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Consulting Fees

By bear-pain ·
My buddy & I have a computer consulting business. We charge a flat 4 hour fee for a clean install of Windows. This includes installing the OS, updates, patches, Office, & proprietary medical software. We have had a couple of complaints regarding this policy. We are looking for guidlines on what is a fair charge for this. Please let me know what you think.

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You need to do your sums first

by gadgetgirl In reply to Consulting Fees

What your clients think is fair may not be fair to you. Most people want to pay less for everything.

You need to do a breakdown of this - and keep it on hand - time everything to the nearest 15 minutes. Including the updating, patches etc. Then decide what is a fair price for the labour (taking into account the various intensities of the labour) Multiply them together, and I just BET you realise you're running this part of your business at a loss!

(Been there, done that, still doing that, still paying for the t-shirt! As well as working full time ICT Security, I also run my own business, along the same lines as yours)

What your clients don't realise is that you have to cover all eventualities. Not everything goes smoothly - you may have to re-install some things a few times before its right, some updates require reboots every few minutes, and you have to allow for testing.

We have found that a list of times that these components may take helps take the sting out of the tail for the clients. Most of them, being non-techie, have no idea how long a job like this should/could take. It seems to amaze them how much works goes into something as basic as this.

Try doing as we did - gradually build up a list of the time it takes to do various things on a computer, and attach it to your price list. Then they can study it at their leisure and convince themselves that you really are a bargain, in comparison to the main dealers who will charge through the nose at every given opportunity!

I hate to sound like a Ferengi from Star Trek, but everyone in business has the right to make a profit.

(Hmm. I think thats one of Quarks Rules of Acquisition!)

If you don't cover costs, and make a profit, you're down the pan. Simple as.

Hope this helps


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by bear-pain In reply to You need to do your sums ...

Thank you for your comments. These ideas are really helpful.

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Doctors what else can you expect?

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Consulting Fees

I did this once with one who bitterly complained about the costs involved in keeping their somewhat less than ideal hardware running.

I offered to supervise the job for free and allow them to do the install of course I didn't take any utilities and made them surf the web to find them and then install the OS and the rest of the drivers for the system. By the time that they had got Windows and the drivers in for the hardware they didn't want to know any more as they where loosing far too much money in this nonproductive time. If you can show them what is involved and then ask them would they be prepared to do unpaid work on a permanent basis I'll bet you that they answer in the negative.

Until they realize what is involved they think it is just a matter of throwing a CD at the computer and everything is done. The time involved to install Windows doesn't count as it's all on the CD!

I'm taking it that you are not doing any Data Recovery or network setup as 4 hours is no where near enough time for something as involved as that. At one Surgery I spent longer than 4 hours just getting a network connection on a reloaded machine of course it would have helped if I had of been told what they had installed since I was last there which I didn't know about as their medical Program required Static IP addresses and a special Sub Net.

Actually when you have some time to waste do the reload in the surgery and prevent it from being used that will get their attention as they are the ones then unable to work and are seeing the lost production time they will never complain again.

Col ]:)

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Depends on if they have original disks or not

by jdclyde In reply to Consulting Fees

If they have all the disks from the manufaturer that have all the correct drivers, I personally go with three hours for just an OS reload, and fully update.

If I have to look for and download drivers, that adds another hour.

The thing to do is get a quote from the department stores by pretending to be a customer. You can make sure your out the door price is better and can show your customer the comparisons.

Cost per hour is as important as number of hours, so make sure this is in line. A lower price will bring more people to you, so you will get more volume spread out instead of trying to pay the rent off of two customers.

Not a bad idea to make a ghost image of all customers that you save away. If they have a problem you can quickly reload from scratch so you can give better follow up support. Just don't tell them there is a shortcut for the reload. While they aren't paying for the second load, let them think it is as much work as the first time so they apreciate it more. They will then apreciate YOU more and WILL tell their friends.

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Come on be real

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Depends on if they have o ...

With one customer who is a professional in a different field had a problem one week after I supplied them a computer so when I got there I asked for the Disks that I'd given him with his new LT.

