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Hello from New Member

To LJN,
 
I wanted to introduce myself and reach out to the community. I am one of the co-founders of fastgardener and gained experience in the landscaping industry at a South London gardening firm.
Our company helps clients book professional gardeners through our online and mobile app. We help gardeners increase the number of bookings they take and makes the invoicing and collection process easy.
 
I've read with interest the comments made about services like this, our competitors, and can appreciate that this is not for all gardeners - particularly those with already overbooked weekly rounds. For others, this service can really work out well to fill spare capacity or take on more work.
 
We're continually updating our product, technology and business and hope we're on track to building an app that really helps and benefits gardeners as well as our customers.
Sorry to say that we can't promise an abundance of bookings waiting for you when you join the platform - not straight away. What we can promise is that by signing up to the platform we'll get stronger and over time the quality and value of the work we can pass to you will get better. So will our product.
 
We've some big plans and we want to create a product that really helps customers get the most from their garden and make managing & maintaining gardens easier for the professionals who do it.
 
I welcome all comments or questions that you have for this type of service, or anything else you want to say.
 
Thank you all. Look forward to hearing from you.
 
Mike

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Replies

  • PRO Supplier
    Everyone - thanks for the warm welcome. I'm surprised by the level of interest and grateful for all those who've commented. And sorry for the length of this post...a lot of people to get back to.

    I've tried to answer all your questions/points, if there's any that I've not done so, please call me out.

    @Robbie
    The lawn mower example (or similar) is not a problem we've come across yet, although think all businesses and trades face this same problem and resolution rests on how reasonable the customer/contractor/us are if there are complaints.

    I guess if it starts to become common, then we'll make a policy to deal with it.

    Re the gig economy - think that's for a different thread ;) Too many pros and cons. 

    @Graham
    As I've found, good professional gardeners are hard to come by and usually fully booked all season! They're hard to recruit cause once people get experience they tend to set up on their own anyway (I guess these are the guys that benefit the most from people like me).

    If the customer/gardener get on well and cut us out (it's against the rules) but aware that it happens. In a way it's good, we found someone a gardener they like and trust to look after their garden.

    Hopefully that gardener will still do good work for our new clients and please them too.....it also forces us to do more for the gardeners so there's an attached value in our role/relationship and they won't want to cut us out. 

    @Gardens4u
    I'm sorry your experience with my competitors didn't work out for you - it certainly makes my job harder, but also tells me that change is needed in how we should do things in my sector. 

    We don't charge for the leads, but take a commission. If the price per hour is acceptable to you (after our commission) then you can have the booking. In a sense, there's no sign up, so no trial period. No cost per leads.

    @Richard
    Appreciate your point. And appreciate we've not got a perfect solution to all the costs, troubles and hassles involved in the gardening business - but I'm working on it :) I've spent many hours pulling my hair out seeing inefficiencies and unnecessary costs/wasted time in a previous landscaping company.

    I don't think they're unique in their operations, so what fastgardener is setting out to do makes sense to me.

    @Gary
    Thanks man.

    @All,
    I'take on board what you say about pricing. Generally speaking, we have to set the rates in line with what gardeners in the local area are willing to be paid - that's the market rate. If we get this part wrong, then we won't work.

    There is also a large disconnect between rates domestic and commercial/corporate clients pay - not just gardeners, but for nearly every other service.

    Our immediate priority will be to remove the card verification from the system - 100% in agreement with the comments about this. Next will be to find out if the pricing is 'fine tuned' enough so that we can keep all parties happy.

    Lastly - if you do sign up, thank you. Please don't expect to have bookings coming out of your ears and 100's of leads sent to you daily. 

    Thanks once again, I'll certainly be around. 

    PS - for those of you who do get a 'recruitment' phone call from me, I'm sorry if you feel pestered. I'm sure you can relate to when you were starting out and building up your regular round; I'm just trying to do the same.
  • PRO

    Hi Mike

    We seem to be living in an alternative universe with alternative facts making the round.

    1. I looked you up on LinkedIn. 

    You say: I am one of the co-founders of fastgardener and gained experience in the landscaping industry at a South London gardening firm.

    I found no evidence of your industry experience on your LinkedIn profile. This leads me to believe you are not truthful on here or on LinkedIn!?! You know, alternative facts and all that!

    It states you worked as a RBS Corporate Banker for 6 years and a good 2 1/2 as a Co-Founder and Director in corporate crowd funding. Where did you get the time for gardening and what type of gardening? Perhaps in Amsterdam when in University? Hmmmm... And now you are a Co-Founder of fast gardening.

    2. Your offering:

    You are obviously here to pick our brains for free. Well I can tell you London rates for a professional experienced trained fully insured gardener is £35 plus per hour for residential and corporate around the region of £80. Of course there are many other costs on top of it. Congestion charge, parking charges, waste removal costs.....

    3. Your offering would be useful for the new who are just starting up. Maybe for a couple of months. But I can guarantee you that any of the customers looking for regular gardeners will try to keep the gardener on, and the gardener will do his/her best to circumvent your offering. If a customer wants me regularly to do their garden its only off the app and directly pay me into my bank account. If the customer does not want ti do this then "Ta Ta" "Goodbye". I sure would and your T&C's wont be able to change that. Its a given, at least in my virtual reality.

