WWYD? Seeking business advice

I live in Brooklyn, and service clients here. My break/fix rate is low at $125/hr, but I’m maintaining it for now it because I get more clients this way.

Someone called me from Jersey City (a 50 minute drive). Their network was down and they wanted me to come fix it. I suggested that I preferred to begin working remotely, to see if it was fixable that way. They agreed to that and to my rate.

3.5 hours of diagnostic and troubleshooting later, I gave up and drove in. 4.5 hours of work later, the issues were resolved. It was a rogue router on a terribly designed network. I fixed everything I could and left. They were very happy.

So I had 8 hours of work and 2 of commute (I bill those at half). So the total bill was $1125. Client was surprised and said it was a bit excessive. I don’t think they were expecting a big bill for a single visit.

What would you do? Would you argue your case? Would you negotiate fewer hours to keep the client long term?

I am thinking of taking off 2 hours of remote work since that wasn’t their preference, it was mine. And the remote work was fruitless.

But what would you do?

What’s the value of the customers network being down for 8 hours ? They need to consider the opportunity cost, I’d suggest it’s far cheaper to have you fix their problem then have x number of users less productive.

I completely agree, but is it worth arguing and making the case with a new customer? Or should I relent to make them happy “this one time”?

Nope. In your shoes, I would invoice them as agreed, then I would present a “light” proposal for some additional work, they know you now and are happy about the work done. Never negotiate work already agreed, by all means negotiate future work.

If they don’t want to discuss your proposal, then you collect your money and look for the next customer.

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Since the work was break/fix, it was indefinite and not strictly pre-agreed. They didn’t know how much it would end up costing. But what do you mean by a light proposal?

I’d presume they know your hourly rate but no one knows how long it will take, simply takes the time it takes, right.

Well you’ve seen their network, you’ve said it was a mess, I’m sure you can come up with a few suggestions to make it “better”. You can use it as an opening for some project work.

The point is not to spend too much time on it, but you have a customer that knows you and now is your opportunity to develop the relationship. So suggest some work based on what you have seen to help them keep their future break / fix bills lower.

You have nothing to lose.

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