ropes and rigging:

“I am new to the tree business, have been cutting trees for the road commission that I work for the last eight years out of a bucket. I am now starting my own business climbing and trimming and removal as a side job, and need some input on how to fairly bid jobs. Is there a set formula for doing this? Any help would be appreciated.”

Photo courtesy of Bev Lloyd-Robert/

van Oss Tree Care:

“I have been in the biz for a while now, and when I first started I took a few jobs for friends or friends of friends. I would not really make any money, but I did get the experience and was able to figure out how long the different projects took. It is hard to say what you should charge. Every job is different and is going to require different amounts of equipment and manpower. The question is: What do you want to take home on a job after costs?”

Aerial Arborist:

“Quoting a job is one of the hardest things to be good at. Too high and you lose the job, too low and you lose money. Over the years I’ve found that I’d rather lose the job than lose money on the job. I evaluate each job by using the three D method, the three Ds are:

“Danger: Just how dangerous is the tree to work in or around?

“Difficulty: How much rope work and special handling is needed?

“Drudgery: Just how much physical labor is involved?”


“Over the years, I’ve found quoting the work to be one of the easiest things, as long as the move up the food chain is accompanied by appropriate experience. It’s really only hard if someone lacks experience to know how long it takes to do something safely, but if they have the experience, about the only other thing they need is to decide what the work is worth. And, with many companies, it may boil down to how much they want to make. I’ve seen two equally qualified companies charging very different prices, with both making enough money. The degree to which a company can reduce losses and damage will be important.”

Aerial Arborist:

“The experience needed to 90 percent successfully bid on jobs can take years to get, and your presentation and demeanor is very important and must be taken into account. In my area there are many landscapers and others who go out of their level of competence to bid on tree work. Worse, there are Craigslist cowboys with a Poulan and a pickup who will throw in lowball bids for tree work. I often sell jobs for twice as much as the low bid. Fortunately, the laws of natural selection continually put them out of business, but there are always new ones popping up.”

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