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Hi - long time lurker, first time poster here. Really appreciate anyone who takes the time to reply. 

This year I set up my own business (sole trader) offering garden maintenance - weeding, mowing, clearing borders, seasonal pruning - the usual. I have a small van and some starter pieces of kit (petrol tools but lower end as finances dictated).

In the summer I was busy - I priced "big jobs" as £125 per day (worked approx 6 hours and removed waste for customers). Didn't give hourly rate, just priced each job by how many days work it would be. Seemed fair and customers were happy. Felt like I was making ok money especially as a new business. 

here's my problem - most of these customers wanted regular fortnightly or monthly maintenance. I offered £35 for two hours work (fortnightly or monthly) but made it clear if they went monthly and had a larger garden I wasn't going to get around all the jobs. So far all customers see happy. But I do 1 or 2 jobs a day for £70 max whereas before I was earning £125. I rarely work more than 2 in a day as the hassle and time of travelling between seems to affect things (all my jobs are within 3 mile radius so far). It also seems more tiring weirdly doing 2 maintenance in one day vs one big tidy up but that could be psychological. And what's more between all the regular customers I don't have time to leaflet drop etc for the big one off jobs, nor do I seem to have much diary space (I work 4 days or want to be working 4 days per week going forward).

Any tips on how many hours and rough pricing for regular maintenance would be really appreciated. And do you do a maintenance schedule specifying exactly what you're doing for each client too so they know what to expect?

Thanks in advance,

Josie

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Replies

  • £35 for two hours is way under where you should be. It’s been said many times on here before and here we go again – Never charge per hour, only by job. Never give any client an hourly rate or a fixed visit length. The hourly rate is something in your own head only and is used to work out how long the job will take you, so you can quote for the job. Then when you become quicker and more efficient on that job, you still get the same price even with less time spent.

    Grass cutting should be around £60 per hour. On playing fields you might go as low as £45 perhaps. More than £60 per hour is easily achievable, but it is a good guide for pricing.

    Hedge cutting should be £35 to £40 per hour as an ideal. Never go below £30 ph.

    I have just called back at home and the job I have just come [mowing] from one mile away took 30 minutes and is £40. The next one I am off to will take just under one hour and is £100. Not all are quite this good, but the average figures I quoted above are the norm.

    Once you have a few well paid mowing jobs, it is then easier to price others as you have a reference point, something you can compare to.

    Good luck with the future pricing

    • As I'm on the less experienced side I wanted to stick to the lower end of pricing but appreciate you actually giving figures here which I know some can be reluctant to do given this is accessible to the public. 

      • You'll fail if you do this, why restrict yourself? let the lad pushing a mower about with a strimmer on it do the lower end work. 

    • PRO

      Vic,

      i do believe prices will vary on area?

      you can’t charge central London prices for example in Norfolk.

      yes it is very helpful quoting your prices but what is the area you cover.

      -/

      saying that Josie, you are to cheap.

      • I live and work in north Derbyshire, not central London. It isn't a down at heel area, neither is it millionaires’ row. It is an area like many others I would think, with a wide and varied demographic. A fairly rural area.
        I have been contracting a very long time. I have never plucked figures out of thin air. My charges are broadly in line and comparable to other local contractors and local authority out contracting charges for the same services.

        I am not more or less expensive than everyone else. I have learned what I now know over 34 years. It wasn’t always an easy education.

  • Hi Josie, whether you go down the pricing per job route or hourly rates, I think you are a bit on the cheap side. I guess you realise that hence the question. 

    I work almost entirely on hourly rates and it suits my customers and I very nicely. 

    If you are doing lots of one off jobs then I guess pricing per job is good. I only do regular whole garden maintenance / management.

    There are going to be lots of figures thrown around, but you need to find a price you are happy with and is sustainable for you and your business.

    Re a schedule, that's to be discussed with the customer. There might be a set list of things they want you to do each visit, but if they want something extra doing, that needs to be an extra, or one of the other jobs gets dropped for that visit. 

    • I think finding pricing that works for my business is key and I guess that's what I'm realising I'm not, thanks for clarifying I am a bit cheap (which you're right I did suspect)!

  • General maintenance can be the bottom end of the trade in terms of income. I have gone away from that. Vic is pretty bang on; you need to stick firmly to set price, set tasks. General maintenance can be quoted as "tasks as required, including x, y, z. A, b, c are extras at charge".

    If you're only getting two 2hr jobs done a day, there is obviously plenty room for efficiencies once you start getting more calls for jobs. Most of my days on lawns and gardens are a start-point within 10 minutes of home, then job after job, usually within a 2-minute drive each time, work non-stop until hometime. None of them are fixed time, and most are on a fixed standing order so I don't need to communicate with clients, ask them for bank transfers every 2 weeks etc

    • I agree with Dan, there is always room for efficiencies. 

      I disagree re income though. It might take some clever selling, and time to find the right customers, but good work is out there for good skilled gardeners. 

      For me, that has meant targeting larger gardens, that need managing rather than ad hoc weeding and pruning. Most of my work is half day or full day in a garden, and all year round. And there is always extra work to be found in these large gardens.

      Perhaps introduce yourself to some of lawn care guys in your area, I'm sure they probably get asked to do extra gardening work, or if they know someone. 

      • That's a good point re lawn care guys. My customers so far are a bit of a hodge podge so working out where my skills and therefore ideal clients lie is probably worth thinking about too.

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