How to start a tree surgery business

How to start up a tree surgeon businessStarting up a tree surgeon business requires careful planning and a deep understanding of the arboriculture industry. To begin, it’s crucial to research and comply with all legal and regulatory requirements specific to your region, as this industry often involves working with hazardous equipment and handling protected tree species.

You’ll need to invest in quality tree surgery equipment, from chainsaws to climbing gear, ensuring both safety and efficiency. Developing a solid business plan and marketing strategy will help attract clients, and networking with local landscaping companies or property owners can be invaluable for securing contracts.

Additionally, gaining the necessary certifications and training, such as becoming a certified arborist, will bolster your credibility in the field. Overall, starting a tree surgeon business demands a blend of industry knowledge, professionalism, and a dedication to preserving and enhancing our natural surroundings.

Secrets to Launching a Thriving Tree Surgeon Enterprise

Achieving success in the tree surgeon industry hinges on mastering the art of launching a thriving enterprise. It begins with a profound understanding of arboriculture regulations and compliance specific to your region, ensuring a solid legal foundation for your operations. Equipping yourself with the finest tools and gear elevates the quality and safety of your work.

A meticulously crafted business plan, complemented by a robust marketing strategy, is your roadmap to attract clients effectively. Building strong connections within the local landscaping community and among property owners opens doors to valuable contracts and referrals.

Furthermore, your dedication to continuous professional growth, through certifications and training, establishes your credibility in the field. These are the secrets that pave the way to a flourishing tree surgeon enterprise.

Market research

When embarking on your venture into the tree services industry, it’s crucial to gauge the potential demand and assess how effectively existing businesses are meeting it.


Consider the probable users of your services, which could encompass individual homeowners, commercial enterprises, and public sector entities, such as the local government.

Domestic work

RDomestic clients often have diverse needs within the tree service spectrum, encompassing tasks such as tree removal, pruning, and storm damage mitigation. Some may seek specialized guidance when dealing with trees posing threats to their property. In numerous instances, residential projects revolve around tending to just one or two trees.

When analyzing the local landscape of residential properties, consider the following:

  1. Identify districts with ample houses boasting reasonably sized gardens adorned with trees and hedges.
  2. Take note of the prevalent tree species in the area.
  3. Assess the overall upkeep of properties and gardens, distinguishing between well-maintained and those in need of attention.
  4. Scrutinize the demographics of the local population, including the presence of elderly residents, young families, tenants, and homeowners.

Additionally, explore the possibility of reaching out to housing associations and prominent property landlords to ascertain their potential demand for your services.

Furthermore, ponder the prospect of extending your offerings to cater to the additional needs of homeowners and domestic property landlords in your vicinity. This expansion could encompass services like hedge laying, hedge trimming, as well as broader landscaping and garden maintenance work.

Agricultural and forestry work

Depending on your geographic location, there could be a significant demand for tree services originating from various sectors, including farmers, the Forestry Commission, forestry management organizations, trusts (including wildlife trusts), the National Trust, and other substantial landowners like the RSPB.

Some of these entities may necessitate ongoing tree services and represent a potentially pivotal source of business. The scope of work they might require encompasses forestry management, tree felling, and clearing. Moreover, certain organizations may seek specialized services like the pruning of fruit trees.

To tap into this potential clientele, embark on the following steps:

  1. Conduct research to identify prominent landowning entities in your vicinity.
  2. Ascertain whether these organizations conduct their tree work internally or if they outsource it to external contractors.
  3. Strive to procure contact information for the individuals responsible for outsourcing tree services within these organizations.

By proactively engaging with these significant landowners, you can position your tree services business to potentially secure valuable contracts and partnerships within this niche market.

The local authority

Local government entities serve as substantial landowners, overseeing an array of properties ranging from parks and gardens to street and roadside greenery, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and industrial estates, among others. While some local authorities manage their tree-related tasks internally, others opt to engage external businesses, potentially creating opportunities for enterprises like yours.

To establish fruitful connections within the realm of local authorities:

  1. Seek out the decision-makers responsible for estate management and tree service procurement within your area’s local authorities.
  2. Explore the possibility of your business being added to the roster of ‘approved contractors’ maintained by your local authority.

By forging alliances with local government bodies, you can position your tree services business as a trusted partner, potentially gaining access to a steady stream of contracts and projects within your community.

