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6 Tree Care Industry Trends and Predictions for 2018

The overall trend for tree care in 2018? Think ahead, far ahead. Now is the time to make time and money investments in your online presence, marketing, professional development, hiring, and more.

But don’t take our word for it. We spoke to tree care business owners, the industry associations they belong to, and other marketing and finance experts to get their take on what arborists should expect in the new year. Here are the 6 areas they think you should focus on:

1. Customers want to get in touch on their terms

“You can definitely feel the demographics changing, in what new homeowners are demanding and what they’re expecting. Every year we see an increase of people booking work on our website rather than calling in. People want to be able to search for that information online and find suppliers outside of traditional business hours. If it’s 8:00 pm and someone wants to get in touch you need to make that possible.”
– Matt Davis, Owner, Adair Tree Care

“The self-employed economy will explode in the next several years. In fact, Intuit predicts 45% of Canadians will be self-employed by 2020. And given the upward trend of the on-demand, gig economy, led by Uber, it’s likely we’ll see an increase in this sort of trend within the home services industry. The new mindset is I want a great service and I want it now. Young entrepreneurs within the home-service industry should take note of this. Build a business around this model, think mobile first, whether that’s a website or an app, since this is how customers access the web and research, and ensure you can deliver awesome experiences within short timeframes.”
– Matthew Kanas, Partner Marketing and Developer Relations Leader, Intuit Canada

Quote

Every year we see an increase of people booking work on our website rather than calling in. People want to be able to search for that information online and find suppliers outside of traditional business hours.

Matt Davis, Owner, Adair Tree Care Quote

2. People want to hire experts so they can spend their time elsewhere

“People are looking for tailored solutions. They are more willing to put their trust in you to take care of things. When I was a kid and our dishwasher broke, the first option was for my dad to fix it. I find that not so much with the younger generation. They’re more likely to just call someone to fix it for them. People are more willing to hire someone and look after things.
– Matt Davis, Owner, Adair Tree Care

“For the longest time, paying for services was something that many people thought was only for wealthy, but it seems this belief is quickly vanishing. In these busy times, people value the time they can spend with friends and family. When you hire a service professional, what you are really buying is more time.”
– Dave Ferris, Product Manager, Jobber

Quote

2018 is a dynamic year for tree care company owners, and their employees, to invest in their own company growth.

Amy Tetreault, Tree Care Industry Association Quote

3. The time to invest in the future of your business is now

“The economy has been doing well, and it’s a good time to invest in machinery—which I’m going to be doing—and be prepared for growth in your business.”
– Michael Roche, Owner, Vermont Arborists

“2018 is a dynamic year for tree care company owners, and their employees, to invest in their own company growth. We’re always hearing that our members want to learn how to better manage their business’ growth effectively and profitably, and now is the time to participate in workshops and professional development.”
– Amy Tetreault, Tree Care Industry Association

“There are still a lot of people who haven’t embraced any technology on the business-side of their company, and the amount of time saving they could achieve by looking at how they run the administration side of their business. There are a lot of archaic systems in place that haven’t been updated, and people are afraid of technology and change to some degree.”
– Matt Davis, Owner, Adair Tree Care

4. There is a (slowly) growing pool of potential employees

“According to our most recent needs assessment where we survey our membership, hiring qualified staff and managing workforce turnover are primary concerns for tree care companies heading into 2018.”
 International Society of Arboriculture

“There are not enough people employed in the trades, and we’re running a labor shortage. It has always been a huge issue for us to find someone with experience. During the boom years it was hard to compete with the oil industry.

Now, I definitely find that there’s more people choosing arboriculture as a career. There used to be more people looking for a job than a career. That’s now changing. I think a lot of people are worried about getting stuck behind their desks for the rest of their lives. People want to be outside.”
– Matt Davis, Owner, Adair Tree Care

“We don’t have enough tradespeople. This growing economy has caught a lot of people in the tree care business off guard, but all the trades have been caught off guard. There aren’t enough plumbers, and there aren’t enough arborists.

