I’m Too Busy to Manage My Time

Effective Time Management Skills

All too often we hear people say “sorry for the delay” or “today was crazy”. I’ll start by saying I’m no time management guru myself. I had been using the first one almost every day because let’s face it, it’s much easier to fall into a reactive lifestyle rather than a proactive one. I recently started reading a book called Atomic Habits by James Clear and was encouraged to grab the bull by its horns and make some changes in both my personal and work life. In the book, Clear discusses the power of habits a.k.a. systems and how important they are for success in everyday life. I strongly recommend giving it a read.

Knowing I need to improve, I attended an eight hour class which focused solely on time management and organization skills. Coincidentally, the overarching theme of the class also focused on systems. Whether it be keeping your desk clean, your email inbox empty, or managing projects, we all need these systems to stay proactive.

One of the key systems I took away from this class is called Time Blocking. Time Blocking is the idea of breaking down your day into different levels of activities to help prioritize what gets done and when. Below are the three different levels of time blocking:

Level 1 Activities – These are going to be activities that are most important for you to move closer to your definition of success. The more level 1 activities you complete in a day, the more efficient you are. If you own a tree service, this might be something like creating a safety program for you employees to follow so they can stay safe day in and day out. Maybe you want to grow your sales from $750,000 to $1 million and you need to create a marketing strategy to do so. Consider your goals and think big picture when you create your level 1 activities.

Level 2 Activities – Level 2 activities are things you HAVE to get done, but don’t necessarily help you move forward. These could be things like dealing with customer complaints, handling employee altercations, etc. These activities typically still need to be done by you, and can’t be passed on to others. With level 2’s, make sure you don’t underestimate the time it takes to complete and try to focus on 2 or 3 per day. If you overwhelm yourself, you’ll likely disregard the time blocking system as a whole.
Level 3 Activities – Level 3 activities are day to day work, such as answering phones, cleaning the shop, etc. Activities in level 3 can be easily delegated allowing you to focus on the larger goal. As the owner of a tree service, the less time spent doing level 3 activities, the better.

The idea behind this system is that time blocking becomes a habit. For example, Eric has blocked off time every Tuesday morning to write the weekly tip for ArboRisk. After doing it for a little over a year, it is ingrained in his mind that he needs to complete an article each week, even if something pops up on Tuesday.

Monitor your daily activities and get a feel for how you allocate your time. Then map out your ideal day and leave time to address each level. Some will suggest mapping out one week at a time but I’ll leave that up to you. I personally have found it helps to address one day at a time to account for things that come up unexpectedly. Feel free to reach out if you have questions regarding this system and how it translates to your everyday life. I’ve dropped another blog post below that I found helpful while writing this article and check out Atomic Habits if you have time!

Written by: Malcolm Jeffris, CTSP

Succession Planning – Managing Risk

Succession Planning – Managing the Risk

Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing new leaders. New leaders may be needed to replace an employee who is retiring, one that has been promoted, to fill a vacancy caused by turn over and or to fill a new leadership role created to expand the company. It’s a risk management strategy that increases the availability of prepared and qualified people as the business grows, adds new employees, new services and or loses a key employee. It’s also one of the best ways to retain, inspire and reward employees.

No matter the size of your company, this activity starts at the top. The leader is responsible for the people who are responsible for the customers. Leadership is a learned skilled, preparing your people to lead is one of your most important duties.

Here are a series of steps to consider at least once a year to help you include succession planning as a risk management strategy in your annual business plan.

Identify critical positions in the company which require highly capable employees.
Identify the most competent person for each specific critical position and what the consequence would be if that person were to leave, be promoted, and or become temporarily out of service.
Identify people in the organization that are likely candidates to advance into those critical positions when the time comes. These transitions can be planned in the case of a promotion, or in the case of an emergency the company is prepared to minimize the impact.
Identify success profiles for all critical positions. If you are on top of this there should be job descriptions to review for this information. If not, that is a good first step to developing a success profile.
Create development plans for successors to ensure they are ready to assume future roles.
Develop a complete employee development plans to address the gaps. Budget time and resources for leadership training.

