A Timeline Of Accomplishments
Joshua Malik, President
Joshua Tree Experts
1. When, why, and how did you start your business?
I started Joshua Tree Experts in 2005, but I knew five years prior that I wanted to launch my own business. During the years leading up to the launch, I had a really good job so I was able to save some money. I actually purchased all my equipment before I even launched my business. I started it from my home office and a three-car garage out of my residence. I was 30 years old at the time. I didn’t take any funding from anybody, and I learned from trial and error.
At that point, I had spent 13 years in the Industry and had worked as a field tech, sales rep, and manager. When I began working in the Industry in 1992, I started at the lowest entry level position. As I moved my way up to ownership, I learned every part of the business necessary to run a successful company.
2. Please describe your business now.
We make home environments safe, healthy, and beautiful. We do that by providing tree care, lawn care, and pest control. Our biggest success is that 60% of our revenue is recurring revenue. For a tree care company, that’s really impressive.
We really upsell and cross sell our services, and we focus on the services we can perform year after year. We train our sales team to push those services. We have really good communication with our clients and let them know why we want to do certain services. Right now, we have about 9,000 active clients that we service, two company locations, and 70 active employees.
3. What is your educational background or skill set? Is there a degree, continuing education class, or skill you would recommend for success?
I don’t have an educational background. I didn’t like school. The only thing I loved about school was the sports. So I started working at a very young age, and I discovered that I really loved the physical labor of work. And my experience has been a hands-on one. It has been a lot of self-education through industry certifications, as well as by trial and error.
To others starting off in the Industry, I would recommend becoming an ISA certified arborist. Your pesticide applicators’ license through your state is also a good one to have, as well as any sort of certified tree care safety or tree risk assessors certification. The more knowledge you can gain, the better. Plus, it gives you a little bit of authority with your clien
4. What do you see as the main reasons why your business grew successfully?
I think one of the things we do really well is that we follow and adopt one business system. That business system really helped us define our niche and our core focus. It has helped us put a plan together and has helped us as a team to create the vision for the company. The verbiage is very familiar among everybody who works at Joshua Tree Experts.
Our team is very solid and full of people who have been here for many years. Everybody gels very well together. When you can define the vision as one operating system, and you can communicate that vision to your team, everybody begins understanding what their purpose is.
5. How did you set yourself apart from competition?
We’ve set ourselves apart in several different ways. Part of it is our three uniques: experience, education, and ease.
The first two elements are intertwined. We offer an unmatched client experience. We also provide education for our people and fund learning experiences as a company. We pay for any study material, credit material, and certification costs. We want clients to understand the services we are offering them. So we have our professionals out there educating them about why these services are important.
Ease is simple — we have old school values, while utilizing new age technology. If you call our office you are going to get an answer. Our call center is in-house, and you are going to speak to someone. We make it easy for clients to request services, approve services, to pay or prepay, and more. Our arborist and sales teams are always available to answer any questions. I think these are the things that really set us apart.
6. What was your best business decision?
Our people are probably the best asset that we have. We’ve built a culture of promoting from within. We really set a path to success that allows employees to be able to say, “This is where I am today when I join Joshua Tree, and here’s where I can be in one year, three years, and five years.”
We want to take the people that have been with us and continue to give them opportunities, a good lifestyle, and a financial freedom that maybe they wouldn’t have expected.
“A lot of entrepreneurs think about entrepreneurship for many years. They have a lot of fear. But start sooner, rather than later. You have to get over those fears to launch a business, and you have to be risky to be successful.”
We have also spent a lot of time building our five core values. It was the best thing we’ve ever done. When you start hiring around values, instead of talent, you get a really awesome workforce. Our 5 Core Values are: Work Hard/Play Hard, Improve & Adapt, Reliable, Team Player, and Find a Way.
This is how we developed them. In one of our leadership team sessions, we identified a few people in the company who we would always want “more of.” Once we had a list of names, we wrote down the qualities they each exhibit and then evaluated what they had in common.
Through this process, we began to identify some common core values. We then applied each value to every leadership team member and rated on a scale how well each of us exhibited these pinpointed values. We began to wordsmith some of the values as a result of this rating and BOOM! We nailed the 5 Core Values we would follow.
7. What was your worst business decision?
One of the most costly decisions was launching our Lawn Care Department as all granular. We formulated our services, pricing, equipment, and vehicles around that. I look back and wish I was more receptive to liquid service at the time. It has now become the main part of our lawn care application services.
Another costly decision, though one difficult to assign a dollar value, is holding on to the wrong people for too long. A lot of businesses struggle with this because they don’t have a replacement. An employee just might not possess the unique ability that you need for a certain position. Even though they’re a good person, you can’t keep them because of that. Sometimes, as an owner, you have to make tough decisions.
8. What was your funniest business experience?
We have a ton of fun as a company. Personally, I love the humorous side of everything I do, so I love to bring a lot of fun to the business.
One of our core values is work hard, play hard. We have a lot of fun when we’re at work, but we also do a lot outside of work like barbecues and team events. We’re going to do a river rafting event with 70 people soon, for example. The work is not always easy, but we do the best we can to enjoy it.
9. What’s your favorite piece of equipment/landscaper tool?
The plant health care spray rig. It is our best revenue generator. You only need one technician to operate it and I can train that technician within 30 days.
10. What is your advice to others? What do you wish you had known?
A lot of entrepreneurs think about entrepreneurship for many years. They have a lot of fear. But start sooner, rather than later. You have to get over those fears to launch a business, and you have to be risky to be successful.
Having good emotional intelligence is also important. Friends and family might give you negative advice when you talk about your ideas. This can make you hesitate. But put all of that to the side. Talk to other business owners that can help guide you and tell you why it’s awesome to be an entrepreneur.
11. What is your plan for the future of your business?
We’re franchising. We want to sell 11 franchises this year, and we’re on that path. We measure by services, so our long term goal is that we want to complete a million services over the next 10 years between corporate and franchised locations.
Expanding tree care operations can be costly due to the equipment investment. Franchising allows me to expand the business rapidly by leveraging the resources and efforts of individual franchise owners. Instead of managing each new location at the corporate level, franchisees invest their capital for the start-up cost and manage the day-to-day operations, enabling me to grow the brand across multiple locations more quickly.