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New garden entreprise asks advice...


Ty Korrigan
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I have recently finished my 'stage' at the C.C.I where I was informed that my prices are far too low!

I have researched this more thoroughly now and find that the French paysagists charge 45/65euros per hour for grass cutting and related services well above my intended price points. Obviously different machinery and difficulties command different pricing, I now intend to charge 20euros for using a 53cm mower and 40euros for a ride on that cuts 4 times as efficiently.

For brushcutting 25euros and 40euros for my walk behind brushcutter that eats everything in its path!

I must charge a forfait for removing cuttings from hedges/lawns as the dechetterie charges me! Although I shall encourage clients to allow me to build a compost unit for them.

What does the forum think? I am aware that you can find people to work for nowt but I offer a 'quality' service and am  proffesional in image and level of equipment.

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Hi Ty Korrigan

Interesting thread. Where did you get the info about the French guys and what they are charging. This is news to me and extremely high (in my opinion).

The local rate here (SE Vienne) would appear to be between €15 and €20.

I do agree that the equipment you use should determine your fee.

Paul

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Hi, information supplied by the C.C.I and confirmed by clients who have had devis from french paysagists. I don't understand how people charge 15 euros to cut grass. My maths are as follows... Minimum wage +socialcharges=12.40 + fuel 1 + investment- depreciation- assurances- running of vehicle leads me to believe that less than 20 per hour is running at a loss or below the smic which is just plain silly! Taking grass away is time and money for a trailer also. Why do the brits charge nowt and the french charge so much more...?
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I think there is a difference between a paysagist and a jobbing gardener. Most French guys around here who do general garden maintenance work under the cheques d'emploi system as there is no way they could pay the cotisations if they registered. The paysagists are employed to do much larger jobs, terracing, hard landscaping etc, therfore needing to own or be able to hire heavy/specialist equipment and can command the same wages as artisans (which is what they are).

We have a price structure according to the equipment necessary for the job (ie the ride-on or the pushalong) but I am lucky that we have other strings to our bow and are not reliant on the income from garden maintenance alone. There is no way though that I'd get any work if my prices weren't competetive or realistic. I mean, would you pay someone 50 quid an hour to cut your half acre? But you may pay them that much to bring in a kubuto, level the ground and construct a walled patio area.

I agree, very difficult to make a decent living and pay the charges, especially if your van and ride-on die on the same day!

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Hello and thanks for your replies, I am an Entretian espace vert and so not an Artisan nor a 'jobbing gardener' Cheque employe system workers don't use own equipment whilst I am...well equiped! My pricing falls between that of the Paysagiste and jobber and reflects the machinery and skill for each task. Can any-one please enlighten me as to their own calculations for the hour rate...? I have a SPONS handbook for comparison with U.K prices.

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This was the topic of conversation in a Tabac recently and the general view was for official work it would be 50 Euros an hour, unofficial, ie cash in hand 25 Euros. This applied to all types of jobs from grasscutting to building. These guys were all 'micro enterprise' and French. I've cut grass myself for 15/hour plus petrol, but that was just for a neighbour and obviously cash in hand, so I think these guys have got it about right.

BTW what does CCI stand for and what qualification will you attain ?

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I also want to say that here on this forum I recieve intelligent feedback delivered in a positive manner from you all. On 'angloinfo' I am made to feel like an idiot and there is always a hostile reception from a minority of negative persons when I ask questions. Thankyou all! 
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Hi Ty - This is your telephone friend. Glad to see you have defected from AI too, I havn't been there for over two weeks now because of the stupidity of the questions asked and hostile types that get on there when you dare answer anyone,most of whom have only recently arrived here too. Welcome to a better more intelligent place and hope you stay with us

Val

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Wow!!!

With charges like that I imagine you won't get too much work, however the going rate for gardening work...grass cutting, hedge trimming, strimming and clearing up afterwards is €15- €20 per hour irespective of what gadgets you use and who they belong too. I assume your registered and so your charges will have to cover your payments made to various bodies. I'm a single operator, registered and charge €15per hour.

Good luck.

Bono
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Hi Ty,

I think, and it is only a personnel view, the customer wants value for Money, they dont want to know what all our expenses and running costs are, they want to see the grass cut so they can sit in the garden and enjoy it, but not at a price THEY feel they are paying over the odds for, we use a registered french\english artisan for our customers, who due to the work we supply him with will make a profit on some of the work and a loss on some of the other jobs but in the end it all balances out,and if push comes to shove the client has a fully registered Carpenter and Joiner cutting there grass at alot lower rate than is normally charged,

If I was to charge every customer a fixed price and included all the social charges, our building side of the business would never get any work, nor would the Gite management, I know we have a large umbrella and appreciate as to what you are saying, but sometimes you have to cut your cloth accordingly, as for our large umbrella it includes 2 amounts of social charges and the tva on materials ect but that is another debate.

All the best in your new venture

Tony

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I have heard that the 5 day course at CCI is sometimes in English - is this true?  was yours in French or English?.  We've only been here 3 months and get by in general conversational French, but a long way off understanding 100% in business French!  We know of a number of English builders that only know about 50 French words, so how have they got around that problem (and yes, before you say it, they are all legal!!).  We wen't to the CCI the other day to enquire, and they gave us a telephone number to ring as they couldn't deal with there (Limoges), which we haven't done yet.  Going to the accountant next week, to discuss financial options before ringing the number!
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Hello, I'm going to risk cutting grass today after lunch as its so dry here today...!

