To All Authorized Members,

As I am writing this letter, HMI has just closed out the third quarter of 2023 having completed more emergency tree removal assignments in nine months than in any full year prior.  To accomplish this in a year without a single major hurricane event (so far) is really extraordinary and the result of increasing utilization of HMI’s services by our clients.  This trend is, again, a testament to the high-quality product that HMI, together with the tree care professionals in our network, provide to homeowners every day.  This year will likely be remembered as the year that HMI’s network truly separated itself from all other first responder programs by offering our clients the best service available in the industry, and at the right price.

Not surprisingly, HMI is also receiving more requests from tree care companies to join our network than ever before.  We have increased the number of Authorized Members (AMs) in our network by almost 25% this year.  This growth has enabled us to expand the geographic area that we service, and we have also added capacity in several key markets around the country.  The growth in our network couldn’t have come at a better time given the volume of work we’ve been processing and the growth we expect in 2024.  HMI is currently in advanced discussions with four potential new clients for our emergency tree removal service.  Three of them are top 10 residential insurance carriers.  If you were pleased with the value you received from your membership in HMI’s network this year, I believe you will be even more so next year.

I hope everyone reading my letter has taken the opportunity to download HMI Connects, our newly improved mobile app.  HMI's developers recently released a final version of the app that has been getting high marks from the field.  Our AMs are reporting much faster download and upload speeds when compared with the previous app.  As you know, we are always asking for more/better photos and quicker updates on open files in the RMS.  The mobile app is the only way to efficiently collect the necessary data on an HMI assignment and quickly upload it to the RMS.  We will continue investing in mobile technology to ensure you have the most efficient way to process all HMI referrals.

If you haven’t already downloaded HMI Connects, please do so.  While the 2023 hurricane season has yet to generate a major storm event for us, we are now heading into another typically active time of year.  In late fall, HMI starts watching for weather patterns that may generate early snow or ice storms, or nor’easters, all of which have in the past generated a high volume of work for our network.  Based on how 2023 has played out so far, everyone at HMI is expecting Mother Nature to deliver at least one more blow before year end.

Lastly, I hope to see everyone at the TCIA Expo in St. Louis this week.  If you are attending, please stop by our booth (#1817) and pick up a special gift for all Authorized Members commemorating HMI’s 20th Anniversary. Also, be sure to block off Friday night from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., and join the HMI team at our happy hour being held at the Budweiser Brew House in the Ballpark Village, a short 10-minute walk from the convention center.  We all have a lot to celebrate this year!

Thank you all.  Stay safe!

Regards,

 

 

 

Doug Cowles

President, Horticultural Asset Management, Inc.

 

 

 

To All Authorized Members,

I hope everyone is doing well and surviving whatever Mother Nature is throwing in your direction - excessive heat and humidity, epic floods, smoke-filled skies, or all of the above. In what is becoming a broken record, HMI is coming off another record quarter. So, I know you have all been busy! This year is shaping up to be an important year for HMI’s Authorized Member Network. Not only are we collectively expanding the use of professional tree care companies by the insurance industry, but we are also setting the standard for what property owners and insurance carriers should expect from the industry. Our member network offers a high level of customer service, subject matter expertise, high-quality workmanship, personal and business ethics, and empathy. It’s a formula that’s creating a lot of opportunities for all of us.

I won’t spend much time reflecting on the volume of referrals HMI distributed in the first half of the year. But it is worth mentioning that our emergency tree removal claim volume was up 30% over the first half of last year. For some context, the first half of last year was 180% above the first half of 2021. Which means last year was going to be hard to beat, and we all did, by 30%.

To help you all handle the added volume, I’m pleased to announce that the much-anticipated upgrade to our mobile app is in the final stage of testing. The new app, HMI Connects, uses technology that is faster and more reliable than the HMI-RMS app. Testing so far has shown a significant improvement in connectivity with the RMS, many users reported uploading 50-100 photos in seconds. Use of HMI’s mobile app is becoming increasingly important as insurance adjusters and homeowners are expecting immediate responses, and we’re all asked to handle more assignments in less time.

