Employees in Other States

Employees in Other States

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

There is an increasing trend within the tree care industry for tree services to either be working in other states or hiring remote employees that live in a different state than where they are headquartered. Many times this offers a greater revenue potential or the ability to get the talent on their team that they need to be successful. In fact, for ArboRisk it’s both. We now have employees that live and work in three different states as our insurance agency’s home office. That has allowed us to expand our brand and secure top tier employees that would not have been an option if we were only looking within our home state. 

But with that opportunity, comes some employee management challenges as every state operates slightly different from each other. There are many different issues you as the business owner must address to do this correctly, from payroll tax and unemployment accounts, sales tax, workers compensation, contractual law and other employment laws, the list of to do’s can get lengthy right off the bat. Your insurance agent, accountant, and attorney should be the first three calls you make to determine what you will need to take care of. 

For this article, I am going to focus on the insurance issues with out of state work or employees. 

The first thing you must do is assess how much time your employees will be spending in each state. Are you looking to have a full time remote employee or crew? Does the employee live in the other state and commute across state lines to work out of your shop? Or is there a new project that you want to take on? Perhaps it’s storm work where locations will be changing frequently? The specifics of your situation could drastically change the requirements of what you need to do. I’ve broken it down into two scenarios; Regular Work/Permanent Location or Temporary Work/Location to help you determine what to consider.


Regular Work/Permanent Location
If you are planning on having regular work or employees permanently stationed in another state it is a little easier to comply with. Let’s look at each coverage line to see what you should be concerned with. 

Workers’ Compensation – Because each state handles Work Comp and has different laws with different benefit schedules, you need to make sure to add the other state to your Work Comp policy and assign an estimated payroll for each applicable Work Comp class code. This also applies if you have an employee living in another state, even if they only work in your state. You want to make sure there is coverage for any state that the employee could file for benefits under. If you happen to open a location up in North Dakota, Ohio, Washington or Wyoming, you’ll have to buy a Work Comp policy from that particular state directly. 

General Liability – As long as you are working within the United States, Puerto Rico, US Territories and Canada, your General Liability will cover you. That said, you should report all new locations to your General Liability policy as some insurance companies are not licensed to do business in all states. This means they are not equipped to handle claims that pop up in those states and if they learn of regular operations happening in a state they are not licensed in, they will issue a non-renewal as soon as they can. Like we’ve discussed in many other business tips, it’s much better to build a relationship with your insurance company and be open about the states you are working in than to try to sneak it past them. 

Property & Inland Marine – Your Property policy only covers you at listed locations, so if you have a building or a leased location in another state, add that location to your insurance policy. Inland Marine coverage acts like the General Liability and covers your equipment wherever you go as long as you are in the coverage territory.  

Business Auto – If your vehicles are registered or garaged in a different state than your company’s headquarters, you’ll need to make sure your insurance company knows that as you may be subject to different motor vehicle laws in the other state and need to have different insurance coverages on your policy. 


Temporary Work/Location

Workers’ Compensation – Each state has its own definition of what constitutes temporary work. For some states, like New York, the moment your employees step into the state to work you are subject to the Work Comp laws of their state, while in other states, you are allowed up to 90 consecutive days before their laws become your company’s responsibility. Check with your insurance agent to understand the particular Work Comp laws for the state(s) you will be temporarily working in. 

General Liability – The insurance guideline for temporary work when it relates to General Liability coverage is the same as regular work. Check with your insurance company to make sure they are able to provide the best claims service if you were to have a General Liability claim in another state. Have as many details about the temporary work as possible to give the insurance company the full picture of what you will be doing in the other state and why you want or need to take on this project. Again, by building a relationship with your insurance company, you will benefit much more long term than you would from hiding information from them. 

Property & Inland Marine – If your temporary work involves a written or verbal lease agreement to rent a building, storage shed, parking lot, etc., you want to list that location on the property policy immediately. If your equipment is stored temporarily out of state, again, this is a time for a conversation with your insurance company to make sure there won’t be any trouble with a future renewal policy by being open with them. In your conversation with the insurance company, explain as much about the temporary work as possible. 

