How do you choose a Tree Surgeon?

This classic quote from John Ruskin cautions on the potential error of automatically choosing low-cost as the best way to make a purchasing decision –

“There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey. It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

The following post is amended from a bog stumbled across on the web…Acknowledgements to T Hurley. It’s fair to say that most of us don’t want to pay more than absolutely necessary for any product or service, but does the cheapest always equal the best? The first step would be to consider what it is we require – e.g. a television, a sofa or even tree work? We may narrow down our selection based perhaps on a brand, a specification or recommendation, and that makes it relatively easy to purchase a specific product: a browse around the internet will generally produce a price below the recommended high street retail cost; wait a day and your newly purchased product will arrive on your doorstep.

But rarely are trade services so simple to procure, especially if you’re not exactly sure what it is you require, and this is certainly the case for tree work. It’s an area of the market which offers the full spectrum of people and capabilities. The simple unfortunate fact is that anyone with a truck, some signwriting, basic tools and a set of ladders can look like and call themselves a ‘tree surgeon’ to the unwary public. Their price may be attractive, but at what cost? And how can you be sure what you’re getting?

In the UK we have some standards to help assist in making an informed decision when it comes to choosing a ‘tree surgeon’. The first of these are the British Standards covering both practical tree works (BS3998:2010) and tree consultancy on development sites (BS5837:2012); these provide very clear guidelines for both specifying and undertaking works. If the person providing the quote isn’t familiar with these then maybe they are not the right person for the job.

Secondly, there are a broad range of academic and vocational arboricultural qualifications in the UK. It’s not necessary for all of the team to have a degree in the subject, far from it, but evidence of both some academic knowledge and professional training should be a prerequisite. Most reputable companies should be happy to email you copies of their certificates on request; don’t be afraid to ask for these either, after all it’s your trees they’re going to be working on.

Bottom line: cheapest is rarely wisest unless you’re confident that you’re on a level playing field.

Just something to consider!