How Do I Get to The Next Level?

How Do I Get To The Next Level?

Written By Eric Petersen, CIC

 So you’ve done what everyone has told you to do to get your business to this point. You’re proud of what you’ve accomplished but you still find yourself looking for more. What’s the next step? How can I really take my business to the next level? Well, unfortunately, there isn’t a magic wand to help you elevate your business. Getting over the edge takes more discipline and team work than what you relied on to get to this point.

Below are my eight tips for taking your business to the next level!

1. Clarify Your Vision – Where do you want to be? What is the vision for the business? By now you know what is possible within the tree care industry. You’ve met successful owners and you know what works for your company, so now is the time to create the specific vision of your company. Be detailed in your description of what your company will look like in 3, 5 and 10 years. Write it down so you can look back on it at least every six months to check your progress. The next level will look different for every company, the fun part is you get to decide what it means for your organization.

2. Create the Plan with Stretch Goals – Once you know where you are heading, figure out the goals that will get you there. Make sure the majority of your goals are attainable yet push you to make them happen. For our agency, our primary goal for 2022 is to grow by 22% (22% in ’22 – get it?). It is a number that we have never hit before but since we’ve laid the foundation in the previous years it is attainable while making us stretch for it. Again, being specific on how you will achieve each goal is critical.

3. The Customer Experience is King – If you haven’t looked at what kind of customer experience you and your team are providing for your customers you must commit to fully engage in that process. Your current customers are the best source of referrals and repeat business so ensuring that they have the best possible experience with your team is a must. Check out our article on “Reviving the Customer Experience” for help on how to transform your customer service.

4. Commit to Continuous Learning – You probably already do this, but never stop learning. I’m not talking about just the formal seminars and continuing education classes required to keep up your credentials. Those are important, but more so are the conversations that you have with other business owners that have made it through the challenges that you are facing. Attending the TCIA’s Winter Management Conference and Executive Arborist Workshop will get you in the same room as those who you can learn from. When attending these events, make sure to ask direct questions to others so you can walk away with ideas for your business.

5. Teamwork – You must share your vision with your team and create a team first culture where everyone wants to win together. Proper delegation of responsibilities is key to allowing everyone to feel part of something larger than their job. When everyone knows their role in achieving greatness for the whole organization, the entire company will take off.

6. Evaluate and Adjust – Let’s face it, you won’t get everything right the first time. Expect to need to make adjustments to your process and slight variances from your goals. I suggest to at a minimum review your annual goals at the halfway point each year so there is still time to make changes so you can achieve the goals you set out at the start of the year.

7. Embrace and Live the Plan – This is probably the most challenging one on the list because it takes a lot of self discipline, but live each day with purpose to accomplish what you need to that day. Life happens and interruptions are part of it, but when you continually refocus yourself on the overall vision you will be amazed at what you can accomplish for your company.

8. Believe in Yourself and Your Team – All great leaders believe in themselves and their team. They are confident that together the right answer will pop up and solutions to challenges will be overcome. You have to provide that strength from the top as the owner so that everyone feels proud and excited to be part of a thriving company. If you are struggling with this, just look back over the past year and jot down all of the hurdles your organization has overcame. Share this with the team and everyone will quickly be reminded of how far your organization has come in a short bit of time. This should reinvigorate you and your team to push to that next level.

Of course, make sure you are applying your ‘Why’ to each of these steps. When you have a purpose deeply engrained within an organization, your need for the magic wand disappears and your company will take off to the next level.

Need more help taking your business and team to the next level? Contact ArboRisk to learn more about our Thrive New Heights Package! This package will give you one-on-one consulting to improve company culture and beliefs, role responsibilities and job descriptions, safety and training program creation or updates, and sales and marketing. 

Mid Year Check Up

Mid Year Check Up

Too often in the tree care industry during the middle of the year, business owners feel entrapped by their business. The work is booked out for a month or two, yet they are playing catchup from storm damage work, employees are about to leave to go back to school and many more challenges put the business owner on pins and needles. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Below are 7 questions to ask yourself at the halfway point in your year so you can make some corrections if necessary.


Are your repeat customers still loving your service? Obviously if your customers are not receiving the level of service that they deserve and expect, you need to make adjustments right now. New sales are great, but if your repeat customers are not happy with you, the amount of work you will need to put in to replacing that customer with a new one comes at too high of a cost. If your customer experience needs a refresh check out our article on that topic for ideas.


Is your company culture where you want it to be? There is never a good time within a business year to reevaluate your staff, but it is one of the most critical areas a business owner must pay attention to. Are there concerns that have popped up with any of your team members? Has turnover been an issue? Take a look at the pay and benefits that you offer. Do they support the desired culture you are trying to promote?


