A tale of three arborists

A few weeks back, I needed a couple of skinny trees taken down, and a couple of trees limbed (dead branches removed). A small job, all things considered. 

The first arborist came out a week after I called and sent a quote a day later: $2900. Ouch. 

I asked around, as I have a few connections in the tree community (it’s not as Mafia as it sounds).

A second arborist came by, I name-dropped my “leading arborist” friend, and the quote came that night: $2200. Still too high. 

A few days later, I saw my neighbour out walking her dog, and told her about the quotes. 

“I feel I’m being scammed, even when I’m clear about what I want,” I said. “I can’t afford these rates. I’m the sole mortgage payer and I just put on a new roof.” 

She told me to call the local guy. I’ve been bruised by tradespeople on our island who don’t show up on time, or who charge too much. But I gave this guy a call as her recommendation was strong. He came out a few days later, admired the property and trees, and gave a quote on the spot: $900. 

I did my due diligence and went back to the medium-rate arborist to ask if he’d drop his price, explaining funds are tight for me but that I liked his approach, and that my friend had recommended him. He dropped his rate by $100, then gave me “pointers” about what to watch out for if I went with the lower-priced arborist: make sure the most affordable guy has insurance, does his work without harming the trees, etc. That put me off working with him.

I hired the least expensive arborist, and he did an excellent job, even going above and beyond to carve me a birdhouse with his chainsaw. This young guy gets to build his business, and I get to keep my money in the community. And oh yes, he’s fully insured. 

What does this tree tale have to do with editing?

If you’re hiring a freelancer, just because you pay more doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get more value. The reasonably priced editor might give you what you need and then some.

Question your own bias. I was wrong to initially brush off the local guy.

And if someone starts running down the competition without using their work as proof, head the other way.

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