To find good people, you have to approach technical schools, talk to the state employees involved in helping young people, run ads on Craigslist, run ads in the local paper, word of mouth—you have to do a bit of everything. A major thing is to support and participate in apprenticeship programs such as the one offered by TCIA. Offer apprenticeship placement for kids at nearby technical schools. I think this is going to be key for finding good help in the future.”
– Michael Roche, Owner, Vermont Arborists

“TCIA is always being asked to address the shortage of skilled arborists. Therefore, TCIA has made workforce development a priority to support the needs of member businesses, and we expect this idea to grow dramatically in 2018. Our Workforce Development Initiative is already actively working to develop and expand education and formal training programs in arboriculture and urban forestry in an effort to build a stronger pipeline of motivated and skilled workers.”
– Amy Tetreault, Tree Care Industry Association

Quote

According to our most recent needs assessment where we survey our membership, hiring qualified staff and managing workforce turnover are primary concerns for tree care companies heading into 2018.

International Society of Arboriculture Quote

5. It’s time to make operational adjustments for a growing economy

“The economy is growing, and you have to do things differently. One of the things I think you should do is get rid of free estimates during a growing economy—for new customers, not previous clients. I charge $75 for a consultation, and if you hire me, I will apply that fee to the job. If someone has a dead tree that needs removal, sure they need an estimate and I’ll provide that for free, but a lot of times people call and want ideas.

I have a lot of experience and that time has value, not to mention the time spent travelling to a site. If you have a choice, why not only get some money for your time that also tells the customer I’m so good, I’m worth $75. People will recognize there might be something there to this person: they’re so busy and they’re so good that they’re actually charging for the consultation—especially if they’ll spin it back to you if you hire them!”
– Michael Roche, Owner, Vermont Arborists

“With new technology coming out every day, and more technology built in to all of our devices, there may be more opportunity to provide service or support without ever going to your customer’s site. Evaluate if you have opportunities to remotely diagnose (and ensure you have the right parts with you) OR remotely troubleshoot and resolve issues without a trip out to the customer’s site. Both of these will help to improve your profitability.”
– Julie Babcock-Hyde, President, Spark Accounting Solutions

Quote

The economy is growing, and you have to do things differently. One of the things I think you should do is get rid of free estimates during a growing economy—for new customers, not previous clients.

Michael Roche, Owner, Vermont Arborists Quote

6. Get online or get left behind

“Marketing is on the mind of tree care companies going into 2018. Specifically, competition in the market, and educating potential customers about the need for professional tree care.”
– International Society of Arboriculture

“Social continues to explode and dominate more and more of our marketing activities as small businesses. In the next year, plan on increasing your activity and efforts on social. Small businesses will need to continue to be strategic to figure out what social platforms make sense. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a decline on Twitter as that becomes more and more a niche news channel. We will continue to see Instagram become the dominant player for business as that platform invests in its advertising products and tools.

We see businesses getting smarter and smarter on social as they figure out how to use great content to build an audience. We see video continuing to be an important media both on Facebook and Instagram.”
– Micah Slavens, Principal, Lift Interactive

“Google is making moves towards a closed ecosystem, where eventually you won’t need to leave their site to make decisions on who to hire. You can see this already with restaurants—you can check out restaurants, read reviews, look at a menu and reserve all from Google. Why even bother having a website if you can ask your phone which restaurant you should go to?

Home services is another vertical that should begin to see exactly the same treatment. With their focus on Home Services Ads (now Local Services Ads), we can also see that Google is moving to all AdWords for many key category searches. It’s entirely possible that within the next few years that many local searches (plumber, electrician, etc.) are completely paid, particularly on mobile devices. 2018 is the year that you need to get AdWords working for you, before your competition jumps on it.”
– Dana DiTomaso, President and Partner, Kick Point Digital Marketing

Start the new year with a more organized tree care business

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