Business Auto – When thinking about the temporary out of state exposure for your business vehicles, think about where you are ultimately physically working and garaging the vehicles during the length of the project. All insurance companies understand and accept the fact that you may be driving through various states on your way to a job, so there will not be a limitation of coverage, however, it is important to remember that each state may have different laws for motor vehicle accidents so you could be unintentionally exposing your company to a larger lawsuit if there is an accident. 


As you can see, working in a different state other than your home state can cause some potentially large insurance issues for your tree care company. The best way to ensure your company is properly protected is to talk with your insurance agent and gain the approval of your insurance company before you accept work in another state. Creating an open dialogue between you and your insurance company on your operations is the first step in avoiding a costly and stressful non-renewal situation. 

If you have any questions about out of state work, please contact an ArboRisk team member today.

Safety Pays

Safety Pays

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

One of our goals at ArboRisk is to help tree care companies embrace the idea that safety should be looked at as a profit center versus as an expense. The idea is quite simple in that the safety efforts that you embark upon ultimately lead to higher productivity and profitability for your entire team because you are not dealing with injuries and all of the costs associated with them. Because not everyone buys into a statement like that immediately, I want to highlight a fantastic resource that you can use to illustrate this point…OSHA’s “Safety Pays” website. 

OSHA’s Safety Pays website serves as an interactive tool that enables businesses to calculate the potential financial benefits of investing in workplace safety measures. It aims to showcase that by prioritizing safety, companies can not only protect their workers but also realize substantial economic advantages. The site is a testament to the fact that a safe workplace is a profitable one. 

The Safety Pays website offers several key features that make it a valuable resource for tree services of all sizes: 

Individual Injury Estimator – My favorite part of the website is a user-friendly interface (Individual Injury Estimator) that allows you to choose an injury type and enter your profit margin to determine how much that injury would cost your company both in direct and indirect costs. 

For example, if an employee at a tree service suffers a shoulder strain, the estimated cost of that injury will total over $67,000! 

In this example, I used a profit margin of 15%. If your profit margin is higher than that the financial impact to your company would be a little lower, however, if you’re running under that profit margin, the impact of this injury will be felt even more. The website calculated that the direct cost of the injury will equate to $32,023 and the indirect costs would amount $35,225 to total $67,248! In case those numbers don’t mean much to you, think about this. With a 15% profit margin, this injury would require the business to produce an additional $448,320 in sales to cover these costs. 

Can you afford to do $448,000 of work for free?

Safety Pays Tool – The Safety Pays Tool is your chance to get a more customized experience and allow you to compare your company to the industry average. This tool is especially helpful when looking at budgeting for new equipment or perhaps investigating the cost/benefit of a full time safety director. 

Educational Resources – The website isn’t just about numbers; it also provides educational resources and case studies that illustrate real-world examples of companies that have benefited from safety investments. 

How can you utilize the Safety Pays website within your tree service? 

During your next Safety Meeting, pull up the website and go to the Individual Injury Estimator. Ask your team to throw out an injury type. Then enter in your company’s target profit margin and reveal the results of the calculator to the team and watch their reaction. Even more powerful tie the estimated additional sales to the number of jobs that equates to by dividing the sales number by your average job cost. If these numbers don’t open people’s eyes within your organization, nothing will. 

If you are looking to boost the safety culture within your company or perhaps just want confirmation that you are doing what you can, reach out to a member of the ArboRisk team or sign up directly for our Thrive Safety Package. We work one-on-one with tree care companies every day, helping them get every one of their employees home safe each night.

Managing Open Proposals

Managing Open Proposals

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Even the most successful sales arborists do not close every proposal they present every time. In fact, the majority of proposals delivered in the tree care industry are not accepted until days or weeks after the initial presentation. So how you stay in touch with your prospect during that time has a huge impact upon your closing rate. Here are a few things to consider when following up with a prospect on an open proposal.

Set Follow-up Expectation – Whether you hand deliver or email a proposal to someone, let them know when you will follow-up with them regarding the proposal. This takes some pressure off of them immediately and also sets the expectation of how you will work with them. This also does a lot more as it builds trust with the prospect, as long as you adhere to the expected follow-up time frame. People want to work with a tree care company that does what it says it’s going to do. 

