moving from hourly rate to fixed pricing

hi all,  im looking for some advice I currently run a small one man garden maintenance  business an ive been thinking of dropping hourly rate in favour of fixed prices any tips, experiences or advice on the best way  to approach the change over



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    • I can see your point Andrew and it could be true in some cases however I'm sure most of us "hourly" gardeners on here take a pride in wanting to get the most work done in the the most efficient way and wouldn't string a job out to get more money:)  I certainly buy the best Stihl equipment/mowers as I like to think I do an excellent job and give good value for money.

      I guess you're mainly involved with lawncare which is really a completely different ballgame where once you've done the lawns, you're off...... I would certainly charge by the job here and I've got a couple of just lawncutting jobs where I do just that.

  • Chris why not do both, I have long term contracts, and every so often I have to quote for a fixed price, the customer knows my hourly rate, but there is always hidden costs involved, I put them in as part of the overall quote, and have the best of both worlds. It part of the pleasure of being your own boss!

    • PRO
      Well this is the thing I've been pondering especially as I do a fair bit of work for the older generation an their first question is "what do you charge an hour" but I was thinking if I just giveca job price that will free up some more time as I won't need to be as ridged an have to find other stuff to do to fill out the time.
  • PRO

    Hi graham, yes mostly lawn care, but also lots of mowing, so we're regularly at customers and are often being asked to do more in the garden.

    The lawn care model is service based, so I think there's lessons there to apply (& learn from) to gardening to move away from hourly models.

  • PRO

    People ask gardeners "what do you charge per hour" because gardeners are their own worst enemy. They wouldn't ask virtually any other trades person (except cleaners). 

    Without apologising to them I say 'we don't do hourly rates, we'll give you a fixed price' 

    Don't make any excuses for saying this, you may well not get any objections - I rarely do. 

    But, if you do there are plenty of reasons -  customer knows exactly what they're paying irrespective of how long it takes,

    we work fast with the best tools so if you're happy with the job, it doesn't really matter if it takes 1 hour or 2 hours. 

    hourly workers could be tempted to drag out the job to earn more. etc etc 

    In reality, I never have to explain ourselves - if someone is absolutely adamant they want an hourly rate then I walk away as what they really want is CHEAP!

    Customers may well be thinking in their head what our quote roughly equates to per hour, but as they usually expect the job to take way longer than it actually does, there is rarely any issue.  

    One thing I've noticed on this forum is the difference in attitudes to pricing on the general forum compared to the BOG. I would highly recommend anyone wanting to increase their income to join and read the discussions. 

  • PRO
    Conversations can get even more interesting when materials are included in the quote, as some customers think they should pay the lowest price a internet search turns up without any allowance for collection, delivery, handling, incidental installation materials, profit, call backs, guarantee or liability.

    So trying to split material and labour costs can be a big mistake, but when combined expensive materials may not be acknowledged.

  • PRO

    Hi Chris

    First time here for me!

    I started in 2000, one man band. Now 4 vehicles, 8 men in summer. Lawns, hedges, bit of weeding and general stuff, just moving into trees too.

    The most important factor in maintaining a successful garden business for me is to stay flexible in every way possible.

    We have customers on hourly rates, fixed rates, variable charges for removal of waste, variable hourly rates etc etc. No garden or customer is the same. Even our staff have to be flexible due to seasons and weather. Its more work on the administration and organisation but it works for us.

    Tools are our constant factor..  all strimmers are Husqvarna loop handled, all mowers are honda izy 18" driven, all blowers stihl bg86 etc etc, so no matter who is working, they know the machine. Staff work in pairs in a pick up truck with two izy's onboard, they can mow the biggest lawns nearly as quick a larger mowers.

    So, flexibility, keep it and you wont go wrong. I still price jobs wrong sometimes!

    Andy Jones

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