Because Your Business is Worth It: The Benefits of Investing in Industry Accreditation
Michael Roche, CTSP, is President of Vermont Arborists, a Stowe, Vermont based business that provides tree care services ranging from planting and health care, to hazardous removal. Vermont Arborists is a Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) accredited business, a designation identifying qualified tree care companies. Jobber asked Michael to talk about the accreditation process and the impact on his business. Here’s what we learned.
Certification vs. accreditation
A good place to start is understanding the difference between certification and accreditation. Whereas an individual who masters the science of trees may earn certifications, a business must have a collection of such individuals to qualify for accreditation, as well as pass muster in terms of a number of standards that assure its business is conducted in a safe, legal, and ethical manner.
“In the tree care business, you have to have a certified arborist and a tree care safety pro on staff, at minimum [to qualify for accreditation],” says Michael. “Beyond that, there’s a detailed audit where they check all your financials, your insurance, and liability coverage, your operating practices, your equipment, etc. They even come out to job sites to assess your safety standards and make sure you do a proper cleanup.”
“It’s a comprehensive and challenging process to become accredited but that makes sense. You may know how to take down a tree, but if you aren’t charging enough you’ll go broke, and that’s a poor standard.”
The entire TCIA accreditation process can take six to 12 months to complete and requires a fair number of administrative hours to get everything in order, as well as an audit fee. After initial accreditation is earned, the process must be repeated every two to three years. “It’s a lot of work but it has been worth it,” says Roche.
It’s really helped because people want to work for good, safe companies. Climbing trees is a dangerous occupation. People don’t want to get hurt or killed doing it.
Happy employees and more comfortable customers
For Vermont Arborists, one of the benefits of accreditation is the ability to attract and retain high quality employees. “It’s really helped because people want to work for good, safe companies,” says Roche. “Climbing trees is a dangerous occupation. People don’t want to get hurt or killed doing it.
“Prospective employees read about our accreditation, they watch our videos online and see we are always wearing personal protective equipment and following safety procedures . . . good employees gravitate towards that,” he says. “That keeps me focused as an owner in making sure that there are no lapses in standard form.”
While accreditation is important in pursuing bids on larger projects, with the government for example, it can be difficult for the average residential customer to grasp the benefits of accreditation. “It’s really more of a matter of just helping to prove to the consumer that you’re a good, safe, ethical business,” says Roche. “We look professional, we communicate well and we’re very thorough. That helps us be different from other tree services, so we stand out and the customer wants to get a quote from us.”
Confidence and peace of mind
Roche says running his company in a professional way has always been important, both to himself and the Vermont Arborist brand.
“Whatever the standard of excellence is, I want to be at the front,” he says. “I looked at ways to achieve that by studying the companies that were doing the best job. They had good equipment, they made good money, and they separated themselves by the quality of the work they did. They also all seemed to be accredited, so I thought Vermont Arborist should do that, too.”
Roche says the accreditation process—arduous as it may sometimes be—has helped him to tighten up the way he runs both his company and his life.
It’s really more of a matter of just helping to prove to the consumer that you’re a good, safe, ethical business. We look professional, we communicate well and we’re very thorough. That helps us be different from other tree services, so we stand out and the customer wants to get a quote from us.
“I think that, in all our lives, there’s always something we can do better to help us succeed. Being accredited does a lot of things for the business, but what it really does is give me peace of mind and make us more confident in what we do,” he says.
“I know that our people are well-trained, they’ve got the gear they need, a good shop to work in, and skilled team around them that they want to work with. Sometimes we may be more expensive than our competition, but other times we’re not: we knock a job out quicker because we have better equipment and we’re good at what we do. Being accredited, and having the best people on board as a result, allows you to be competitive in the market.”
“The bottom line is, we’re more efficient and profitable as a result.”
Want more tree care? Learn how Matt Davis, owner of Adair Tree Care, is using solid online strategies to build a thriving customer base.
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