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Thread: Need to estimate maintenance, even before developing site

  1. #1
    Corporate Nose-Picker
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    Need to estimate maintenance, even before developing site

    Whew, i had a hard time jotting out a subject line that would not include the phrase "how much do i charge for bla bla bla". Well i made it this far!

    Anyways, after quoting a new site for a potential client, she insists on providing a quote for changes. Knowing that these will probably be simple text (perhaps a photo or two) changes, it should be relatively easy. However, the site does not exist (yet), therefore in my view nearly impossible to really know how much time I will spend on changes.

    How do you go about quoting work that you really don't have a clue how much time it will take to do?
    Of course I'm the man for the job! What is the job, by the way?

  2. #2
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    My methodology is simple, yet quite accurate.

    I get a dartboard out, throw a dart and where ever it hits, I multiply the score by 10 and that's their maintenance fee.



    But seriously, I don't know what the going rate is in Florida. It would depend on what the basic rate is, plus the difficulty of the work involved. I could easily generate an acceptable number for site maintenance for a Sao Paulo-based customer (I do it all the time - we ask about how much they think they'll be updating, what they'll be updating, and include a ballpark figure with our proposal), but that's because this is where my experience lies. I know generally what the maintenance entails, and how much of my time it will take and what that amount of time is worth and from this, a figure is born.
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  3. #3
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    Hey hurricane.

    I don't go by a florida rate, i figure out how much of my time. It's just that depending how the site is developed it will vary in labor time. Anywhow, I gave her a number and will stick with it. But...i should have got more details as to what the mods will be.

    As far as quoting clients, i categorize them by americans and brazilians, each one's with different rate.
    Just kidding...

    Just for your curiosity, i'm being approached by a local
    pagode band for a website. I'm thinking of negotiating for them to play at my wife's b-day, in exchange for a simple info site. How bout that? That would wake up the neighbors for sure!
    Of course I'm the man for the job! What is the job, by the way?

  4. #4
    An Inconvenient Serving Size hurricaneone's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aeroflash
    Just for your curiosity, i'm being approached by a local
    pagode band for a website. I'm thinking of negotiating for them to play at my wife's b-day, in exchange for a simple info site. How bout that? That would wake up the neighbors for sure!
    aero, you are a master of how not to win friends.



    How long's your contract for? A year? - after that, you should reserve the right to update the maintenance fee. Plus, from your meetings, perhaps you can get a good idea of what's needed, and anything above and beyond that will get charged per hour.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member dlowe93's Avatar
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    Re: Need to estimate maintenance, even before developing site

    Originally posted by aeroflash
    How do you go about quoting work that you really don't have a clue how much time it will take to do?
    Typically we would factor a rough estimate of the scope of changes (ie. this many image/text changes, that will take approximately this many hours), and then throw in heavy disclaimers saying "this is an estimate only. Actual costs TBD on final approval of project/maintenance scope."

    Basically you are saying, here's what we think it will cost, based on these assumptions, but if the scope of the project changes, these costs will change too.

    The better solution would be to tag a straight hourly rate on to the maintenance and bill accordingly. I find that the biggest challenge is to communicate up front what the costs are, and get the client to sign approval for those costs before you start any work. I've seen too many times where the client is just throwing work at you, and then freaks when you hand them an invoice.

    d.
    dlowe93

  6. #6
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    Or worse, when you modify something, send the invoice and you get "You actually charged for that????"

    I doing websites for charity and do away with the whole charging/invoices/quotes nonsense.
    Of course I'm the man for the job! What is the job, by the way?

  7. #7
    Senior Member dlowe93's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aeroflash
    Or worse, when you modify something, send the invoice and you get "You actually charged for that????"
    What i find is that the client keeps hitting you with one or two little hour and half-hour edits, that you don't mind doing just to get the site up and launched. But then the edits keep coming and coming. When you finally make a stand, they get bent and don't know why you are charging for stuff that was "free" before.

    I hit 'em for every half hour, even if it is another 10-15 minutes to create a job number and an invoice, and mail that off.

    d.
    dlowe93

  8. #8
    Senior Member MG315's Avatar
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    one thing you could do is offer maintenance packages. where they buy a certain amount of hours/month of maintenence each month regardless if it is used, and you do it at a reduced rate - usually 50% - 75% of your hourly rate.

    So if you charge $50/hr usually, you can offer them a maintenance package for 5 hours of work a month for $125/month, and for additional hours, quote according to your average rate. so if they used 6 hours one month, it would be $175. This accomplishes many things. It gets you a recurrent income you can count on (rather than guessing how much work you will do each month), and the client can recognize the deal for buying more. If they got the contract for 10 hours of maintenance each month and used those 10 hours, (assuming your avg hourly rate is $50/hr, you do 50% discount for maintenance packages and they bought a 10 hr package) they would save $250/month...that's $3000/year. Even if they don't use all their hours, they usually save money in the long run.

    You could tell your client you offer 5, 10, 15 and 20 hour maintenance packages, and if more than that is needed it will be quoted individually (they can have as many hours as they want..if they wanted 22 hrs/month they could get it). Tell the client you estimate it would be about # hours a month from what they have told you, and what the best package for that would be. But don't set up a maintenance contract until you are either done or really close to being done with the site. This will help both you and the client because you can give a better estimate and quote the best package.
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