Done a quote last weekend for a potential new client, regular fortnightly maintenance with lawns to be sorted and generally improvements all round, new borders and plants, veg patch, shrubs removed etc.

Nice job, only they thought my rates were a bit high, any how, explained I run a full time business with all the associated running costs, professional tools, tax, insurance etc plus of course my knowledge in to the bargain. They said they understood and appeared quite keen, they had a few other people coming to give quotes but i felt i had a good chance of winning the work.

Had a call today and he explained that although i appeared to be the most knowledgeable person, and that having discussed with other tradesmen, the going rate was closer to £15 an hour but they would be happy to pay a little more and was i able to drop my price. Now i had already explained initially that my price was per visit not a set hourly rate and also included spot treatment of weeds as necessary. But as with most people they had calculated the rate from my quoted 1.5 hr approx price per visit.

After explaining i have plenty of clients happy to pay my rates and that i didnt need to drop my price just to secure his work, he decided to go elsewhere.

This was a nice big house, new car, fairly large garden and i got the impression he ran his own business, but they were definately of the opinion that although they wanted the garden to look great 'its only gardening' and is therefore low value! AArrrggghhhhh so do it your bloody self! I had told him during the initial visit, that you get what you pay for and i hope they do!!..

Tags: cost, hourly, price, rate

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same as my post just made, 10 p/h previous gardener turned up on his push bike, yea annoys me too that people question the prices , i wouldnt dare say to a plumber or other tradesman oh im not paying that how about this...!

Anthony, Do not forget they might come back to you later on when disappointed from the cheaper gardener.

So It is always worth to be professional- even if it is frustrating situation.

Move on and good luck wishes

Ofer

Good on you for having principles!  

I still feel a lot of people consider 'gardeners' as unskilled labour and would love to see more education/publicity on what a great experienced gardener can offer vs retired old boy down the road who arrives on his pushbike for a hobby (no offence meant). 

Just on another note, I don't think it's helped that professional organisations like the RHS and National Trust offer such poor wages, but expect the best and long working hours, cause they know people would love to have it on their CV. I applied for a full-time position on a private estate, with new owners taking over and re-employing all the gardening staff.  The new wages offered were cut, due to them researching and quoting what they saw these two organisations offered and decided to lower all the wages of the gardening staff to a similar level. Needless to say I advised that I thought I was worth more than that and walked away.

Always a difficult area, rates and remuneration.

The marketing word is I think, segmentation, you find the segment of the market that wants what it is you offer and is prepared to pay the price you want to obtain it.

Another factor to be considered is the cost of gaining work, if you have a customer that is regular and provides a large quantity of repeat business, doen't require quotations for each job, then they are more useful in many ways than smaller customers requiring each job to be priced. The buzz expression is, "productise your service", it is easy to disregard the costs of obtaining work, I know I have done it.

Ive got nothing against people paying pocket money to 'old geoff' up the road, if thats the service they want and it gets 'geoff' out the house, then fair enough. Indeed one of my elderly clients who i see every week, has a neighbour who cuts her lawn every other week, nice old boy and he does a pretty good job.

What is annoying is people, like you say, questioning your rates just because its gardening, you dont barter with your plumber, they would just laugh and walk away!

I have to say it is a rare occurence that the price is questioned, you either get the work or you dont, its just the assumption by some that gardening is cheap labour and we should be grateful for the work!!

Ian Parkes said:

same as my post just made, 10 p/h previous gardener turned up on his push bike, yea annoys me too that people question the prices , i wouldnt dare say to a plumber or other tradesman oh im not paying that how about this...!

The thing is Anthony that a lot of our work is unskilled and can easily be done by 'old Geoff', the semi/retired etc at lower rates than a legit business. Sometimes it isnt easy and as has been said on here a number of times, 'we' need to sell ourselves as well as the work we carry out.  We need to give our customers 'added value' and make ourselves indispensible to them. 

Your gripe valid and why I am so in favour of contract maintenance pricing and job pricing.  I will not get involved with the 'rates per hour' haggling nonsense - life's too short!

This is an interesting thread in some ways, at the heart of it is what value should be given to a job or profession.

In a market economy the price of anything is determined by what people are prepared to pay for it, supply and demand. We all think from time to time that what we have to offer is more valuable than the price people are prepared to pay for it, my bank managers services at £190 per hour are a case in point.

It is a market economy and you have to view it as a business. I sense a conflict of ideas between many members over what a business is.

If for example you charge £160 a day but over time find that nobody's prepared to pay that then you'd probably have to lower your rates and take a hit on your profits and hope that the market picks up. What if the market doesn;t pick up? Before long you're working for next to nothing and those daily running costs still have to be paid. Take into account the now regular hard winters and potential loss of earnings and after a while it doesn't make sense anymore - there's no point being a busy fool.  I'd say time to do something else.

We've had plenty of price/hour/day conversations on here but it doesn't help me when I learn that someone does charge by the hour and makes me appear expensive. If everyone charged by the job, we'd never have to keep debating this subject. You can't run a profitable maintenance business by charging by the hour.

Fenlandphil said:

This is an interesting thread in some ways, at the heart of it is what value should be given to a job or profession.

In a market economy the price of anything is determined by what people are prepared to pay for it, supply and demand. We all think from time to time that what we have to offer is more valuable than the price people are prepared to pay for it, my bank managers services at £190 per hour are a case in point.

Doen't that depend on the hourly rate?

Richard@www.seasons-garden.co.uk said:

You can't run a profitable maintenance business by charging by the hour.



I think we all get this from time to time,

I had it last summer, a neighbor of a customer asked how much to cut their lawn, I told them it would be £**,

"ooh can't you do it for less than that?"

"No, i can't, my mower runs on petrol which costs money, I have all the overheads associated with a professional business, and then there's my time which could be spent with a customer that pays my rates without question."

"well o.k then can you do it today?"

"No, sorry my diary is full"

As I finished my customers garden and was putting the tools in the van she was out there red faced pushing her flymo around the overgrown lawn!

Satisfaction!!

Do these people argue the price of their shopping at the checkout at tescos? I think not!!


Not in the real world, no.
Richard Thornton said:

Doen't that depend on the hourly rate?

Richard@www.seasons-garden.co.uk said:

You can't run a profitable maintenance business by charging by the hour.



And all that brings me neatly on to the unmentionable, as it would seem on this forum - ie what actually is the going rate for maintenance gardeners?  If all of us were prepared to compare our hourly rates (I accept a lot of you do contract work), then we all might have a better idea of whether we are overcharging/undercharging or just about right.  With the new season about to start this is a good time to review rates.

I'm happy to start the ball rolling .... we charge £15 per person per hour, and I think we would find it harder to find the good jobs if went much higher than that, desite working a wealthy catchment area in the south east.  There are just two of us - me and my husband.  I am RHS trained, my husband is not but brings a lot of other qualities to the mix.  I think we make a good team.  We seek regular customers who are prepared to invest in their gardens, don't expect instant results or hassle us to do the job any faster and avoid anything under 3 hours each, which minimises the wasted travelling time between jobs.  We have one afternoon slot to fill come the spring. 

So, there you go ... I've said it!  Let's start our own little survey!  Or am I about to be shot down in flames?!!

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