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Struggling at the moment, any tips?

Hi folks,

 

As you may or may not know I am starting up as my only job this year. Previous to this I was doing a few gardens along side my job. 

At the moment I have put flyers out, ad's in shop windows, Facebook and Gumtree, so I have that covered pretty well. I have 6 customers for regular work so far, everyone starts somewhere!

My issue is that a little over a year ago I had a breakdown and it has changed me as a person ( I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm just painting the picture), now I seem to worry about everything, this time it is am I going to be able to earn enough to make a living from my gardening business. It seems like everytime I see an advert on Facebook there's gardening on there for cheap prices and it's making me doubt that I'm making the right move, even though I know I do a good job, how many gardeners can an area need? 

I worked in a private school on the grounds for a few years and loved it, it was a job that I looked forward to going to work every day, so that's why I decided that it is the job I'd like to do now. I'm doing an online RHS course at the moment to improve knowledge too.

So my question is, how do these people that advertise on social media affect business with their low rates and what would you suggest I did in addition to the above to get more customers?

Thanks for taking the time to read my moan!

Paul

 

 

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Replies

  • Having had similar health problems some 5 years ago, I can quite understand your concerns.  Even though you've only 6 jobs at the moment, it's still some 6 weeks before the gardening work starts up again and those 6 are quite likely to recommend you to other people.  I''m sure others will disagree, I'd price things "cheaply" to start with so you get the work............... once you've got a reasonable number, you can start charging the new customers a better rate.  To be honest, if you find it all too much of a worry, you could always get a job where you're actually employed by a gardening business for this year and build up a basic customer base on weekend work. Then go fully self employed next year.  Unfortunately, if you're the sole "breadwinner" and others rely on you earning the money, then it is a great worry.......... you need a missus that rakes in the money! (or have you got one?)

  • PRO

    Hi Paul,

    I've been going since early 2016, so it's still early days for me. I was never sure of FB as an advertising platform, I've read on LJN of some people having success with it. My experience is massively different, it seems like a race to the bottom. I've been and quoted jobs and not picked up the work, too expensvie quite often, and some people just haven't got back to me, even when nudged.

    So many gardeners seem to go after the work, I remember one in particular just after I passed my chainsaw quals, wanting a couple of tress dropping and cutting up - I went after it and someone quoted half my rate, and I'm pretty sure they didn't have the quals and insurance.

    Late 2016 I made a decison, I was a bit downhearted about the opportunities and stopped going after FB work. I have one customer that came though FB, I still have her on the books. I deciced to lift the business above all of those after FB work, improved the website, I advertise with a local magzine every 2 months, and try not to follow opportunites that won't pay well.

    I think worrying is part of the game, not knowing where the work is coming from, had many sleepless nights about it - even now I've cancelled the whole week of work due to snow, that's certainly a worry.

    You've got loads of experience, you could just jump in, find a better advertising method and forget about FB rates?

     

  • PRO

    Forget about fb and the cheap gardeners, forget about how many there are, I only have 28 on the books but have more than enough work, especially on my own!

     

    The work will come, quote at the rate you need without worrying about the next man, be reliable and communicate well.

     

    I'm always changing and evolving. Don't forget it's not great out there either, freezing ground, snow, when it's not frozen it's sodden, it's early in the year but you already have regulars, you'll be fine :)

  • PRO

    Hi Paul

    Don't focus on others and what they are charging, just focus on yourself and what you can offer your clients.

    Do a good job for exiting clients and new work will come from this. Pay attention to your strengths and current abilities and sell yourself based upon this. Over time your skills will develop and increase and more work will follow.

     

  • PRO

    My take is that looking back on the business in the early days we advertised on shops, newspapers and found they tended to want a lower rate  and FB is a worse version of that, our business changed when we got a website built, we travel further for work but deal with better clients who want and demand well looked after plots. We changed from making a living to a business that made money to invest in better kit etc.......

  • PRO

    Don't worry about FB for the moment. There will always be people looking to pay peanuts, and you don't need to work for those.

    Concentrate on doing a good job for the existing customers and canvas their neighbours / streets. You can do this by putting a leaflet to each house, each time you visit. Make it as personal as you can, and make it clear you do work for a neighbour, and would like to work for them as well. If you're brave, then knock on the door and have a friendly chat. Thats not for every one, but does work.

    Be presentable, have a uniform, good written material, communicate well, turn up when promised, or tell them if running late. Be clear what you offer and why they should use you. Be insured.

    It's quite likely in a few months time you'll be very busy and turning work away - it's happened a lot of times for people on here in your early position - so don't panic.

  • PRO

    Hi Paul, I go full time with my garden maintenance this season having built up a customer base while working a full time job as well over the last few years.

    I've found that word of mouth has worked great for me but to reach additional customers I advertise in the local mag about 3 times a year which goes out to 10000 homes, I picked up a new customer this week who cut the advert out and saved it from last year and phoned me this week.

    Also I've had 500 leaflets printed to deliver myself so I can cherry pick the homes/area I want to work.

    The work will come eventually don't give up.

  • PRO

    Set targets, be methodical, measure your efforts, measre your results. Review the answers, readjust as necessary.

    Remember to congratulate yourself. What are you doing well. Make notes of what you would like to di differently., Dont try to do everything at once. make a 90 day plan - prioritise

    Remember to congratulate yourself

    Review your slaes targets, be realistic. Have a monthly goal for sales effort and push yourself. meaure the results - congratulate yourself!

    You will never do everything as a small business owner. If you let it bother you it will destroy you. Be realistic, have a plan, review regularly. Check progress

     

    Oh, did I mention remembering to congratulate yourself?

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