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How Josh Skolnick, the 28-Year-Old Founder of Monster Tree Service, Built Up a Million Dollar Tree Service Business Without Ever Cutting Down a Tree Himself

by Franchise Chatter on October 13, 2012

in Franchise Chatter Exclusive, Q & A Interview, Tree Care Franchise

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Josh Skolnick was a career landscaper who started a multi-crew lawn care service while in high school. He was constantly bugged about getting rid of dead trees in a client’s yard, but didn’t have any experience in tree trimming or felling. Finally, to appease his client, he hired a contractor for a day to take down the dead tree. While the contractor worked, Josh walked up and down the street and literally sold tree service to every house on the block for the remainder of the day, making more than $20,000 in sales. Skolnick quickly realized there was opportunity to capitalize on incorporating tree care into his business.

Within a matter of three years, the now 28-year-old has become a multi-millionaire by founding Monster Tree Service (MTS) and announced in April that he is franchising the business. MTS is looking to have 60+ units in 5 years, with 10-15 unit growth every year.

Josh has literally found a way to make money grow on trees. What makes Josh’s concept unique is that you don’t need any prior experience in the industry to succeed at Monster Tree Service — just a passion for making money. Josh saw a service that was needed and understood that the tree cutting industry severely lacks in customer service and professionalism, so he’s created a lucrative business that he’s eager to share. For a guy who’s never removed a tree in his life, he’s doing pretty well for himself.

Franchise Chatter (FC):  How has business been since you started the company about three years ago?

Josh Skolnick (JS):  Amazing, really. I am thrilled with the way everything has come together. The business has been growing every year, and we are now launching nationwide through our franchise model.

Josh Skolnick, Founder of Monster Tree Service

Josh Skolnick, Founder of Monster Tree Service

FC:  To what do you attribute the amazing success of your tree service business thus far?

JS:  Some of it has to do with the obvious elements that every business needs in order to succeed: hard work, great customer service, and consistent and well planned advertising. But we’ve also focused on things that are not as obvious to other businesses, like the use of systems and efficiency.

Everything we do is well thought out and we have a process that we keep refining. Running efficiently is very important to me, so I rely on proven systems instead of trying to reinvent the wheel every time.

Plus, being in a big-ticket industry with low overhead doesn’t hurt either.

FC:  Why do you think now is the right time to franchise Monster Tree Service?

JS:  There are a couple of reasons.

First, because we have already created a successful system for our business, which makes it easier to teach to others even if they have no experience in the tree industry. When I first started Monster Tree Service, I didn’t know very much about the industry, but saw the opportunity in it. So I learned how to create the best system to capitalize on this industry. Now I can teach others what I have learned over the last few years and help them find the same success I was able to achieve.

Second, the tree industry is very fragmented and dominated by local players. There aren’t many big-name competitors in the war for national recognition, so the time is right to become the household name in the residential tree business.

FC:  What kind of background and skills set are you looking for in a prospective franchisee?

JS:  We really want people who are looking to build a business as opposed to people who are already in the industry. Beyond that, we are just looking for people’s transferable skills. They can always hire out the functions in the business that they do not prefer to work on.

For example, someone with a financial background would be great at managing the business behind the scenes but may prefer to hire a salesman to interact with the clients. Someone with a sales background might want to be more on the front line with customers every day. A person with management experience could work closer with the crews and someone in logistics would probably work best on scheduling and efficiency.

At the end of the day, it comes down to motivation, goals, and the ability to follow a system.

Monster Tree Service PhotoFC:  What are the day-to-day responsibilities of a franchisee in running the business?

JS:  A typical day might involve:

  • Assigning tree crews their work for the day
  • Visiting job sites and meeting with customers to discuss current and upcoming projects
  • Developing and executing the marketing plan
  • Working on invoices and other administrative tasks

FC:  How difficult is it to find skilled workers who can actually perform the tree cutting service?

JS:  Not as tough as you might think. There are people who have made it their vocation to do tree work; it’s their chosen profession. When these kinds of people see an organization like Monster Tree Service they are thrilled. The equipment is new, the pay is fair, and the checks clear every week. There is a constant stream of work to be done without long layoffs or dry weeks.

Many tree professionals have some tough stories about what it’s like to work for the competition. We simply take care of good people and they tend to refer us more good people.

FC:  What kind of training and support can your franchisees expect to receive?

JS:  The official training is done over a week in our Fort Washington, PA location, but we start the process even before the on-site. We first get them set up with all of the odds and ends required to run a business. We help walk franchisees through that process right away. Once they come to the on-site training, we review all aspects of the business including hiring, sales, marketing, and production.

Our preference is to break the learning process up into classroom, teaching, and real-world practice in the field. After the on-site, we go to the franchisee’s territory and we help them hire their first crews and help them market, sell, and produce their first few jobs.

Josh Skolnick, Founder of Monster Tree ServiceFC:  What are your growth targets for Monster Tree Service in 2012, and beyond? Which regions are you targeting for expansion?

JS:  Long term, we will be the leading name in tree care nationwide. For now, we are looking at growing the right way with the right partners at a comfortable pace. Ideally, we would like to build our presence through the Mid-Atlantic and then into the Southeast and New England, and eventually head West. While we are focusing on the Eastern United States now, we are more than willing to talk to candidates more to the West if they are right candidates for Monster Tree Service.

FC:  Is there anything else you wish to share about Monster Tree Service?

JS:  We are the right team in the right industry with the right systems. Great stuff is starting to happen for Monster Tree Service, so this really is the perfect time to start a business as the economy recovers and money is still cheap to finance. We’re definitely one to watch.

To learn more about Monster Tree Service, visit their website, follow them on Twitter, and connect with them on Facebook.

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