How much to charge??

Apr 5, 2019
3
0
10
Hey everybody! I've been lurking the forums for a while, but this is my first post. I do computer repair on the side. I had a business call me yesterday and tell me they had a computer that wouldn't boot. Replaced the hard drive and took it back to them this morning before going to work. Long story short, while me and the owner were talking, he told me they have about 15 computers that they need upgraded from Windows 7/8 Pro to Windows 10 Pro. Seeing as I would have to buy 15 or so copies of Windows 10 Pro at $120 a pop and the amount of labor involved backing up and restoring files, what would be a fair price to charge for this type of work?

Thanks,
Justin
 
I was told once to charge what you are worth.

https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-much-does-computer-repair-cost.htm

Thats a decent article. However since you are doing it in bulk you might be able to calculate the estimated time per and maybe give a discounted rate but I would start with an estimate of the hours and base it on an hourly rate you would charge.

For example when I used to do work on the side I would charge $75/hour. Granted this was quite a while back so times and costs have changed.
 
Reactions: Mandark
Yeah, $75-$150/hr sounds like the right ballpark. The business owner might balk at this (if they haven't shopped for tech help before). Typically a full-time employee will work about 2000 hours in a year (40 hrs/week * 50 weeks/yr). So $75/hr would seem to work out to $150k/yr.

However, as a contractor, you don't typically get 8 billable hours of work per day. Frequently you get a lot less than that. You'll also have all sorts of other expenses like equipment and transport that an employee normally doesn't pay for. And since you're self-employed, you get to pay self employment taxes (employer's share of Social Security and Medicare). That's an additional 6.2% of your gross pay for labor that people working as employees don't have to deal with. (i.e. If you're working as an employee and a company offers to pay you 5% more if you switch to being a contractor, you're actually losing money.)

Speaking of which, keep receipts for everything. COGS (cost of goods sold) like hardware purchases and Windows licenses are not a part of your taxable income. You will need to keep receipts (both for you purchasing them, and for your customer purchasing them from you) to validate to the IRS that these are COGS. And a lot of your expenses like car use, tools you buy to help diagnose and fix stuff, etc. are tax deductible as business expenses. So you will want to track them too. (Car expenses can be deducted as a share of actual expenses proportional to business use, or at a standard IRS deduction rate per mile. Unless you've got a new/expensive car, the mileage rate is pretty fair. Just keep a small notebook in your car where you write down the date, client, and start and end mileage for every job you do for a client.)

To help keep these receipts and invoices organized, you'll want at least a file folder of some sort. If you do this a lot, you'll want a file cabinet (hanging folders are great). Beware that IRS rules require businesses generate a 1099 for any contractor they pay more than $600 to in a year. Sounds like you're going to go over that for this one job, so you definitely want to generate invoices and keep paperwork as proof of how much of that payment was for COGS, how much for labor.

You may think you're just doing a simple computer repair/maintenance job. But you're actually taking your first step into all the headaches that come with running your own business. I encourage everyone to try it at least once, since if you've got a knack for it, then running your own business is a lot more fulfilling and rewarding than being an employee. But if you find you hate it, then you can be an employee the rest of your life content that it's the better role for you.

The go-to software for people starting off as a small business is Quickbooks (the expensive one, not Quicken). It's very easy and intuitive to use, generates invoices for you, and hides much of the obscurity of accounting from you. It's probably the best solution out there for someone with no accounting background. I can't give it my recommendation though because they make it extremely difficult/impossible to export your data. So once you move up to where you're having to hire employees, you're basically stuck with them and paying for their payroll services. Switching to a different accounting program involves hand-copying everything over like all your client info. Not much you can do about it if you're just starting out, just beware that that specter is looming in the future if you ever turn this into a multi-employee business. Also, versions in the last 10 years or so have become rather bloated.
 
Apr 5, 2019
3
0
10
Yeah, $75-$150/hr sounds like the right ballpark. The business owner might balk at this (if they haven't shopped for tech help before). Typically a full-time employee will work about 2000 hours in a year (40 hrs/week * 50 weeks/yr). So $75/hr would seem to work out to $150k/yr.

However, as a contractor, you don't typically get 8 billable hours of work per day. Frequently you get a lot less than that. You'll also have all sorts of other expenses like equipment and transport that an employee normally doesn't pay for. And since you're self-employed, you get to pay self employment taxes (employer's share of Social Security and Medicare). That's an additional 6.2% of your gross pay for labor that people working as employees don't have to deal with. (i.e. If you're working as an employee and a company offers to pay you 5% more if you switch to being a contractor, you're actually losing money.)

Speaking of which, keep receipts for everything. COGS (cost of goods sold) like hardware purchases and Windows licenses are not a part of your taxable income. You will need to keep receipts (both for you purchasing them, and for your customer purchasing them from you) to validate to the IRS that these are COGS. And a lot of your expenses like car use, tools you buy to help diagnose and fix stuff, etc. are tax deductible as business expenses. So you will want to track them too. (Car expenses can be deducted as a share of actual expenses proportional to business use, or at a standard IRS deduction rate per mile. Unless you've got a new/expensive car, the mileage rate is pretty fair. Just keep a small notebook in your car where you write down the date, client, and start and end mileage for every job you do for a client.)

To help keep these receipts and invoices organized, you'll want at least a file folder of some sort. If you do this a lot, you'll want a file cabinet (hanging folders are great). Beware that IRS rules require businesses generate a 1099 for any contractor they pay more than $600 to in a year. Sounds like you're going to go over that for this one job, so you definitely want to generate invoices and keep paperwork as proof of how much of that payment was for COGS, how much for labor.

You may think you're just doing a simple computer repair/maintenance job. But you're actually taking your first step into all the headaches that come with running your own business. I encourage everyone to try it at least once, since if you've got a knack for it, then running your own business is a lot more fulfilling and rewarding than being an employee. But if you find you hate it, then you can be an employee the rest of your life content that it's the better role for you.

The go-to software for people starting off as a small business is Quickbooks (the expensive one, not Quicken). It's very easy and intuitive to use, generates invoices for you, and hides much of the obscurity of accounting from you. It's probably the best solution out there for someone with no accounting background. I can't give it my recommendation though because they make it extremely difficult/impossible to export your data. So once you move up to where you're having to hire employees, you're basically stuck with them and paying for their payroll services. Switching to a different accounting program involves hand-copying everything over like all your client info. Not much you can do about it if you're just starting out, just beware that that specter is looming in the future if you ever turn this into a multi-employee business. Also, versions in the last 10 years or so have become rather bloated.
Thanks guys for the info! It is greatly appreciated!
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
First, you should know that an Upgrade from an existing Win 7 or 8 to Win 10 should upgrade for free.. $0.
Yes, the official free upgrade period ran out long, long ago.

But as of Dec 2018 (4 months ago), I can state from personal experience that it still works.

Adjust your service cost for this particular function accordingly.
 

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