“There are always lessons in business,” says Niko, “it takes time to up-skill yourself in any new business and it won’t happen overnight.”
Niko Kurta is well-versed in the realities of work within the tree industry. He has been running Jim’s Tree & Stump Removal since 2012 and in that time he has helped the franchise to generate over 100,000 new leads. In this article we discover exactly what it takes to run a successful tree business.
One of the very first decisions you will have to make when starting out is whether you create your own business or buy an existing one. The advantage of buying into an existing business is that you start with a platform to grow your business from. This is a result of the good will that comes from a mature brand with a good client list.
“Business is so much easier if it has goodwill,” says Niko.
When buying into a franchise like Jim’s Trees, you have this same choice but with a stronger platform. You can buy a new franchise, giving you the opportunity to start your own business with the benefits of the Jim’s brand to give you public awareness and the Jim’s network for support.
Alternatively, you can buy an existing franchise, which allows you to take on their client list. Generally the longer the business has been around, the better the quality of the clientele and the good will of the business within the community.
Once you’ve decided whether to buy into an existing business or to start your own, you then have the core challenge of every tree business, clients.
- How do you acquire new clients?
- How do you keep them?
- Are they all worth keeping?
- How far should you travel to keep them?
- How do you keep them happy through winter?
These questions must be considered and there are no simple answers. Instead, you’ll need to experiment, iterate and adapt. As a seasonal business, it is important to retain your clients through the low winter months. This is where prioritisation of clients can be important, as you will want to make sure your best clients are kept happy through summer so that they’ll be there for you in winter.
Tree businesses aren’t confined to any one location, which can be both a benefit and a challenge.
“Distance is crucial, downtime needs to be taken into consideration,” says Niko.
Being unrestricted to a single location poses challenges. Each council has different laws around tree maintenance and removal. As such, you will need to be familiar with a number of different variations of similar rules.
Different suburbs also have different challenges in terms of demographics and accessibility. Some regions might have dense urban forests, but tight streets. Others may have demographics less inclined to pay for tree maintenance. The best way to plan for this is to do your research, familiarise yourself with the area and speak to local professionals familiar with the region.
Any business has to deal with expenses, a tree business is no different. It is essential to have a good team of employees who are happy and hardworking. To achieve this, staff wages and superannuation must be a priority.
Travel time represents another large part of your business expenses. “Managing downtime is very crucial,” says Niko, “the more you travel, the less productivity in a day which will affect your bottom line.”
The final component of your major expenses is equipment.
“Equipment maintenance is key to running any business with machinery and will serve you better for the long run,” says Niko.
Your tools and your machinery are the foundation of your business. Premium tools that last a long time will always provide your business with more value than cheap tools that deteriorate quickly.
Managing the business
Once you’ve set up your business, you then need the management skills to keep it running smoothly.
“Not everyone is cut out to run a business,” says Niko, “time management is key, but so is business management, staff management and customer service.”
A successful business owner needs to be able to manage all of the areas we have discussed, while also having the humility to admit that you have more to learn. While not everyone is cut out to run a business, anyone can do it if they are willing to jump into the deep end, learn from their mistakes and persevere.
Are you Ready?
Whether you are an existing Tree business looking to improve, a new startup looking to grow or you’re thinking about starting a new business – we would like to hear from you. You can contact us through our franchise enquiry page or call 131 546 to register your interest.