Immediate Confirmation – The best way to start the follow-up process on an open bid is to confirm receipt of the proposal immediately with the prospect. If you are hand delivering the proposal, this is obviously easy, however, more and more tree care companies are emailing proposals to their prospects. If you are emailing proposals, it’s imperative that you give a quick follow-up phone call to the prospect to let them know their proposal has been emailed to them. We know that most people don’t answer the phone any more anyways, so this call will most likely be a voicemail to the prospect. Doing this ensures that the prospect will know to look for the proposal and may eliminate confusion if the proposal gets stuck in a Junk Email folder. Obviously, this is the perfect time to also let them know you’re available for questions on the proposal. 

Utilize Technology and Teamwork – Many tree care companies use automated email campaigns for marketing purposes, but few utilize them for sales management. Get your marketing and sales team together and have the marketing team explain the functionality of the software that you are using currently to the sales team. The sales team will then inevitably have ideas on what would help them stay in front of the prospects better. If you are a smaller company, chances are the marketing team consists of the same people as your sales team. That is totally okay as well and probably gives you more reason to spend a little time during a weather day to figure this out. Most of the CRM’s (ArborGold, SingleOps, etc.) will have technology available for you out of the box that can be customized relatively easily. 

Internal Follow-Up Organization – Being organized with your open leads is a must as well. Included in many of the CRM’s will be a method of setting tasks or follow-ups to yourself as the salesperson to remember to check back with that prospect. Learn how your system works and become a dedicated user of that technology. It may feel clunky at first, but there is not one sales person in the world who can remember every single detail about each open proposal and when to follow-up next without help. If your company doesn’t have a CRM, create a simple follow-up spreadsheet in Google Drive (so you can share it with others if you need to) and ensure you enter information at the end of each day and look at it every morning during the work week to stay current with the prospects. 

Use Testimonials – Using testimonials from happy customers during your sales process can give you a huge boost when looking to close more open proposals. If you don’t have testimonials from your own jobs that you’ve sold, work with other sales people to get a handful of testimonials from various job types. Insert these testimonials into an automated sales follow-up campaign or better yet, get them printed as postcards and mail them to your open prospects at a regular interval. If the testimonial states what type of work was done and how pleased with the job your team did, it will make it easier for the prospect to accept your bid. 

Expiration Date – Like with everything, the prices you charge today, may not be the same as what you will need to charge in 6 months. Make sure when you are delivering a proposal there is an expiration date on it so they know that the price is locked in until that date. Some people may look at this as being gimmicky, but in reality it will protect you from a customer accepting a very old bid and expecting you to do the work at the proposal price. It also sets up a true closing date so you can take it off your open proposal list and move to a lost lead list. Too many sales arborists get overwhelmed when they have too many open proposals and then the follow-up to the real opportunities is hindered. 

Communication and responsiveness with the prospect are the two keys to successfully managing open bids effectively. If you or your team is struggling with staying on top of the open proposals or with your closing rate in general, reach out to a member of the ArboRisk team and ask them about our Sales & Marketing Thrive Package. We will work one-on-one with your company to help you better your sales process and close more of the jobs you want.

Click here to obtain a copy of the Sales Sweet Spot worksheet to help you understand which services you offer fit best with your ideal customer.

Click here to learn more about our New Heights Package and how it can help you identify your ideal customer and services and grow your business!

What to Include on Proposals

What To Include on Proposals

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

When creating a proposal to sell tree work, it’s essential to outline the terms and conditions clearly to avoid any misunderstandings. While this list may not be all encompassing, here are some key elements to include in your proposal. 

Scope of Work – Obviously, clearly defining the specific tree care services that will be provided on which trees is vital for the proposal. Be as detailed as you can about the type of service, the number of visits it will take to complete, and any limitations or restrictions that you may encounter along the way. 

Estimated Completion Date – This may sound elementary, but since most tree care companies have a work backlog, communicating this to the prospect right away starts to build trust. Of course, you don’t want to underestimate this completion date as that can hurt your relationship as they will be expecting the work to be done by then, regardless of the extenuating circumstances that have arisen. 

