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(1) Charge different rates based on onsite vs remote service. e.g. $75/h onsite vs $50/h remote.

(2) Charge a retainer for 'instant' contact. e.g. $200/month to cover cell-phone bill so you can be reached 'anytime' and/or resolve issues immediately. The other side to this is: I will reply within 15 minutes, but only able to address the issue when I am available.

(3) Charge for travel time as part of onsite-service. My billings begin when I leave my home.

(4) always give 3 quotes and specs. (minimum, adequate, suggested)

(5) Never charge for things that you learn. "It took me 3hrs to set that up, but i'm only going to charge you for 1hr because I learned X." They think they get a deal, and your worth increase. The key to that is communication. Make sure they KNOW they got a hell of a good deal.




Sounds as though you could be earning a lot more. Why should the client not pay for work just because you learned something along the way? What does the cost of a phone bill have anything to do with the value of having an expert on-call? (Would you set pricing for a SaaS product based on hosting costs?)


The point behind the 'monthly retainer' is that if only 1 client agrees to it, I make small% profit each month by doing nothing, but in reality when I have 10-20 clients all agreeing the same thing, it passive income that goes a long way.

So 10 clients all doing this = $2000/month. On average I get 1 call every 2-3 months. So that is significant income just to be available. As part of that (especially if it's a 10-15 minute "ssh in, do X and done" job) everybody is happy.

Note: Most of my clients are small'ish Tool & Die shops, these are the kinds of places that still run a multi-million dollar GM contract on a DOS-based MS-BASIC kludge. So my environment and the mentalities of the area are vastly different then a big metropolis like New York, LA, Toronto, etc.

They think they are getting something for free. Because I've upgraded most of their systems from the kludge to some things more robust, I do less work and get paid more.


If I may ask, what kind of work do you do for them?

I like working with manufacturing people: machine shops, motor rewinders, etc. One of my current clients retrofits old machine tools (think 20hp planers using 0-10V controls) with new digital controls. I always enjoy discussing that kind of stuff.


Just generic sysadmin related stuff.


> Charge different rates based on onsite vs remote service. e.g. $75/h onsite vs $50/h remote.

I don't know. I think the rate should be the same but you just add "traveling expenses".

> Charge a retainer for 'instant' contact. e.g. $200/month to cover cell-phone bill so you can be reached 'anytime' and/or resolve issues immediately. The other side to this is: I will reply within 15 minutes, but only able to address the issue when I am available.

Bad idea. Do you want to be available in 2AM Sunday morning while you are at bed with your significant other. (or even alone). If your client requires 24/7, then hire 3 on-site that cover the 24 hours day (8-8-8). You'll probably need more for weekends. Your bank doesn't offer 24/7 services, why should you?

> Never charge for things that you learn.

Unless you should know it and it is general knowledge. Otherwise charge for it. It is part of the job. Also if you don't know it because of inexperience, your rates are probably lower. So a more experienced worker will take less hours but charge more per hour. Same result, same wage.




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