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Billing Questions: Minimum Billing Increments

What is reasonable for very small jobs?

     
5:54 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I do web design and after the main project is done sometimes clients have maintenance requests, which I charge by the hour for. I bill monthly on these account.

Usually I end up with $30-100 to charge them for. But
I sometimes end up with a client who has acumulated only $5 or $10 worth of charges. This is annoying for me to bill and I imagine is annoying for them to pay. This is especially true for non-profit clients that get my discounted rate and are on a budget so they don't request many changes.

I have been billing in 6 minute increments. Is that too low? I've recently decided to keep a running total and bill them only when it exceeds $30, but that is annoying as well.

What do other people do?

8:48 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have been billing in 6 minute increments. Is that too low?

Can I ask what made you chose 6 minute increments?

Personally I bill in 15 minutes. I felt that was reasonable - if I'm a few over I'll leave it and a few under generally it's rounded up. All works out in the end and my clients are happy.

11:37 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I guess I just chose 6 minutes. 1/10th of an hour. What do other people use?
11:56 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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15 min increments.

generally only bill when its worth my while making out an invoice, and theirs to get the checkbook out. (normally over 50)

7:22 pm on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I bill by the half hour. I typically wouldn't bill for small tasks that take 1-10 minutes anyway.

It goes a long ways in customer satisfaction when your clients know they can get a small change done quickly, and usually at no cost. I'd rather make a client happy and improve their business for free, than to waste time invoicing and look petty.

If you go this route, just make sure you don't let clients take advantage of it. But any GOOD client will appreciate and not take advantage. Those that do try to take advantage of it, maybe you don't want them as a client anyway?!

If questioned about payment for it, simply state you are just rolling that small piece of work into "project xyz" that has already been billed. You aren't telling them you'll do free work for them as long as it is small, but they get the satisfaction of not having to pay for it.

Giving an existing client 2 minutes of my time is a great investment in encouraging them to come back to me with much bigger tasks/projects.

8:33 pm on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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ditto what bmcg said.
1:58 am on Aug 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Generally if it is something minimal and only takes 10 minutes or so I'll do it gratis...

However, make sure you indicate this on their next invoice. Since I host most of my clients I'll just add a line on their next invoice that indicates the date the task was done, brief description and that $0 was charged.

If they see that 3 out of 4 times you've done something for free they are less likely to make a fuss about your prices when you charge them for their next big project.

2:26 am on Aug 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

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ditto bcmcgee and webwoman.
6:18 am on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'd move away from monthly billing, and bill quarterly for the total. Odds are that over a quarter it's an amount worth billing. If it isn't, then let it go for free.

Quarterly is frequent enough that they won't forget what you've done, but infrequent enough not to be annoying for small amounts.

I'd also bill 10 or 15 min increments to simplify my own admin

8:01 am on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>I'd move away from monthly billing, and bill quarterly for the total. Odds are that over a quarter it's an amount worth billing. If it isn't, then let it go for free.

A lot of CC processors do not like quarterly billing.

I personally prefer to bill month on month. I don't like small amounts either, so I suggest you make sure they aren't!

A call, an email, a response....all worth $100 in my books before we start to talk about the development costs. I never bill for less than $100, which is just about the minimum cost you can ever pay if you want to deal with me!

We are not plumbers....no offence meant to plumbers!

If you are worth your salt, you should be paid that value....and it is rarely going to be less than $100.

10:41 am on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I guess I don't mind doing little 2-minute things or answering emails (I like a bit of research anyway and I always learn something), but I didn't want my client wondering why I haven't billed them.

I have been told recently that my rates are too low - that I'm not charging for overhead. Or rather I'm charging for "the overhead of a poor person". =)

Thanks for your replies people.

11:59 am on Aug 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I include in my quotes a yearly maintenance
and define "maintenance" in contract

the rest such as adding a page is billed upon agreed on estimate

regards

Henry