    4. A percentage charge or a cost per lead. Its just semantics and a play on words. The basic fact is its going to cost us money.

    5. Yes raising prices is good for you as your cut goes up as well.

    6. You want to be able to vet us. Taking our banking details is not vetting. Checking websites is not vetting.

    7. The crux is the customer pay you and you pay us. If customer is not happy you will not pay the gardener who has done the hard work. Why would I even deal with that?

    8. You say less admin work. Not in my alternative universe.

    9. You are looking for these gardeners:

    • Prior experience as a professional gardener.
    • Limited liability insurance.
    • Good general knowledge of horticulture / excellent plant knowledge.
    • Your own equipment.
    • Your own mode of transport.

    Preferable skills:

    • Horticultural qualifications.

    Those are like me and all on this site. We have our own websites and some advertise. Your target is actually the startups or unqualified until they have established themselves.

    If you had truly worked in the "Industry" as you claim you would know that there is no way gardens can be done like that. Some gardens are such nightmares (put very mildly) and health and safety red pages that no gardener should go in there. Most time the customers have no idea what gardening entails. I view every garden before I take it on. I have learned my lesson. This is all priced into my rates.

    The fact is you have some IT guys in the background running with an idea you or someone else had. Hence your vague replies regarding the tech because you yourself have no idea. Your app is not unique. There are plenty like it out there for all trades. The fact is someone had an idea on how to offer a service which will not really work as such and just has to sit back and watch the money roll in doing nothing. Most likely payment is automated as well.The users on both ends get frustrated and stop using it or wont even go near it.

    Would I use your service? NO.... Only if I was very, very, very desperate and only for a short while and take the customers off the app. 

    PS: Please no sales calls, I get too many already. No texts, no emails. They get blocked and put in spam. I dont call up random people either to tout my business.

    You could data-mine this site for all contact details. Please skip over mine. Thank you.

    • PRO

      Was all that necessary ?

      It's a Service offering you have never tried but don't "like"  - why make it personal !?!

      Quote:

      "Daniela McGhie March 9, 2017 at 12:10pm

      Hi Mike

      We seem to be living in an alternative universe with alternative facts making the round.

      1. I looked you up on LinkedIn. 

      You say: I am one of the co-founders of fastgardener and gained experience in the landscaping industry at a South London gardening firm.

      I found no evidence of your industry experience on your LinkedIn profile. This leads me to believe you are not truthful on here or on LinkedIn!?! You know, alternative facts and all that!

      It states you worked as a RBS Corporate Banker for 6 years and a good 2 1/2 as a Co-Founder and Director in corporate crowd funding. Where did you get the time for gardening and what type of gardening? Perhaps in Amsterdam when in University? Hmmmm... And now you are a Co-Founder of fast gardening.

      2. Your offering:

      You are obviously here to pick our brains for free. Well I can tell you London rates for a professional experienced trained fully insured gardener is £35 plus per hour for residential and corporate around the region of £80. Of course there are many other costs on top of it. Congestion charge, parking charges, waste removal costs.....

      3. Your offering would be useful for the new who are just starting up. Maybe for a couple of months. But I can guarantee you that any of the customers looking for regular gardeners will try to keep the gardener on, and the gardener will do his/her best to circumvent your offering. If a customer wants me regularly to do their garden its only off the app and directly pay me into my bank account. If the customer does not want ti do this then "Ta Ta" "Goodbye". I sure would and your T&C's wont be able to change that. Its a given, at least in my virtual reality.

      4. A percentage charge or a cost per lead. Its just semantics and a play on words. The basic fact is its going to cost us money.

      5. Yes raising prices is good for you as your cut goes up as well.

      6. You want to be able to vet us. Taking our banking details is not vetting. Checking websites is not vetting.

      7. The crux is the customer pay you and you pay us. If customer is not happy you will not pay the gardener who has done the hard work. Why would I even deal with that?

      8. You say less admin work. Not in my alternative universe.

      9. You are looking for these gardeners:

      • Prior experience as a professional gardener.
      • Limited liability insurance.
      • Good general knowledge of horticulture / excellent plant knowledge.
      • Your own equipment.
      • Your own mode of transport.

      Preferable skills:

      • Horticultural qualifications.

      Those are like me and all on this site. We have our own websites and some advertise. Your target is actually the startups or unqualified until they have established themselves.

      If you had truly worked in the "Industry" as you claim you would know that there is no way gardens can be done like that. Some gardens are such nightmares (put very mildly) and health and safety red pages that no gardener should go in there. Most time the customers have no idea what gardening entails. I view every garden before I take it on. I have learned my lesson. This is all priced into my rates.

      The fact is you have some IT guys in the background running with an idea you or someone else had. Hence your vague replies regarding the tech because you yourself have no idea. Your app is not unique. There are plenty like it out there for all trades. The fact is someone had an idea on how to offer a service which will not really work as such and just has to sit back and watch the money roll in doing nothing. Most likely payment is automated as well.The users on both ends get frustrated and stop using it or wont even go near it.