Other non-domestic properties

Consider the diverse array of properties that may necessitate your services, expanding your client base beyond residential and public sectors. Any entity overseeing land adorned with trees could potentially become your client, encompassing various categories of properties such as:

  1. Hospitality and Entertainment: This category encompasses pubs, holiday parks, hotels, and even zoos, where the upkeep of green spaces and trees is integral to visitor experience.
  2. Cultural and Heritage: Historic houses and stately homes, which often boast extensive grounds and ancient trees, may require specialized tree care services to preserve their heritage.
  3. Recreation: Golf clubs and other sports facilities routinely seek tree maintenance to ensure safe and attractive playing environments.
  4. Healthcare: Care homes with landscaped gardens may require regular tree care to create pleasant outdoor spaces for residents.
  5. Retail: Supermarkets and expansive out-of-town retail parks can benefit from tree services to enhance their curb appeal and environmental efforts.
  6. Industrial: Factories, storage yards, and depots often have trees on their premises that require professional attention.
  7. Education and Healthcare: Independent schools and hospitals may need tree care for their campuses to maintain an appealing and safe environment.

Once you’ve identified these potential clients, tailor your marketing efforts to address their specific needs and emphasize the value your tree services bring to their properties. This targeted approach can help you establish a diverse and sustainable client base.

Contract and sub-contract work

Consider proactive outreach to enterprises with recurring tree service requirements. Explore avenues like collaborating with landscape gardeners and construction contractors, as these professionals often encounter tree-related needs in their projects. Additionally, civil engineers involved in road and railway construction and maintenance routinely require tree services.

Another promising avenue to explore is engaging with major landowners, such as the Ministry of Defence, which oversees extensive properties in various regions and may offer potential opportunities for your services. Utility and power companies, along with their specialized contractors, could also be viable prospects, given their regular need for tree care.

Furthermore, some tree service providers specialize in contract work for prominent public organizations like Network Rail, National Grid, and the Highways Agency. Investigate these networks to uncover potential collaborations and projects that align with your tree services business. Building robust relationships in these sectors can yield consistent and lucrative contracts.

Establishing the level of competition

Once you’ve pinpointed your potential customers, it’s crucial to gauge the competitive landscape in your area and assess how well they are currently served by other tree service specialists. Here’s how you can conduct this assessment:

  1. Online Directories: Utilize online resources like and other similar directories. Explore categories such as ‘tree work,’ ‘forestry maintenance services,’ and even ‘landscapers’ and ‘garden services’ to identify competitors in your vicinity.
  2. Online Research: Conduct online searches using the same keywords to identify and examine potential competitors in your area. Additionally, consult local print directories for further insights.
  3. Competitor Analysis: Study the advertising materials and online presence of your competitors, including their websites if available. Pay attention to:
    • Range of Services: Determine the array of services they offer.
    • Special Features: Identify any unique selling points they highlight, such as British Standards compliance, membership in reputable trade associations, local authority approval, a freephone telephone number, and more.
    • Impression: Assess the overall impression conveyed by their advertisements. Does the firm come across as small and personable, large and professional, focused on value, or emphasizing high quality?
  4. Customer Feedback: Engage with landowners and potential customers in your area. Inquire about their current tree service providers and gather insights on:
    • Satisfaction with quality and pricing.
    • Ease of accessing a reliable contractor.

This comprehensive assessment will empower you with valuable market intelligence, helping you refine your marketing strategy and positioning to effectively compete and cater to the specific needs of your target clientele.

Research current trends, plus legal and tax issues

A lifestyle choice

Tree surgery is a highly specialized craft that demands rigorous training and substantial experience. Prior to embarking on an independent venture, it’s essential to ensure you possess the requisite skills, ideally having gained experience while working for an established professional.

Much of the work within this field is physically demanding and, despite rigorous safety precautions, can potentially pose serious hazards. While warm summer days may offer pleasant outdoor conditions, year-round outdoor work exposes you to the capriciousness of the elements. Operating a chainsaw from lofty heights, for instance, is demanding under the best conditions; factor in wind and rain, and you’ll quickly realize the challenges you’ll encounter. In this profession, you’ll shoulder a significant burden of responsibility, including the safety of others, property protection, and, most importantly, the well-being of the trees themselves. Additionally, you’ll grapple with the daily obligations inherent in running any business, spanning various administrative tasks that extend beyond the day’s physical labor.

