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Thread: Opinions Welcomed - Charging for Travel vs Remote Support

  1. #1
    Platinum Member Neville Bailey's Avatar
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    Opinions Welcomed - Charging for Travel vs Remote Support

    As many of you know, I offer a lot of my Pastel support via remote desktop (using TeamViewer), which has allowed me to extend my client base across the entire country and beyond.

    Apart from the benefit of not being geographically bound to a particular market, remote support has other benefits for both me and my clients, including the saving of travel costs and more immediate support.

    However, I still have a sizeable client base in the greater Durban/Pietermaritzburg area which I support in the traditional manner, i.e. I drive to their premises and provide support onsite. Even many of these clients have accepted remote support and they can see the benefits, but there are some clients that prefer me to visit them personally.

    Up until now, I have not charged for travelling when visiting these clients (although clients in outlying areas of KZN get charged a rate per km).

    In the light of recent petrol price increases, I am reviewing my approach and considering offering a carrot and stick to these clients.

    This is what I am thinking of: I will henceforth be charging a rate per km from my office to any client to which I need to travel, no matter where they are located. If a trip involves visiting more than one client, I will spread the cost of the travel across those clients. The only way in which I can eliminate those charges is to offer them remote support.

    Any thoughts, suggestions or criticisms on this approach?
    Neville Bailey - Pastel Accounting Consultant and Photographer
    neville@accountingsoftwaresupport.co.za
    www.accountingsoftwaresupport.co.za
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    *** 20% DISCOUNT ON PASTEL XPRESS / PARTNER SOFTWARE UNTIL 15 DECEMBER 2017 ***

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    Hi Neville,

    I would not spread the cost of the trip over a number of clients you visit, but charge each client as if you visited them only. The day that you only visit the one client and charge him for the full trip cost, will cause the client to feel that they have been over charged.

    Depending on what arrangement you have with your clients, especially if it is a monthly retainer, I would suggest a trip at least once a month and be there personally. This just gives a little bit of extra confidence to the client.
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    Platinum Member Mike C's Avatar
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    Hi Neville - I would think that a travelling charge per km would be normal. How do you normally charge your time? By the hour or part thereof, and would the travelling there and back form part of that hour?

  4. #4
    Platinum Member Neville Bailey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
    How do you normally charge your time? By the hour or part thereof, and would the travelling there and back form part of that hour?
    Mike, I charge an hourly rate for the time that I am actually consulting (not for any travelling time).
    Neville Bailey - Pastel Accounting Consultant and Photographer
    neville@accountingsoftwaresupport.co.za
    www.accountingsoftwaresupport.co.za
    View Neville Bailey Photography

    *** 20% DISCOUNT ON PASTEL XPRESS / PARTNER SOFTWARE UNTIL 15 DECEMBER 2017 ***

    "Give every person more in use value than you take from them in cash value."
    WALLACE WATTLES (1860-1911)

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    Platinum Member Mike C's Avatar
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    Then I would think that it is very acceptable (if not expected) that you charge a travelling fee.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neville Bailey View Post
    If a trip involves visiting more than one client, I will spread the cost of the travel across those clients.
    I'm with Justloadit on this one. Billing at different rates for the same item to the same client is a recipe for disaster.

    Quality is a critical ingredient for client retention. One of the more unexpected things I've learned over the years is to properly understand the definition of quality.

    The definition of quality is "consistently meeting standards", and in reference to the above I draw your attention to the word "consistently" in particular.
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  7. #7
    Platinum Member Mike C's Avatar
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    And I agree with both Dave and JustLoadit. Although it is ethically more correct to spread the cost over more than one client, it will get confusing when that client is the only person for that day and they are charged a lot more than they were the previous time.

    Another option is to start with a nominal travelling fee that covers a part of the petrol and car depreciation, and see how it goes. What you lose on the roundabout you may gain on the swings ...

  8. #8
    Platinum Member Neville Bailey's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the feedback - it has made me a lot more comfortable with the idea of charging for travel. Also, I appreciate the opinion that I should not spread travel costs to multiple clients if they share the same trip.

    Yesterday I sent out my newsletter to my client base, and here is an extract of what I said:

    The Bad News
    Until now, I have charged a rate of R3.50 per km (excl VAT) for visits to clients that are situated outside the greater Durban / Pietermaritzburg area. Visits to clients within this area have not been charged any travel charge.

    Unfortunately, due to the ever-increasing price of fuel, I have been compelled to review my approach regarding travel charges.

    Effective 1 May 2012, I will be charging R3.50 per km (excl VAT) for each return visit to all my clients, from my Westville office, irrespective of the location of the client.

    The Good News
    You can avoid the travel charge by allowing me to support you remotely via TeamViewer, if you are not already doing so. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much can be achieved with remote support. If you not yet have TeamViewer installed on your computer, you can download it to your desktop, free of charge, by clicking on this link.

    I trust that you will understand my situation and that I will continue to receive your loyalty and support.
    Neville Bailey - Pastel Accounting Consultant and Photographer
    neville@accountingsoftwaresupport.co.za
    www.accountingsoftwaresupport.co.za
    View Neville Bailey Photography

    *** 20% DISCOUNT ON PASTEL XPRESS / PARTNER SOFTWARE UNTIL 15 DECEMBER 2017 ***

    "Give every person more in use value than you take from them in cash value."
    WALLACE WATTLES (1860-1911)

  9. #9
    Platinum Member Mike C's Avatar
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    Very nice letter!

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    Diamond Member Vanash Naick's Avatar
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    I agree with Justloadit. In fairness you have to cover your costs, I'm confident that any client will appreciate that fact..
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