A Simple Guide to Charging Rush Fees

Track time to cut project costs
December 2021
A Simple Guide to Charging Rush Fees

If you’re a graphic designer or consultant in an agency, you have probably faced situations where a client wants “everything at once.” In fact, such situations are common in pretty much every business area and have been experienced by almost every professional.

With all due respect to your potential clients, you simply can’t afford to do all the work in a quick and qualitative way at a low cost. After all, you don’t want to turn away other equally important customers or change your quality standards, right?

However, since you value credibility and customer trust, your services must always be provided in good faith. Nobody needs negative feedback and anti-advertising. That’s why professional agencies usually offer their clients a couple of variants only:

  • Good and cheap
  • Fast and good

A quality job done in the shortest period of time, shouldn’t be cheap.

Say, you have an urgent job request. What’s your plan? Reject or accept the job? If you choose the latter, you want to consider charging a rush fee.

Let’s find out what things you should take into account before charging a rush fee, how exactly you should charge it, how much to charge, and in what way such extra fees can affect your customers.

What Is a Rush Job?

Rush fees are additional fees you (as a business) can charge when your client asks for the job to be done in a shorter time than usual.

So you have an urgent task to handle wondering if you should accept the project or not. This can become a real challenge, considering there’s no universal answer here. Each request and specific case are unique and, therefore, should be addressed individually. For this, you should consider your time, deadlines, as well as the overall reasonableness of the fee.

Before implementing the extra charge, you need to understand the very meaning of “rush job” for your company. Does it refer to finishing your regular projects in a single workday? Maybe it’s any task from a customer that exceeds your current standards and requires more time and effort from your employees to complete? It can also be a request for a project that doesn’t imply enough time for your team to prepare.

Once you determine what the term “rush job” means to your organization, it will be much easier for you to make a fee-imposing decision for such work.

Things to Consider Before Charging Rush Fees

Before you impose an additional charge for any work that requires extra effort and time from your team, we suggest taking a look at a few highlights below.

1.    Your work schedule

Do you have to reschedule your planned projects and development processes or postpone other clients’ projects to get the job done? Will you need some additional software tools, e.g. graphic design software, to complete the project? If so, do you have the time and resources to purchase and learn these tools?

Tip: Remember, no matter how great your sincere desire to help the client is, you are not a magician. So treat your client’s requirements and your time realistically.

Your clients need to understand what they are paying extra for. Once they do, they might think about the real importance of the rush request. Often, customers who send such requests are disorganized and lack discipline in their everyday business activities. By informing your clients about the necessity to pay a rush fee, you will force them to become more organized and submit requests on time.

Say you act as a manager of an LLC. Are you ready to take responsibility for rescheduling your planned projects and development processes or postponing other clients’ projects to get the job done? To avoid failures and keep everyone satisfied, you need to stay aware of your ongoing workloads and don’t take on too much to handle.

One of the best ways to succeed with this task is by using project management software like actiTIME. This multifunctional and user-friendly tool is of tremendous help in progress tracking and allows you to oversee all the planned projects with ease.

Besides, applying actiTIME, you can set custom rates for every individual task and track billable time as accurately as possible. Doing that, actiTIME makes rush job management a breeze. It simplifies invoicing a great deal and enables you to communicate the cost of work to clients more effectively.

2.    Relevant deadline

Each urgent job is unique in its own way and can mean different things to different people. Thus, you want to be sure to ask your clients the right questions to make things clear. A small project can be urgent if your client wants it the next day, and a large project that implies a complex development process might be urgent if it’s due in two weeks or so.

If you think the task is too urgent and unrealistic to meet your standards, consider turning it down. If the client thinks it’s urgent because they need it quickly, and you know you can easily deliver a high-quality product, then agreeing to the project without paying a rush fee will help strengthen your relationship with the client, earn trust, and improve credibility.

If you want to accept the work and help the client, realizing that it would still be inconvenient for your team, charging an appropriate rush fee will show that you value your time and quality standards.

Tip: You don’t have to take on every rush job, even if your potential client is stressed. Stay calm during communication and assess whether the work is feasible, with or without a rush fee.

How Much to Charge?

When it comes to imposing extra charges, a lot depends on your relationship with the client, work to be done, and stress / anxiety during the development process. Your rush fees should be reasonable to make your clients know that your time and quality standards are highly valuable in the company.

You can start by charging 25% over your standard rate. However, some agencies charge up to 100% or even 200% more for a rush job. Obviously, smaller projects imply lower rush fees, and more complex projects indicate more considerable fees.

Tip: If you decide to do a favor to your next client (say, because you want to show your support) by not imposing an extra fee, be sure to let them know about this in the invoice (e.g., “rush fee at no charge”). This will make it easier for your clients to understand that you did a favor to them and motivate them to schedule their work better next time.

Your Rush Fee Policy

To avoid any unexpected events, you should create and post your own Rush Fee Policy on the website. It should also be spelled out in every contract with your clients. Thus, if you ever decide not to introduce a fee for the urgency of some project, your (informed) clients will be extremely grateful to you.

Nobody wants to lose their clients, neither does anyone want to be cheated or simply used. If you decide to impose a rush fee and feel confident in your decision, be open and honest with the client. Don’t hesitate to let the client know in advance about the increased cost of the project and the reason for this decision of yours. You can also offer your clients an alternate schedule for your standard rate.

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This post is contributed to actiTIME by Jean Wilson Murray, a legal expert and a co-founder of Best LLC Services.

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