In summary, tree surgery is far from an easy career choice for those seeking a pleasant outdoor lifestyle or hoping to make quick money without adequate skills. However, for individuals possessing the right disposition, it can be an immensely gratifying path. Many tree surgeons and arborists are dedicated conservationists, deeply passionate about trees and horticulture. A proficient tree surgeon prioritizes the welfare of trees above personal financial gain and undertakes work only when confident of its beneficial impact.

Tree surgeons

Tree surgeons are artisans whose craft encompasses a multifaceted skill set, encompassing not only climbing but also the adept use of specialized machinery, coupled with an extensive repertoire of tree pruning and felling techniques. Mastery in these domains necessitates comprehensive and rigorous training.

Beyond the practical aspects of their craft, tree surgeons must possess a profound understanding of tree diversity, growth patterns, tree diseases, and pest management. Staying abreast of current pruning theories and techniques is imperative to their success. Moreover, a profound knowledge of health and safety protocols is indispensable in this field, ensuring that every aspect of their work prioritizes safety for both themselves and others.

In essence, tree surgeons are not just skilled laborers but also highly knowledgeable professionals who combine their expertise in various domains to care for and preserve the natural treasures they work with.


Arborists, also known as arboriculturalists, are experts in the art and science of tree care and conservation. Their expertise spans a wide range of critical areas within arboriculture. These professionals are proficient in providing valuable guidance on various tree-related concerns, including:

  1. Planning and Tree Planting: Arborists offer insights into strategic tree planting and land-use planning, ensuring the proper selection, placement, and care of trees in urban and rural landscapes.
  2. Tree Surveys: They conduct comprehensive tree surveys to assess the condition, health, and overall well-being of trees, helping property owners make informed decisions about tree management.
  3. Tree Problems and Hazards: Arborists identify and address potential issues and hazards associated with specific trees, ensuring the safety of individuals and property.
  4. Property Damage Mitigation: They offer solutions for mitigating damage caused by trees to structures, infrastructure, and utilities.
  5. Tree Health and Disease Management: Arborists are well-versed in diagnosing tree diseases, infestations, and other health issues. They develop strategies for treatment and preservation.

Arborists are required to hold substantial qualifications and are committed to staying current with advancements in their field. Some arborists combine their knowledge with practical skills and undertake hands-on work like pruning and tree removal, ensuring that their expertise extends beyond theory into effective tree care practices. In essence, arborists are the guardians of our natural arboreal treasures, blending their knowledge and craft to ensure the vitality and longevity of trees in our environment.

Decide what services to offer

In the realm of arboriculture and tree care, the opportunities are vast. A blend of hands-on tasks and consultation-based activities can provide a broad array of services to meet the demands of your clientele. Whether you’re thinking of branching out (pun intended) or are new to the industry, the following examples will shed light on what you can offer:

Tree Services Guide: Diverse Offerings for Your Arboriculture Business

In the realm of arboriculture and tree care, the opportunities are vast. A blend of hands-on tasks and consultation-based activities can provide a broad array of services to meet the demands of your clientele. Whether you’re thinking of branching out (pun intended) or are new to the industry, the following examples will shed light on what you can offer:

Practical tree service

It seems like you’ve listed various tree-related services and activities that are commonly performed by arborists, tree surgeons, or forestry professionals. Here’s a brief explanation of each of these services:

  1. Pruning, Reducing, and Thinning: Pruning involves trimming branches to improve the health and appearance of a tree. Reducing reduces the overall size of the tree, while thinning removes excess branches to increase air and light penetration.
  2. Deadwood Removal: Removing dead or decaying branches from trees, which is essential for safety and tree health.
  3. Specialist Fruit Tree Pruning: Specific pruning techniques tailored for fruit-bearing trees to maximize fruit production and tree health.
  4. Crown Reduction and Lifting: Crown reduction reduces the overall size of a tree’s canopy, while crown lifting involves removing lower branches to create clearance beneath the tree.
  5. Shaping: Artistic pruning to create specific shapes or forms in trees for aesthetic purposes.
  6. Coppicing: A traditional forestry technique involving cutting a tree down to its base to promote new growth.
  7. Felling, Clearing, and Removal: Cutting down and removing entire trees or sections of trees, often used for land clearing or hazardous tree removal.
  8. Logging, Chipping, and Firewood: Processing trees into logs for lumber, chipping for mulch, or cutting into firewood for heating.
  9. Dangerous/Awkward Tree Services: Handling challenging situations like working in tight spaces, on steep slopes, near power lines, or with overhanging trees while ensuring safety.
  10. Woodland Maintenance and Management: The care and maintenance of wooded areas, which can involve various activities like thinning, controlled burning, and wildlife habitat management.
  11. Stump Grinding and Removal: Grinding tree stumps below ground level to eliminate tripping hazards and facilitate re-landscaping.
  12. Site Clearance: Clearing a site of trees and vegetation for construction or development purposes.
  13. Hedge Laying and Cutting: Trimming and shaping hedges for privacy, aesthetics, or property boundaries.
  14. Tree Planting and Re-siting: Planting new trees or relocating existing ones to enhance landscaping or meet conservation goals.

