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Billing question

Last response: in Business Computing
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June 22, 2012 7:10:47 PM

For those who does this on a regular basis, how can I bill my customer for taking care of "unnoticed" problems like for example watching for the server automated online backup go with no problems and if one day something goes wrong take the time to check what the problem is, speak with backup company's support and so for until the issue is fixed?
The customer will not know all this have been done until I show him a bill. Can any fellow help me to calculate how much on the most suited basis?
After I upgraded the company's network from a workgroup one to a domain based one, I became a 'de facto' server administrator but my work has always been done on a per case basis, kind of break-fix, on demand job. Now it's a different dynamic on several aspects, like improving security, refining policies, thinking better group policy, etc. etc. and I'd like to get some advice from people with experience on this. Some thinks that can even get done from my home computer and some others have to be done onsite.
Thank you in advance!

More about : billing question

June 27, 2012 2:54:41 AM

Speaking as a former admin now turned customer:

You could get into a situation very quickly where you find yourself needing to justify every little thing. You may lose the customer's trust. You also will find yourself arguing with customers who do.not.get things like "Why did you have to do the security patch? Was there a problem?"

*I* will not be happy if every month I was getting a bill with 5 or 6 items of varying charges. I'd get :heink:  really quick. But at the same time people WILL take advantage of you.

I strongly suggest coming up with a flat monthly fee that covers X, Y and Z. Then say "additional services billed at $XX/hr, I'll notify you of recommended actions" and then let the customer live and die by how cheap they choose to be.

Oh yes, and I'd strongly suggest you get a little legal help drafting this up to make sure you are properly CYA.
June 27, 2012 4:32:37 PM

I share your pain, I do PC work on the side and i'm responsible for Databackup for 2 small business.

Here is how it's handled with me.

Business 1 - They pay me to manually backup the data once per week. I get $15 to back it up during the week, or if they are busy and ask me to back it up on the weekend $25. I have a sheet there that I sign/date when I come to backup so they know when I was there to back it up and we all know how much my bill is going to be.

Business 2 - They wanted it to be automated, but the girl that works there keeps finding new ways to sabotage my automated backup lol. My Solution here was to build a Batch file that would check the external drive they use everyday when they boot up to make sure that a backup was done. If not they get a warning on the screen to call me. So since it's the BUSINESS calling ME I don't have to explain when/why I was there.


The batch file worked wonders and they know I bill them to come out and do a manual backup/emergency work.


If neither one of these works Wombat_tg has a very good suggestion.
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June 27, 2012 7:02:23 PM

Bill them a flat monthly rate, or have them buy support hours.

For example, for $200 they could buy X amount of hours of your support. It might take a month to use it up, a week, or 3 months. I'd try to go this route.

Now, you wouldn't want to spend all your time fixing small issues, eating up their hours they paid for. I would also have an invoice with the things you fixed, how much time you spent on each item, and how it was billed or paid for.
June 28, 2012 2:57:16 PM

You know the easiest answer is sometimes the best one.

Go sit down and talk to them. Tell them that you find little issues, and bring notes/dates to support your claims. Ask them how they were prefer to pursue these issues.
August 14, 2012 5:37:26 PM

wombat_tg said:
Speaking as a former admin now turned customer:

You could get into a situation very quickly where you find yourself needing to justify every little thing. You may lose the customer's trust. You also will find yourself arguing with customers who do.not.get things like "Why did you have to do the security patch? Was there a problem?"

*I* will not be happy if every month I was getting a bill with 5 or 6 items of varying charges. I'd get :heink:  really quick. But at the same time people WILL take advantage of you.

I strongly suggest coming up with a flat monthly fee that covers X, Y and Z. Then say "additional services billed at $XX/hr, I'll notify you of recommended actions" and then let the customer live and die by how cheap they choose to be.

Oh yes, and I'd strongly suggest you get a little legal help drafting this up to make sure you are properly CYA.


Thank you all who took the time to give me advice. I found all your suggestions very helpful and now I feel more comfortable when dealing on this matters with my client.

Now, wombat_tg, what does CYA stand for? lol

Thank you all again!
August 16, 2012 7:51:03 PM

CYA is legal documentation showing that you are not liable for damages/ect.. It is very handy to have in case of a legal dispute between you and a customer.
August 16, 2012 8:03:23 PM

Ehhem, regardless of what it entails, I am fairly sure CYA = COVER YOUR A*S!! Lol
!