I am wondering how others approach this sometimes thorny issue. I can find that some clients have unrealistic expectations about how much time a job is going to take, or how much you're going to achieve in one gardening session, and therefore how much they're willing to pay to achieve the result they want. I guess sometimes quoting for a job rather than doing so many hours makes this easier, but then if someone wants you to tidy up a whole large garden, and keeps adding tasks every time you go there, it is difficult to cost for that. It is a lot like 'how long is a piece of string' and how do they see the job - ongoing indefinitely or a few sessions and then 'Garden Beautiful'. If I go alone to a job they're more likely to see it as the former, otherwise the latter, as it happens.
I find the less the clients knows about gardening the more likely there are to be issues with not matching expectations, and it can be so difficult to convey it's the amount of work that there is that's at issue, not your inefficiency at dealing with it all! They want everything to happen 'now' and aren't prepared to think of it as different to, say, a building project, which has a completely different sequence and much more obvious changes which you can see until the finished 'fab' result which also, incidentally, stays looking smart for a lot longer than any garden!! Sometimes you can weed a whole patch of ground, or cut something back by quite a bit, or dig out a whole patch of aster daisies for example which root just under the soil surface and it can be hard to see what difference has been made. Is this why some of you guys will just round off shrubs, whatever it is or its natural habit, and try and make as big a visual difference as possible so the client can 'see' what's been done?
The clients I have who know about gardening are totally understanding about how long it can take to weed a large bed, or move plants, or remove huge plants that have been stuck in pots for years to try and put them in the ground, but it's managing the expectations of those who don't garden themselves that I find difficult. What they really seem to want is a garden makeover team to come round and magic their garden into looking beautiful again after sometimes years of neglect and - oh of course it has to be for as little money as possible.
I know most of you out there are guys but I also occasionally - not often - get prejudice thrown my way because I am female. I was working on a garden recently, the one which has prompted this post, with a male colleague who doesn't have my training but is an extra pair of hands, and a very good and willing colleague he is too, and she asked him to come back on his own because she didn't think the tidy up was progressing at the pace she was expecting. How she thought just he as one person could do more than we could together I'm not sure, but she got to find out he was earning less than me (which I do so client isn't paying double, and because it's 'my' job). So I think that had a lot to do with it unfortunately, even though the difference isn't that great. When I told her I wouldn't be coming back, I explained that I have more knowledge, and you're paying for that too. It seems that knowledge isn't something that's always respected in gardening, although I have had several clients say they are very grateful that I know what I'm talking about because they have had experience of using people who didn't and they have cut something back too hard, or at the wrong time and ruined a plant.