Is it justifiable to charge your hourly rate while travelling?

Soldato
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Just thought I'd ask GD's opinion on this.

As per the title, if you are calling out a tradesman, is it justifiable for them to charge their hourly rate while traveling to the job?

I've had this a couple of times now and I queried it on the first one where they charged £455 + vat labour (for 1 days 'work') most of which involved the round trip from Kent to Lincs, charged at £35 / hour while traveling (especially when a lot of these jobs should have been done when the equipment was at their warehouse)

After I made a fuss they changed it to £150 travel and £50 labour, which I then happily paid.

I'm just now sitting looking at another invoice for a service on a vacuum packing machine, with labour of £333.50 + VAT, with 7.15 hours booked at £46 / hour - the majority of that again being 2 trips from Derby to Lincs

Now I'm happy to pay these hourly rates when they are doing their skilled job, but not when traveling, for being stuck in traffic etc :o

Now I know the argument can be it's their time whatever they are doing, but surely you should just charge a reasonable call out/travel charge (pence per mile etc) and if the job is too far away to be worth your time then don't take it.
 
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Soldato
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Absolutely, otherwise it might not justify the tradesman's time overall.

All companies I have worked for include travel time in our cost of structural surveys, etc. If we didn't, say had to travel 2h both ways for an inspection that only lasted an hour, and charged only for an hour, we wouldn't bother doing it as we'd be making a loss.

We'd much rather spend the 3h doing fee-earning work in the office or a closer inspection.
 
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Caporegime
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It depends. I make sure it's agreed beforehand.

However my take on it is that generally, hourly rates include travel to and from the place of work. If they don't like that then they don't have to take the job.

What the contractors I use often do is have a travel/mobilisation fee above a certain distance (normally 50 miles).
 
Man of Honour
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Sounds like a great way to make money - base yourself in Thurso and bill the client £35 an hour for the challenging and skillful work of driving a van for 10 hours :D
 
Soldato
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Absolutely right to pay. You're paying for their time as well as their work. Why aren't you using a closer tradesman?
 
Soldato
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If the travel is unreasonably extended and takes out a significant chunk of their opportunity to solicit other business and carry out more jobs, then sure. An argument could be made that you're paying for their exclusive time, which should be priced at their hourly rate not their base travel expenses, especially if they're a skilled sole trader and you don't choose someone else (that is, you want that particular worker). However, such costs and arrangements should be quoted in advance. Sneaky, sneaky by the backdoor charge will always meet resistance, as something like this isn't common practice just yet, whether it should or shouldn't be is immaterial.
 
Soldato
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I'm employed but we are paid for everything bar the first & last hour of travel as that's deemed as our commute (I suspect that the company still charges for it though).

For trades I'd expect to pay for travel (always a minimum call out fee) but I'd want them to minimise the amount of travel required or look for closer alternatives.
 
Soldato
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It depends. I make sure it's agreed beforehand.

However my take on it is that generally, hourly rates include travel to and from the place of work. If they don't like that then they don't have to take the job.

What the contractors I use often do is have a travel/mobilisation fee above a certain distance (normally 50 miles).

That's pretty much my take on it

Absolutely right to pay. You're paying for their time as well as their work. Why aren't you using a closer tradesman?

Unfortunately it's not me organising the work, else I would check this beforehand or as you say get a closer tradesman if they said they were charging per hour for travel. I'm the accountant who just gets the paperwork and has to pay the bills.

And like I said I'm not expecting them to travel for free, but also I'm not expecting them to charge their 'skilled' labour charge while driving. If it's not worth their time to travel, then don't accept the job.
 
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Caporegime
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It's worth noting I turned down a contracting position because the hourly rates just didn't make the travel worth it. So practicing what I preach and all that.
 
Associate
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If I'm working out of office and a client is paying then it's full rate for travel (plus travel cost)
Were I not spending time traveling I would be doing my job.

Something to bring up with those booking the jobs.

