Pricing Tree Work: Science or Art?
When someone requests a price quote to perform tree work, they almost always find that the prices they receive vary greatly from one company to another. There are many factors that play into the deviations that we see in pricing and it is then up to the consumer to make a final decision based on what company best serves their interest.
The pricing of tree work has always been something that I have considered an art. There is no book that we look at that identifies every tree size and the time needed to either remove or prune. Thus, we do the best that we can to “estimate” the time we feel we need to properly complete the task at hand which is then multiplied by an hourly rate that can vary amongst companies.
This hourly rate is the critical figure in the equation. Built into this rate is a company’s overhead costs which include payroll, liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, payroll taxes and fuel costs to name a few. Some companies have a higher overhead cost than others based on what exactly it is that is built into this number. For example: If company A is properly insured and produces a proper payroll with required withholding per current law, they may tend to have a higher hourly price than company B who pays “under the table” and has no workers compensation insurance. As the President of the Maryland Society of Licensed Tree Experts, I have found that the majority of complaints that we receive from member companies directly relates to unlicensed, uninsured companies that pay under the table. The most that we can do is report them to the State of Maryland DNR Forest Service which we have found has done very little to curb their existence. For you, the consumer, it is always advisable to ask for and then verify all insurance coverages as well as licensing. With this, you are able to compare apples to apples in regards to price and you will not be liable in the event of a mishap while one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet is being performed on your property.
All of us enjoy the prospects of paying less for those goods or services that we require. Unfortunately, there are often negative underlying factors that make such a cheap price possible.