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So what do you charge?

By betty ·
Okay guys .. I work with two other guys. We have a difference of opinion on what's billable and what's a 'fair' rate.

I do DBA work on ERP systems and charge 2 different rates (onsite or off). I start billing when I walk out the door or sit down to do the work and stop billing when I leave the customer's location or finish up my documentation. I am of the opinion that if the customer had not called, I could be spending time for me but because they did, I am spending time for them - and should be compensated for it.

The other guys do server maintenance, networking, and hardware/software support. They, too, charge a different rate dependent on location. They don't bill for travel time and they don't bill for what they call 'wait' time.

I have had customers complain about our rates for the hardware/software etc. stuff - that our rates are too high. On the other side of the coin, I have rarely had a complaint on the DBA stuff.

Granted, this is two different classes of customer .. corporate vs SMB ..

I'd like to gain a little perspective here ... what is a fair rate for what kind of work and when does billable time start? Do you charge for your time or by the job?

How do you determine what it's going to be? If two guys are working on the job do you charge man hours or clock hours?

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Twiddling my thumbs

by betty In reply to If I was the customer,

Okay - I originally posted our rates to see if we are high or low - but retracted that because it really isn't what I'm looking for; I think the actual rate has to be based on what's required to cover costs and make a profit. If I can't do that I might as well quit.

So you've seen them; what are your thoughts? I have compared to others in this area and find that we are generally low. I have also attempted to contract work out and have gotten quotes from sub-contractors requesting more than we bill to begin with. If I've got a contractor out there doing the work, I bill the contractor's rate plus a markup.

As for travel charges; local customers don't pay travel time. Customers in a 60 mile radius pay a trip charge. Customers beyond a 60 mile radius pay standard per-diem. Historically, I (as a customer) have paid up to $60/hour for travel time PLUS motel, meals, etc... for people coming to Michigan from Atlanta or Indianapolis. Did I like it? No. But I didn't like paying the stove guy $149 to replace a $15 part in 15 minutes last week either.

So ... Palmetto - are you saying that you bill one standard rate regardless of the work or tech's salary?

Which brings me to the next question - what do you guys think about the billing rate being based on which tech takes the call .. today it's $35 because Joe went out and the next day it's $85 because Fred went out. There again, based on the skill/knowledge of the tech.

The difference between onsite vs offsite is not an issue of travel. The thought is that if I am working at YOUR office I am dedicated to you - even if I am twiddling my thumbs - whereas if I am working at MY office I could be making money on something else WHILE I might otherwise be twiddling my thumbs.

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I charge

by sharpj In reply to Twiddling my thumbs

by the task / job, not by the skill of the worker. The job has to be done and I would pay Fred differently, but the customer should not have to eat the cost of my inefficiency sending an "over-skilled" (my term) employee. Likewise the customer should not suffer if I send Joe and he fails to complete the task because he didn't have the skill set. That should be my / your job as a manager to determine.

My .02,
Jerry

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So you are called to network a printer ...

by betty In reply to I charge

And then you get over there and find out the whole network has issues and it's going to be a lot more than the $50 you quoted.

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That happens

by Tig2 In reply to So you are called to netw ...

And the minute you recognize it, you stop and discuss your new findings with the customer.

I've gotten the response that I agreed to this or that and I should take care of the network problem "on the side". Generally, I can explain the difference between networking a printer and fixing the network and why the two are different and why the costs will change.

There are times that you find yourself doing a bit extra. I never mind that. I just make sure that the customer KNOWS that I am doing a bit extra. Value add, and all that!

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