Reducing Risk with Software

Reducing Risk with Software

As humans, we’re not very efficient at processing information. We’re forgetful, make mistakes, and usually feel like we get pulled in ten different directions. How do we know what to prioritize? This is where software comes into play. Business management software is one of the easiest ways to elevate your business and reduce your risk. The software can find blind spots you couldn’t see so that you can manage your business with clarity.

In this article, we’ll discuss how software reduces your risk and what items you should consider when searching for management software. 

How Software Reduces Risk

Industry-specific management software allows you to focus on what’s important. The key features we’ll discuss are how it improves your work orders, route planning, and business decisions. 

Proposals & Work Orders

Clear communication between you and your customers is vital to reducing risk. Software creates harmony between customer expectations and the crew’s orders. Digital proposals contain much more detail than paper versions. You can attach extra notes, optional add-ons, and images or videos of items. This saves time and answers customer questions before they arise, leading to higher proposal acceptance rates. When a proposal is accepted, the same information is transferred seamlessly into a work order. Crews save time by knowing what equipment they’ll need for each job, and they won’t forget important details because they can always refer to the digital copy. 

One of our favorite features included in work orders created within SingleOps is the ability to attach aerial Google Map images of the job site with markers clearly showing the exact areas that will be worked on. This reduces the risk of crews working on areas they shouldn’t or missing items meant to be worked on.  

Route Optimization 

Prior to software, drivers would need to predict the optimal route to take using their best judgment and their maps app. Since management software has route optimization features, the risk for human error is greatly reduced. Using route optimization takes control out of the driver’s hands and turns it over to the software, which can analyze all the inputs and calculate the most efficient route for a driver to take in seconds. This reduces the amount of fuel, downtime, and confusion drivers have so crews can get to the job site faster and more efficiently. 

If you have more questions about how route optimization works within SingleOps, you can read this help center article.

Business Decisions 

Running a business can feel like flying in the dark sometimes. There’s always the possibility that you’ll be given the wrong information or not have enough information when making a decision. Management software can help organize your data to ensure you have an accurate picture of your operations. 

Management software comes with reports and dashboards that allow you to analyze any aspect of your business. Some of the most helpful reports you can create are labor analysis and profitability reports. Analyzing your labor allows you to identify the most efficient and profitable crews, which you can then use to schedule your highest performing crews for the most important projects.

Besides knowing your labor profitability, the software makes it easier to calculate net-profit margins by segment. This can help you identify which segments of your business are the most profitable. Many businesses assume the segment that brings in the most revenue will also be their most profitable, but this isn’t always the case. You don’t want to run a business based on incomplete data or assumptions.  

What you should consider before buying management software

Searching for the right software can be a challenge because many people don’t know what to look for. Here are suggestions to consider when looking for the right one. 

What are my needs?

Each tree care company has different priorities. Likewise, different software caters to different types of companies. The important part is finding the right one for you. Identify your biggest challenges and search for software that can meet them. Once you know the direction you want to head in it will be much easier to narrow down your choices.

How easy is it to use the software?

Don’t confuse complexity with software capability. Two companies can offer software with the same features, but one can be highly technical and require many hours of training while the other gives you the same functionality but requires half the training. Software that is too complex can lead to burnout and abandonment of the project altogether. Finding the right balance between complexity and functionality is key to the value your team will get out of the software. 

Implementation/Customer Service

Does the software provider you’re considering partner with you every step of the way, or do they only send you self-starter guides and videos? Not every implementation team is built the same or offers the same amount of care. You’ll want to evaluate the kind of support you’ll receive during implementation and post-implementation. Look for a company that wants to partner with you and provides a high level of service. Remember, you are going to have bumps and glitches along the way, you’ll want a team dedicated to helping you solve those problems.

Price vs Value

ROI is one of the biggest factors for companies when selecting software of any kind. In addition to assessing management software, you’ll need to find out if you’ll have to purchase add-ons or third-party software to get the most out of the platform. You’ll also want to look at their pricing structure to identify your monthly and annual costs. You’ll also need to know how many licenses you’ll have to purchase for your teams.


