eliminate, the risks for accidents involving these utility lines?
Look at the Insurance Policy
Tree care jobs can be dangerous because of the heavy equipment used and the heavy physical work required. Insurance coverage is then a must for the mutual protection of the tree professionals and their company as well as their clients.
Be sure to ask for proof of insurance coverage instead of taking the tree professionals’ word for it. Ask to see the certificates for these two types of insurance, which should be up-to-date:
• General liability insurance provides coverage for damages, losses, illnesses, and injuries caused by the tree care professionals to third parties, such as clients, during the job. For instance, damage caused to your home’s windows from a falling tree limb can be compensated by the insurance company.
• Worker compensation provides coverage for part or all of the lost income and medical care costs for an employee who became ill or was injured on the job.
For large residential and commercial jobs, you should also look into surety bonds as a guarantee of performance. Surety bonds are also valuable for clients who want to be compensated for the damages or losses incurred as a result of the non-performance of the agreed work or the non-delivery of the agreed results.
Assess Track Record
Even with the professional credentials and the insurance coverage, you should still assess the tree professionals’ track record in the Milwaukee area. You should know by now that credentials and coverage are moot when past and present clients are unsatisfied with the end results or the work performance of these professionals.
To assess the tree professional’s track record, you should perform two steps, namely:
• Ask for a list of client references based in Milwaukee and call a few of the clients to ask about work performance; and
• Ask for referrals and recommendations from your family and friends.
Assess the Services Offered
Look at the marketing materials provided by the tree care professional, such as leaflets and brochures. Beware of services and practices that increase the risk of injury to trees and humans including:
• Topping, a practice involving the removal of live sections from the tree’s top.
• Using spikes in climbing trees since spikes can cause unhealthy wounds on the tree’s cambium.
Ask for a Detailed Estimate
Always compare the credentials, coverage and costs of at least three tree care professionals before making your choice. Ask each of them to provide a detailed cost estimate or price quotation for the planned job but be sure to make each tree professional understand the scope of the job.
But avoid choosing a tree care professional just because of his low price quotation because you will likely get what you paid for. Be wary of professionals:
• With too low prices for their services;
• Who are too eager about working without any formal agreement;
• Who are too vague in their answers to your questions about the job and its costs
The detailed cost estimate should contain the following information:
• Scope of work
• Fees for basic services
• Add-ons on additional services
• Duration of work
While the detailed estimate is not a binding contract, you can use it as guide for the fees stated on the written contract.
Discuss the Equipment to be Used
Tree care typically requires the use of a wide range of manual and motorized equipment, such as shears, prunes, and chainsaws as well as cranes, ladders and power equipment. You must then ask pertinent questions including:
• What are the types of equipment to be used during the duration of the project?
• What are the impact of their use on the trees, lawn and soil, among other things in your property and your neighbor’s property?
• What is the company’s policy regarding damages incurred on your property as a result of equipment use?
• What are the alternatives?
• What are the company procedures for the preparation phase and clean-up stage of the project?
When you are satisfied with the answers to these questions, you are one step closer to hiring the best tree service professional for the job. You are also well-advised to take photographs of the trees to be treated and their surrounding area as evidence of the work performed.
Aside from the equipment, you should also ask questions about the protective gear for the tree care professional and his team. According to the rules and regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), tree care professionals should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while on the job; PPE typically includes hardhats, goggles, work boots, gloves, ear muffs, and comfortable work clothes.
Look at the condition of the tree care professionals’ equipment, too, including the vehicles. If these pieces of equipment are in poor condition, you cannot expect the work carried out by the professionals to be satisfactory, not to mention the high safety risks involved.
Discuss Work Duration
Reliable tree care professionals neither rush through the work in the pursuit of a quick buck nor delay the work in the pursuit of greater profits especially in case of an hourly rate agreement.
With your common sense coupled with inquiries from family and friends who have availed of tree care services and online research, you can determine the approximate length of work duration for the project. Keep an open mind when discussing the period of time for the project since unforeseen challenges can crop up.
The estimated work duration should also be stated on the cost estimate. You can then assess whether the quoted fees match the scope and duration of the project.
Just as with the cost, be wary about tree care professionals that suggest too long or too short project duration. Look at the average duration and compare it with the specific duration on each estimate – too long and you may be scammed, too short and the work may be rushed.
Always interview the tree care professionals being considered for the job. Even in a professional setting, harmonious personal interaction is a must especially in a service provider-client setup. You should consider whether you can work well with a tree care professional before making your hiring decision.
Of course, you have to demand a written contract before the tree care work starts as protection of your interests. Be sure to read its terms and conditions to determine their fairness before signing on the dotted line.