We may change our rates if asked, we have suppliers who charge a flat rate callout fee. Suppose we could do the same within a certain mileage.
 
Caporegime
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If I'm working out of office and a client is paying then it's full rate for travel (plus travel cost)
Were I not spending time traveling I would be doing my job.

Something to bring up with those booking the jobs.

We may change our rates if asked, we have suppliers who charge a flat rate callout fee. Suppose we could do the same within a certain mileage.

Right, but that's because you're being dragged out of your office.

A plumber can't exactly work from home!
 
Man of Honour
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off course its reasonable, you want them to take a pay cut because your not hiring a local person.

why would they turn down the job, you've assumedly got a quote which includes the travel at full rate, its for you to turn them down. not the other way around.
 
Soldato
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off course its reasonable, you want them to take a pay cut because your not hiring a local person.

why would they turn down the job, you've assumedly got a quote which includes the travel at full rate, its for you to turn them down. not the other way around.

Knowing the people in the shop, you would assume wrongly on that one.

Hell, the bill wasn't even opened from the envelope by the time it's reached me (already over 1 month from invoice date....)

Just looking to gauge peoples reaction, which at the min is on the justified side. Well, the first company immediately knocked £250 off their charge when I queried it - so it's worth raising the issue anyway, which I'll do on Monday
 
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Man of Honour
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A plumber at your house adds value by fixing your problem.

A plumber in his van adds no value to you.

It's a business expense. He should factor the average travelling times into his hourly rate using sensible apportionment, just like he factors in his van depreciation, his tools, his insurance..

In effect then he is paid for his travelling - as it's an apportioned cost - but without billing the customer for time spend in Maccy D's drivethru grabbing a McMuffin :D
 
Caporegime
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[TW]Fox;30132432 said:
A plumber at your house adds value by fixing your problem.

A plumber in his van adds no value to you.

It's a business expense. He should factor the average travelling times into his hourly rate using sensible apportionment, just like he factors in his van depreciation, his tools, his insurance..

In effect then he is paid for his travelling - as it's an apportioned cost - but without billing the customer for time spend in Maccy D's drivethru grabbing a McMuffin :D

Precisely. The same way I wouldn't expect a carpenter to bill me if one of his planes wore out whilst working on my job. Or my mechanic snaps a wrench. It's part of the expense of running said business and expected costs should be factored in to hourly rates.
 
Soldato
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[TW]Fox;30132432 said:
It's a business expense. He should factor the average travelling times into his hourly rate using sensible apportionment, just like he factors in his van depreciation, his tools, his insurance..

In effect then he is paid for his travelling - as it's an apportioned cost -

Exactly. And I wouldn't complain if that was limited to a certain radius, with a ppm over the base distance.
 
Soldato
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Only if agreed upfront. Least that's how we do it (albeit consultants, not trade). It's not reasonable to heap that onto the customer without prior notice.
 
Soldato
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Precisely. The same way I wouldn't expect a carpenter to bill me if one of his planes wore out whilst working on my job. Or my mechanic snaps a wrench. It's part of the expense of running said business and expected costs should be factored in to hourly rates.

I suppose from that point of view, it depends what the business is. If it's primarily or exclusively working at a client's premis, then I would agree. But if is only occasional (as in my case), then it might not be factored in.
 
Associate
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Travel time should always be charged specific to the job imho rather than as suggested above factored in across all jobs.

Why should someone local a few streets away from the tradesmans home be subsidising your companies bill if you fail to use a more local tradesman, if there is noone closer then you can pay for travel or it doesn't get fixed.

Also as a business you would expect this to have been thought about in advance of purchasing the machinery, projected maintenance costs and if tradesmen are easily and locally available to maintain the machinery etc?

If the tradesman could get a full days work locally at his full rate then why would he want to travel to you for cheap and only get say 2hrs at his full rate?
 
Soldato
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Surely it depends if they wouldn't do the job otherwise.

If you really want that tradeperson from 100 miles away, surely you have to pay for that.

Also wouldn't all this be agreed beforehand?
 
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