These services are typically provided by professionals with expertise in arboriculture, forestry, or landscaping, depending on the specific needs and goals of the project. It’s essential to hire qualified professionals to ensure the proper care and maintenance of trees and vegetation on your property.

Firewood sales

In today’s changing landscape, tree service providers must adapt to the evolving needs and opportunities presented by their clientele. Some homeowners are eager to utilize the wood from their trees, whether for cost-effective heating or other purposes. However, many others simply want the wood removed from their properties. The surge in heating fuel costs has fueled a growing demand for quality hardwood logs, creating a promising market in various regions.

To maximize your profitability, you might consider adding value to the wood you extract. During quieter periods, you could invest time in cutting and splitting the wood, then carefully season it for optimal drying. Naturally, this endeavor requires ample storage space. Alternatively, you can explore partnerships with firewood specialists who can handle the cutting and seasoning process themselves. When selling firewood directly to household customers, keep in mind that many will expect delivery and unloading services, and some may even request stacking.

It’s worth noting that while on the job, you and your team may encounter inquiries from the public regarding the wood you’re working with. While this can occasionally be advantageous—offering wood for a small fee, for instance—it may also introduce complications related to safety and insurance. If this becomes a persistent issue, you might contemplate posting signs at job sites, indicating that the wood is not available, while including your contact details for firewood sales, should interested parties want to reach out separately.

Furthermore, be aware of potential regulatory changes. Government consultations launched in 2018 to address emissions from wood burning stoves and open fires could lead to new regulations affecting the sale of firewood. These regulations may mandate the sale of dry, well-seasoned wood, potentially altering the economics of selling wood. In such cases, selling uncut lengths and rings to firewood specialists might become a more viable option compared to cutting and seasoning the wood yourself.

Adaptability and awareness of changing market dynamics and regulations are crucial for sustaining a successful tree service business in today’s environment.

Tree consultancy services

When you possess the appropriate expertise and qualifications, there is a range of valuable tree consultancy services you can offer to clients:

  1. Tree Inspections and Condition Surveys: Conduct thorough assessments of trees, providing detailed reports. These reports are often required by mortgage and insurance companies, as well as by planning and construction specialists. Many homebuyers need a tree report as part of their mortgage approval process.
  2. Tree Risk Assessments: Identify potential risks associated with trees on a property, helping property owners and land managers make informed decisions about tree management and safety measures.
  3. Planting, Selection, and Planning Advice: Advise clients on tree species selection, suitable planting locations, and long-term tree care planning to ensure healthy growth and optimal aesthetics.
  4. Tree Preservation and Conservation Advice: Provide guidance on navigating regulations related to tree preservation orders (TPOs), restrictive covenants, conservation areas, or sites of special scientific interest. Help clients understand their responsibilities and options regarding protected trees.
  5. Tree Valuations: Assess the monetary value of trees for various purposes, including insurance claims, property transactions, or compensation calculations.
  6. Disease/Infestation Prevention and Treatment: Offer expert advice on preventing and managing tree diseases and pest infestations, promoting tree health and longevity.
  7. Expert Witness Services: Serve as an expert witness in legal matters related to trees, offering professional opinions and testimony in court cases or disputes.

For arborists looking to showcase their professional competence in the field of tree consultancy, joining organizations like the Consulting Arborist Society can be a valuable step. These memberships often provide access to resources, networking opportunities, and recognition within the industry, enhancing your credibility and career prospects.

Providing these tree consultancy services requires not only knowledge and qualifications but also excellent communication skills to convey complex information to clients in a clear and understandable manner. Tree consultants play a critical role in promoting tree health, safety, and sustainable urban forestry practices.

