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Hello from New Member

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.

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            • Working on just rough figures to get an approximation of what one should charge out their labour for would go something like this:-

              If you pay your average crew employee £10  per hour, for accounting purposes you also need to add your burden for NICS, Holiday pay, Sick pay, and pension, which must add about another £2 to the hourly rate. So you could say that your average crew wage burden is £12 per hour of £96.00 per day. So for a crew of three the wages burden is £288.00 per day.

              But you also have to add a sum for all the other direct costs such as the van, machinery, fuel etc, etc, which probably come to around £10 an hour. (say) £80 per day.

              So our direct costs are £288+£80 making £368 per day. However this needs to be divided by the amount of utilised crew hours which is usually around 5.5 hours per day, so £368 divided by 5.5 is £67.00, divided by 3 crewmen is £22.30. 

              So this tells us that the real cost of employing someone is about £22.30 per hour before we start to make any profit or to cover all the overheads such as advertising etc.

              In my opinion a reasonable way to calculate a minimum price is £ labour per man hour x 3, so in this case where we are paying labour £10 per hour the price to charge out would be £30 per man hour or £00.50 per minute per man. This way you cover the all the costs and make a profit.

              So the direct costs would be £368 per day and the 5.5 hours which have actually been worked have been charged out at a total of £495, making a profit of £127 for the day. 

              If you have a round that includes a large amount of travelling, then the utilised hours are going to be less, so the hourly pricing out rate must be increased to cover the non utilised hours.

              • PRO
                Are these from Lance's business or nice text book examples Adrian? What are you doing with your time now your businesses are dissolved/struck-off ?
                • This is just a normal way of calculating the real direct costs, and being able to make enough profit for a business to pay all is bills.

                  So many people seem to think that charging £25 an hour will make them a nice profit, but the fact is that it depends on the actual number of physical hours spent earning money from the customer.

                  If  your only actually working three chargeable hours a day, then that three hours has to pay all the costs for a whole eight hour day, so the charge out price must be increased to cover all those extra costs.

                  So in order to keep your prices as low as possible it is best to get all your jobs in one small area so that the labour can be utilised to maximum effect, and travelling costs reduced to as close to zero as possible.

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    Hi again. Few comments made on my experience in the industry, hope this can be put to bed now. By no means does this make me an expert, this is why I've come here to learn from the experts.

    The first thing for me to say is that "We got some of the pricing WRONG in some of the areas". I'm working hard to review this and find the balance of what works for gardeners and the customers. For those doing the postcode pricing checks, please do this regularly, they'll be changing regularly until we get it right.

    The second one is that each job is kind of different, and can't be priced simply on a per hour basis. Excluding grass cutting, I would have expected most maintenance to be done on a per hour basis (happy to be wrong on this), with the quotes and D&B jobs the pricing would be bespoke.
    - at the moment our clients 'just want their garden sorted out' (i.e. not looking like a jungle with wild lions living in there). I hope we can transcend this quickly and the comments regarding focusing on offering a service quality proposition resonate. 

    Lastly, to address the comments of being here to get 'free' advice. You're 100% correct, and thank you to LJN for this and everyone contributing. I'm also here to give back. I can't tell you how best to prune a magnolia graniflora or what lawn mower is the dappa don, but hope any input I make in other topics will be valuable to members.

    Thanks once again for the warm welcome, the support and ALL the comments made. I think I've taken up more real-estate in this forum than I really ought to, especially for a noob. Will certainly be back and hope to contribute again. Happy gardening as we approach this season.... 
    • Mike, I'd advise against hourly pricing for maintenance particularly?

      You can't expect to do a set amount of minutes on any site on any two months of the year. Probably not on any two weeks!

      Who knows what the summer will be like this year? Wet and warm: grass needs cutting weekly and weeds grow like crazy. Heatwave? The whole thing goes as quiet as winter.

      Hourly pricing either means you leave work undone as your time is up, or you drag the job out to fill the time when you could be making profit fitting in another job. Maintenance is a year-round task that needs the right time each visit, not a set time. :-)

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    I wouldn't say that the £20 rate is wrong across the whole market for my area, it's just that it only covers part of the market. A refinement would be to have tiers of service providers charging different rates giving different levels of service / qualifications / knowledge. Give the customer the choice - not everyone wants the lower level.

  • Hi Mike

    My comment no. 7 was not about dodgy work but about work done to a high standard but customer then does not want to pay at all. What if the customer claims the money back from you? But the job has been done? We all had customers that refused to pay in the end and one had to send in a debt collector.

    As for the accounting side I dont think its as complicated as you state. I hardly spend any time on it. I have a spreadsheet where I enter my income and outgoings. I think the one man/women bands do not have much admin. I am not convinced that's a selling point.

    Or if the job in the customers head is 2 hours but in truth its double or triple that, but is not prepared to up the cost.

    Or do you let the gardener and the customer work out the hours? But this wont work if the customer has paid for 2 hours and expects the whole garden to be done? The customer states how many hours they want? Those on hours may have a minimum of at least 2 hours or 3 hours to make it a viable exercise. Otherwise one spends too much time driving from one customer to the next. In London that is tedious with all those 20 miles per hour restrictions popping up. What about the congestion charge and parking restrictions and high parking costs. What about those customers who do not have a drive and one has to go through the house. When does the clock start ticking? Some want dust sheets put down to go through the house. That takes time to put down and pick up. Some customers will put the clock on once in the garden but one may have spent 15 to 20 min just getting all the kit into the garden. same coming out. Who will pay for that time? 

    In another post you mention you wont expect a jungle garden, but those are the exact gardens I would expect to see on your site. Because that's mostly the offering that's out there in all the other website like yours. Customers with really pretty gardens will ask around or look at websites and ask them round for an interview.

    Can customers upload pictures for the gardener to look at? I try to get potential new customers to send me pictures before I even take time out to go there for a personal site visit.

    I like the way that one does not have to buy a lead as such. That's a good idea. But find 10% a bit on the high side.

    • PRO
      So don't use it. Why another rant about it?
      • PRO

        I don't see it as a rant Richard. There are some pertinent questions here from Daniela.

        • PRO
          The world would be very boring if we all agreed on everything I suppose:)
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