Has anything major happened in your local market? Sometimes business plans need to be altered due to something that happened outside of your organization. Keeping a pulse on what is going on in your community is an important part of assessing your business at the midpoint in the year. Have there been any large factory closings, did a new tree service come into town or was one of your competitors bought out by a national company? Any of these will have an impact on your business. Don’t be too focused just on your company and make sure you take time to know what is happening around you.

Are you meeting your revenue goals? At the halfway point in the year, there is still plenty time to reach your yearend goals, however, you need to know where you stand. Is one aspect of your business underperforming? What can you do to get back on track? Do you need to invest in additional marketing to stir up some more new business?


Does your company’s brand match your services? Many times a company’s brand (primarily the logo and website) does not match what the business actually does. Contrary to popular belief, during the year is a great time to begin exploring a rebrand of your logo and website. Most of this work will be done in the off-season, but getting it right takes time and now is the time to set the foundation for that process. Think about what your customer or prospect feels about your organization as well as how you want them to feel.


How is your equipment? Knowing what equipment you have and the condition of each piece is vital to every tree service. Obviously, making sure proper maintenance is being performed on the equipment is the most important part, however, ask yourself if there is a missing piece of equipment that can make your team safer and more efficient? Have there been jobs that your team members wished they had an additional piece of equipment? A mini-loader or spider lift? What would your first half numbers look like if you didn’t have equipment breakdowns or injuries that could have been prevented with different equipment?


How do your numbers look? Take time to review your company’s finances. You probably already do this every month, however take a deep dive in the middle of the year. How does the Profit & Loss statement look? What financial pressures have come up on your business? Talk to your accountant to determine if you should consider buying more equipment to lower your tax burden.


With the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to craft a second half plan for your business that will ensure you end up meeting or surpassing your overall annual goals for the company.

Written by: Eric Petersen

What is Your Why?

What Is Your Why?

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time comes from Uncle Ben to a young impressionable Peter Parker (Spiderman) “With great power comes great responsibility”. It resonates with me because we all have something that can help make the world a little better. A special skill or certain knowledge, to Uncle Ben that was power, however, most of the time we don’t share that with others. I believe that when we realize our gift and how that can help others, we then have a responsibility to help improve the world around us. And when we begin to do this, the return in our own lives is staggering.

 Obviously as an arborist you are not catching bad guys and throwing them in prison, or taking drugs off the street or saving the world from a tragic ending, but you are helping the world improve. In fact another one of my favorite quotes is from Jim Skiera, former ISA Executive Director, “make the world a better place one tree at a time”. I know your company does that every day in various ways. Whether that is by proper pruning or chemical applications or through consulting with your customers on their trees, your team is making improvements in the landscape, but do they know why? For me, our insurance agency has the ability to help save lives, prevent injuries and protect businesses from financial hardship. Our why is simply to make sure we do whatever we can to ensure each employee gets home safe every night and has a job waiting for them to come back to the next day.

 So what is your why? Why do you do what you do?

 If you haven’t defined the why for yourself, use the questions below to jumpstart your thought process. Begin thinking about your personal life, then answer each question from your organization’s viewpoint. Lastly, challenge your team to find their own personal whys and how they fit into the company’s purpose.

 What gets you excited to wake up in the morning?

 What are your innate strengths?

 Where can you add the greatest value?

 How do you measure success in your life?

 Unfortunately, the why so often gets lost in the how. How are we going to grow our business? How are we going to get all of the work done? How will I find my next great employee? If you are able to focus on the why, the answers about the how come along naturally.

 You will attract better employees and customers, people that believe in the same values that you and your company believe in. It will elevate all aspects of your organization and set you apart from your competition. You will see greater results and subsequently you will be much more fulfilled along the way.

Just like Uncle Ben said, you, as the owner, have the power and responsibility to lead your business to great things, positively influencing many people along the way.


Written by: Eric Petersen

Handling High Phone Call Volume

Handling High Phone Call Volume

The telephone is one of the most important pieces of equipment to a tree service, yet, many struggle with the challenges associated with it. This is especially true during periods of high call volume. A lot of times, the difference between winning a job and/or keeping a customer is a matter of which tree service answers the phone. This article is meant to give you a few tips on how to shine as an organization when the phone is ringing off the hook.


Find out when your phones ring the most. It sounds simple, but ask yourself, when do we get the most calls and why? Perhaps you get a lot of calls after a large storm or the first nice Spring day when people get out of their house and look at their property. Every business will have a little different answer depending on the services you focus on and your clientele, but typically you should be able to identify a handful of high call volume times.


Figure out how many people need to answer the phones so that the majority of calls get to talk to a live person within a few rings. If your phone system isn’t set up to handle multiple lines at one time, invest into a new system so that you can ensure that your customers and prospects do not get trapped in the voicemail game of tag.