Other services

In addition to your core tree-related services, you may choose to expand your offerings based on your specific skills and resources. Here are some examples of additional services you can consider providing:

  1. General Landscaping and Garden Maintenance: Extend your expertise to include landscaping services, such as designing and maintaining gardens, installing hardscapes, and enhancing outdoor spaces with plants and features.
  2. Fencing: Offer fencing solutions to clients, including installation, repairs, and customization to meet their privacy and security needs.
  3. Excavation: Utilize your equipment and expertise for excavation projects, such as digging foundations, trenches, or creating landscape contours.
  4. Equipment Hire: Rent out specialized equipment like wood chippers and mini-excavators, potentially including an operator, to individuals and businesses in need of such machinery for their projects.

Indeed, there may be seasonal fluctuations in demand for tree services, and diversifying into complementary services like landscaping, fencing, excavation, or equipment rental can help maintain a consistent income stream throughout the year. These additional services can also attract a broader clientele and establish your business as a one-stop solution for various outdoor and property maintenance needs.

Before expanding into new service areas, it’s essential to assess the local market demand, acquire any necessary certifications or licenses, and ensure you have the equipment and expertise to deliver quality results. By offering a range of services that cater to your clients’ diverse needs, you can enhance the sustainability and growth of your business

Added value features and services

When running a tree services or consultancy business, offering added value services and features can set you apart from the competition and enhance your customer relationships. Here are some attractive added value services to consider:

  1. Free Advice, Estimates, and Quotations: Providing free consultations and estimates allows potential customers to understand the scope and cost of their project without any financial commitment upfront. This transparency builds trust and encourages potential clients to engage with your services.
  2. Recognized Quality Standards: Adhering to recognized industry standards, such as BS 3998 for tree work, demonstrates your commitment to delivering high-quality services. Certification can instill confidence in your clients.
  3. Freephone Telephone Line: Offering a freephone number makes it easy for customers to reach out to you, fostering accessibility and convenience in your communication.
  4. “No Job Too Big or Too Small” or “Distance No Object” Promise: Assure customers that you are willing to tackle a wide range of projects, regardless of size or location. This flexible approach can attract a broader clientele.
  5. Waste Material Recycling: Highlight your commitment to environmental responsibility by recycling all waste material generated from your tree services, showcasing your dedication to sustainability.

It’s essential to differentiate between quotes and estimates:

  • Quotes: A quote provides a fixed price for a specific job. Once accepted by the customer, the price remains unchanged, even if unforeseen circumstances arise. Make sure your quotes include precise details of the work covered and explicitly state that any additional work or variations will be charged as extras.
  • Estimates: An estimate offers a ballpark figure of what a job is likely to cost. It is not binding, and you are not obligated to stick to the estimated price. You can provide multiple estimates based on different scenarios, from best-case to worst-case.

When communicating with customers, be transparent about what factors can lead to price changes, such as log chopping or stacking. If the customer requests additional work during the project, clarify how this will impact the overall cost.

Typically, providing estimates and quotes should be done free of charge on a no-obligation basis. However, for more complex and time-consuming consultancy work, you may consider charging a fee. You can then offer to refund this charge if it leads to a substantial contract, incentivizing clients to proceed with your services.

By offering these added value services and maintaining clear and open communication with your clients, you can build a strong reputation and foster long-term customer relationships in the tree services industry.

A complete service

Many of your clients may have limited knowledge about tree surgery and preservation, entrusting you to oversee the entire process from inception to completion. Some of these clients might be elderly and particularly concerned about the condition of their garden once the project is finished.

Your customers will anticipate an honest evaluation of the work required and seek expert advice on the most suitable course of action. In cases where local authority permissions are necessary due to protected trees, they may rely on you to navigate the bureaucratic aspects. Once the project commences, clients will expect a meticulous and professional approach, addressing any unforeseen challenges while prioritizing safety at all times.

Upon project completion, your responsibility extends to the thorough cleanup of any removed branches and felled trees, as well as the removal of any remaining debris. Clients might request either the complete removal of all materials or the chipping of some for garden mulch, with larger logs prepared for firewood as an alternative.

Consider your work rate

The potential income in your tree surgery and preservation business can fluctuate based on various factors, including your workdays and hours.

You can opt for conventional business hours, such as 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday, and possibly even Saturdays. Alternatively, you might choose to extend your workday, perhaps starting earlier or even offering a 24-hour emergency service for situations like severe storm damage.

