Minimum Fees and Why You Should Have One

Minimum fees are a necessary component of any profitable business. Let's explore what minimum fees are and why I believe you should always rely on them.

Put simply, minimum fees are the lowest price you’ll accept for a client to engage your services. If you charge by the hour I recommend that your minimum fee be equivalent to one day’s billings. If you charge per project, you could use this scenario too, using an internal hourly rate if you have one. Otherwise, you could set a minimum price based on the smallest typical project you accept. Don’t feel comfortable charging for a full day’s worth of work? Do a half day. But absolutely no less. The point here is to make your minimum fee a form of profit. Do not short change yourself. Otherwise, what’s the point of having one?

Here’s a scenario. Let’s say you’ve done your due diligence, looked at your financial reports and calculated your minimum fee. It amounts to $800, equal to one day’s billings. So, Mr. Great Client calls and needs a quote for a quick update to their website. $800. What about an image swap on that e-newsletter? $800. Uh, okay. How about making the logo bigger? $800.

That was easy.

Why have a minimum fee?

  1. It stops you from undercharging.
  2. It stops the client from asking for (and receiving) unprofitable service from you.
  3. It forces the client to determine if their “it’ll just take 15 minutes” project is worth it.
  4. You are seen as a busy, confident, valuable professional.
  5. Related to #3, it eliminates small projects that suck up time and energy.

I’m amazed at how the smallest projects can be the most painful and least profitable. With a minimum fee you can turn those nightmares into worthwhile endeavors that help the bottom line. We all get small, micro projects from time to time. It’s part of being a service-based business. But, there’s no reason why these small jobs can’t be valuable to your business. Use a minimum fee as a way to bring real value to your expertise and your precious time.

"I've worked with Eric on a variety of projects over the years, for several different ventures. Whether designing a website for a commercial client, organizing an education event for creative professionals, or pioneering new frontiers in SEO for the medical industry, Eric is always professional, forward-thinking, and an absolute pleasure to work with. I trust his recommendations about website best practices completely, and his design aesthetic is both innovative and universally appealing. Simply put, he's one of the best in the business."
Jeff Kent, Partner, Campfire Digital

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