Staff the phones during these times with knowledgable team members, preferably from your sales team. They should be the most well versed in the operation of the company and will be able to give verbal estimates of what may need to be done on the call thereby mitigating the threat of them calling another company. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that they diagnose the customer’s problem without seeing the tree or give an actual proposal, but a quick idea of what your company can do for the customer can go a long way in helping them make their decision about which tree service to use.


Train on the most frequently asked questions. What are the common questions that customer’s and prospects ask? Train your team on these so that they can help answer the call in the most efficient way possible.


Change your voicemail to indicate high call volume due to whatever your company is experiencing and give the caller an expectation of when they will hear back from you. It’s extremely important to actually call the person back within the time frame that you had given them. These callbacks should also be done by the sales team to speed up the process of getting the customer’s problem addressed as quickly as possible.


Investigate hiring a call center. The last tip I have for you is to hire a call center so that every phone call gets answered by a live person. The call center will not be able to provide much for actual support to the caller, however, there is something comforting with talking to a real person, not a voicemail. During your research on this make sure you choose a company that is in your general region and will have employees that naturally have the same accent as you do.


Managing the peak phone call times in your business is a challenging task, however, following these simple tips can help turn this stressor into a profit center for your business. Done correctly, you can turn the phone from an important piece of equipment into your most valuable one.


Written by: Eric Petersen

Work ON Your Business – Not IN It

Work On Your Business – Not IN it

Ever feel like you are constantly spinning your wheels with your business, always busy, but not making much progress? Of course you have. Every business owner feels this way, especially in the tree care industry. With all of the responsibilities of owning a business, a successful owner must be able to take a step back and work ON their business not IN it. Because this is extremely hard to do, I want to give you my 6 tips for beginning to work on your business and not in it.

Desire to work ON your business – If you want to achieve large goals for your company, you must have a desire to work on your business. This is an internal motivation that only you can provide and requires daily discipline and energy to stay focused on what is truly important to your organization.

Establishing the vision and core values – After you’ve committed to working on your business, you must get serious about creating a vision and a set of core values for your company. There are a lot of ways to write vision statements and create core values, but don’t get hung up on the exact words or way to do it right now. Start brainstorming what you want your company to look like in the future and what do you want it to stand for. This is a vital exercise that should be done at least once a year to properly evolve as a business. Over time, you will see a crystal clear picture of who your company is and where it is going.

Hire the right people – The only way you can successfully work on your business is to have the right team members to do the tasks that you used to do. I have always been a large proponent of hiring for attitude and culture fit and then training for the job. Sure the employee must have a base level of competency in the position before I hire them, however, it is much easier to teach the right employee than it is to manage an employee that doesn’t fit in. Now, hiring the right employee isn’t that easy. One of your responsibilities as the business owner is to develop a hiring and recruiting process that will eventually create a pipeline of new talent to your organization for years to come.

Delegation and Empowerment – What tasks do you do every day that could be handed off to someone else? Why do you still do these tasks? Are you afraid that they won’t get done the same way that you would do them? Most owners have a difficult time delegating anything to their employees, however time never stands still and the lack of delegation is the surest way to a stale business. Once you have identified what tasks and responsibilities you can delegate, give your employees the power to make decisions for these. It will only be natural to check on them and question their decisions, but resist this urge. If you have communicated your vision and core values well enough to your team, they will earn your trust by being allowed to carry out that vision. No one likes a micro-managing boss, so allow your employees to take ownership in projects and reward them with encouraging feedback when they do a good job. If an employee’s decision or actions do not result in a positive outcome, work with the employee to help them come up with a different solution for the future. Of all of your efforts to work on your business, this is the most important, your team must know that you trust them to make decisions on your behalf and that their job will be secure if they make a mistake.

Training on Standards and Procedures – The best companies build systems that are standardized and allow for employees to enter in and out of the system with minimal interruption. Developing the way your company operates around a process versus a person may seem foreign and a bit intimidating, but is the surest way to building a rock solid organization. Dissect every aspect of your business from the customer experience to the pruning standards to your equipment maintenance schedule. Create standards for each area so that a new employee can come into the company and know what is expected of them. Please don’t try to do this on your own. Part of the delegation and empowerment is getting your team members to help out with this. You will be surprised how much better your standards and procedures are when you involve your team to develop them.

Block out Time – This is my last tip, but really could be listed first. As the owner, you have to block out time to work on your business. This means uninterrupted time where you focus on the most important aspects of your company. Blocking out time is really hard to do if you work out of your home or if you have a busy office, so what works best for me is to schedule time away from my normal desk. This allows me to work on the proactive tasks that I need to do without feeling like I’m ignoring the needs of my team. Find a physical location that you can do some deep work for your business and regularly schedule time to go there.
Starting to work on your business is hard to do, however, by slowly implementing these tips into your work life, you will start to see a transformation within your company.

Written by: Eric Petersen