My 'stage' was in French which I was very nervous of attending until I found an unemployed french friend who offered to come along to translate/make notes. She is also very supportive and has helped me with all my paperwork, in fact without her I wouldn't have been able to cope I'm sure with the complexity of 'demarrage' and would be working in a factory until my french was up to speed.

I also heard that the course may be held in English and even have a newspaper cutting from the ouest france to stating this...

Many Brits just sit dumb for 5 days and rely on english speaking accountants to advise after... 

Business in france is complicated and expensive but the support systems and the people at the C.C.I are super!

P.S... I have just cut a garden for a new client who was quoted 65euros by a french entretien espace vert against my 20euros! It takes me exactly one hour to cut and lift cutting.

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Another note...

 I now believe many people operate small businesses without allowing for investment/depreciation of tools+machinery and other expenses.

The phrase my business advisor used was 'Busy fools'

This can be the only way that the low pricing some offer can be possible.

If I only charged for my wages/social charges assurances+fuel then I arrive at a little under 15euros...

But I would be ignoring the van/trailer/3 mowers/assorted power equipement+tools which make my total investment 30k euros.

These are going to wear out at some point...

  Many thanks for all you feedback... I shall let you know how I progress...

 

 

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One of the things that really pissed me off about running a business in the UK was having to put up with competitors who didn't factor in all their costs when making a price up. Of course they never lasted long but there were always more ready to come after them.
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Hear hear! Motorhead!

I could say that as I have a van/car and a trailer and must have all these tools to look after my own property then I shall take none of their value into account when pricing my services.

This year I am cutting grass at 20euros which is the least I could charge as it really doesn't return enough for future investment but only breaks even. Breaking even is a 'subsistance only' level and not viable for the future.

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[quote]Hear hear! Motorhead! I could say that as I have a van/car and a trailer and must have all these tools to look after my own property then I shall take none of their value into account when pricing my...[/quote]

There are 2 main categories of business that the owner operates hands-on.  They are the here today and gone tomorrow type and the ones in it for the long haul who have common sense, grit and determination in equal large chunks.

The H T A G T types are that simply because they fail to build into their pricing structures replacement of equipment and think it is a doddle until their tools break.  The ones I I F T L H have worked it all out properly and charge the correct rate, but also realise they are never going to be millionaires because their clients can work out quite easily how much you earn per day and resent paying you more than what they think you need in order to keep a roof over your head.

As far as grass cutting goes, mine takes me about 5 hours with a ride-on and I ask myself should I be unable to do it myself how much is it worth paying somebody to do it perhaps once a week.  If I had to pay more than say 100-120 euros I would have to consider getting it done once every 2 weeks, albeit that it might take longer than 5 hours in that case. 

So I think that you might have to be selective in your pricing and not charge strictly by the hour for everything.  There are going to be some you charge per job and some per hour and with lots of luck and sweat with an emphasis on regular customers you make a reasonable living.

weedon

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Doesn't it all come down to a choice between working for wages or trying to run a sustainable business? It's fine to try to price as a business allowing for depreciation on tools etc. but if there is insufficient demand then it will soon come down to pricing your work in order to put food on the table.
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Yeah, I agree - it depends on exactly what job you are doing, the skills involved and the machinery needed. I charge 15 Euros an hour and work hard for that (I like hard work, it's good for you!)and then if I'm using my rotovator or something similar, I put in for a bit of extra to cover the purchase cost - I figure that if I didn't have such machinery, the job would take forever (cost loads in labour) and would probably kill me in the process. But as someone else mentioned, you wouldn't pay some herbert 50 Euros an hour to cut grass would you? Or would you??? Because if you would, I would love to work for you. I'll even do it naked if you want! I would rather have lots of jobs at a reasonable rate than one job a year at 60 Euros a hour. However, I have heard that Laurence Llewellyn whatshisface and Dermuid Mc'some-one will come and completely ruin your garden for just 5000 Euros an hour....
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All good discussion stuff. I have been watching this thread since Ty started it and have used it as an opportunity to look at my own EEV business here in the Vienne.

I have 2 French clients who were quite pleased at my €15 per hour rate. I do charge travel time in 15 minute blocks. My Irish, British and Dutch clients seem to be reasonably happy with the pricing too.

I do agree with Ty about the cost of ride ons, trailers, vans and so on. To this end I am thinking of maintaining the €15 an hour rate but add a 15% additional charge to cover the cost of petrol, weedkillers, W&Tear, and so on. Therefore, a job of 3 hours with 1 hour travel time would be invoiced out at €45 plus €6.75 plus €15 travel total - €66.75.

What are your thoughts. I need to remain competitive as there are loads of ON THE BLACK workers over here now which want really touched on in this discussion.

Slan

Paul

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[quote]All good discussion stuff. I have been watching this thread since Ty started it and have used it as an opportunity to look at my own EEV business here in the Vienne. I have 2 French clients who were ...[/quote]

Absolutley! Over the years we have seen lots of cards advertising services with no Siret number in the local shops but, they come and go, I don't think folks who come over here, buy a rideon to do their own lawn and then think, this is easy I can ear a few bob from this, realise how hard the job can be and how quickly their equipment can get wrecked!

We priced a regular maintainance job for a french couple this weekend and they were absolutely amazed that we are registered as a business. Fist registered gardeners they had ever met apparently and I thought that they would, therefore, baulk at our charges which are 15 euros an hour for general maintenance. Don't even have to use my equipment for this one as entrance is through front door and she has a flymo for the dinky lawn. The dodgy job there is ladderwork keeping the Virginia creeper at bay so perhaps I should charge danger money!!

Edit; apologies for spelling/typo errors - am back on iMac with English keyboard and tiny fonts!!
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