The Trade Network For Qualified Gardeners

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Frequently Asked Questions

Please feel free to contact us if you cannot find the answer to your question on this page.

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Q: What qualifications are acceptable to become a member?

A: A horticultural qualification equal to Ofqual 'Level 2 Certificate' or above. Level 2 'Awards' are not accepted.

The qualification must be part of a government regulated qualifications framework such as Ofqual, SCQF, CQFW or similar. According to Ofqual's website, regulated qualifications are also known as 'officially recognised' qualifications.

The qualification does not have to be focused on garden maintenance but should include plant identification and plant maintenance i.e. pruning or propagation techniques.

Your qualification should be complete with a certificate to show you have achieved the qualification you started.

Licenses for pesticides, chainsaw, mower/strimmer use etc alone are not accepted for membership.

Some online courses are not accepted. Not all training courses result in officially recognised qualifications. 

Garden design qualifications or wider horticultural qualifications are accepted if the course includes general plant identification and maintenance topics.

Although gardeners are not botanists, it is a gardeners general plant knowledge that distinguishes 'Gardeners' from Tree surgeons or Hard Landscape builders. Tree surgery qualifications that only include modules on tree identification would not be suitable for membership.

Search registered qualifications on the Register of Regulated Qualifications:

Q: I'm studying for my qualification but my course hasn't finished yet, can I join before I finish my course?

A: No. We will need to see proof that you completed the course and achieved the qualification before we can accept you as a member.

Q: Can I send a photocopy of my certificate?

A: Yes, or you can scan your application and email it to us. There are also apps that can convert pictures of your certificates taken by your smart phone into PDF's.

Q: Can I buy extra entries in the Member Register?

A: No. Only one entry per member.

Q: Does TGG have a corporate category of membership?

A: No. Membership is for individuals.

Q: I want to apply as a Consultant. What can I send as evidence of length of professional experience?

A: You could send us:
- a copy of an old public liability renewal letter
- a reference from a former employer
- an old certificate of membership for another horticultural group or similar.

It is up to you to send sufficient evidence.

Q: I can't find my certificates

A: It is important that you keep your certificates safe in case you are asked for them when tendering for a new contract. If you have lost your certificates and you do not want to pay your course provider for a duplicate then you can email them and ask them to confirm by email that you attended and passed the course. We will accept this email from them as evidence of your qualification. Some form of evidence that you have a horticultural qualification is always required before membership is accepted.

Q: Do I have to pay by Direct Debit?

A: Yes. Direct debit is the safest way to pay and is protected by the national Direct Debit Guarantee. It also forms part of our identity and security checks.

Q: Does TGG have a code of conduct?

A: All members are self employed and should abide by trading and advertising standards laws. This includes consumer rights legislation and fair trading legislation. Members must also abide by our own general terms of membership and forum terms of use in the members area.

Q: Will I get lots of new work enquiries?

A: Some members say that nearly all their work comes from us. Others say that they get very little. Typically, members say that they get good quality work. One good customer may recommend you to many other good quality customers. Population density will also affect how many people are looking for local gardeners. There are also practical seasonal variations to consider i.e. the number of people looking for a gardener will decrease when the weather is bad.

- Our database search algorithm is fair and ensures all members, new or old, have equal opportunity to receive new customer enquiries.
- We do not charge you commission and we do not charge you per enquiry.
- We achieve competitive search engine page positions.
- Be part of a national network of qualified gardeners displaying our logo on their vans and websites.

Based on the average income for a TGG member (source: 2018 TGG member census), one new customer giving you around 4 hours of work per month for 9 months of the year is worth over £900 a year! So just one new regular customer would be a good return on your membership fee.

Indirect benefits of being a Registered Member: 

- The register is an independent, online resource for the public to verify that you are who you say you are. 
- Membership is also independent verification of your location. Google may use your entry on our website to rank your position in 'Google Places' (if you use it). 
- Membership can benefit your general online profile. For example, your membership status is often included in internet search results associated with your name and business name.

Q: I am in the Member Register, but when I Googled my name TGG didn't show up?

A: If you are the first member in/near a particular city, we will create a page for that city as part of our search engine friendly Member List. Please note that it can take between 6 weeks and 6 months for Google to index and rank that page. In the mean time, you will still be found in the Member Register as normal. If you have a popular name, try adding 'gardener' to the end so that Google knows to associate your name with a trade.