Begin by getting your key players involved to help with identifying critical positions and highly capable people. At first people can be threatened with this type discussion, as it may appear you are getting ready to replace them. Communication needs to be handled well and if it is, you will find it is something that is welcomed. The process allows people to see benefits and opportunities that they might not have seen before, for themselves, others and the company.

Written by: Jim Skiera

Four Free Powerful Marketing Tools

Four free Powerful Marketing Tools

Need help marketing your business but are overwhelmed by the abundance of tools and programs available? Me too! With so many options, it’s hard to narrow down which programs are useful and which just aren’t worth the investment. Often times you can stumble across a new program that promises the world and shiny solutions to solve all of your problems, however they may include a contract and hefty price tag. Simply signing up for one of these programs gives me anxiety in case they don’t live up to their hype.

But I’m here to give you hope! As the digital marketing specialist at ArboRisk, I’ve tested out numerous marketing programs and tools, some of which have been a major success for us, and others fell short.

Below are four key marketing tools that are inexpensive or FREE that I utilize daily and that have helped take our marketing to the next level:

Canva: Canva allows you to effortlessly create stunning visual images to use across your social channels or create professional high quality flyers for your next direct mail campaign. Its’ drag and drop features are so easy to use allowing high quality graphics to be created in minutes without the help of an experienced graphic designer. There are free and upgraded versions of Canva giving you access to additional templates and stock photos. If you’re doing a lot of image creation, the upgraded plan is a great route at only $9.95/month per user.

Google My Business Platform: Google is king in today’s digital marketing world. They offer an expansive free marketing platform that helps you promote your business, analyze search ranking, and ensure your website is showing up online. Google Analytics provides detailed data regarding the number of visitors to your site based on a specific date period, the keywords that were used to find your site, how long each user stays there, and more. Understanding your website’s metrics is vital to measuring the success of your marketing efforts. Google’s Search Console allows you to identify any problems your website may have and optimize it for searches. Combined, these tools help you decide what content you need to add to your website to get your targeted audience there.

MailChimp: Regardless of the size of your business, email marketing should be included in your overall marketing strategy. MailChimp is an easy to use email software that remains free until you exceed 2,000 contacts. The platform makes scheduling email blasts, creating automated campaigns, and analyzing data simple even if you are just starting out with email marketing.
Slack: Easy communication between team members is key to successful projects and jobs. Slack is an online chat platform that seamlessly allows team members to individually chat or create groups to collaborate on specific jobs or projects. At ArboRisk, we utilize the free version but based on your company’s specific needs/wants – there is a paid option available that includes numerous upgrades.

Using these four key programs you can create impressive content, analyze key points of data from your website, and seamlessly communicate with customers and employees without making a large investment.

To learn how to utilize technology better within your company’s marketing efforts, contact ArboRisk today and signup for our Thrive program.

Written by: Amanda Eicher

Using Fear to Sell Tree Work

USing Fear to Sell Tree Work

Have you ever used fear to get someone to buy tree work from you? Of course you have and while fear is an effective motivator for people to buy your services, sometimes it doesn’t feel the best. So, I want to share with you an easy, relatable way to sell professional tree care to your customers based on fear that you can be proud of.

Every Certified Arborist knows that proper care for a tree reduces risks of falling branches and tree failure due to storm damage, however many struggle with communicating that to their customers.

I believe the key to creating sales using fear as the motivator is to be realistic on what could happen and have statistics or real life examples of scenarios that could’ve been avoided had the property owner followed your professional advice.

