How to Create a Career Path for Tree Crews

Over the years, we have discovered that one of the best ways to attract new people to tree service careers is to show them their potential opportunities for growth. We do this with what we call a “career ladder,” which shows the potential career path that folks can take with their tree care career.

We can tell you from talking to many different potential hires over the years that most people are quite impressed to see that we already have a defined career path that they can follow to continue rising to the next level. It’s not something that they’re used to seeing in this industry.

In fact, most people tell us that when they take a tree care job, they assume they’ll just do it until they find something better and jump ship. They hadn’t thought much about staying with the same company because they were never given any sort of direction on how they could advance and ultimately earn more money.

But the greatest way to build success with your tree care business is to invest in your people and help build their tree care career.

Here are some ways to do just that.

Spell it All Out

The best thing about a tree care career ladder is that everything is spelled out, including the financials.

A tree career path should be a document that shows what each position entails and what it takes to get to the next one. This includes what opportunities there are to earn more at each level.

Arborist tree climber pruning tree

Tree care hires will be impressed to see that they have an actual plan or “path” to follow rather than just wondering when (or if) they’ll ever get a raise.

Here is what our tree care career path looks like for tree care workers. Note that we have three levels (groundsman, climber, and crew leader) and for each of those levels, there is also an opportunity to climb to the next rank.

1. Groundsman Trainee
2. Groundsman
3. Lead Groundsman

1. Climber Trainee
2. Climber
3. Expert Climber

Crew Leader
1. Crew Leader Trainee
2. Crew Leader
3. Bucket Truck Crew Leader

For each level, we have the details of what’s involved in getting to the next level as well as what you can earn.

tree care technician meets with customer

Replicate the Career Ladder for Other Departments

While a Joshua Tree Experts franchise starts out with tree care, it is our goal for your business to ultimately expand into other offerings including plant health care, lawn care, and pest control.

You can replicate the same career ladder for these departments as well.

plant health care technician performs soil test

For our Plant Health Care department, we have five levels:

1. Plant Health Care Technician Trainee
2. Plant Health Care Technician
3. Arbor Shield Licensed Technician
4. Arbor Shield Senior Technician
5. Certified Arbor Shield Expert

Make Sure its Market-Specific

At Joshua Tree Experts, we can provide you with a lot of guidance on how to create this career path document. But you should ultimately customize it to your area (particularly with the pay).

For instance, the base salary for tree trimming careers in your market is likely not the same as it is in our primary markets. You’ll want to make sure that the pay reflects the competitive pay of your area for each level.

tree removal team uses bucket truck to remove limbs

You’ll need to do your research on how much to pay tree workers in your area so that you are remaining competitive and attracting the best hires. If you are truly looking to attract the best candidates, you should be offering a salary that is higher than the market average.

It’s also important to understand that this number is not going to be stagnant so it’s something that you should keep up with over time. If you were hiring a tree worker a year ago, recognize that things have likely changed and you need to likely bump up your rate.

That means you’ll need to update your career ladder over time as well.

Climbing Trees and Climbing the Tree Care Career Ladder

We talk a lot about “climbing the career ladder,” which just so happens to correspond well with the industry that we’re in. Our entry-level tree care workers start as groundsmen and just as they move on to climbing trees, they can simultaneously climb the ladder of their career.

team meets at conference room table

Of course, not everyone is interested in advancing and that’s also okay. You might have someone who just really loves being a tree climber and does not want to be a crew leader. One thing that this career ladder also does is that it puts the onus on the employee to determine how high they want to go. We think of it as “positive career pressure.” You are showing them exactly where they can go if they decide that’s what they want.

At the end of the day, that’s important when it comes to long-time retention. Even if not all of your team members want to keep advancing, many will.

If you don't give them that opportunity, they’re likely going to go looking for it somewhere else.

A Partner in Your Success

If you are a Joshua Tree Experts franchise owner, then we are here to help.

We can help you to create a career ladder that will help attract the best tree care hires in your area (and keep them for the long haul).

Hopefully, this has given you some helpful insight on developing a career path so that you can begin to recruit the best possible team members.

Are you ready to grow a successful business from strong roots? Joshua Tree Experts has the proven systems and processes in place to help. Request a meeting and begin your journey today.

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