So you’re looking to hire a professional tree service to do some work around the yard. Maybe you have some broken limbs, an overgrown tree, or you need a tree removed. You’ve never hired a tree service before and you don’t know anyone personally that can help you decide which tree service would be the best one for the job. How do you choose? Here are some important points when it comes to finding the right tree service.

1. Consider the risks carefully before deciding who will be doing your tree work.

Hire trained, equipped professionals to do the work. It is far more difficult and dangerous work than most people realize. Do an Internet search for “tree work accident” and see what you find there. That will make you a believer. But tree work can be done safely, efficiently, and at a really good price if done by well-equipped, experienced professionals. Take a chance on your brother-in-law helping out with new drywall in the garage. Don’t risk someone getting hurt because you think you can save a buck and have some fun by having a buddy do your tree work.
2.Make sure the company is legitimate.

Do they have a business license and are they insured? Anyone can buy a chainsaw and put an ad in the paper calling themselves a tree service. It’s a nice way to make money on the side. But tree work is very dangerous and requires trained, skilled professionals with the proper safety gear, rigging gear, license, and insurance.
Insurance – make sure the companies you are considering have current liability insurance and tell them you want to see a copy of it. Some companies will tell you they are insured when they really aren’t. If you had work done by a company without insurance and there was an accident causing damage or injuries, you as the homeowner could be facing a long uphill battle. The property damage will not be covered and anyone getting injured on your property could possibly sue.
Business License – you can not get business insurance without a business license in the first place. Request a copy of the company’s business license.

3.Look for safety gear.

The company’s ground personnel should at least be using helmets with face shields or protective glasses and steel toe boots. The climber should have the latest in safety and climbing gear including the proper saddle, helmet, glasses, steel toe boots, and arborist climbing ropes. If someone shows up with a ladder you should politely ask them to leave. Tell them you don’t have the money right now. Tree services never use ladders and always use safety and rigging gear specially designed and manufactured with the rigors of tree work in mind. Lowering heavy pieces of wood causes a tremendous amount of friction and shock-loads the ropes and pulleys. Specially designed gear will keep the workers safe, your home safe, and the job running smoothly.

4.Get the estimate in writing.

In order to protect yourself, make sure the estimate is in writing. Don’t take someone’s word for it. A legitimate business will always put their offer in writing, no questions asked.

5.Do not give any money down.

A tree service should never ask for any money up front. There are no materials furnished for doing tree work – just manpower. A home improvement contractor may ask for money up front so that materials for the job may be purchased, but there is no reason for a tree service to ask for money down. There are numerous horror stories out there that begin with customers paying money up front to someone for doing tree work and it goes downhill from there. You shouldn’t have to pay anything until the job is complete and you are completely satisfied with the work.

6.Compare apples to apples.

Make sure that when you are getting estimates, the details match up. If the company you are considering meets all of the criteria above, make sure the work they will be doing is clearly understood. Will they be hauling away the brush or leaving it? What about the larger pieces? Will they be trimming only the dead branches or will the entire tree be shaped? Will the stump be ground? Will the leaves and twigs be raked up at the end of the job or will it look like a tornado came through when they are finished? Ask questions and make sure your expectations are clearly understood. Once again, don’t forget to get everything in writing.
7.Be patient.

Pricing can vary drastically from company to company. Some companies are better equipped for certain jobs and will try to compensate for other types of jobs by bidding them high. Sometimes a company is busy, sometimes they’re slow. That also affects pricing. There are many factors that will affect pricing. Be patient, shop around, and negotiate. But please remember – tree work is not a commodity where only price matters. Tree work is risky and there is a dollar value worth paying to know it is being done by a company that is experienced, well-equipped, and insured.
8.Check the Better Business Bureau.

Companies that belongs to the BBB have always been held in higher regard. The BBB will keep track of any complaints against a company and hold them responsible for rectifying the situation. Any companies that do not take excellent care of their customers will quickly gather complaints on their record and if not resolved, they will be expelled from the BBB. If you are considering any companies that do not belong to the BBB, you should at least find out why they are not members. You should also check with a consumer protection agency to find out if there have been any complaints against the company. Why would a company choose not to belong to the BBB? That’s a great question.