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Re: charging for trips during service calls?

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David K <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in
news:(E-Mail Removed):

> I've noticed there are some experienced repair techs here, so I
> thought I'd ask...
> I'm heading to a family member's office Tuesday to service an old
> system. It sounds like a video card needs replacing, but I'd like to
> check it out to be more sure.
> I'm planning on charging about $25/hour, since I don't have
> professional experience (comments?). I'm getting my A+ in a couple
> weeks or so.
> What's the best thing to do if I need to leave to make a trip to a
> retail store to pick up replacement hardware? It would be at least a
> 45-minute trip. Just charge extra for the hardware and try to be
> better equipped next time?
> Thanks for any comments.
> David

If you have an idea what it is, take a known good test card (PCI, AGP
assuming the system is new. Older systems (486 and early Pentiums under
133MHz could be ISA industry standard architecture, or VLB vesa local bus).

In deciding on what to charge remember two things:
1. You have to make it worth your time.
2. There comes a point where the customer could buy a new computer cheaper
than paying your labor.

I personally charge a minimum of $45.00 per hour for tech work and $65.00
per hour for network work. If the travel involved is over 30 minutes I
charge an additional $10 to $15. Make sure you keep track of your mileage.

I insist on payment upon completion. I've seen too many people that want
you to bill them up front. If they decide not to pay then your only
recourse becomse small claims court or loose the time and chalk it up to
experience. I get the money when I'm done no matter what.

I also stipulate a minimum 1 hour charge whether I am there 5 minutes or
the full one hour at $45.00.

If I need to replace a part I charge a markup on the part. The markup is
dependent on how expensive that part is. If it is cheap, I may charge up
to 30% markup, plus taxes.

If a part is expensive, I charge a smaller markup. For example, an
expensive video card costing approximately $150.00 I would charge a 20%
markup plus taxes. This means I get $30.00. This will cover my time in
swinging by and picking up the part). If the part is cheap I mark it up a
little higher. A $45.00 video card would cost approximately $60.00. Its
important to remember that you can use price to steer your customer into
buying the piece of equipment that is most beneficial for their use and the
least headache for you to install. The cheap $45.00 video cards are
sometimes the least hassle to deal with. And if your customer is running
an office, they probably don't need an NVida FX or ATI Ball Buster. A
stable, non-flashy card is the best for both you and them.

You could also sell them one of your test cards as used, and take that with
whatever you make and buy yourself a big whaoozie vid card.

As for certifications, if you plan on working for a large company,
corporation or some other business that requires a certification more power
to you. If you want to find out what to charge its always a good idea to
base it on the bench fee of your local repair shops. But you don't need a
certification to work on your own. You do need a knowledge of what your
doing; a person or place to go and get answers to questions you need
answered; a fairness when pricing your work and parts; and most importantly
you need to be personable with your customer. If you talk to someone like
they are an idiot you probably won't get a lot of work. If you take time
and help the customer, treat them with respect and dignity, don't make fun
of or otherwise insult them (thats part of the dignity thing) then you will
probably stay busy.

As for working for family, I usually do that for the experience and to help
out. It gives you that idea about how long something will take you, and
what problems you will encounter during a trouble-shooting session. But
that's a personal choice (heck, its all a personal choice ).

Best wishes, and hope I wasn't too long winded with the reply.

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