Author Topic: GETTING PAID - FOR YOUR TIME  (Read 1994 times)

Alan Sargent

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« on: March 27, 2014, 09:54:14 pm »
It never ceases to amaze me that some members of the public – I won’t call them clients, as they have not earned that title – seem to think of Contractors (I am not going to include Designers in this post, as you rate your own special feature!) work purely for the love of their profession. Some many people are contacted, usually by telephone, with the opening statement “I’m getting ideas for my garden. Will you come and give me some, and if I like them, you can price for them”, and talk as though they are doing us a favour!

When I started out in 1968, I called myself simply ‘Alan Sargent’, and then decided to enhance that with a strap line ‘Town and Country Gardens of Distinction’, which worked pretty well. By the early 80s, I was receiving a number of these calls, despite not being in The Yellow Pages (there being no Internet in those days) and became quite fed up with trying to be civil, yet explain that I was running a business. “Ah yes, but, you might get the work” was a common response.

In 1985 I changed my titles to ‘Alan Sargent, Gardens Consultant and Designer’ and called the construction side of the business ‘Town and Country Gardens’ (which became very well known during the 80s and 90s with many Chelsea Show Gardens to my credit as T & CG, and Alan Sargent (as applicable, I worked with other designers) as Designer, thereby completely separating the two trading titles.) I no longer had the problem with ‘freebies’ as the public image had changed. Nothing else – same Bank account, same insurance etc – but now people knew they could not expect something for nothing.


I am past retirement age, and pay a lot of tax to HMG, as all my allowances are eaten up by pensions, but I still maintain my status as a fee charging professional. My rates are clearly set out in my web site, and made known to potential clients. My fees start at £45.00 per hour, and I charge a minimum of half day. As far as the public are concerned, that is my stated business charge.

What you charge, and how you set your rates – time plus mileage or travel expenses – is up to you, but the principal should remain the same. The way I deal with such calls today is to make an appointment, and mention my rates at the time of enquiry. The appointment is for one week hence, which gives me the chance to write confirming the date and time, and also including my charges in that letter (not as a separate sheet, which they may claim not to have received with the letter), noting the minimum fee. This gives them the opportunity to cancel without wasting my time.

You may then add your Terms and Conditions, including payment structure at the same time, even invoicing them on the day if there is no follow up work. Visit, invoice, pay, all at the same time!