Industry sector:

Fencing contractor: Your work rate


Give some thought to your working hours, how much work you expect to get done in a typical day, and reasons why some of your working days may be less productive than others.

Working hours

Assuming that you get a fairly steady stream of work, the amount you can earn depends partly on the number of days you work and the length of your working day.

You may decide to stick to normal business hours, for example 8.30 am until 5.30 pm Monday to Friday and perhaps Saturdays too. Or you may decide to work longer hours - perhaps an earlier start. Remember that very bad weather can sometimes disrupt your work schedules. Perhaps you are prepared to work longer hours when the weather is good and your services are in demand, taking some time off during quieter periods. Bear in mind though that you risk causing a disturbance if you start using plant and machinery very early in the morning or carry on late into the evening.

Some fencing specialists offer a 24 hour emergency service for reinstating storm and accident damage. If you intend to offer a reliable emergency service you will need to make sure that you can provide cover at all times, particularly during the autumn and winter. You might decide to team up with another fencing business to share responsibility for emergency calls.

Work rate

You should have a good idea of how long certain types of jobs will take you. It is very important when quoting for a job that you can make an accurate estimate of how long it will take. It's no good basing your quote on two days work if it ends up taking you four!

The speed at which you work depends on your own skills and experience and on the type and standard of the work that you do. Your charges should reflect all of these things.

Non-productive time

Unfortunately, not all of every working day will be spent earning money. Here are a few examples of reasons why you may sometimes find yourself working hard but earning nothing:

  • visiting sites to cost new work and give quotes (if you make no charge for this service)
  • finishing off jobs that take you longer than you had thought - perhaps because of unforeseen problems like very rocky ground that is difficult to excavate
  • re-doing faulty work
  • travelling to and from jobs, or to get tools and materials from a supplier
  • repairing tools or vehicles

Sometimes you may find that you are unable to work at all, because:

  • a vital tool or piece of equipment is broken
  • the weather is too bad to work
  • you are waiting for materials to be delivered
  • you are ill

Take all of these factors into account when you are estimating the maximum number of productive hours that you can work each month. Be realistic! When you plan your working schedules, try to minimise the amount of time that will be wasted.