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Network Support - How much should I charge?

Posted on 2008-11-02
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I have been operating here in the UK as an independent IT support person for Small networks having left full time employment 5 years ago. I was curious as to how much other  people in a similar situation would charge for their services.
Take for example one of my clients with the following configuration.
Dell Poweredge 2900 Server, SBS 2003 using Exchange with SMTP connector
35 Windows XP Clients
10 HP Laserjet 4000/4250 Printers
ADSL Router, 48 Port Switch, Cat5e Cabling

Responsiblities include:-  replacing all faulty or suspect hardware, i.e. server, printers, PCs including
re-installation of Windows with on average 5 applications per PC (about 1-2 hours for these), AV Software, MS Office, Printer issues, Internet, Broadband, Day to Day queries relating to Spam, Email remote access, Windows issues, crashes, updates checking backups, doing restores when necessary, Liasing with 3rd party software providers and generally advising on computer related matters.

Internally they have very little expertise in dealing with IT problems and generally do not want to know but rather call me with just about any IT problem or query. Needless to say because I am dealing with a busy office when something goes wrong they want you yesterday. It is demanding, high pressure and carries with it a lot of responsibility.

Should I charge a higher amount for a faster response? How much more should I charge for evening/Week-end work. Should I charge hourly or should it be by an annual contract?

Would be interested in hearing from other in the same position here in the UK.
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Question by:Chrissycan
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by:harbor235
harbor235 earned 50 total points
ID: 22861558


Is this a business? If this were on the east coast of the US I wouyld say $125-$150hr.  Rememberr you have salary, benefits, office space,
office supplies, etc    

harbor235 ;}
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Author Comment

by:Chrissycan
ID: 22861602
Yes it has been my business for the past 5 years
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Mysidia earned 450 total points
ID: 22862585
When something costs you more to do,  and it's unpleasant to do, charge more,
or hire someone else to do it.  When something is inexpensive for you,  it is what
you want to be doing most of, and are most expert at, charge about the market price for the activity, or give them a discount for it.

e.g. If I were you i'd want to concentrate on the higher level functions, like server management,  network troubleshooting, etc, things I could do quickly.
I would charge a premium for time-consuming things  that don't require
expertise, like installing printers;  running point-and-click antispyware/av software,
etc.

This way when your clients eventually find competitors who are trying to undercut you, you will convince them to hire the competitor to do the things you don't want you to do,  and hopefully give you the work you want.   (Either that or you hire people with less expertise to handle the tasks that require less expertise in bulk.. so you can be their one-stop shop and still have a fair profit)

For example, an annual contract with a flat rate and unlimited usage may not be a good idea, because then you are "theirs"  to call in at any time,  kind of like an employee. Unless of course, they're your only client,  then it may be the best arrangement.

So if you structure as a contract;  what's included, and what costs extra
should be spelt out and agreed upon very clearly.

Perhaps you will allow X number of  "support issues per day",  and any more
cost extra,  either per issue, depending on type of issue,  or based on amount of
time.

Something very important is broken and you need to be there within an X hour response time should be the most expensive,  i.e.  malware on their computer,
and they can't get any work done until it is addressed.

Pressure is high,  and you can only be fixing one person's terribly broken thing at a time.   Unless you enjoy the pressure, and want to most of the time be
dealing with emergencies, charge more for this.

IMO, weekend/night time is worth at least double the normal price.
There is less competition, for third parties providing inexpensive services
during those hours.   If it is just as inexpensive to call you in on a weekend,
I would forsee that as being abused.


Design and planning  should probably be the least expensive.
The reason I would say that is small businesses pathologically have poor IT planning,
and it causes more issues.


Anyways, it's up to you...  the first step would probably be to do some research into
your market.

Are there any professional services other independent IT support people in your area?
What are they charging?

Search for websites...

Perhaps pay someone in your area to do the research,  have them pose as a company that is investigating hiring an IT support contractor,  and see if you can get some  quotes from your various competitors in the area for the same services  you are planning to offer.

You don't need to choose the competition's  prices as your own, as you may be able to charge more, if you provide a better service,  or you and your client have built up a trust,  and you can work out a better mutual arrangement, but it can be a help,  especially if your hired investigator can get some sample contracts or price lists.

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Author Closing Comment

by:Chrissycan
ID: 31512475
Thanks to both...
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