So, you want to start a business in the tree service industry. Congratulations! Starting a tree service business can be very rewarding and profitable. Tree services are always in high demand, as there is never a shortage of trees needing special attention, no matter the season.

Now, you need to learn more about the industry and how to start a tree service business. You aren’t sure what is needed to start a tree service? Are you asking yourself: Is a tree-cutting business profitable? How to start a tree-cutting business? Or what equipment is needed to start a tree removal business? Not to worry; you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide explaining the basics and equipping you with the necessary knowledge to get started with your potential customers and business.

What Does Starting a Tree Service Business Involve?

If you are an experienced arborist, that’s great and very useful, but you don’t have to be. You can always hire other people to get down to the nitty-gritty and do the dirty work for you.

Establishing any successful business like a tree removal company involves first learning the basics, and it’s no different for a tree service business.

What you need to know initially is how much you should expect to invest in your business to get it off the ground. How much does it cost to start a tree business?

Then, you have to think about licensing. Will you need a license or a permit to operate legally, and if so, what kind?

Finally, you want to have a general idea of how much a tree-trimming business makes. You might have questions like, How much does a tree service owner make?

We have answers, so read on.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Tree Business?

It would be best to prepare to invest anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 to get your company going.

How much does it cost to start a tree-cutting business? The exact cost will depend on how many and what kind of services you want to offer, such as stump grinding, tree pruning, tree removal services, or tree trimming, the type of equipment you will need to buy, and how many employees you will hire to work for you.

Do You Need a Business License?

More than likely, the answer will be yes. Whether or not you will have to apply for a tree service business license will depend on your state and local requirements. Individual arborists are rarely required to have a permit, but this is not always the case for a tree care company.

To operate your business legally, you will need to apply for a business license from your state, county, or city. You may also need a contractor’s license that is separate from your business license.

You can start by visiting your state’s official government website and performing a “business license” search to find out the license requirements. One thing to remember about licenses and permits is that they usually have to be renewed annually.

Something else to consider is obtaining a certificate from the International Society of Arboriculture. Even though this is not a legal requirement to run a tree service business, becoming a certified arborist will solidify your reputation and let people know you are a skilled and reliable quality tree service provider.

In turn, this will maximize your chances of booking work quickly and easily and, of course, your profits.

How Much Does a Tree Care Business Make?

You can expect to earn anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 in gross per year as a smaller start-up business. After the deduction of business expenses, your annual profit would be around $50,000.

Once you establish your business better, solidify your reputation, and start expanding, your gross annual earnings can range anywhere from $540,000 to $1,150,000. As a business owner, you will generally bring home around 10% of your total revenue.

Your sales, quality of service, reputation, and way of managing are the factors that will determine how successful and profitable your tree service company will be. Remember that people place great value on effective management and dedicated customer service.

We have outlined six easy steps for you to take to get your business going.

1. Analyze the market.

2. Price your services.

3. Legitimize your business.

4. Choose a name and logo for your business.

5. Market your business.

6. Choose a tree service software to manage your business.

1. Analyze the Arborist Market

You will have to do a fundamental analysis of the market and determine what type of service you will offer and how you will compete with other companies.

You don’t have to offer a whole lot of services right away. You can test the waters by starting a tree removal business only or a stump removal endeavor, for example.

Of course, if you want to keep things simple and one type of service is enough for you, then stick to it. Chances are, though, that you will want to expand after a while, even if you don’t think so now.

As your goals change and get bigger, you can broaden your services as well, and you can do this slowly as you go. One way is by taking on various jobs, which you can subcontract to other companies and businesses or partner with property managers. This way, you will also build valuable connections within your industry.

But whether you are thinking of offering an individual service or plan on providing multiple services—tree consulting, risk assessments, storm damage repair, parasite treatment, tree trimming, tree bracing, tree planting, stump pruning, and grinding, to name a few—you have to make sure you set prices that can compete with those of competitors and can ensure gaining a decent profit at the same time.

2. Price Your Arborist Services

As we mentioned above, keep competitors’ prices in mind. However, it would be best not to rely exclusively on them or solely on market data.

Come up with a pricing strategy that works best for you. Don’t forget to consider your skill and experience, the value you will be adding to the project, the type of project, the level of service, the necessary equipment, including safety procedure costs, the labor involved, and so on.

You want to make sure you are allowing room for a decent profit—the primary goal of running a business.

You can decide to charge by the hour or by the service. How much you charge per hour, for example, will be up to you, of course, with hourly rates varying from $100 to $500. Even if you decide to set hourly rates, make sure to account for the service level and risk involved.

Always do a thorough analysis and evaluation of the project before you provide a quote or an estimate.

3. Legitimize Your Tree Business

To run a successful tree company, you will need to make sure it’s legitimate. Having all your documents in order will give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on making money and being the best at what you do.

Not only that, you will avoid legal issues, possibly being shut down, and losing your right to run a business at all.

You will need to address this by focusing on the following tasks:

Choosing the Right Business Structure

The business structures to choose from are sole proprietorship, partnership, C corporation, S corporation, limited liability company (LLC), or non-profit organization.

All these structures have different tax-filing requirements that will depend on your state.

Usually, most small and start-up businesses choose to incorporate an LLC. It can be a safer choice because owners have limited liability if the worst happens and a potential client sues them.