Finding the right software mitigates risk to your company by creating clear communication at all levels of the organization, reducing human error, and saving time. Landscape and tree care companies have learned that Excel and email are inefficient and error-prone methods that ultimately result in lost opportunities. Reduce your risk and propel your business forward by investing in smart, user-friendly software. To learn more about SingleOps and/or how their customers respond after implementation, please contact the SingleOps team at [email protected].

Written By: Joshua Lehto, SingleOps Marketing Associate & Ty Demeer


What is Risk Management?

What is Risk Management?

If you’ve been following ArboRisk for any amount of time, you know that we believe in using a “risk management approach” to ensure our clients survive an unexpected event. But what does that really mean? 

Technically, a risk management approach focuses on identifying, analyzing and controlling exposures that could have a negative impact on the business. That means a tree service must be intentional and honest when looking at their business to first gain an understanding of what could go wrong and then be open minded enough to find ways to minimize the impact of those exposures on their business. 

To us here at ArboRisk, the risk management approach starts with having the simple attitude of; always seeking to improve

All too often in the tree care industry, we hear or see the “that won’t happen to me” or “we already do everything we can” attitudes from business owners. These viewpoints block all attempts at proper risk management by closing the business owner’s mind to helpful exposure reducing ideas. Unfortunately, those attitudes are not the only dangerous mindsets we see. We have presented on 7 Deadly Sins of Work Comp at numerous national and local tree care conferences to help tree services avoid common pitfalls and implement a risk management approach. 

Once the tree care company embraces an open mind, then and only then can they identify and assess the risks that their company faces and make a plan on what to do with those risks. It’s also very important to remember that purchasing insurance doesn’t mean you are practicing risk management. While insurance coverage is important it is only one part of risk management. For more on that concept, please read this article (Why Insurance is NOT Risk Management).

If you’re looking to institute a risk management approach within your business, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today. 

Written by: Eric Petersen

Driver Training

Driver Training For Tree Care Companies

Let’s face it, one of the largest exposures to risk within your tree care company comes from your trucks being on the road. To lower that risk, you must look at managing your fleet and your drivers, with the latter being perhaps one of the most difficult tasks you face.

In the past we’ve discussed ways to test your drivers before they drive one of your trucks on their own. In case you missed that weekly tip, you can access it here (Driving Tests). The next step after you have a baseline of each driver’s skill is to develop a training program so they can continually improve their skills. A driver training program should be written down and contain clear progress goals that encompass training from both internal and external sources.

Internal Training – Most tree care companies deliver driver training to their employees directly and do so only during their tailgate safety meetings. While this is a great way to provide some training, the tailgate meetings may not always be planned out too far in advance and could miss some crucial driver training topics. So I encourage you to create a more systematic internal training program. Use these questions when developing it.

What driver training topics do you already cover within your tailgate safety meetings?

What are some of the most common near misses that your company has when it comes to operating vehicles?

Who in your company would be proficient in teaching the driver training?

External Training – You most likely will not be able to cover all driving training topics with in-house instructors. This is when you need to look outside of your organization. Including training programs put on by outside vendors offer many benefits to your company and can really help lower your driver exposure. Because there are many different options, use this list of questions to help select the proper training vendors.

What type of driver training topics are your current team members not capable of delivering, but are important to your company (think defensive driving, roadside emergency preparedness, etc.)?

Are there local driving schools in your area?

Can you take your vehicles to use during the class?

Bettering your driver’s skills on the road will help you dramatically reduce injuries and accidents, lower insurance premiums and increase your profits. For help with instituting a driver and fleet management program within your company, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today.

Also, we are hosting a Driver & Fleet Management webinar on October 2nd, 2020 along with Streamside Green and Victorian Gardens. To sign up visit this link. In case you read this after the webinar is over, contact us directly and we can set up a time to discuss this individually.

Written by: Eric Petersen

COVID-19 and the Risk Management Process

COVID-19 and the Risk Management Process

covid-19 and the risk management process

As an employer, risk management should be one of your top priorities. Simply put, risk management is the conscious handling of exposures that a business faces. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, tree care owners have been addressing a new risk to their business, viral infection, and using risk management techniques to minimize the impact upon their business. The purpose of this article is to help you understand how you can utilize the risk management process to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to both your employees and your customers. If you are fortunate enough to have participated in the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification training, you should be familiar with the Risk Assessment Matrix. You likely use this tool in your daily work as an arborist to evaluate risks associated with trees. Here is how the same risk assessment methodology can be used to manage the risks to your business.

