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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hi 

the reason i started the business was to remove myself from a stressful sitiuation and spend time with the family and do something i enjoy

i spend the last 10 years working in  construction outside of the uk as was extremely well paid which has enabled me to live a comfortable life

brought a van all the equipment i needed and started the business 

i make enough each month to live on without dipping into savings 

my accountant takes care of the bottom line and is quite cute including taking care of any initial and ongoing  investment in equipment and vehicle

i guess if i were fully morgaged with credit cards etc asda would be the better option but this way i work my own hours am my own boss and do ok

Here we go again.....

...it's like a recurring dream! 

We are unregulated and open to market forces.  Making a good live from gardening and landscaping isn't easy – never has been.  The odds are stacked against you - inclement weather, the ‘dormant season’, builders jumping onto the patio/driveway market, early retiree’s working part time, cut price new start-ups  etc etc – all eat away at the bottom line and can gnaw away  at you - undermining your motivation and maybe giving you an excuse for not getting the rewards you think you deserve.  Don’t let it!  To run a successful business will take hard work, motivation, knowledge, skills, reliability, a pinch of luck and probably most importantly and often overlooked – an ability to interact with people and sell your services. 

If you have all of the above it should put you above the ‘cut price gardener’ and they wouldn’t be a concern. 


Chris Auld said:

Here we go again.....

Gary - If it works for you, I am happy for you - My only concern is that at 40% running costs your earning £6per hour, less than the minimum wage and that makes me feel bad - no one should work for such a poverty wage.

I also worry that you are not insured or trained, and you have not answered those points - LJN exists to help and support anyone who would like it (I have been helped innumerable times by people here) - and Im sure I speak for many here when I say - Charge abit more on your next few quotes - lower your stress further, need to work less to get the same. If it does not work out and you cant find any more jobs at a higher rate, then perhaps I am wrong and you do live in an area where the market is So so depressed that the rate is below running cost. Try fixed price charging and dont mention Hourly rates - you many be able to undercut the £10ph brigade, and spend 1 hour doing what they need 3 hours for, but and charge £15-£20.

Have a look at the Key business objectives group for further information - plenty of good info their.

Couldn't agree more. I'd rather double my charges and work half the hours if I was only getting that income, let alone with all the risks of being self-employed. For that income I'd rather work for someone else, and have holiday pay, sick pay, pension scheme, overtime etc.

I'm not sure that training or insurance are particularly relevant though? Once you've paid for the certificates that's done, and sole-trader insurance is next to nothing. The massive cost as a sole trader is the transport, unless you use the family car. Equipment and waste disposal are my next biggest costs, but buying and running my van costs more than all the other expenses put together. My insurance is less than a week's diesel.

David Cox said:

Gary - If it works for you, I am happy for you - My only concern is that at 40% running costs your earning £6per hour, less than the minimum wage and that makes me feel bad - no one should work for such a poverty wage.

I also worry that you are not insured or trained, and you have not answered those points - LJN exists to help and support anyone who would like it (I have been helped innumerable times by people here) - and Im sure I speak for many here when I say - Charge abit more on your next few quotes - lower your stress further, need to work less to get the same. If it does not work out and you cant find any more jobs at a higher rate, then perhaps I am wrong and you do live in an area where the market is So so depressed that the rate is below running cost. Try fixed price charging and dont mention Hourly rates - you many be able to undercut the £10ph brigade, and spend 1 hour doing what they need 3 hours for, but and charge £15-£20.

Have a look at the Key business objectives group for further information - plenty of good info their.

i think a few relevant points are being lost firstly i only have a fixed rate for maintenance work all other work i carry out is on price 

the majority of my turnover comes from domestic landscaping contracts 

today and tomorrow i have a caravan deck to remove and dispose of and  construct new 

it took me half a day to dimantle and dispose of the existing and take delivery of materials for work to start on the new tomorrow i have a price of just under £2100 for the work once materials rubbish removal and carpenters costs taken out of the equation there is around £550 profit for a day and a halfs work as well as still have 3 hours maintenace work to to today 

as i said before if i upped my rate for the garden maintenance i would expect the majority of my customers would start looking elsewhere

i totally agree with pauls comment above insurance costs are minimal and my biggest outlay if fuel and running costs of the van

Your answer covers everything -  If maintenance only makes up a small portion of your business then my assumptions on the question of how you made it pay were obviously wrong, My apologies for insinuating that.

gary newton said:

i think a few relevant points are being lost firstly i only have a fixed rate for maintenance work all other work i carry out is on price 

the majority of my turnover comes from domestic landscaping contracts 

today and tomorrow i have a caravan deck to remove and dispose of and  construct new 

it took me half a day to dimantle and dispose of the existing and take delivery of materials for work to start on the new tomorrow i have a price of just under £2100 for the work once materials rubbish removal and carpenters costs taken out of the equation there is around £550 profit for a day and a halfs work as well as still have 3 hours maintenace work to to today 

as i said before if i upped my rate for the garden maintenance i would expect the majority of my customers would start looking elsewhere

i totally agree with pauls comment above insurance costs are minimal and my biggest outlay if fuel and running costs of the van

no problem its interesting to hear others opinions  

i only carry out around 20 hours maintenance  a week my pricework is varied decking clearance pressure washing external decks sleeper walls sheds concrete bases all the usual suspects really

in the past i have quoted my mowing service at £15 / hr a never got 1 taker from 10 quotes so reverted back to my standard rate the next 3 were all successful 

maybe i could give 12-50 a go and see what happens

We have the unregistered cash boys doing gardening from 7 to 15€ around here! They have no insurance but people pay - not only Brits though, The Dutch will go for a cheap rate. I have a new customer who paid  a boyo 15€ an hour to clear his 2 years overgrown garden - he took nearly 4 days (about 28hrs) to do the job. I had quoted 350€. It would have been done in a day using the right kit! Needless to say, we now cut his grass every 2 weeks and look after his pool. 

Cheap hourly rates are not always good!

Steve

quoted 2 maintenance jobs today both in a quite affluent area 

went in at £15 / hr see what happens should know by the end of the week

Good luck with them - I hope you get at least one of them - you will feel so much more valued working then!

gary newton said:

quoted 2 maintenance jobs today both in a quite affluent area 

went in at £15 / hr see what happens should know by the end of the week

been be quoting at the higher rate of £15 / hr for the past six weeks its going two ways im finding im losing out on a lot of middle class work im finding im being undercut by at least a third there are a number of local companies who are offering a service as low as £8

but the more affluent prospective customers are happy to pay that rate

ive made a large investment over last the few weeks uniform advertising new equipment signwriting and the more professional approach and look seems to be working for me

ive now 15 new clients and it seems to be working well 

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