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Relaxing throughout winter.

Hi all , I'm a part time postman and set up my own Gardening business 2 years ago.

Recently demand has increased and I'm struggling to keep up with my gardening so really now need to decide whats best.

 

Its obvious a massive step leaving royal mail to focus on my business only but thats my passion and end goal as I've never been self employed.

 

Do you guys usually earn enough to see you through winter when its quieter or do you carry on right through the year regardless

Obviously the lawn cuts stop and I do roughly 40 of those so that's a big chunk of my wages gone.

 

Thanks for your time.

Steve 

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Replies

  • PRO

    I know gardeners who supplement their business by working as couriers during the Winter and i suspect there are others who perhaps work temporarily at the post office over Christmas . 

    I always wanted to be a postman and was offered a position when i had a good job before becoming a gardener but my then boss offered me a good pay rise to stop which i did for several more years in hindsight i wish i had gone to work for royal mail , Oddly though my boss was a millionaire but admitted he only ever wanted to be a bus conductor and had deep regrets .  

    Working on your own there is only so much work you can get through realistically even if the phone rings all day long during the summer , Some manage to convert those opportunities into a thriving business . 

    Working on your own it depends if you can earn enough in the busy times to stash enough away to see you through the rainy days and still achieve some work life balance . 

    If you have customers who will give you work all year round then it obviously increases your chances of survival .

    I have work in my diary over Winter but the reality is weather can be against you and the days are short . Other years work has dried up in September until late Feb . 

    Also you have to consider your length of service at the post office and your pension entitlement . But equally nothing as satisfying as following your heart in life .

    • Yes some great advice there 

      Realistically id like to work 2 days a week at post instead of 4.

      Its great not having to rely on the business of my own as royal mail pay all my bills basically so when I'm quoting its not in desperation to pay mortgages etc...

       

      Could ask for a year off I suppose 

      I've only been there 5 years and came from the army so I work any condition and don't have days on the sick.

       

      I've also had someone helping and I feel that's where you can gain a lot of profit but another lesson I learned early is that when it's your own business nobody ever works as hard as you.

  • PRO

    It takes a good few years to get enough year round customers to see you through working a full winter. A few years ago the 'beast from the east' hammered my area and the ground was frozen solid for several weeks or under 2 foot of snow. Zero chance of working in that!

    All depends if you can be without earnings for a month or two if the weather turns or the work runs out.

     Many of our big hedge cuts (several days work plus each) are saved whilst over winter, in addition we generally do quite a bit of fencing or garden reorganisation (creating new borders etc).

    • Cheers Adam 

      I'm booked now until Xmas 

      I did save a lot of my hedges from November onwards which is great if your customers allow it.

      I rarely take waste away and brown waste bins stop next week in sunny Scarborough.

       

      Yes I think going more landscaping side of things creates extras work.

      • PRO

        Slightly different here as no wide spread council green/brown bin service. We clear all waste from clients (generally 1000kg ish a week/10 days through the year, currently higher due to leaf collection visits).

        Waste site closes for roughly a week over the festive period then back to its usual hours.

        Post Covid I think there will be a big increase in sole traders of all descriptions next year (2021) same as after the previous recession - at one point I knew of over 21 gardening outfits of various sizes in my local town - not many left ten years on!

        • Ahh 

          What's the charge for waste removal your end?

          I can imagine a lot come and go in this trade 

          Always a few around here who will cut a lawn for a fiver with a cheap mower

          Don't seem to last tho 

  • In February 2021, I will have been in business for 30 years. I used to do a lot of turfing for a Council over winter, but when that came to an end I really enjoyed being able to do much less work over winter.

    I am really busy form March to the end of November and there is some work to do over winter, but I like to semi-retire now every winter. I make all my money during the season and as I have no mortgage or any finance/loans and have a few quid in the bank, I am fortunate enough to be able to take a lot of time off over winter.

    The two issues I see with quitting your postal job are this. I would say that now is not the time to do it. Better to have this income over winter when gardening is quieter and then quit the post office in spring when the gardening work is in full swing. You then get a full season to build the business up to the level you need before next winter.

    Also, as you haven’t had to depend on gardening up until now, is it possible that you are not charging your customers enough as you are somewhat subsidised by your employment. Quitting employment in early spring gives you a long period of normal gardening/mowing etc. to adjust to and make changes to the business to make it more reliable and profitable.

    • Some good advice there vic

      Yes I deffo wouldn't throw the towel in at this time of year 

      I think my lawns is where majority of my income is earned

      I rarely charge hourly now but when I do its £16 to £20

      • I have to say Stephen that sounds way too cheap.

        Grass cutting is £60p/h or more and hedge cutting should be £35p/h or better.

        I have some grass cutting that is £100p/h. Although every September I cut some hedges for a friend and because there is a lot to do and because as stated, he is a friend, I do them for high twenties per hour.

        I have just done two regular hedge cutting jobs in the last few days. One was £80 and took two hours [and was 150 yards away] and one was £100 and took about two and quarter hours.

        I know that to someone newish to this industry some of the figures above might sound high. But if a smallish domestic lawn takes you thirty minutes to mow and edge round, then you want at least £30/£35 don’t you.

        You are right not to charge by the hour. Charging per job/task is the way to do it. The hourly rates I quote above therefore are not charged out as hourly rates to the customer, but are what I get when I break the fee down onto the time it takes me to execute the task. The hourly rate is something in your own head and is never disclosed to clients and is merely one of the tools you use to calculate the fee.

        • Yes thats it 

          That's just when I'm pottering about weeding 

          But hedges and lawns im prob in a similar bracket to yourself.

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