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Hi all, For a while now I have maintained the same hourly rate for all work that I do, whether it be weeding, grass cutting, hedge trimming or even fencing!, obviously the bigger jobs are quoted at a set amount with the continued hourly rate. However it has got me wondering if I should maybe introduce different hourly rates for different jobs...? Dependant on job difficulty! Maybe less for easy jobs/work and more for the construction side....

The only thing is, is that Tax, NI, materials, fuels and insurances are always on the up, now if I charge less for hourly work then I'm going to loose out and be working for peanuts...

What do you think?

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  • Your hourly rate should reflect what you need to do the job at a profit. When we were landscaping and garden maintenance, I charged myself at the same rate, weather I was bricklaying, paving or walking behind a mower. Keep it simple - there's enough complications in running a business as it is!!

  • It's not just about how much you want to charge depending on the difficulty of the job. You also need to consider that some jobs cost you more to complete. For example, if you are using expensive machinery you should be charging more than if you are simply using a pair of secateurs. 

    From a marketing perspective, you should also consider what the going rate is for a particular task. If you are charging your garden maintenance rate of £25 per hour, whilst doing fencing that you could be charging £40 per hour for, you are leaving 15 quid per hour 'on the table'.

    • I think Danny was asking about flat labour costs. Machinery would be charged at it's own rate.  

      It is an interesting topic, though - do we charge extra for our skills?  I couldn't warrant charging 'brickies rates' when I build a wall or indeed 'fencer's rates' when erecting a fence. Yes I can match and better their quality, but unless I could work at their speed - which I can't, I would be over pricing the work.  

      If in doubt, dip your toe in and see what the market can handle - you will soon find out where the limits are!

      • Good point Colin. I took it to mean that we were discussing an 'all in' hourly rate, but I see your point. 

        You should certainly be charging extra for jobs that require more skill, IMO.

        I'm very much a fan of gauging the market rates as you mention. The beauty of fencing and other such work is that it's so easy to market those services that you can afford to gradually increase your prices to find out where the 'ceiling' is, without risking running out of work. 

  • Hi.

    This is a very interesting question.

    Honestly, in my opinion, I don't think there is a definitive answer due to the fact of there being too many variables to each job.

    Would you charge a client who lives five miles away and only wants 1 hour's work done the same as you would charge another, who wants the same type of work carried out, that lives only two streets away who wants 8 hours work done?

    Each job is different, and is based largely on the skills of someone who can price them accordingly.

    For what my advice is worth, I think it's best to stay flexible. For me this means pricing a job on an hourly rate when necessary (taking travel time/length of job time etc into consideration), and on a fixed day rate if applicable.

  • Have you considered giving up hourly pricing? IMO its bad business and suicide in the long - run - your limiting your ability to be efficient - No point in investing in a Toro Turfmaster if your hourly rate... your spending £1200 to loose money as you'l cut lawns 3x faster.... whereas if you go FIXED priceing per job, you can invest in faster more effective tools and working methods to get the job done faster - potentially doubling the amount you earn in a day, while not increasing your customers cost either.
    Everyone wins - It also means your only disclosing a price to the customer, not a rate - so they can compare total cost - after all, what does it matter if you take 1 hour to do a job and the next person takes 1:45? They can both charge the same.... the customer will see no difference but the first operator makes more...

  • never charge by the hour, you cant make money doing that, every job has a price. you may as well work for someone charging by the hour

    • Yes......and no.  And an interesting question in the first place with a simple answer imo.  Charge what you want but not an overt hourly rate for a one off project.  Hourly rates are internal stuff, the stuff you (only) know to make the business work.

      So that's the 'yes' - charge what you want, the market will determine whether you win or not (along with your own internal calculations!).

      The 'no'? Well, I openly charge hourly rates on a pro rata basis to my VIP clients - those that receive our services week in and week out regardless of the time of year.  There's no annualisation of the contract with 12 x equal payments made throughout the year, just a totting up of time spent per man per client per weekly visit, invoiced on a monthly basis.

      Today was an exemplar day in that regard.  We visited only three clients, the first for 150 minutes, the second for 60 minutes and the third for 210 minutes, T/O on the day = £420.00.

      All three were booked for 90, 45 & 90 minutes respectively but at client consultation stage (when we get there ;->) there's more to do beyond the list of tasks I have.  They are relaxed that my list is correct and that there's is additional.  Everyone wins because the work gets done and the business/garden moves forward.


  • I only ever charge per the job, however that was not always the case. When I first started out it was more per the hour, for anything other than mowing and then the tip fee on top. Its been per the job for sometime, at the start some jobs were woefully under quoted and some over quoted, but you learn from experience and move on.

    Now everything is per the job and if it means a visit to the tip i explain fully how I came to the cost if need be including the time taken to get to the tip and the time to off load etc, nearly every client accepts the cost when its put to them this way.

    I agree about the mowing the bigger the machine the quicker you go, usually and I explain that the machine costs a lot and is a major investment in my business and costs to maintain, if ever there is a grumble about time taken over cost.

  • With my domestic customers who i am seeing for say nine months then basic maintenance I charge hourly.....lawns per job ..if there is a lot of hedge cutting I would charge extra. I would have to take into consideration distance travelled if i haven't another customer near them and then how many hours they wanted..maybe charging extra for the first hour.

    All my contracts with managing agents and plain grass cutting/hedge cutting are per job.

    I am happy with the mix but definitely couldn't operate with just charging hourly.

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