Exclusions – Clearly state any services that you are not performing or didn’t perform when creating this proposal. This is a very key part of the proposal as it will limit your liability if included and give you a chance to sell additional work in the future. Phrases like…

“This proposal was based upon a visual inspection of the tree from the ground. For a more complete tree risk assessment/appraisal contact your sales arborist to schedule with our team.” – OR –  “This proposal only addresses the trees that are mentioned above and does not include recommendations on any additional trees that are on the property.”

Additional Services – I like to call this the Amazon Method section. If there are any additional services that customers typically buy together (think fertilization program with pruning services or planting a new tree after a removal, etc.) use this section of your proposal to show the customer what other people like them have purchased in addition to the described service on the proposal. Make sure it is clear that these additional services are only included for an additional fee so they do not think they are getting these for free.

Terms and Conditions – Include your terms and conditions within the proposal, so the prospect knows what items this proposal are contingent upon and what they will be responsible for. If you have any warranties/guarantees outline what is expected of the customer for these to be valid (think watering requirements for newly planted trees) and what the limitations are.

Insurance – This is a great way to showcase why your professional tree care company may be the better fit for your customer. Specify the insurance coverage that you carry and state that a Certificate of Liability Insurance can be provided upon request.   

Signatures and Date – Ensure that both parties sign the proposal and include the date of signing.

Lastly, it is crucial to have an attorney review your proposal template to ensure it complies with local laws and regulations and protects the interests of both the tree care company and the customer. Remember, the proposal is going to be the document that your crew and the customer rely on to achieve a positive outcome on the project, so the more of these elements you can include, the better experience your customer will have.

Click here to obtain a copy of the Sales Sweet Spot worksheet to help you understand which services you offer fit best with your ideal customer.

Click here to learn more about our New Heights Package and how it can help you identify your ideal customer and services and grow your business!

Elements of a Fleet Safety Program

Elements of a Fleet Safety Program

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Most tree care companies address fleet safety within their overall written safety program, however, as I’ve seen the number and severity of auto accidents increase over the years, I always recommend to put the fleet safety items into their own document to draw attention to the importance of each item. So what goes into a Fleet Safety Program? 

Here are some common elements of a Fleet Safety Program:

  1. Safety Rules: Clearly defined rules outlining the expectations, responsibilities, and guidelines for safe driving practices within the fleet including a distracted driving policy. 
  2. Driver Selection and Record Monitoring: How will the tree care company select drivers and monitor their driving record. Developing a set of Motor Vehicle Guidelines to show what violations are acceptable and which ones are not is crucial to managing the drivers. 
  3. Driver Training: Outline what training programs or topics will be delivered to your employees. Topics should cover defensive driving techniques, vehicle handling, and awareness of potential hazards on the road.
  4. Vehicle Use Policy: Who is allowed to drive your vehicles along with when and where? Develop rules to keep the vehicles your business owns operating for business work only. This is a large part of managing the risk that your vehicles bring to your company. 
  5. Vehicle Maintenance: Insert or develop regular maintenance and inspection schedules to ensure that all fleet vehicles are in good working condition, including brakes, tires, lights, and other essential components.
  6. Telematics and Monitoring: If you are utilizing any telematics systems to monitor driver behavior, vehicle performance, and adherence to safety policies, you need to have a section in your Fleet Safety Program about this. This will outline what data is collected (it may involve tracking speed, harsh braking, or acceleration) and how it will be used.
  7. Incident Reporting and Investigation: Establish protocols for reporting accidents, near-misses, and other safety incidents. Prompt investigation of these incidents helps identify root causes and implement corrective measures.
  8. Communication and Engagement: Establish effective communication channels to disseminate safety-related information, updates, and reminders to drivers. Encouraging open dialogue and feedback from drivers helps improve the overall safety culture.
  9. Continuous Improvement: Every safety program should include a section on how to provide regular evaluation and a Fleet Safety Program is no different. Identify areas for potential  improvement, incorporate new technologies and best practices, and adapt to changing safety regulations and industry standards.

When instituted properly, these elements will create a comprehensive fleet safety program that prioritizes driver safety, reduces accidents, and protects the well-being of both drivers and the public. 

If you are struggling to create a Fleet Safety Program, reach out to a member of the ArboRisk team today or sign up for our Thrive Safety Package here.