What’s more, you can opt for a single-member LLC if you are the sole owner. It’s a good option when you start, and I don’t know how much you may end up expanding or if you’d be open to partnering up with someone in the future.

As you grow, you can upgrade to a corporation. You are never stuck with your original choice.

Getting a Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the IRS

Obtaining a TIN, or employer identification number (EIN), is an easy, straightforward process, and you can do it online.

In a way, the nine-digit EIN takes on the role of a social security number for your business and identifies it for tax purposes.

Without this number, you won’t be able to apply for the necessary licenses and permits, open a business account, or file your tax returns.

Registering Your Business

Your next step is to register your business with the state. You have to contact your local municipality to inquire about the types of permits and licenses you will need to obtain.

As mentioned above, requirements will vary by location, but your local business development center should be able to help point you in the right direction.

Usually, your county or city’s official website will be your best resource.

Opening a Business Bank Account and Talking to an Accountant

Make sure you open a business bank account and a business credit card to use for all your business transactions. It makes you look more credible to both clients and creditors.

It’s also crucial to keep your business and personal expenses separate and ensure a smooth start when it comes to recordkeeping and taxes.

Getting Tree Business Insurance

Obtaining insurance for your business is essential and keeps you covered in case of property damage or liability claims.

The primary types of insurance you will need are basic liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance for your employees.

4. Choose a Name and Logo for Your Business

Deciding what you will call your tree care business and coming up with a logo design is the fun part, but it can still be overwhelming.

It’s true that you are never stuck with a particular choice and can always update it, but it’s not a great idea to go back and forth a lot. Changing your company’s name after you’re already on your way to solidifying your reputation and place in the industry can cause unnecessary headaches.

As far as your business logo is concerned, you can always hire a graphic designer to develop something outstanding, unless you have artistic tendencies and want to create something on your own.

Keep in mind that hiring an expert doesn’t have to be expensive and can guarantee excellent results. These will come in handy when creating business cards and any other promotional marketing material.

5. Market Your Business

Okay, so you’ve taken care of the legalities and are ready to start working.

You may be the best at what you do, but if people don’t know about your existence, your business won’t prosper.

The world we live in keeps changing and evolving, and word-of-mouth advertising is not as effective as it once was. Today, pretty much everything is done virtually, and you should think about your online presence and the online tools you can use to get and increase leads.

Even though you don’t need a website to operate a business, it’s an excellent idea to have one. It makes you look more professional, dependable, and reliable. It can also have a significant impact on your marketing strategy.

There are also ways to create your own website for free, but often they don’t look very professional. Remember, you have to be prepared to invest and spend money to make money. Also, don’t underestimate the power of print marketing for your business. Promotional material like brochures and business cards is still essential, especially when doing live networking.

Consider consulting with a search engine optimization (SEO) agency. The SEO experts can help you build a fantastic website or do it for you. They will then optimize it to ensure the people looking for your services can find you easily and, sometimes, even before they know they need you.

6. Choose a Tree Service Software to Manage Your Business

Don’t forget to consider tree service software, which you will need to manage your tree service business. You will use this software for online bookings, scheduling, putting together quotes and estimates, sending invoices, tracking time, managing your employees, and so on.

Choosing the right software, like RealGreen, for your business is crucial, as it will save you time, keep you organized, and produce valuable reports to monitor your performance and finances. 

Benefits of Partnering with RealGreen

Partnering with RealGreen for your tree service business can bring numerous benefits. RealGreen offers a comprehensive software solution specifically designed for tree care businesses, making it easier for you to manage all aspects of your operations.

Some of the key benefits of partnering with RealGreen include:

1. Streamlined Operations: Streamline your day-to-day operations, from scheduling appointments to managing invoices and tracking employee performance. This can save you time and reduce the likelihood of errors.

2. Improved Customer Service: Easily keep track of customer information, preferences, and history. This allows you to provide personalized service and build stronger relationships with your clients.

3. Mobile Application: provides technicians with the necessary tools to efficiently complete service and work orders, document conditions for potential upsells, and enhance the overall customer experience.

4. Enhanced Reporting and Analytics: Provides valuable insights into your business performance, allowing you to make informed decisions and improve your operations over time.

5. Financial Services: You can borrow anywhere from $1,000 to $1 million to help with your business needs. With quick access to funds in as little as 24 hours, you can ensure that your operations run smoothly and efficiently.

*Funding is provided by YouLend; WorkWave is not providing the credit. Prequalified offers are based on sales and are subject to a credit check. YouLend terms and conditions apply.

Final Thoughts

Starting a tree service business can be a rewarding venture, but it requires careful planning, investment, and dedication. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can set yourself up for success in this competitive industry.

Choosing to partner with RealGreen for your tree service business can provide numerous benefits that will help streamline your operations, improve customer service, and enhance your overall business performance. With the right tools and software in place, you can effectively manage your business and grow it over time. Book a demo today!

Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight, so be patient and continue to work hard towards your goals. With determination and the right resources, you can build a successful tree service business that stands out in the market. Good luck on your entrepreneurial journey!

Start Using Tree Service Software!

RealGreen’s tree care software helps arborists run their tree care business more efficiently with features such as scheduling, dispatching, reporting, invoicing, and more.

Hosam Sayed is a Product Marketing Manager at WorkWave with extensive knowledge of B2B product and marketing positioning. When not in front of his computer, he can be found spending time with his family, enjoying outdoor activities, and working on perfecting the art of landscaping.