It’s important to note that adverse weather conditions can occasionally disrupt your planned work schedules. To maximize your earnings, you could consider working longer hours during favorable weather and extended daylight periods, while allowing for some downtime during the winter months. However, it’s essential to be mindful of noise disturbance concerns, especially if you plan to use chainsaws and other machinery early in the morning or late into the evening.

Work rate

It’s crucial to have a solid grasp of the time required for various types of jobs in your tree surgery and preservation business. When providing job quotes, accuracy in estimating the duration is paramount. Always factor in a contingency period. Each job is unique, and unforeseen challenges can extend the time needed. Relying on a two-day estimate when it ends up taking four isn’t a sustainable approach.

The pace at which you work is influenced by your personal expertise, experience, and the nature and quality of your work. Your pricing structure should account for all these variables. Keep in mind that your employees may not share the same level of motivation as you do—after all, it’s not their own business they’re working for.

Non-productive time

Regrettably, not every moment of your working day will directly contribute to your earnings. There are various factors that may lead to situations where your efforts do not translate into income. Here are some examples:

  1. Site Visits and Quoting: Time spent visiting sites to assess work and provide quotes doesn’t generate immediate revenue.
  2. Job Overruns: Occasionally, tasks may take longer than anticipated due to unexpected challenges like difficult access or weather-related interruptions.
  3. Travel Time: Traveling to and from job locations consumes time that isn’t directly billable.
  4. Equipment Maintenance: Periods devoted to repairing tools or vehicles can’t be billed as work hours.

In some instances, you may be unable to work at all due to:

  1. Equipment Breakdowns: When crucial tools or equipment are inoperable.
  2. External Dependencies: Waiting for external factors, such as power companies cutting overhead cables before starting work.
  3. Inclement Weather: Adverse weather conditions that make work impossible.
  4. Health Issues: Personal illness or injuries that prevent you from working.

When planning your work schedules, it’s essential to factor in these considerations and be realistic about the maximum number of productive hours you can expect each month. Minimising downtime should be a key consideration in your planning efforts.

Pricing policy

Before delving into your tree surgery and preservation business, it’s essential to determine your pricing strategy, which can vary based on the nature of the work. Here are various pricing approaches to consider:

  1. Hourly or Daily Rates: Charge clients for your services and those of your team on an hourly or daily basis, with additional costs for any hired equipment or extras.
  2. Individual Job Quotes: Offer clients a comprehensive, individualized price for each job. Typically, this quote will be based on your hourly rate plus any added expenses, providing clients with a clear understanding of the total cost.
  3. Standard Service Rates: Establish fixed rates for specific tree services. For example, you might set a standard fee for thinning a medium-sized deciduous tree.
  4. Standard Rates for Other Services: Determine standard charges for additional services, such as preparing mortgage/insurance reports or renting out your wood chipper for a day.

Consider what’s included in your prices and what will be billed as extras. For instance, decide whether chipping branches or cutting large logs for firewood will be part of your standard price or charged separately. You might also contemplate adjusting rates for work performed at certain heights, near power lines, or close to property boundaries.

Commercial clients may anticipate special rates, with large organizations and insurance companies seeking competitive pricing. You could opt to offer discounts to specific customer segments, such as pensioners or charitable organizations like woodland and wildlife trusts.

Tailoring your costing methods to different jobs and customers can be beneficial, factoring in competition and the complexity of the work involved.

When setting your charges, keep these points in mind:

  • Research competitor pricing and how they calculate their rates.
  • Consider whether competitive pricing will help you gain an edge in the market.
  • Assess whether your rates should vary based on the type and intricacy of the work.
  • Decide whether to charge extra for travel to distant job sites.
  • Clearly outline what’s included in your prices and what constitutes an additional charge.
  • Determine whether to add a profit margin to expenses like hired equipment or pass them on at cost.
  • For emergency call-out work, think about charging higher rates for after-hours and Sunday service, or implementing a standard emergency call-out fee atop your regular hourly rate.

When providing estimates or quotes, keep in mind that clients often obtain quotes from multiple firms. Accurate and competitive quoting is crucial, but don’t undervalue your quality workmanship and efficient service. Some clients are willing to pay a fair price for superior service and professionalism.

It’s worth noting that some clients may have received unrealistically low quotes from unscrupulous operators. Rather than matching these rates, emphasize the importance of hiring a fully insured, skilled, and trained contractor who can deliver a high standard of work.