I got a blank look in return and was asked where they necessary? Apparently to save space he had thrown them all out but he's only a surgeon who blackmails me by shaking his hand when he's removing skin cancers from me and saying "I hope my hand doesn't slip as I'm so concerned about my work computers!" Or like he did last time when he had a virus and I had been trying for 6 months to get in there and replace the now obsolete AV product "I sent a E-Mail to the Royal College of Surgeons and they sent me back a message that it was infected I don't know what I'm going to do I'm so worried, he then dropped the scalpel."

With every customer that I've run across they never keep the install Cd's and even if they put them in a safe place they can never find them when they are needed. It's hard enough finding out when they bought something as it's always only recently when really it was 2 years ago.

Or on the rare occasions when they can find the Cd's they will be all mixed together after I've supplied them in their separate plastic bags with the different computers designations on them. Of course it's always my fault that they have taken them out of the bags and mixed them up. I had this at one place where I only supplied 1 computer and the other 8 had been infected when the owners kids had come in turned off the AV products so they could install an infected game and then taken down the entire network. They had all the original Install Cd's but needed to know which copy of office when with which machine. The only one I could tell them was the one that I had supplied as on their invoice I had put the product keys for the OEM versions of Windows and Office but I was expected to know which copies of Office went with the other computers which I had neither supplied or worked upon.

Col ]:)

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by jdclyde In reply to Come on be real

it will tell you that the numbers are that each got installed with. Got to use the bata for office 2003 though. also pulls the xp / 2000 os numbers.

Just had to use this. User lost the numbers and I was not going to put pirate numbers on. Got their legit numbers and reinstalled with my media. Bingo.

They had a sMELL laptop WITH all the disks that came with it. Too bad the incompetient people at sMELL didn't have the correct drivers for the video or sound on it. losers anyways.

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Do you mean that it is possible

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to magicjellybean

To actually work without Key Finder? I'd be stuffed without it and I've done exactly the same thing many times now as well. But it does get interesting when you ring MS to reactivate Windows or Office and the product codes don't quite line up.

I just tell them that I've reinstalled the software and that is what they are getting.

Unfortunately the network that got taken down by the owners kids no longer booted so that wasn't an option but with any unit that I make it always has the Product Key for Windows & Office as well as any other products on the bottom of the invoice. That never fails as I work for small business so they have to keep a copy for Tax Purposes and I always have a copy available to print off if required.

Col ]:)

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Musical computers

by jdclyde In reply to Do you mean that it is po ...

What we have done because we don't have as much control over computes as we would like, is to tape an envelope to the inside of the case.

This will have a checklist of who did the work, what work they did, what software is on the computer, and sometimes even a driver disk.

When that mystery machine comes back, we have what it takes right there.

I don't buy equipment, so we have all white boxes, bought one or two at a time. Because of this, I don't think we have three computers in the company with identical hardware. Poor me. Just my job to support it.

Because we have really bad environments with a lot of hear and dust, the computers don't last long anyways so we don't pay much for each. Manufacturing, you know.

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I do that too with the computers that I work on

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Musical computers

But it gets a bit hard when there are computers in a place that I haven't actually looked at and they seem to think that I'm only trying to run up their bill by pulling a perfectly good working computer out of service even if only for a few minutes to do things like this.

Of course you are expected to clean up the mess that they make after wards. What can I saw End Users Got to Love them or you'd go crazy!"

Col ]:)

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by antuck In reply to Consulting Fees

It sounds like you're right in the ballpark with your fees. I ususally charge three hours for the SW loading and patching but then charge to set the computer up at there office. I also get the complaints the price is to high sometimes. Usually it's I can buy a new Dell for almost that cost. My reaction is go and buy the cheap Dell and call me back to load all of your SW and get it set up right. But I usually will explain what it takes to redo a computer. Most of my customers just say fix it. The others take it and either call me later to fix there problems they caused or I never hear back from them.

Hal and JD made some good coments. Hal's comment about letting them reload while you watch (I would only do this with a regular cust) It's funny to see there reaction to the time wasted by waiting for SW to load. This can be unproductive time if there is nothing else to do.

JD's comment about having all the proper disk is true. That does make it much easier. Most of the time I will make a compensation for that.

It is sometimes very difficult getting a customer to understand the amount of time spent getting a computer setup and working. Especially if it is on a network. I've learned that the ones that complain I can try and help understand what is involved, but sometimes I will lose the customer and sometimes that is just as well.

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