      Would I use your service? NO.... Only if I was very, very, very desperate and only for a short while and take the customers off the app. 

      PS: Please no sales calls, I get too many already. No texts, no emails. They get blocked and put in spam. I dont call up random people either to tout my business.

      You could data-mine this site for all contact details. Please skip over mine. Thank you."

      • PRO
        Daniellas alternative universe now makes sense as often wondered about that in some posts:)
    • PRO Supplier
      Daniela, I understand your skepticism - I'm the young buck who's rocked up with a sharp suit and a fancy app and promises to change the gardening landscape, (pun intended!) Especially as there's quite a few competitors whos service didn't work out for you in the past (I'd like to understand why they didn't work?). 
       
      Your comments have got me thinking quite a bit, and wanted to respond to some points to clarify details of the fastgardener business for everyone reading to make sure we're not misunderstood. Hopefully I can win you round too.....:)
       
      No 4. How we charging is not semantics. With some of our competitors you pay for the leads - usually competing with 2 others on each job. There's no guarantee you'll win the work, but is a guarantee you'll have to pay for the opportunity.
      We charge a commission, so by accepting a booking with us you're guaranteed the job (and hence payment for it). If the rate after commission doesn't work for you, there's no obligation to take the job. 
       
      No 7. Re the client not paying for bad work. If a client didn't want to pay for bad work, would they pay you any more than they'd pay me? The minute we don't pay a gardener for their work (shoddy or not) is the minute we get a revolt and no one will work with us. In that sense, if the client doesn't pay us - we still have to pay you. We also collect automatically from the client, assuming no disputes, there's no late debtors.
       
      Point 2 and 8 are kind of linked. As you say theres loads of costs in gardening; vehicle, fuel, chemicals, parking, congestion charging, waste, etc etc. All this data is needed by your accountant so that clients can be invoiced for the consumables/materials. The data is usually provided by the gardeners as they're the ones out in the field doing the work. This can come in a variety of ways from cleaver apps to writing on a piece of paper; getting this information to the guy that does the invoicing is an administrative burden. I'm not saying that we currently fix this problem, but this is where we're going, and we'll get there one step at a time.
  • PRO

    I think Mike has managed this discussion magnificently.

    He's openly conceded that there are areas of his business that needs some work and in my opinion has already demonstrated that he's willing to listen, take advice and make changes based on feedback.

    As others have said, Mike's business will either float or sink. The rate at which it does either is down to the ability to adapt.

    I think some of the comments here have become a little too personal but I also think any pragmatist can take out the bits of feedback that are of genuine use and discard the rest.

    As to whether it's a prerequisite to have worked within the industry. I don't agree. LJN has helped - and will continue to do so - many business owners who've changed careers, for whatever reason. 

    Using LJN as a vehicle I've fought exclusivity - as well as encouraged others - within the landscape industry. Also, we should all be open to change and new ideas. 

    On the whole though, this is a great thread and I'm sure it will serve to help people understand how online services impact on our industry.

  • PRO

    I probably would have reacted differently if he would have not have said he worked in the industry. That rubbed me up in a negative way. Be honest and open. If I am wrong and he can prove it then I am big enough to apologise.

    He also asked what we think. Well he has gotten loads of feedback and for free.

    Maybe the app will become successful but it would need lots and lots of tweaking. 

    What also annoys me are sites like that clogging up the search engine listings pushing websites down. There are so many now. They add no value to the searches especially very local searches as they do not even have the trades people nor customers, with false listings. I am not saying this one is like that but most are.

    • PRO

      If you read Mike's post:

      "Mike Wong March 8, 2017 at 2:36pm

      Hi Robbie, thanks for being the first to comment.

      We price by postcode, with the lowest being £15. Our commission at the moment is 10%.

      I came up with this idea when I was implementing an automated billing/invoicing and client management system at an traditional landscape gardeners. (I must say, I probably wasn't the first person to think this)"

  • PRO Supplier

    Thanks all. I'll respond to all, but am very limited on time at the moment (as I'm sure everyone is this time of year)

    @Daniela,

    Thanks for checking me out on LinkedIn. You are correct, my landscaping experience is missing from LinkedIn - this is on purpose but for other reasons when I was setting up Crowd Financial.

    I didn't want to mention names, being called out on this I supose I have to prove my experience; http://thebotanicalgardener.co.uk/about-us/our-team/#thb-section-1

    I worked there for 2.5 years. The owner is now considered a personal friend of mine.

    You'll see that I'm still on their website as the Accountant. Easy to create a website etc (as you say it's not 'verifying' to be on one). Also know TBG aren't members here so hopefully I don't violate any forum rules.

    Will respond on other points this evening if that's alright.

    • PRO

      Hi Mike, I will apologise to that part in my post, however working in accounts and actually doing the hard graft are two parts of a coin. Someone who actually has done the hard work day in and day out would understand the issues gardeners face.

      That looks like a great company. Why not make it known? 

This reply was deleted.

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