Risk Identification

Let’s start by considering how COVID-19 could impact our business operations. Obviously there are many ways COVID-19 could be transmitted, but we encourage everyone to begin to identify the potential hazards and interactions that increase chances throughout your operation. In fact, OSHA requires employers to assess hazards in which an employee may be exposed. The CDC also has a hazard identification assessment that may be helpful found here. Here are four common risk identification areas to start with:

1) Employee contracts the virus, and comes to work even though they aren’t feeling well.
2) Employee is asymptomatic and comes to work not knowing they are carrying the virus.
3) Employee interacts with customer, who is carrying the virus.
4) Virus is transferred from a surface area.

Risk Measurement
The likelihood and severity of COVID-19 impacting your business is not easily defined, but very important to study. You should have an idea of roughly how much revenue you’re generating per day and be able to calculate the consequence of an infection within your company.

In some states, like Colorado, there are mandatory shutdowns that are being required for businesses that have an infection outbreak. Per Colorado’s CDHPE’s Workplace Outbreak Guidance: preventing, reporting, and mitigating outbreaks are necessary if you experience the following:
One case of infection – the affected areas are to be closed for 72 hours and disinfected
Two cases of infection in 30 days – entire facility disinfected and closed of 72 hours.
Three cases in 30 days – entire facility disinfected and closed for 14 days.

Think about the impact these mandatory shutdowns could have and use these numbers to express to your employees how serious you are about safe workplace practices. Also, consider if you could lose jobs after notifying customers you aren’t able to operate due to a COVID-19 shutdown?

Risk Mitigation

Mitigating the risk comes with two trains of thoughts.
1. How to we prevent it from happening originally?
2. If it does happen, what do we do to control it?
Using an example of having two employees in the same truck driving to the jobsite, I’m sure you can come up with some pretty simple ways to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19. Many tree care companies have moved towards having employees drive their own vehicle to avoid multiple employees in one truck cab. Simple adjustments, similar to wearing a mask when within 6 feet of another employee, can make a huge difference in stopping the spread prior to an outbreak.

Masks can lower the risk of COVID-19 infection to you, your employees, and your customers. Masks and or face coverings used at the appropriate times in conjunction with proper hygiene and social distancing can greatly mitigate much of this risk. Research shows that people who have no symptoms can spread COVID-19, so wearing a non-medical face mask or face covering helps minimize the spread of the virus.

Your company should also have a response plan in place, detailing the actions necessary for limiting transmission if an employee does test positive for COVID-19. You’ll need to know who the employee has interacted with, which area they’ve been active in, and what equipment they’ve used at the very least. Note that other employees may have to quarantine as well if they’ve been in close contact, and again consider the impact that could have on your business.

Review and Monitoring

At this point, you’ve already done a lot of the leg work. Review the effectiveness of your program and make sure you update your response program as we learn more about the virus. Moving forward, you’ll be ready if there is another wave and will not have to rely on emergency measures for similar situations.
The ArboRisk team has been very active in helping tree services with proper risk management during this time. Reach out to ArboRisk today to get help directly or visit TCIA’s COVID-19 webpage for additional guidance on policy development that is provided specific to tree care Once developed communicate the policies to all that are exposed to these risks.

And remember, the risk management process can and should be used for more than just COVID-19!


Written by: Malcolm Jeffris, CTSP

Why Insurance is NOT Risk Management

Why Insurance is Not

Risk Management

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Video by Mick Kelly

“I practice risk management. I buy insurance.”

It’s staggering how many times I hear that phrase and unfortunately it is equivalent to “crown raising is a great structural pruning method.”

Simply put, insurance is NOT risk management. Insurance is a part of a successful risk management program, but should never be considered to be your entire source of risk management. Just like crown raising may be a part of the structural pruning, it is by far not the only aspect to properly pruning a tree.

