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service charge

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johnsabbath d'urzoservice charge
by on Sep 23, 2008 at 1:17:48 am

i work with a client and he always says that he has a job for me to do and always say's that i will get it the next day . days and days go by and still dont get the job in, and he always brings it in really close to the due date. in the mean time he had this thing in his hands for a month and a half. i charge him an hourly rate with editor and gear. i used to charge flat rate the he found out that i'm really fast so he said if i give him a good hourly and he will bring more stuff and he has but this year he has been really slow.
do i charge him a percentage high for a rush job or is this just industry standard that everybody waits till the last second to get things done?

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Arnie SchlisselRe: service charge
by on Sep 23, 2008 at 1:55:36 am

It's up to you to decide, but 50% rush charges are common in many industries, and 100% rush charges are not unheard of.


Post production is not an afterthought!

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johnsabbath d'urzoRe: service charge
by on Sep 23, 2008 at 2:25:47 am

how much time before the due date is considered a rush charge?

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Bruce BennettRe: service charge
by on Sep 23, 2008 at 4:11:38 pm

Hi John,

When I used to work for a full-service production company and we had 100+ clients that kept the whole staff of eight people busy, we used to charge rush charges (between 20%-100% depending on when they needed final delivery). It worked because we were always able to justify “disturbing” the workflow and having to move other clients around in order to accommodate the rush.

Now that I run a one-man shop, I do not implement rush charges unless my subcontractors charge me. My clients know they can come to me no matter what the circumstance and that I can almost always deliver exactly what they want no matter what the timeline. It is one of the reasons why they keep coming back to me.

Other than some of my duplication/replication vendors, my subcontractors/vendors have rarely charged me a rush charge. On that rare occasion that it does come up, I open QuickBooks and look up how many thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars I’ve spent with them. Then I ask the question, “Are you really going to charge me a rush charge?”

Bottom line… the big picture is about the “overall big money” and keeping clients from going elsewhere. I think rush charges can have a negative, non-retractable effect on your relationships, can cost you big money and perhaps the loss of good paying clients. In this biz, we are only as good as our last project and we are all replaceable now matter how good we think we are.

Good luck,

Bruce Bennett
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC

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Mark SuszkoRe: service charge
by on Sep 23, 2008 at 7:40:49 pm

Rush charges are fair if you have to work overtime to make the deadline, over weekends and holidays and the like, or if you have to over-extend yourself with a subcontractor or vendor, being on the hook for costs the client should have already handled, and settle accounts after the dust dies down. Never a good place to be, even with long trusted clients.

For me the question is along the lines of: does taking on the job under the special circumstances force me into a special hardship or does it prevent me from other work that could be bringing in money? Did I have to bump another client and was that a huge deal to do? Did I have to miss my kid's school play debut AGAIN for this guy? Put off the long overdue dinner out with the wife? Time to charge a little more for the added annoyance and opportunity cost.

The huge mistake is to ever bill flat fixed price, IMO. You are always going to be way over or way under what you predicted for the time you put in a fixed fee job, especially with clients like this that hold needed elements until the last minute or are otherwise unprepared or unorganized. I would bill hourly for everything as much as possible. That way, you reward them for having their act together because it makes the work go faster and thus cost less each time they improve.

If you work so fast that you think you're losing money billing by the hour, I think you probably need to re-evaluate your rates. You must be pretty darn good, and good is worth paying more for.

Alternately, slow down after the first version is done and re-evaluate the work, maybe take a breath and play around with alternate versions or added graphics or sound tweaking, etc. because maybe in all the rush you missed an opportunity to add some art, taking it to another level.

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Steve WargoRe: service charge
by on Sep 24, 2008 at 7:01:54 am

We charge a rush if the client knew it was due and procrastinated it, and we were more than just inconvenienced. For example, it always amazes me that people hand me something at end of day Friday, because they "forgot" but they need it for the big meeting on Monday morning. In their mind, that's three days from now, but in my mind, it's the next morning. (My employees do this, by the way).

I charge time and a half for Saturdays and double time for Sundays.

It's also odd how clients think we should charge the same rate on Sunday morning as we charge for Wednesday afternoon.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1 HD .

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johnsabbath d'urzoRe: service charge
by on Sep 24, 2008 at 1:11:22 pm

" I would bill hourly for everything as much as possible. That way, you reward them for having their act together because it makes the work go faster and thus cost less each time they improve. "

yes i would agree to this, but the client brings everything at the day before it's due . then it is a stop and go i do the edit and have to wait to hear back and sometimes it goes late into the evening. i think part of the reason that he brings it to me at the last second is that his client takes long on his end to approve the creative. another reason is that i only have so much time to work on this job. i do charge him by the hour and if he only gives me so many hours that's the rate of the job. but at times i feel the job is worth a lot more they are tv commercials for decent clients of his not big budget but not that low. i now ask him for c.o.d and i think if i charge a rush and the c.o.d it will bring up an argument, what do you think?

he still has to pay me a lot of money from last year that he has never got from his client. i'm still waiting for that, he say's he will make me an offer once the client offers him. so now it's c.o.d till everything gets resolved. any suggestions for me?

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Bryce LeverichRe: service charge
by on Sep 24, 2008 at 6:33:10 pm

I have a client that ALWAYS gets me the raw tape and elements "A week after the final is due". So I find myself always being asked to "rush" the job. Most of the time they are understanding that the rush was due to them not producing the raw in a timely fashion, so implementing a rush charge is never argued. As far as how much I charge, I usually charge 50% more if it is a rush. So if I normally charge $800 for an edit, I charge $1200 for the same project on a rushed basis.

The same client also gave me a rush job last year, that was going to require me to work on Thanksgiving. This was charged at double. I explained to the client that not only was the project rushed, but it was requiring me to work on a Holiday. They had no problems at all with paying me double my normal editing flat fee for this particular project.

I think that most clients have been asked to complete a rush job themselves, and most people understand that working long hours, no sleep, putting aside personal events and dedicating your days and nights to them in order to get something done is Over and Above what you normally charge for. I have never run into a client that said, "Sorry, I can't pay more for a rush". If they did not want to pay more, then they simply told me to take my time, and they would bite the consequences for not having the product in on time. Although with that situation, I always have it in an email, in case the client tells their producers/boss that it was my fault I can defend myself with the email if needed.

Good luck!

~Bryce Leverich
Owner, Meijin Media LLC

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Jay CurtisRe: service charge
by on Sep 24, 2008 at 8:55:16 pm

I worked for a place once that had one of those clients. He would talk about a project he had on the way, "should have it for you tomorrow." Tomorrow came, then the next, then another. Then he shows up and needs it the next day.

He was an agency -- they get paid more (commission) the more times a spot runs this month. The smaller the window between a client saying "go" for a new spot and the spot hitting the air, the more they bill this month.

It was amazing to see how quickly the urgency died out when we mentioned we'd be happy to get the project done on his timeline, but it would mean working in the evening (at time and a half)!

Jay Curtis

Blue Vase Productions

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grinner hesterRe: service charge
by on Sep 29, 2008 at 1:41:21 pm

Everything I do is as fast as it can be done. I don't have a different rate for doing my best.
Don't let his lack of planning create stress for you though. If you have a soccer game to go to at 6pm, man go to it. If that burns him, he'll prolly have his ducks in a row earlier next time.
Now, you can apply penalties if you note em before hand. This way, if you go more than 10 hours straight or work on a weekend, you are indeed compinsated for a marathon session.
I've seen this weeds clients more than it increases income.

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