If you start your gardening business by doing private gardens, eventually you will come across a customer that will try to take advantage of you. Here is how to deal with some of the most common situations.
Although I’d advise against doing hourly work, sometimes, especially early on its unavoidable. A fairly common tack by customers is the concept of ‘your time’ and ‘their time’. Their idea can show itself as the twenty minute walkaround to tell you what to do followed by the glance at the watch and then ‘the paid time starts now’
Accept the first time. Set your time for the next visit for example 8am till 10am. Explain that that is their allotted time and what happens in that time will be charged for. Be firm and they will learn, be weak and it’s the same next week.
If you do landscaping and supply the materials then you are sure to come across the old ‘I’ve paid for the unused materials’ line. Let’s say you are doing a bit of block paving and you buy the packs of blocks and have 40 blocks left out of the last pack. Don’t be surprised if the client comes out with ‘you can stack them around the back cos I paid for those’. This can be a bit disconcerting at the end of the day but it can be batted away with a bit of logic. The customer has paid for enough blocks to complete the drive only. Not enough blocks to complete the drive plus forty. The fact that you have had to buy in bulk is your business. When you buy potatoes from tescos you have only bought your weight, not the whole potatoe stall. Its sounds obvious but I’ve had several customers try this line.
Rain. Set your inclement weather policy. Yep, bad weather can cause a lot of problems for both hourly rate and price only gardeners. Of course, if you are on a price you just pick up where you left off. It’s not so simple for hourly rate gardeners. Say you get rained off on a Tuesday. Do you do Tuesday’s work on Wednesday or just carry on with Wednesday’s work? Personally, I think less damage is done by doing a bit of both. Obviously by Friday you are still going to be behind but at least all customers have come to learn that they are a part of a customer network that must all share in problems of bad weather and that if you get a bad day in the week it will affect your schedule later in the week. If you don’t train your customers you will get the ‘I understand the weathers been bad, but you’ll do my garden won’t you?’ line. Train not pain.