Hustle It!—Tree Trimming

by | Business Skills

How much do you think you could make trimming people’s trees?

Almost two year ago, I moved into our house in Irving, Texas.  Shortly before I bought the house, I found out that a big tree branch had broken off one of the huge trees in the yard and was resting on the roof.  My insurance agent told me that in this state, he couldn’t insure the house.  The branch had to be removed first.

At this time, I was still living in Virginia, trying to get things packed up for the move.  I didn’t know anyone in Dallas, so I had no idea who to call.  So my insurance agent recommended theguy who trims his trees.  He asked him to give me an estimate, and I found out that it would cost me a full $400 to have that branch cut up and hauled off the property.  Since I hadn’t lived in Texas before, and had never paid anyone to trim my trees, I had no idea if this was a good price or not.

I expected to be there in a couple days so I asked my agent to hold off for now until I could take a look at it and determine if it was something I could handle myself.  Fortunately for me, by the time I got to Texas, the owner of the house had already had the branch removed.

As I drove through my new neighborhood, I noticed something that was pretty new to me.  My neighborhood has been around for many years, so it’s full of big, mature trees.  It’s great.  But what I noticed is that almost every house in the neighborhood had their trees very neatly trimmed.  The trees looked healthy and had nice canopies that were well above the ground, while the lower branches had been trimmed off.  It looked very clean and very well kept.  That is, except my house.  My trees looked good and pretty healthy, but they hadn’t been trimmed up like most of the neighborhood.  It got me thinking about how much it must cost to do all that trimming.  If it was going to cost me $400 to get a branch removed, then how much would it cost to get all five of my big trees trimmed up.

After a few months passed and fall approached, I noticed something else.  Lots of people were having their trees trimmed up and then they were just piling all the branches along the road to be picked up.  This was new.  The city actually picks up tree branches as part of their trash service each week.  “No wonder people here can afford to trim their trees,” I thought “They don’t have to pay to have them hauled away.”

Around this same time, I started getting knocks on my door in the afternoon.  Each time, it was a couple guys, usually father and son, who were offering to trim my trees for me.  As one of them came on a Saturday while I was home, I decided to see what they would charge me for the work.  We walked around my yard and looked at my trees, and I told them what work I would want to have done, and he said to me, “I’ll do it all for $150.”

$150?  Really?

For $150 I could have all my trees trimmed up.  Now, I’m really cheap sometimes so I told him I’d get back to him later if I decided to not do it myself.  It’s been a year and a half and I still haven’t done it, so I’m really thinking about calling this guy back up to have him come trim up my trees.  But the point is, these guys were out making things happen.  They were out making money.  They weren’t the only ones trimming trees.  We’ve had at least five different crews come to our door and offer to trim our trees, cut our grass, trim our hedges, and so on.  But the point is, they’re out there finding work.

A few months ago we had a pretty big storm roll through the area.  Lots of people had branches break off their trees.  Some lost entire trees.  As soon as the storm was over, these guys were out.  They were finding work.  They recognized an opportunity.  These guys also recognize that in our area, they can keep cost down and reduce the amount of time it takes them to do the work, by letting the city haul away the branches.  This means that they don’t need big trucks and trailers.  All they need is the tree trimming equipment.  This keeps their cost low and let’s them get on from one job to another.  It also keeps the price low for the customer, which is why virtually every house in my neighborhood has neatly trimmed trees.

Work like tree trimming, landscaping, fence building, and house painting is contagious.  Have you ever noticed that when one house gets a nice, new coat of paint, or gets some landscaping work done, that the houses around them suddenly start having the same work done?  Nobody wants to have their house look old or dirty when the one next door looks fresh and clean.  So it spreads.

These guys saw that, and they took advantage of that opportunity.  With only a few tools, they set out to make a living for themselves.  Some of them have made a business out of it.  It’s their sole means of earning income.  But others are doing it on the side, as the opportunity presents itself.  Where the work is largely seasonal, there’s a lot of room for people to pick up extra work during the busy seasons.

What about you?  Is this something you could do?  Is it something you’d be willing to do?

The people who succeed in hustling are the ones who are willing to do the hustle.  It’s usually not glamorous.  It’s always hard work.  But it usually pays off if you keep up with.

So what do you think?  Are you ready to Hustle It!?


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