Spring has arrived in full force, and many property owners are anxious to get their lawns looking sharp. This includes trimming trees and collecting branches which fell over the course of the winter. There are many reliable companies that offer tree trimming and brush collection services, but there are also a few that are looking to be paid for work they have no plans to finish. When it comes to finding tree care companies they can depend on, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) urges consumers to “measure thrice and cut once.”
“If you know there’s work you want performed in regard to trees or fallen branches on your property, be proactive,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Get at least three estimates and do your research in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises.”
This time of year especially, questionable tree trimming companies go door-to-door, claiming they’re in the neighborhood and are able to offer their services at a discount. Such businesses often choose names similar to established and reputable tree trimming firms. They may also drive around in unmarked vehicles.
When you’re looking for a reliable tree trimmer or yard service, keep these tips in mind:
Be wary of door-to-door solicitations. Each year, countless homeowners have tree trimming companies knock on their door and offer to provide their services at a discount. In too many cases, the work performed is shoddy or only partially completed – and the company fails to return to finish the work, as promised. You should also ask if they need – and have - a solicitor’s permit from the city where you live.
Ask if they’re listed. In Minnesota, all companies and individuals that provide tree care or tree trimming services and/or who remove trees, limbs, branches, brush or shrubs for hire should be listed with Minnesota's Tree Care Registry. This includes all public, private, and governmental entities. To verify this, visit www2.mda.state.mn.us/webapp/lis/default.jsp. It's also a good idea to ensure tree trimmers and brush removal services have any necessary city permits.
Request an onsite inspection. The inspection should include the entire tree, not just parts that appear to be damaged, in poor condition or in danger of falling. Risk assessment can be done at the same time and this helps consumers determine which trees are categorized as higher-risk.
Get everything in writing. A contract should clearly state the services you will receive, as well as when the job is expected to be completed, payment terms and conditions, contact information for the company – phone number and address – as well as any refund or cancellation policies.
Verify insurance coverage. Confirm that the company has insurance that covers worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability.
Remember, you’re the customer; it’s your home. Don’t feel pressured to choose a business just because someone is standing on your doorstep. You also want to avoid paying in cash and should never write a check out to a company employee.