Professional Consultation Vs. Sales Call: Our Staff Doesn’t Work on Commission – Here’s What That Means for Our Customers

At CVTS-L, the sales teams and estimators who will be visiting your property for a professional consultation are salaried with benefits. That’s not just a good reason to work for us, but it’s also an excellent reason to hire us for your tree care, plant health care or landscaping project. It’s practically unheard of in our industry.


Most tree services rely on a commission-based compensation system for their sales teams. There is nothing inherently wrong with commission-based systems. For industries that deal with mass-produced products or services that are easily replicated, they can even be ideal. The key component of this model is that because salespeople are rewarded per sale, they are incentivized to sell, sell, sell – because their paycheck literally depends on it.

The problem with commission-based consultations in tree care

Because they get paid based on how much work they can sell, they might be tempted to sell you work that you don’t need at all, but it’s more likely that they will try to sell you more – or excess amounts of – services that you don’t need. As we’ll see below, more isn’t always better – but it is almost always more expensive.

In this respect, an arborist performing a professional consultation has more in common with a doctor or a veterinarian than, say, a retail worker or an automotive salesperson.

Tree care, medicine and veterinary offices aren’t industries where you want to be sold as many add-ons and upsells as possible with no regard as to whether or not they are needed or even beneficial.

At best, these upsells would be a waste of money.

At their worst, they could be harmful.

For example, someone working for commission might try to sell you recurring fertilization treatments…when all you needed was more water.

Or four insect treatments throughout the season…when all you needed was one – maybe two – at strategic times that are determined by the insect’s lifecycle.

And you’re paying for every visit.

How is a professional consultation with CVTS-L different?

By not working on a commission-based compensation system, our salespeople and estimators can focus on the important things during the professional consultation: your tree, your landscape design and the overall health of your plants.

At CVTS-L, we used professional consultations (which you can read more about here). This takes the pressure off so our employees can put the needs of the tree or plant first.

They get paid the same whether the tree needs monthly treatments for years or a few minutes a day with a hose – or if it needs to be removed completely.

The diagnosis and suggested treatment options are dictated solely by the needs of the tree or plant.

You can be confident that our recommendations will solve the problem with no pressure to upsell you on unnecessary services.

Here is a look at what it is like to hire a tree care company that doesn’t rely on a commission-based sales compensation model.

1. We are a “tree first” company.

We put the interests of the tree/landscape/plant first. We do what’s necessary, and we do what works. Of course, the customer should always come first. But how do we satisfy the customer? By taking care of their trees.

2. We’re interested in a long-term relationship rather than a short-term upsell.

We’ve been working in Pennsylvania (and now Maryland) for more than 40 years. That’s long enough to establish roots in the community. We look forward to seeing our clients season after season for the lifespan of their trees and plants. Companies that are interested in making as much cash as possible as quickly as possible aren’t likely to be found a few years down the road to be held accountable for their work.

3. We stand by our work for the long haul.

Whether the project is big or small, we perform the work (or build the project) right the first time because we want to deliver long-lasting results that require less “fixing” down the road. If a client ever does have a problem, we will always answer the call or e-mail and try to make it right. To help prevent problems down the line, we also offer a variety of ongoing services including landscape maintenance and “roots-to-canopy” plant health care strategies.

4. We would rather turn down a job than do work that is unethical, unsafe or can’t be performed to our standards.

There are some jobs that ISA-Certified Arborists won’t do such as the industry-shunned practice known as “topping.” There are other jobs that we can do but the risk of success is lower than we consider acceptable such as transplanting adult trees. The difficulty isn’t the issue (although these transplants are incredibly difficult), but even if everything goes as planned, the chances of survival are too low for us to stand behind with a clear conscience. A less scrupulous company will take any job that pays and leave you to deal with the headaches and additional costs down the road. We’re not going anywhere.

5. We only administer treatments at the optimal times.

If the science dictates that we can fully suppress the insect or disease with two sprays, then that is what we will recommend. Insects have predictable lifecycles. We won’t treat for them at inappropriate times, and we will let you know when the time is right for a strategic treatment (in fact, we keep a schedule posted here). It doesn’t make sense, for example to apply an insecticide that must be ingested before the insect has even developed a mouth. We use the right materials at the right time – no more, no less.

6. We rely on an independent, university-affiliated laboratory for test results and studies.

We rely on laboratory resources at Penn State Extension for diagnostics and treatment strategies. Because they are an independent academic institution, it derives no benefit from any specific results, so its findings and recommendations can be trusted.

7. We will be up front about treatment options during the professional consultation, and we won’t push unnecessary work.

Building on the concepts in number five on this list, because our salespeople and estimators are salaried and they draw no additional pay for upselling projects, we will always be honest and objective during our professional consultation about what we think is best for your trees and plants. Sometimes it can be frustrating for a client when they call us out for a paid consultation only to be told that their tree needs more water. it can feel anti-climactic, but but it really is good news. And – despite being a paid consultation – in the end, it will save the client money. A company working on commission might try to sell you on expensive and unnecessary treatments and fertilizations, which will end up costing a lot more than our expert advice. We will let you know when a tree or plant is too far gone to save while another company might sell you months – or even years – of treatments before coming to the same conclusion (and then charge you for the removal after all of that). Whether it’s for budgetary reasons or you’re a do-it-yourselfer, we’ll also let you know (and give advice) as to when an off-the-shelf solution might work.


Commission-based compensation systems create sales teams that love selling work. They love closing deals and racking up contracts like trophies.

We love trees and building relationships with our customers.

At CVTS-L, our employees are salaried, which means they aren’t rewarded for how much work they can sell you during a professional consultation. Instead, they are free to focus on satisfying your needs by focusing on the needs of your trees and plants.

For more than 40 years, we have developed long-term relationships with our clients and their trees. Because we are in this for the long haul, our only incentive is to make sure we do the job correctly the first time, and if problems do arise down the road, we’ll still be here, Lord willing, to make it right.