Insurance for tree surgeons

Tree work involves inherent risks, and accidents or property damage can occur despite your best efforts. Having the right insurance coverage ensures that you can continue operating your business with confidence, knowing that you have a safety net in place.

Here’s a breakdown of the types of insurance you should consider and some reputable providers:

  • Public Liability Insurance: This is one of the most important types of coverage for tree surgeons. It protects you in case a third party, such as a client or passerby, is injured or their property is damaged as a result of your work.
  • Employers’ Liability Insurance: If you have employees, this coverage is legally required in most places. It safeguards your business in case an employee gets injured or falls ill due to work-related activities.
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance: This insurance is essential for protecting against claims of professional negligence or errors. It can be particularly valuable if you provide consultancy or advisory services.
  • Tools and Equipment Insurance: Your tools and equipment are the lifeblood of your business. This insurance covers the cost of repairing or replacing them if they are stolen, damaged, or lost.
  • Commercial Vehicle Insurance: If you use vehicles for your tree surgery business, this type of insurance provides coverage for accidents and damage related to your vehicles.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: This coverage can help you recover lost income and cover ongoing expenses in case your business operations are disrupted due to unforeseen events like fire or natural disasters.
  • Health and Accident Insurance: Consider coverage for yourself and your employees in case of injury or illness that affects your ability to work.

Reputable insurance providers for tree surgeons include AXA, NFU Mutual, Hiscox, Simply Business, and Aviva. Be sure to compare policies, premiums, and coverage limits to find the right insurance solution that suits your specific needs as a tree surgeon.

Finance for a tree surgery business

Managing your finances effectively ensures that your operations run smoothly, and you can invest in essential equipment, training, and marketing to grow your venture. Whether you’re just starting or looking to expand, understanding the various types of finance available can be a game-changer.

Different types of finance can cater to specific business needs:

  • Invoice Finance: This option involves borrowing money against the value of your outstanding invoices. It can provide immediate cash flow and is particularly useful if clients have extended payment terms.
  • Startup Finance: When launching your tree surgery business, you may require capital for initial equipment purchases, marketing, and operational expenses. Startup finance, often sourced from personal savings, family, friends, or angel investors, can help you get off the ground.
  • Business Loan: Business loans from banks or alternative lenders can provide a lump sum of capital for various purposes, such as expanding your team, upgrading equipment, or investing in marketing efforts. These loans come with interest rates and repayment terms.
  • Asset Finance: For acquiring or upgrading equipment like chainsaws, chippers, or vehicles, asset finance allows you to spread the cost over time. This can free up working capital and ensure you have the tools necessary for efficient operations.

Selecting the right finance option depends on your specific circumstances and business goals. Proper financial planning and management will enable your tree surgery business to thrive and adapt to changing market conditions.

Promote your business

Effectively promoting your business is vital to inform prospective clients about your identity, location, and the valuable services you offer.

Advertising and marketing

In today’s digital age, establishing a strong online presence through a well-crafted website can serve as a powerful tool for promoting your business and connecting with a broader customer base. Additionally, consider getting listed in online directories, especially those affiliated with reputable trade associations that offer ‘contact an expert’ directories.

Harness the potential of social media platforms for effective marketing, maintaining relationships with past clients, and engaging with potential new ones. Furthermore, explore the use of relevant forums and perhaps even a blog to share your expertise, although be cautious of forum rules that prohibit overt advertising within posts. You might also consider registering on tradespeople review websites such as Checkatrade and job-referral platforms like and Rated People.

Don’t underestimate the impact of an entry in a local print directory; however, as many competitors may have the same idea, focus on setting your business apart.

While some firms invest heavily in eye-catching display advertisements, you can choose to differentiate your approach by highlighting your Unique Selling Points (USPs) in your marketing materials. These might include showcasing “25 years of experience,” emphasizing that your business is “family-run,” or simply promoting a “friendly, honest service.”

Explore alternative advertising methods, such as distributing paper flyers, plastic cards, or stickers with your business details during targeted mail-shots, especially in the early spring season. Investigate opportunities to be listed as an ‘approved tradesman’ by insurers, helplines, or directories, many of which have stringent quality screening processes. Some may require a minimum of two years in business.

Reach out to local residential landlords’ associations to inquire about inclusion in their supplier guides. Consider additional promotional avenues, including advertising in local newspapers or trade magazines tailored to businesses like farmers. Joining respected trade associations like the Arboricultural Association can also help promote your business, as they often maintain online directories of approved contractors and consultants.

