Barnett Marketing Communications Rate Sheet - Updated October 18, 2004
I referenced this in a blog on ten tips for the newly self-unemployed, so I thought I ought to post it for those who'd like to see what I was talking about. In addition, because this is a fairly innovative rate schedule (with a sliding scale, and an up-front payment policy), it might prove helpful to others in PR and Marketing. So if you'd like to see how a consulting operation in business for 20 years has evolved it's rate structure, take a look.
Thanks for asking for my pricing structure and billing options. My rate structure is based on a sliding scale – the more work I do for you, the lower my hourly fee. I generally work on a month-to-month retainer basis, though I also take on project work.
Because my rates are dramatically lower (for a professional with 30-plus years of experience and my level of credentials) than those offered by major agencies, I ask my clients to pay me up front (each month, for retainers, or at the start of the project, for project work). This keeps my operating costs down and my fees low – a win-win situation for both of us.
Here is how I usually work:
1. Clients – those who agree to a monthly retainer fee – receive a much lower rate, a rate based on the hours retained. A retainer allows clients up to a given number of worked hours per month in exchange for a flat hourly rate. For instance, a retainer of $1,500 per month would purchase up to 10 hours per month at my base retainer rate of $150/hour.
2. This retainer fee is paid at the beginning of each month, before work for the month begins. Client-approved hours worked that are above the hours retained each month are billed at the lower retainer rate – this bill goes out at the end of the month, and is due to be paid by the 15th of the next month.
420 N. Nellis Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89110
Phone 702-696-1200 – FAX 702-696-1211
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Retainer rates (per hour) are based on the size of the monthly retainer budget:
a. Monthly Retainer Budget – $1,000 - $2,499 – hourly rate: $150/hour
b. Monthly Retainer Budget – $2,500 - $4,999 – hourly rate: $137.50/hour
c. Monthly Retainer Budget – $5,000 - $7,499 – hourly rate: $125/hour
d. Monthly Retainer Budget – $7,500 - $9,999 – hourly rate: $112.50/hour
e. Monthly Retainer Budget – $10,000+ – hourly rate: $100/hour
Because these quoted retainer rates are sharply discounted off of Barnett Marketing Communications’ standard base rates for stand-alone projects, each retainer payment must be made by the client at the beginning of each month (or at the beginning of each billing period). Bills for extra hours – and for expenses, if applicable – must be honored in a timely basis (i.e., paid by the 15th of the following month). Retainer agreements may be canceled by either party on 60 days’ written notice.
3. I prefer to work on a retainer basis, and as a result, my retainer rates are much lower than my project rates. However, clients occasionally need a one-time project completed, often on a “rush” basis, and in those cases, I offer them my standard project fee. My base rate for project work is $200 per hour. This rate is reserved primarily for one-time clients, and for unscheduled rush projects. Clients who prefer a project basis can work in one of two ways:
a. A fixed-fee project, with one-half due at the outset and one-half due 30 days from the start of the project (or mid-way through the project, whichever is sooner)
b. A fixed-fee project, for up to a pre-determined number of project hours; hours above that to be billed in 30-day increments (in advance) at an hourly rate to be set at the time the project is contracted. Project fee to be paid one-half at the start, and one half 30 days from the start of the project (or mid-way through the project, whichever is sooner).
Obviously, because of the risk involved in fixed-price projects (i.e., the chance for in-process changes adding to the time that must be committed to the project), rates for fixed-price projects tend to be higher; but they are fixed, and some clients prefer that option.
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4. Expenses are often far less of a factor than in prior days, thanks largely to the low cost/no cost communications made possible by the Internet. However, if expenses are necessary (and this is will be agreed upon in advance at the time we strike an agreement) – they will be estimated at 10% of the monthly retainer or project fee. Expenses will be billed out at actual cost at the end of each month, due by the 15th of the following month. For clients/projects that involve anticipated expenses, those expenses which are at or below 10% (for long distance phone, Fed-X, etc.) are not itemized nor do they require prior client approval; expenses above 10% are itemized, approved in advance and receipts are available for review.
Some other particulars you’ll want to note – taken from our standard client agreement:
a. If expenses are deemed appropriate for the client/project, as indicated in the agreement – Barnett Marketing Communications will be entitled to bill all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for items such as postage, delivery and travel, separately, each month (due and payable within 10 days of invoicing). Unless an expense escrow account is set up to cover these costs, hard-cost invoices will be marked up at the industry-standard rate of 17.65%. This reflects a 15% increase over the actual costs (the mark-up covers our accounting and carrying costs). All mark-ups will be set aside if there is an expense escrow account, or if the client direct-pays expenses.
b. Whenever possible, we arrange for our client to be direct-billed for travel, or by hard-cost vendors, saving clients the mark-up cost and focusing more of their budget – of your budget – on productive deliverable services, rather than overhead.
c. Collateral material, press materials, audio-visual production, and advertising production requested by the Client will be billed at the industry-standard markup of 17.65%, which reflects a 15% increase over the actual hard-costs of these deliverables – unless these are direct-paid by the client or are covered by an expense escrow account. Note: Such costs are increasingly less likely to be incurred, due to the cost savings made possible by the Internet.
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d. Unless the client direct-pays these expenses (the preferred situation for both parties), Barnett Marketing Communications will receive 50% of all bid third-party costs in advance of the start of projects involving third-party vendors. This advance policy applies primarily to collateral and production expenses – and will receive the final 50% ten days before the estimated delivery date of the deliverables.
e. For advertising placement, the industry-standard commission of 15 percent is billed (client pays gross charges, agency pays the media at the net rate); all advertising is pre-paid in full by the client, which enables us to negotiate the lowest possible ad placement fees on behalf of the client.
For your convenience, payment may be made by direct deposit into my checking account. Account information will be provided to facilitate such direct deposits. We also accept payment by wire transfer, or by personal or business check, with payment made out to Ned Barnett or to Barnett Marketing Communications; however, we require that such checks clear before we can begin work. PayPal may also be used, but requires a 5% service fee (to cover PayPal’s charges to me).
International clients (clients based outside the US or making payment from non-US banks) must make payment by wire transfer or PayPal, in U.S. dollars. International checks will not be accepted as payment for services.
I am also open to other working arrangements; however, these approaches have served me and my clients well for nearly 20 years. They are fair to all parties, they promote trust, and they ensure that the work gets done on time and in a fully professional manner.
I hope this answers your questions. If you have further questions, please let me know.
All the best
Ned Barnett, APR
Barnett Marketing Communications