There are five steps to the risk management process and, as an arborist, you subconsciously use these steps every day in the field. Sadly, because many tree care company owners are not programmed to consciously think about these five steps, they miss some of these steps when looking at their own business. This article is meant to help you apply the risk management process to your business so you are not left relying solely on insurance to protect all of the hard work you’ve put into your business.


1. Risk Identification – It starts with understanding the potential risks: what could possibly go wrong? The identification of potential risks can be done a number of ways; a few examples are by using checklists, surveys, or interviews with employees and other industry professionals.

As an Arborist – The visual inspection of a tree and surrounding property to determine what equipment you need for the job and what potential problems you may incur when working on that tree.

As a Business Owner – Think about your physical property, liability concerns to other people, your internal team and the business’ income to identify where the exposures are in your business.

2. Risk Analysis – For each risk that was identified, what is the likelihood of it actually happening and how severe of a situation will it cause? The frequency and severity of your risks will help you understand where to spend your time and money in preventing these risks.

As an Arborist – Based on the particulars of the job, you begin to set up the jobsite in your mind. How will you minimize damage to the lawn and set up the work site? Which tree needs to be worked on first to have the project go smoothly?

As a Business Owner – For each of the risks that you have identified, ask yourself, if this happened, how much would it impact my business? Making a Risk Map, where you put Severity on the top and Frequency on the side, will help you focus on the risks that will disrupt your business the most.

3. Risk Control – Once you know the likelihood and potential severity of your exposures, you need to create a plan to control those risks. Each risk can be addressed either by avoiding it all together, retaining the exposure or assuming the loss yourself, reducing the loss by trying to prevent it from happening, or lowering the impact by being prepared before it happens and transferring the risk to someone else. Spoiler Alert: Insurance doesn’t come into the picture until you want to transfer your risk to someone else!

As an Arborist – Before you start your job, conduct a job briefing with your crew, discussing all of the particulars of the job. That briefing is the risk control method of preventing an accident from happening by talking everything through before you start the work. It also serves as a way to reduce the impact of an accident by being prepared before something happens. If weather conditions change you can stop the job and avoid an injury or accident from happening. These are all examples of Risk Control techniques that you use every day.

As a Business Owner – Your goal is to minimize the risks to your company at the optimal cost. Installing or strengthening your safety program is a great risk control method. Creating a hiring and recruiting plan to employ the very best employees can limit the potential for employee issues or lawsuits. Understanding your company’s financial strength and where you can self-insure or retain the small things that come up everyday is critical in this step.

4. Risk Financing – We finally get to the point in the process where we talk about insurance! The decision as to how the risk will be paid for is made. Do you want to assume the risk and control it some way or do you want to buy insurance?

As an Arborist – You either decide what extra equipment or labor is needed to get the job done safely, or you decide to assume the risk of something happening with less crew members and/or not the right equipment. Your decision can be influenced by the availability of your insurance coverage and deductibles, however, whichever way you decide to perform the job is an example of risk financing.

As a Business Owner – When looking at your Risk Map, most tree care owners are willing to self insure or assume the financial risk of the low severity incidents. Anything that is in green in the above chart typically is self insured. The yellow and red items are things that pose a greater risk to your business’ overall financial health. Insurance is purchased for these risks.

5. Risk Administration – The last step in the risk management process happens after all of the planning and decisions have been made and when the plan is implemented. Part of this step is also to assess the effectiveness of your actions to improve upon your overall plan in the future.

As an Arborist – You perform the job and take mental or physical notes on how to do the job better in the future. These personal experiences are crucial for minimizing your risk on similar jobs in the future.

As a Business Owner – You begin to implement the plan by focusing on the largest impact risks first and what to do with them. Then move to lesser exposures that your business faces. All the while you want to assess how you are doing in each area in case you need to make adjustments.


Focusing on true risk management within your business will give you the ability to confidently plan and budget for the uncertainty as well as become more profitable because you have reduced the cost of accidents and injuries. Insurance should be part of this process, but should NOT be relied on as the only method of risk management.

Because working with tree care companies is all that we do, contact ArboRisk to have one of our team members help you create a solid risk management plan. Also, check out our New Heights Thrive Risk Management Package – this structured program can help grow your business and take your company to new heights!