Explore the possibility of placing advertisements or flyers in local garden centers and nurseries. Network with local landowners, landscape gardeners, and horticulturalists, as they could become regular clients or refer potential customers to your business.

Initiate contact with estate management personnel in organizations like the local authority or the National Trust to secure a spot on their ‘approved supplier’ list.

When advertising, focus on highlighting the unique strengths of your business, particularly those that distinguish you from competitors. Include details of professional qualifications and membership in trade associations to build credibility.

Remember that your vehicle can serve as an effective mobile advertisement if you have it sign-written and maintain its cleanliness and appearance. Consider creating a sign that can be displayed at job sites, but always obtain the customer’s consent before doing so. If you rent out equipment like wood chippers and mini-excavators, incorporate your business name and contact information on them for additional visibility.

Personal contact

When you’re engaged in a residential project, it’s quite common for other homeowners to approach you with potential work requests. It’s essential to maintain a courteous and helpful demeanor in such situations. Ensure you provide them with your contact information, perhaps in the form of a business card. While it’s important to be polite and accommodating, it’s equally vital not to let these inquiries divert your attention from your ongoing task. Instead, schedule a later visit to their location and assess the job once you’ve completed your current work site.

Word of mouth

Positive word-of-mouth recommendations can be an invaluable asset to your business. In a world where tales of unscrupulous tradesmen abound, clients are understandably cautious and seek assurance that you won’t disappoint them. Establishing and maintaining a stellar reputation hinges on consistently delivering top-notch workmanship, but even seemingly minor gestures like politeness and thoughtfulness can yield substantial dividends.

Additionally, it’s imperative that any employees you bring into your fold embody the values and professionalism of your business, as they also play a pivotal role in shaping your reputation. Building trust and goodwill with your clients will be your most effective marketing tool.

Some things to avoid doing

It’s important to be cautious and discerning when it comes to certain advertising and marketing methods in the tree services industry. Unfortunately, this sector has seen its share of unskilled operators who tarnish its reputation.

Some individuals employ questionable tactics, such as going door-to-door, making unsubstantiated claims like “that tree is dying and requires immediate removal.” Others exploit post-storm situations, capitalizing on tree debris cleanup and the felling of seemingly unsafe trees. These practices are widely considered unscrupulous by conscientious tree surgeons, many of whom maintain a steady workload without resorting to aggressive door-to-door sales tactics.

Instead, focus on establishing your credibility through quality work, professionalism, and ethical business practices. Building a strong reputation within your community will attract genuine clients who appreciate your expertise and trustworthiness, without the need for misleading or high-pressure sales techniques.

Buy an existing business

Opting to acquire an existing tree surgeon business instead of launching your own startup can offer several advantages. Purchasing an established operation means that essential components like products, a customer base, regular revenue, staff, premises, and equipment are already in place.

However, when considering the acquisition of a small tree services business, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough assessment of what you’re truly acquiring for your investment. Smaller businesses may have limited tangible assets, so it’s essential to ensure that you’re receiving fair value, especially if you’re paying for intangibles like goodwill, contact lists, and potentially ongoing long-term contracts.

It’s important to recognize that purchasing a business can be a complex and costly endeavor, particularly if you lack the requisite skills and experience. Having a well-rounded team, including professionals with legal and financial expertise, is crucial. Ensuring you have a clear understanding of the business’s true trading and financial status is paramount to avoid overpaying for the acquisition. Proper due diligence and a well-executed acquisition strategy can make the process smoother and more financially prudent.


In conclusion, starting a tree surgery business is an endeavor that requires a combination of arboricultural expertise, effective business acumen, and a commitment to professionalism and safety. By following the steps outlined in this guide, from acquiring the necessary qualifications and equipment to establishing a solid business plan and marketing strategy, aspiring tree surgeons can lay the foundation for a successful and thriving venture.

It’s essential to prioritize safety, build a strong reputation, and continuously invest in knowledge and skills to stand out in this competitive industry. With dedication and a focus on delivering exceptional service, a tree surgery business can not only flourish but also contribute positively to the well-being of the environment and the community it serves.

Lee Jones profile picture
Business Finance specialist at Invoice funding

Seasoned professional with a strong passion for the world of business finance. With over twenty years of dedicated experience in the field, my journey into the world of business finance began with a relentless curiosity for understanding the intricate workings of financial systems.

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