You get a knock at your door and someone is offering to trim your trees quickly.
That sounds great, especially during hurricane season, but buyer beware!
Quintavius Frost, who owns Quin’s Lawn and Landscaping, thinks knocking on doors for business is “weird.” He will however hand out business cards if he sees people while out on other jobs that might be interested in getting work done.
He feels advertising and word of mouth bring in the business he needs. He has had his business five years and his company provides tree and hedge trimming, mulch, sod, rocks, hauling dirt, yard and debris clean-up, and other services throughout Volusia and Flagler counties.
Aaron Antalek, who owns Don’s Tree Service, has plenty of advice for those seeking to find legitimate help in getting trees trimmed.
Don's was founded by the late Don Buckley and then taken over by Mr. Atalek's father, Tom Antalek, who retired about three years ago. The company has been in business 46 years and covers East Volusia County.
“You want to see that they have been around for a while,” he said.
Other tips include doing online reviews and checking for chamber of commerce membership (Don's is a member of the Port Orange South Daytona Chamber).
Town and city governments also can provide license information.
Insurance also is critical, Mr. Antalek said. “We have worker’s comp and liability, which some of the tree services out there do not have. It’s quite a difference in cost with these companies (as) their fees are a lot more expensive with the insurance. (But) you get what you pay for.”
He added his employees have seen a lot of companies that are licensed and insured, but don’t do that great a job. They might trim a little bit, but the homeowners are calling to get them re-trimmed by somebody else, including his company.
Longevity is another sure tip about a business, he said. “My foreman has been with us for 32 years now. My climber has been with us for 23 years. We have an elite status with Angie’s List and Home Advisor as well.”
He added, “Never pay anybody ahead of time. Wait until they finish the job and have everything cleaned up and hauled away. If somebody has to go door-to-door to solicit, it is probably not somebody you want to be dealing with, if they have to scavenge for work like that.”
Some companies advise homeowners they can save money by leaving cut limbs on the curb for city staff to take away. Any licensed contractor, by law, is supposed to haul away their debris.
Homeowners should not be pressured to sign contracts on the spot as they may want to look at other options. Don’s Tree Service does not require a written contract.
Also, if a company has an arborist, permits do not need to be obtained to take down trees, but the arborist must have a written document stating why. Mr. Antalek is pursuing his arborist certification this year.
It should be noted hefty fines can be levied for illegally taking down historic trees.
Particularly during hurricane season, eager out-of-area tree trimmers descend upon Floridians with some having insurance that, not known by the homeowner, has been canceled. If a problem arises. such as a tree falling on a car, suddenly they pack up and leave.
Cal Clay has owned Atlantic Tree Service for 13 years and grew up working in the family business.
Mr. Clay said the ones knocking door to door are sales representatives working strictly on commissions so the higher they push the number, the more commission they get. He added they fast talk and put on the pressure to get you to sign a contract, promising they will be out the next day. He said this is so you won’t think to get other estimates and instead get locked into using them. He sees residents age 70 and over especially vulnerable to those tactics.
“They are going to do the job and I am not even going to say they will do a horrible job, but it’s what they’re doing,” Mr. Clay said. “It’s a scam in the amount they are charging people. Those companies have quotas of like $10,000 a day. Those are literally numbers they try to make.”
Always get more than one estimate, Mr. Clay said. “See where the prices range. Three estimates are minimum you want to do. There is no need for any tree company to get money up front. It’s crazy the stuff you see and what’s going on and the nightmares you hear. I’ve seen so much and heard so much.”
Atlantic Tree Service performs preventative maintenance, storm clean-up, trimming, removal, pruning, grading, palm tree care, brush removal, root raking, thinning, stump grinding and fertilizing in Volusia and Flagler. For more information, call (386) 233-0550 or (386) 235-2081.
Don’s Tree Service does tree trimming, tree removal, stump grinding and firewood sales for residential and commercial properties. For more information, call (386) 761-4920.
For more information about Quin’s Lawn & Landscaping, call (386) 262-8593.