Q: If I join as a Consultant Member, will I get lots of consultancy work enquiries?

A: We hope so but, in reality, this kind of work focuses on quality not quantity. However, those looking for a gardener in the Member Register will see the Consultant section and at least understand the difference - maybe resulting in more work.

As a result of membership, our members have had opportunities to present for SKY TV, have regular presenting work on ITV garden features, be paid to provide gardening tools as props for a film production and been invited to be a guest panelist on county radio gardening segments and paid exhibition experts to name just a few. These opportunities are not common but can lead to other similar work and useful contacts. Consultant members will be given priority for this type of enquiry as we will know they are actively looking for this kind of work.

We expect consultant members to create work opportunities through blogging, training, coaching, supporting contractors etc - the Consultant category is designed to support that activity by distinguishing contracting work from consultancy work.

Q: Will I have letters after my name?

A: Traditionally, it is often Institutes that give letters of designation when you join. The primary purpose of this honorific is to create a measure of comparability between members who all have different levels of experience, qualifications and work in different sectors of the industry. For example, a gardener and a retailer could both be John Smith MCiHort. However, the public rarely know what these letters mean. In a similar way, affinity groups may also issue letters designate to indicate your level of membership.

Many members are qualified to degree level and this grants them use of letters designate for their qualification. Other qualifications can be shortened and added after your name to indicate the level of your training e.g. RHS Dip.Hort. (Royal Horticultural Society Diploma in Horticulture). There is no law about what you write after your name for marketing purposes provided it is not misleading.

However, remember that many of your customers have worked very hard to have the right to use letters designate - doctors, judges, scientists etc. While it can be good to promote your qualifications and memberships, having too many letters designate could give a negative impression - especially if you use the same qualifications and experience to gain multiple letters designate from multiple organisations.

As a result, we recommend that members either join an institute, summarise their qualifications or simply abbreviate their memberships - whichever is most relevant.

All TGG members are Registered Members because we have a specific entry criteria and accepted members can be found in our online Member Register. Consultant members may use the abbreviation of CMTGG after their name to indicate that they are consultant members who have additional entry criteria and to remind their customers that consultancy and contracting advice are different services. However, as the public are unlikely to understand what the letters mean we think that, space allowing, it is better to state in full text that you are a Consultant Member of The Gardeners Guild or Registered Member of The Gardeners Guild (for contractors).

Q: Do I have to publish my contact details in the Member Register? i.e. address?

A: You do need to tell us all your contact details so that we can communicate with you. However, you do not have to publish your address or contact details. You can choose what contact information you want published on the Member Register. If you choose not to publish your address we will simply state 'Full address supplied'. The application has a section where you can tell us what contact details you don't want to be made public. However, you are obliged to give all new customers your contact details, including full address, when you do work for them.

Q: What if I have qualifications higher than level 2?

A: Qualifications vary considerably. Currently, our entry criteria is designed to distinguish gardeners with a qualification from those with none. If you have an advanced level of qualification or experience you can:
- Use the paragraph summarising your business to explain the benefits of your level of training.
- Ensure that you are in the correct categories (see application form) as these are focused on specific skills which your training may have taught you and will help customers find you quicker as it narrows the search field.
- You may be able to apply for Consultant membership.

Q: I work over a large area - not just locally. How can I be found by customers in different areas?

A: Due to the nature of search functions using geographic information, it is not possible to advertise members over a broad area. The bigger the area, the more results there will be. To help, we have categories of work that help narrow a customers search based on the type of work. This has the effect of reducing the number of results which widens the search area. For example, nearly all members will have a mower but less will have a ride on mower. A search for gardeners with a ride on mower will therefore display results from further away.

Q: What is a Trade Network?

A: A Trade Network is sometimes used to describe a business that acts as a hub to connect lots of very similar businesses. This gives members access to services that are not normally affordable or easily available to them individually. The trade network can provide a more effective online presence, a national brand identity and share essential business information to give members a commercial advantage - whilst allowing members to maintain their full independence. Trade networks are focused on providing business support services to a specific business type. In contrast, Associations often have much broader membership categories and organise social events and lobbying or campaigning activities.

Q: Do you have Student membership?

A: No. Membership is available as soon as a gardener gains a regulated qualification and is actively trading. Neither do we have 'affiliate', 'supplier', 'retired' or similar categories of membership. Membership is specifically to identify and support professionally qualified garden maintenance contractors.