Odd Customer billing question...22 hours of flying..

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Calvinatir, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. Calvinatir macrumors 6502

    Calvinatir

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2003
    Location:
    LA
    #1
    Premise:

    I'm a personal and business IT consultant, charge between 70 and 150 an hour depending on the client/situation. I work a pretty busy week on the most part and have some pretty wild clients all over Los Angeles. Been an average week until now.

    Situation:

    Thursday afternoon, 1 PM, good client calls me and needs me to fly LAX to LHR (London) ASAP to help a problem at their London residence. So, I'm on a plane to LHR at 5PM, land in London at 10:30AM local time. Issue gets resolved and am back on a plane to LAX at 2:30 PM local time and arrive back at LAX at 7:15 PM local time Friday.

    Problem:

    What do I charge for this extravaganza? I missed a total of about 6 (thurs)+9 (friday) hours of labor. Do I just charge for those 15 hours? Do I charge an additional fee? As of now I have the bill set to 15 hours, but I bill monthly so I have until Mar 31 to decide....any suggestions from someone who has been in the same situation?
     
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #2
    You charge your full daily rate for each day or partial day you flew, plus expenses of course. So that's 2 days -- probably 9 hours x 2 x rate. If you bill it as a daily rate, you avoid the issue of debating how many hours it was.

    For next time, you should probably have a rate schedule agreed in advance for travel, and per diem charges for overnights, and an upcharge for emergency callouts (you had to drop everything to leave immediately. It would have impacted your profits less if you had some lead time to schedule it)

    Remember it's not just the time in the air, but the travel to and from airports, ticketing/security/boarding etc. and your opportunity cost to leave your main client group at short notice.
     
  3. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #3
    Agreed. Travel time should be considered billable, even if it's an agreed-upon flat rate. The point is that while you are traveling for a client, you cannot be performing billable work otherwise (I won't even discuss working on Client B's project on the plane while flying to Client A).

    Also, as CanadaRAM so astutely noted, urgent/no-notice engagements--along with after-hour/holiday/weekends--need to have their own rate or charge, mostly as a disincentive to clients that think it's no big deal to pull you away from other tasks.

    If this current client didn't have that expectation going in, I don't know how far you can take it this time, but even a forewarning ("This is gonna cost you plenty") at least will set the stage for appropriate invoicing.
     
  4. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2002
    Location:
    Alabama
    #4
    Actually, "expenses" should NOT include that idle time flying. Just be specific when you set up your fee structure. If you charge hourly, don't hose the guy down the street and build in idle time. I hire a guy to come out for my SIS system. He's from Utah, so it's 3 hours, plus the 2 from/to the airport. I am not charged for this and it's evidently built in to the fee structure he has. So he charges me for the room, food, the car, the flight and the daily rate of $1,000. If he charged me for sitting on a plane watching DVD's or napping I'd find someone else.
    You may also consider two rates, one for local, one for travel, but be careful.
     
  5. Calvinatir thread starter macrumors 6502

    Calvinatir

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2003
    Location:
    LA
    #5
    Thank you guys, I will take all that into consideration. This client is fairly well off...we'll say 9 figure club...so the money isn't an option. I just don't want to 'burn' them. Have to walk a thin line...get compensated for my work, but not to over charge.
     
  6. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #6
    Holy crap....so this guy has a problem at his house in London, and on a whim, he pays you god knows how much to fly out there from LA to stay a couple hours and fix it? Can I have your job? :D
     
  7. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #7
    Trust me, you'll pay for travel time, whether it's its own line item or not. I had about 640 hours last year in travel alone. That's time that I could've been earning doing something else, so since I was traveling to a client site at their behest, they will pay for it. If you think that most professional travelers spend their time watching DVD's or napping, you have a misconception. I work as much as my battery or airline regulation will allow. Believe me, this ain't leisure time, even on weekends. And, since much of my travel involves weekends, like a Saturday return and a quick turn for a 6am Sunday flight, that is also worth something.

    My clients pay a single rate for my time onsite, my travel time, my administrative time working on their project (unless it's after hours or weekend/holiday, then there's a 50% upcharge), and 100% of my actual travel expenses. This is pretty much well within industry norm.
     
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #8
    Why do you think the guy should eat the travel time? That's 10 billable hours down the tubes while he's traveling to/from your place of business.


    Lethal
     
  9. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #9
    Agreed. The attorneys that I work with bill for travel time to and from court, the rate maybe reduced but it's still time spent on your case that could have easily been billed on others.
     
  10. Calvinatir thread starter macrumors 6502

    Calvinatir

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2003
    Location:
    LA
    #10
    Ok, I have tenatively decided to bill 1.75 days at $1000/day. I have 2 weeks to finalize this.. Thanks for the help and discussion.
     

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