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Advice on expanding garden maintenance business

This year will be my 3rd year in garden maintenance, I currently have enough work to keep me busy for the time I have available to work, but I am thinking of expanding, but unsure how to do it, so looking for some advice please, at present I charge an hourly rate, but I am looking to get away from this, so all new jobs will  be priced on the job, not time taken to do it.

i am about to advertise in a local paper etc, so expect to get some more work from this, original plan was to get new jobs which pay/work better for me, and filter out the jobs that are a pain in the ass and not very profitable.

But I am now thinking maybe I should think about getting someone to help me and keep all my work, and obviously help with any additional work.

so if I was to go down this route, what’s the best way of doing it? do I simply employ someone, pick them up in the morning and drop them off on a job with a mower/strimmer etc, and pick them up when there done, then take them to the next job and repeat, whilst I crack on with other jobs. ( doesn’t seem very productive that way )  would I be better off dropping them off on the bigger jobs so they are there for longer and I am not running back and forth with them all day.

obviously it’s not cost effective for me to buy another van and set it up with tools for them to use. ( certainly not yet anyway )


just  after some advice on what’s the best/most cost effective way to go about it, it’s baffling me a bit!

any advice much appreciated

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  • seams like a bit of a headache running around dropping people off and going back unless its half day or days work cant you both work together to complete the jobs? bearing in mind time running to and from jobs is time lost. 

    • I was thinking much the same. Could you not work together. Probably more efficient, saving you time and potentially get another job into the day. 

      • This reply was deleted.
        • Your spot on there, with regards to my existing jobs, the price is already set per hour, I’ve just upped this slightly ( not enough to cover another person mind )  but I’m a bit stuck on that one tbh, I can’t up my price to much or they won’t entertain it, I only have a few jobs that this will affect as the majority of them I do the job and go, so I guess I will have to just, bear with these jobs.


          not really looked into the health and safety side of it, although I know my public liability insurance has the option to cover employees, so this may be relevant.

  • Yeah I’m in agreement with you both on that, I had it in my head that if we were both doing separate jobs, I could get through more work, but I guess in reality, I’d spend half the day picking up dropping off.

    i guess the trick is to one mow and one strim, could probably half the time spent on some jobs that way, I’ll have to plan my days well, when/if I get a helper.



    • two people could easily carry out the smallest of maintenance jobs even if lawn cut only. one mow , one strim and who ever finishes first blows down paths. at times there is 3 of us out 2 split the mowing and i strim and one blows we do get to the 50m2 lawn i leave the two guys to do it then i either make some mixes up pop few leaflets into neighbours or catch up on phone calls. so always enough work to go round although have to admit two is perfect three not so good if alot of small gardens.

      • Great advice, thanks,  all these positive /helpful suggestions. Are giving me the confidence to go for it, sometimes I just think, we’ll i could do it all pretty quick on my own, but in reality another person would cut the time in half at least I guess,  cheers

  • The simple answer is that expansion means taking on staff. Don't like the 'picking up and dropping off'option, even if it is on a big job, although it has to be done on occasions.  Working as a pair requires management, but will help build up a proffesional relationship and give cover when you want time off etc.  You will also be on the next step to bringing in a third 'man', who can be paired with No 2, while you take up the slack with another round.

    • Again, great input, giving me an insight of how things work with more than yourself just doing the job, and where it can lead, cheers

  • PRO

    As people have said dropping off is a pain and you will lose lots of time running around which is not productive. You don't say if all you do is lawns or other maintenance while you are there. I now do construction only but i  spent 15years doing a maintenance round which included pruning, weeding/tidying beds and borders and any other jobs that came up. Some hedgework included and some hedgework priced seperate. and nearly always had a bod with me. One mowed and the other did all the other jobs so it worked out well for me even on the smaller jobs and when there was no mowing to be done we could always keep busy. To start with you want to make the one van productive which means both of you in it in my view. I have always used self employed but there are pitfalls with that long term as i am sure you are aware. I too am expanding and have just started to take people on payroll now as i feel this is the right way to go. Accoutant is setting it all up. Bit full on at the moment as i am trying to get my head round it all and a new pressure as they will need to now be paid whether i have work or not. Once its all set up it should be straight forward enough but it has increased the paperwork going this route. I am spending more time doing things that don't feel like they earn me anything at the moment but hope to develop routines that make it easier once its all settled down. My tuppence worth is to go for it. I have spent the last 15years not quite getting where i want to and now have decied its time to do it properly. I've had a good time doing my business the last years but a bit of me wishes i had had the confidence to  expand and develop the business sooner as i would now be further ahead than i am. I'm learning that when you develop your business in whatever way, it is a full on steep learning curve until things settle down and then you wonder what all the fuss was about. VAT is a case in point. Been avoiding it for years and now i've done it forces me to be more organised and really has not been the big bad deal i have spent years thinking it would be. Best of luck in whatever you decide.

    • At the minute I’m doing general maintenance, grass/hedge cutting, pruning, weeding and tidy ups etc, but Im heading towards  grass/hedge cutting if possible, and also ride on mower jobs, I’ve got a couple of decent ride on jobs now, and would like some more.

      Oh and also might be giving a price for a school ( which is new to me ) so I may throw another thread up with regards to pricing for such jobs

      more great advice, thank you, one productive van, sounds like a plan!

      i wish I had the bottle go about my own thing years ago, like you say, went into this blind, was a chef before. So glad I got the push to try something different that I enjoy doing, it’s also gave me more confidence to move forwards with it, especially after the helpful suggestions in this thread by all.


      sounds like you have your hands full at the moment, hope it all works out.


      thanks for the input everyone



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