If you have been waiting for HMI to ramp up our commercial property referrals, then I have some good news for you on that front as well. Doug Malawsky’s team just closed a contract with a large property management firm with properties in Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia. The contract provides the company with access to HMI’s Network of professional tree crews to clear trees and debris from their properties after major storm events. Like HMI’s other clients, they were tired of being exposed to unscrupulous companies like the ones they felt had taken advantage of them following Hurricane Ian last year. HMI expects to sign additional contracts like this one before the end of the year.

As stated above, the first half of 2023 set a record for HMI and our Network. The second half of the year is starting off just as strong with July shattering our prior record for the month by over 50%. This, without a hurricane! We fully expect the trend to continue this year as we are planning to add two more significant programs to our residential emergency tree removal business, and the additional commercial clients noted above. Plus, we are now heading into the teeth of a 2023 hurricane season that is one of the most unpredictable in recent memory. Current forecasters expect the record-warm ocean temperatures to drive more and stronger hurricanes than you would typically see in an El Niño year. Regardless of what happens, the HMI team is ready to assist you to make sure your participation in HMI’s program is a rewarding one for you and your team.

Thank you all.  Stay safe!

Regards,

 

 

 

Doug Cowles

President, Horticultural Asset Management, Inc.

 

 

 

To All Authorized Members,

The first quarter (Q1) of 2023 certainly started off with a bang for HMI and the members of our network.  As you may recall from my year-end 2022 recap, HMI’s Authorized Members (AMs) sold 50% more work last year than they did the year before.  Well, in Q1 2023, HMI received 40% more emergency tree removal claim assignments from our clients than we did in Q1 last year, and the network was able to generate almost 50% more sales from the assignments we received…so, the trend continues.  Truly extraordinary!  Aside from the continuing growth of our tree removal service, there has been a lot going on at HMI as you will find in my summary below.

During Q1, HMI supported five separate deployments in Florida, Texas, and California to provide our clients with professional tree care services on both residential and commercial properties.  Wintertime deployments are especially valuable to members of our network that are located in areas of the country where work typically slows.  And, while wintertime deployment opportunities used to be a rarity for HMI, I am happy to report that demand for our services required winter deployments in each of the last six seasons.  As HMI’s customer service team (and many of you) can attest, there really is no “off-season” for us anymore.

To help drive even more work to our members, HMI has been working to on-board three new programs. Two of the programs are designed to expand and optimize HMI’s relationship with carriers that are each ranked inside the top 10 in the country.  HMI has worked with both carriers in the past, but in a limited way.  The third program is with one of the country’s leading restoration companies.  Their offices are in need of professional tree care services when assigned claims that involve tree damage.  This program reflects HMI’s most aggressive pursuit of tree removal claim assignments that bypass our traditional channels and end up with a general contractor.  If successful, this may represent one of the most valuable programs that HMI has established.  These programs should come on-line in late Q2 or Q3.

As you all know, HMI developed its Tree Removal Cost Guide to inform our clients about the range of costs they should expect to pay for storm work completed by professional tree care companies in our network.  HMI surveys our network members regularly to make certain that the guide is reflective of accurate costs.  Recently, Gretchen Piechottka sent a survey to each company in our network asking about current labor and equipment costs, and if any adjustments to the Guide are warranted.  I want to thank everyone who responded to the survey or spoke with us directly about pricing pressures being felt around the country.  We hope to have our guidelines updated by the end of this month and a new Guide will be distributed to everyone.  Please contact Gretchen Piechottka if you don’t receive an updated Guide by mid-June.

HMI has continued investing heavily to promote our commercial contract services business which has resulted in multiple jobs for members of our network on golf courses, resort properties, municipalities, campgrounds, school campuses and even ski resorts. While many opportunities come to HMI through an insurance claim, increasingly we are generating leads for non-claim work as well, such as landscape enhancements, plant healthcare, and hazard assessments.  This month, HMI exhibited at a large community managers show in Dallas to promote the use of our network to support a broad range of services, including tree care, landscaping, storm preparedness and response, and more.

On behalf of everyone at HMI, I want to thank all of our network members for the outstanding responsiveness and professionalism demonstrated during a record-setting start to 2023.  Together we have established HMI as a high quality, consistent and reliable partner for insurance carriers and their clients.  It is clear that the standards we have collectively set for the services we provide are what our clients need and deserve.  There is no doubt in my mind that 2023 will be another year of strong growth as more and more carriers realize that there is a way to protect their clients from poor workmanship and questionable ethics, which are unfortunate realities faced by too many homeowners in the aftermath of a storm.  I am proud to be associated with the best in the business.