Recently we had a severe storm blow through our area and one of our home owner insurance clients had a tree fall on their house. Fortunately, no one was hurt and their homeowners insurance policy is taking care of the repairs, but the tree that crashed through the roof of their living room was an Emerald Ash Borer infested Ash that should have been removed a year or two ago. This tree was too brittle to withstand the wind gusts that day and the homeowner, while lucky it wasn’t worse, was left with a huge disturbance to their lives that could have been prevented had a tree care company been able to get them to understand the danger of that tree.

Here are some numbers from this one tree failure that you can use when explaining the importance of proper tree care to your customers.

One month after the tree fell, the homeowner’s insurance claim already has paid out $23,858.19 and they are far from being done with the clean up. Immediately, they needed to get an entire new roof put on since the tree opened up a three foot diameter hole from which rainwater rushed into the living room. A restoration company had to come in and clean up the rainwater and mitigate for mold. There was significant internal structural damage to the walls and ceilings in that area of the house that have yet to be repaired.

The walls are currently being worked on, but it has now been thirty two days since our clients have lived in their home. They, along with their ten month old son and two dogs, are living with family members until the home is repaired to a safe condition. To make matters worse they had a family member’s car in their driveway at the time which also got hit and was totaled out by the insurance company.

All in all this tree failure will exceed $60,000 in damages and will take over two months to get the homeowner back to normal. Can your customers afford this type of disruption in their lives?

Use this example the next time someone refuses to listen to your professional advice about what to do with the tree in their yard.

Written by: Eric Petersen

Taking the ZZZ’s out of the Z133

Taking the ZZZ’s Out of the z133

Almost everyone that I talk to wants to improve upon their safety culture, no matter how good it is today. And most agree that the ANSI Z133 (or Z) should be handed out to every employee just like a pair of chaps and safety glasses. But the unfortunate reality is the Z gets left out of sight and out of mind in most tree services, because it is a 74 page document that is full of seemingly stuffy ‘shoulds’ and ‘shalls’.

Back in April, I was invited to attend the Z133 committee meeting in Baltimore as a guest. While I, like most tree care company owners, always understood the importance of this document, it wasn’t until this committee meeting that I finally grasped the simplicity of how to actually implement the Z into your daily routine within your tree care company. Below are four simple steps to engaging your team with the Z and propelling your safety culture forward.

Familiarize Yourself with the Z – Taking the Z seriously within your company has to start from the top with your knowledge and interest of the document. Grab the Z and flip through it. Learn how it is set up with the different sections and how the sections interact with each other. See where the Z references other safety requirements per OSHA or FMCSA.
Appoint a Champion for Each Section – Everyone in your organization has their own passion and excitement for the tree care industry. Use that passion to break up the Z and appoint a champion for each section. The section champions are responsible for understanding what is in their section and how your company can follow the requirements. When the section champions begin to feel responsible for safety items within their section they obviously will put more energy and effort into adhering to the requirement.

Track Close Calls Back to the Z – Many tree services already discuss close calls, but stop there. Take each close call and look back at the Z to see how the unsafe behavior or mistake could have been avoided and which specific line item addresses it. We have started to do this within our insurance agency for the claims that get submitted. In just a few months of tracking this, it is pretty amazing the patterns that we are seeing. It has helped us implement better loss control services for our clients. Any trends that you begin to see are obvious areas that your safety meetings should focus on.

Choose a Section Every Week – During your weekly safety meeting, choose a section or part of a section to go over. Have your team members read out loud each point and discuss it as you go using close calls to explain the importance of each point. Within a couple of months, you and your team will have gone through the entire Z and the document will have become part of your culture.

Use these four easy steps to take the Z from a boring document to an active part of ensuring every employee makes it home safe each night.

Since ArboRisk’s mission is to get every arborist home safe each night, we’ve designed a specific consulting package to work one-on-one with your organization. Visit our webpage for the Thrive Safety Package to learn more. In addition to the Thrive Safety Package, all ArboRisk clients receive a Safety Culture Assessment that allows you to peer into your safety culture and find areas that need improvement.

Written by: Eric Petersen