• PRO

    Another side of the argument say your competition is charging £25 per hour and you decide to use this rate to, however your tools aren't up to the same standard as theirs and it takes you a lot longer to complete jobs and your quoting for jobs that take you 6 hours and they are doing it in 4 or less as an example.

    They are in an out, where as you are dragging that 6 hours into a full day. That would throw your figures into disarray making you much more expensive

  • PRO
    A guy I used to work with now runs a builders estimating service, he advised me to put my charges up considerably to the point I lose customers, then drop my prices until I have sufficient customers and run at that rate to see what happens.

    What actually happens is I put the charges up then waiver thinking the phone isn't ringing as much as it was before the increase, after a couple of weeks I have been known to put the price back down, then put it back up again a few weeks later. But in reality it doesn't matter if you lose a few customers, but the takings are the same, as you are making more money due to the expenses going down.

    • I don't charge an hourly rate. As someone said, two contractors - one £30pph the other £25pph. The £30 guy takes two hours, the £25 guy takes three - who's more expensive now?

      With me it's always price per cut/job. It always takes longer the first time anyway. If charging per hour, as you get used to and quicker/more efficient on a job, the price will go down. That's no good. Efficiency savings need to be in your favour.

       So price per job. Clients generally want to know how much it will cost them. Quoting an hourly rate is an open ended deal as they don't know how long it will take you. Also if you think a particular job will take four hours and you say four hours to the client at say £25pph, if you then manage it in three hours they will expect to pay for three hours labour, not four, if you are working on an hourly rate.

       Whereas if you think to yourself that it will take four hours and you tell them £100 for the job, it will still be £100 if it only take you two and a half.

      For my own calculations only I work on £50 pph for machine work [Stiga pwx740] and £25 to £30pph for everything else. Except hand mowing small lawns which are about twenty minutes work and are £20 each.

  • I think a disease within the industry is the 'hourly' rate. Many people (not all) always assume you only charge for the hr you are there. Nope. You charge for your knowledge, your experience, your wear and tear of the vehicle getting there, your time getting there, your tools, insurance, 'risk', tax etc.. 

    If we had a union, then they would insist on a basic starting rate of 'X'...then individual contractors know where to start and then charge above this according to their own skillset. Instead, we allow those with low-self worth and also the customer to dictate terms based on their low perception of a skilled industry. That is not a healthy marketplace. 

    I suggest we fix it at £25 per hr. Basic industry standard across the board. Set the 'day rate' accordingly.

    Oh, and set up a Union. 


    the song of the rich man is that they are poor. If you own a home, you ain't poor.

    • don't ever fall into the trap of hourly charging . Guy Deakins offered you the best advice . ie there pay g you for more than just what you do . the other comment someone made about what machinery you have in relation to other people is also really relevant . Been doing maintenance for 26 years and never charged by the hour . they'll be watching you out the window and timing you! . by all means have a figure in your head that you need to make for your time there . but not an hourly rate . winters can , in a lot of gardens mean a bit of a easier time . but it evens out .. I have machinery that's first rate , and saves me a lot of time. if I had to spend an hour in someone's garden . I'd want £25 . . I've got clients that pay me that for their garden and it might sometimes take me 40 mins .
  • PRO

    You have to speculate to accumulate - do some decent marketing , spend a little money so that you have enough enquiries to really not care if you lose some jobs based on price. 

    I'm lucky that I'm from a marketing background rather than horticulture and I'm lucky that I work in a fairly affluent area but there are literally tens if not hundreds of gardeners we in theory 'compete' with, including the £10 - £15 per hour boys and the reality is we hardly ever lose on price and still manage to average over £50 an hour doing maintenance on fixed pricing. 

    Our customers don't care if it only takes 20 minutes for 2 of us to make their garden look nice because most of them are out at work or they realise that it would take them several hours to achieve the same result. So if we charge say £30 - £40 fixed price to do a garden, the customer is thinking it would have taken them 2 - 3 hours and they value their time higher than that.  

    There will always be the customer who wants the cheapest  - do you really want or need that customer?

    I went to a quote yesterday - "my gardener hasn't come back after winter and I cant get hold of him" 

    me "how much did he charge You"  

    customer "well there were 3 of them and they were here an hour and it was £25" 

    Me "well we would charge £35 fixed price for fortnightly maintenance but we will need to do an initial tidy up for £100" - we don't work on an hourly basis, we work fast with new tools and everyone is happy with the job we do"

    customer "great, when can you start"!


    • PRO

      spot of fraz, my exact same thoughts

  • PRO

    I just wanted to highlight that this topic was by far the most viewed in last week's newsletter with 433 clicks.

    It really does highlight, to me, that charge-out rates and charging method is right up there as one of the most important issues that affects this industry.

  • Dont know about everyone else but im finding there is an increase in "gardeners" charging £10ph. And seeing an increase in customers that expect to pay £10ph even tho there gardener never turns up and does a terrible job. We all know that you cannot run a business on £80 a day, they are just making there life hard. Be great if everyone could put there prices up and not work for less than a certain amount.

    • It's just the usual spring flood of people looking to top up their job seekers allowance.

      I've followed a few leads from a local facebook group and found them to be the worst. People getting 3-4 quotes for one-off £40 jobs, or £20 regular jobs, and saying it's £5 too expensive etc. I won't waste my time on these any more as the phone is ringing with proper enquiries as always and things are too busy to keep squeezing them in.

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