Finally, please join me in congratulating Doug Malawsky on becoming a Certified Risk Manager (CRM).  HMI is often asked for guidance on strategies to mitigate risks through services or proper insurance coverage. As a CRM, Doug is now able to formalize the role he, and HMI, are able to play in risk mitigation services, many of which will require assistance from our network… together we grow!

Thank you all.  Stay safe!

Regards,

 

 

 

Doug Cowles

President, Horticultural Asset Management, Inc.

 

 

 

To All Authorized Members,

I realize it’s been a short time since HMI’s last newsletter graced your inbox.  Since only a few weeks have elapsed since my last letter, you would think that would mean this one will be shorter.  Of course, that’s not how I roll.  This is my opportunity to reflect on everything that we accomplished together with HMI’s Authorized Member Network (the network) last year.  It was another successful year for HMI with continued growth in our core services and investments in new initiatives, please read below for a quick roll-up of 2022.

HMI’s emergency tree removal service was in high demand last year.  2022 started with a major snowstorm in the mid-Atlantic states in January and ended with our network responding to the atmospheric river that brought six major storms into California.  In between, HMI and its network assisted clients following February’s major ice storm in Tennessee, repeated spring/summer thunderstorms across the south, midwest and northeast, Hurricane Ian in late September, and the epic snow event that buried Buffalo and other major metropolitan areas in December.  At the end of the year, network members sold nearly 50% more emergency tree removal work than they did in 2021.  An amazing year by any standard!

There isn’t much more I can say about the professionalism, commitment, and customer service exhibited by our members every day.  Providing first responder services is oftentimes stressful and always critically important work.  HMI is proud to work together with the best tree care companies in the industry to provide the highest quality service available, at a time when homeowners (and insurance carriers) need it the most.  I’m happy to report that this year we’re off to a fast start already.  January of 2023 trails only January of 2022 for the most active in HMI’s history.

Supporting our network is the best back-office team that HMI has ever had.  Gretchen Piechottka and the customer service group have added a level of support that elevates the entire program.  By setting clear expectations with clients and supporting our network members with training and assistance with coverage questions and claim approvals, the team is helping reduce cycle times and improve conversion rates.  The finance team is also working hard to reduce payment cycle times on claims.  I’m thrilled to report that over 95% of all claims from Hurricane Ian have been paid.  An extraordinary feat that required quality files to be submitted quickly by our members, rapid processing by HMI’s audit team, and diligent follow-up and check processing by the finance team. Let’s not forget the quality insurance carrier partners that processed HMI’s files while dealing with a massive volume of claims.

Outside of our tree removal service, we have also been actively investing in the expansion of the company’s consulting and contract services.  You are all aware of the work Doug Malawsky’s team gets involved in.  You may, however, not be aware of how much work his team generates for members of HMI’s network.  Over 25% of the companies in the network were called on to support HMI’s consulting and contract services sales last year.  The companies were hired to provide pre/post loss tree inspections, damaged plant inventories, plant health and general tree care services, storm response services on commercial and municipal properties, landscaping design/build services, and more.

Like our tree removal service, consulting and contract services are also off to a very fast start in 2023.  HMI network members are currently working on projects in Florida, Texas, Colorado, and California.  The team is investing more than ever in lead generation activity to increase opportunities.  HMI is building a database of members who wish to participate in these opportunities. Please contact Gretchen Piechottka if you want to be included in this database but haven’t heard from us already.

As we all look forward to 2023 – HMI’s 20th anniversary year, you should expect more from your membership in the network than ever before.  Not only are we making significant investments in marketing and lead generation as described above, but we are also continuing to invest in technology that will continue to reduce the amount of time it takes to process an HMI referral.  As always, do not hesitate to reach out to anyone at HMI if you have questions about your membership, would like some additional training for you or your team, or if you have any suggestions on how we can better support your business.

 

Thank you all.  Stay safe!

Regards,

 

 

 

Doug Cowles

 

 

 

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