how much to charge?
November 23, 2011 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Calling all IT consultants: what do I charge?

How much should I charge for computer services? I am being courted to take care of machines for a small business. Most of the service needed is cleaning infected machines, rolling out new network hardware and the like. Pretty basic stuff for me.

A bit of background: I dont do this professionally but I do take care of family, friends and coworkers. Generally, I set a pretty low cost to take care of these issues, think $20you for a reformat or a machine clean. I know locally, these services cost around $50 and up just to get it on the bench and cleaned.

My question is how to be fair, and set and reasonable price. I dont want to be out landish with pricing, but ive been told by others my prices are too low, and to be honest I would like to maximize my profit potential yet remain reasonable.

Thank you for your time.
posted by handbanana to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
"Whatever the traffic will bear." I charge between $50 and $100 per hour to work on Linux machines depending on the client and the difficulty of what I'm supposed to do. Don't charge less than you make working at your full time job. Don't forget that you may need to charge sales tax or build the cost of paying the sales, income, and self-employment tax into your price.
posted by SpecialK at 12:13 PM on November 23, 2011

Have a regular job? Hourly rate * 2 or 3 is a good minimum for contract work.

Will you be expected to be on-call to go on site to deal with emergencies? Have a higher rate for this. Base rate for showing up + hourly rate stated above, should be ok.
posted by utsutsu at 12:17 PM on November 23, 2011

I ran a small consulting business doing a lot of similar work, and I developed a sliding scale of payment.

For friends and family, I'd charge around $40/hour. I would also accept payment in bottles of alcohol or in trade for something else I needed -- this allowed me to make clear that this was *work* that I was doing, as opposed to a favor.

For business clients, I'd usually charge $100 for the first hour, and $50/hour after that. Or $75/hour with a 2-hour minimum for house calls.
posted by andrewmarc at 12:18 PM on November 23, 2011

That is the hardest question, I agree with SpecialK the best answer is try to find out what the client is willing to pay, that however is often unanswerable. If you are trying to grow a business of your own, I would charge slightly less than what other local businesses charge. Then start increasing your prices to stabilize your workflow.

You could have an a la carte pricing for established/well defined services ie. $50 to scan and clean you system.

Or for more business type customers and onsite support I charge $60/hour for IT techs, and $125/hour for programmer (or other heavy lifters)
posted by njk at 12:25 PM on November 23, 2011

The 1st hour should be more*, so maybe 90 for the 1st hour, and 60 for subsequent hours. Maybe charge less for remote access or phone support, more for a visit. Charge mileage at least, and travel time outside a specific area. Consider charging less for travel time.

*Why? You have the work for billing, setting up customer account, etc., that you don't charge for.
posted by theora55 at 2:25 PM on November 23, 2011

Just double whatever you're charging your private clients.

The main thing that will make you attractive to small business operators (apart from basic competence, naturally) is prompt, reliable and consistent billing. Businesses tend to care less about the absolute cost of things than about the predictability of those costs.
posted by flabdablet at 4:21 PM on November 23, 2011

My default is:

2 x whatever salary level you're at when computed hourly. Generally no less than 100/hour. It varies based on what you're working on and if the commitment is fulltime in nature or generally unpredictable or extremely complex and poorly documented.

Per call Base rate - 1 or 2 hour minimum, 20% off for pre-purchasing buckets of hours up front, set terms for hour consumption independently.

After normal business hours is 2x normal rate if scheduled a minimum of 12-24 hours in advance (varies on work and customer).

Emergency (on call) is 4 hour minimum, 3x normal rate.

Materials are at minimum cost + 25%.
posted by iamabot at 7:42 PM on November 23, 2011

Just to add you specifically want to make it really important that your customers plan ahead where possible and where you are not put out by their inability to plan. Outages are outages, they happen. I sometimes throw in a chronic problem penalty. If I have been spending inordinate amounts of time fixing the exact same problem and the customer is just crazy about not replacing one piece of gear or correcting one design, I bump my rate for that problem up to the 2x range or specifically exempt a problem from my services. In general though, it's nice to have a chronic problem that can be fixed without pulling teeth because it is more cash in your pocket.
posted by iamabot at 7:46 PM on November 23, 2011

The standard I've heard is, take the annual salary you would like to have. Triple it. Then divide by 2080 (the standard FTE hours in a year) for your hourly rate. Obviously you need to be sensitive to what the market will bear for your skills, so you may have to adjust down.
posted by dobie at 12:27 PM on November 24, 2011

« Older Java Help   |   It Is Not My Fault The Dollar Sucks Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.