I don’t charge at the time, but I add my trip charge fee at time of service.


This is essentially an estimate/quote. Some people charge outright for those, others work it into their final bill. The former run the risk of wasting time on jobs that get finished by someone else (or not at all); the latter run the risk of losing clients because nobody wants to pay for an estimate if they can help it. If you're flush with work, charge for estimates; if you need more clients, work it in later.


Add the gas you buy and time driving around looking at estimates in a year to your billable hours.


Thanks for the insight. I suppose that’s a way to do it. Just don’t like diagnosing and then owner wants to shop for material and ends up not booking.


I establish with clients right from the beginning that any time I set foot on your property you will be charged a minimum service/call fee of $75. This way I have set an expectation and it gives me the freedom to charge less. They're happy because they're getting a discount and I'm happy because I'm making a few bucks. Now, to be totally honest I'm not a hardass about it. If I *know* with 100% certainty this client will be calling me to do the job once materials are secured I won't charge them for the trip, unless they're super far away. Then I would probably ask for $20, something to cover my gas at least. If it seems obvious this client just wants free advice or is wishy-washy. I will charge them more, still not the full $75, because in my mind I haven't *done* anything, but it's still my time/gas. I only charge the full $75 if I actually *do* something and im there for more than 30min. Even then for long time, repeat customers I usually charge less, especially if it's something stupid simple like "put this one bulb in that I can reach without a ladder" or "put this one box in my attic" or "dump this bag of salt in my water softener" If im there for less than 5min and it's just 1 of those things I usually only ask for $20 - $40, but if it's multiple small things, I'll up the number accordingly.




With customers like that, i will get a deposit, and just take it off when they do the work. Most aren't going to guve a deposit and not do the work.


I usually have to get parts anyway so i always will add in cost for my time and gas when pricing whatever needs to get done. Especially when I know what's needed because of my experience and knowledge. It all ties in together with your knowledge of the field. Even knowing where parts are in home depot... Im a plumber, and even with a large list of parts, it only takes me a no more than 10 minutes, and thats even if I need something they might not specifically have, but i can lets say.."rig" two other parts to make one. But if i gave the customer the list to get the parts..forget about it, it would take them an hour or more amd have problems finding everything, and they wouldn't know how to come up with things on the fly. So just picking up parts in general is knowledge, and thats what they're paying for imo..even if its just a door.


I generally don't want to work for someone who insists on buying their own supplies; but if I do, I definitely charge for time spent doing the estimate and travel, because I know this customer is going to be a pain in the ass.