Robert Driskill has been an active member in the Network since 2009 and serves the Greater Atlanta region. As a landscape architect by trade, Robert has been an ISA Certified Arborist since 2005 as well as an ISA Certified Tree Climber/Worker since 2010. He demonstrates the importance of responsiveness and good communication within HMI's Network. Robert will graduate law school this year with plans to take the Georgia State Bar this time next year. He intends to use his law degree to help tree removal companies, property owners, and municipalities with legal issues surrounding arboriculture and landscape architecture.
How has HMI supported the growth of your business?
We started working with HMI back in 2009. I helped assist with a storm damage tree removal here in Atlanta. HMI has helped our business grow by providing more work and introducing us to many insurance companies to help with emergency tree work.
What advice would you give arborists new to the HMI program that may help them be successful?
Responsiveness has always been the key to our success. Arborists should promptly show up for the job and be very responsive to the client. Try your best to assist them so the client will feel less worried about the tree removal.
What challenges have you overcome when you first started handling HMI referrals?
There was little to overcome when working with HMI’s support. You simply have to do the paperwork and ensure the insurance adjuster has everything they need to file a claim for tree removal.
What makes your company distinct, particularly with competitors in your market?
What makes my company unique is: 1). We always do an excellent job cleaning up. Tree removal is one thing, but I believe cleaning up is an essential aspect of the job. Clients always notice when we do a good job cleaning up. 2.) We always do a "walk thru" with the client. Whenever we finish a job, we review with the client what we did and ensure everything is done to their expectations. A walk thru ensures you did not miss anything and completed the task you were hired to do. 3.) We may chip into a pile when a client wants the wood mulch. The client always says they will spread it out; however, most of the time, the mulch pile remains. So, I always have my crew spread it away from the house into landscape islands, vegetable gardens, walkways, and playground areas. This helps eliminate waste going to landfills; it is resourceful and economical for the client and our company. 4.) The client is why we thrive in the tree business. Whenever you can educate a client on trees, hazardous ones that may fail and damage their homes, they appreciate your advice as an arborist. Safety is a primary concern. I'm always honest with my clients and tell them if a tree needs to come down or is safe. This goes a long way.
Is there anything especially challenging about serving clients in your area?
No matter how long one has been in the tree removal industry, there will be clients who said that you didn't prune a tree the right way, removed a wrong tree, messed up their lawn with heavy equipment, etc. When dealing with a demanding customer, you must understand and admit that what you did is your fault. It is human nature to say something is not your fault. Whenever my company messes up, I will tell the client we messed up. And then I ask how can I improve this? Typically, when you apologize to a client and admit fault, they are more understanding. The customer appreciates the fact that you want to improve the situation.
What else would you like us to highlight about your business?
I'm a landscape architect and received my degree from the University of Georgia. I'm in my third year of law school at the Birmingham School of Law and will be graduating in December of 2023. I plan on taking the state bar in February of 2024. I will keep my tree business but help tree removal businesses, landscape companies, municipalities, and residential and commercial businesses that may have legal issues dealing with trees, landscaping, property disputes, zoning, real estate, etc.