The challenge is how to cover my costs on the extremely small job that doesn't have a troubleshoot/diagnostic. Whether you have a small service charge or do free estimates, the job is starting out as a loss.
My challenge is recovering that loss on the small jobs. I've calculated the average time to answer the phone, drive to the job, meet the client, spend time checking their project, pricing their project, presenting the price, invoice, collection, setup, cleanup, trip back, and data entry at 1.5 hours.
So, the challenge is setting the price for a 1/4 or 1/2 hour job that I have 2 hours in.
Well, I'm not sure why you would do all that for a 1/4 hour job in the first place. Beyond that why do you even HAVE 1/4 hour jobs. We do not estimate repairs and troubleshooting, it's all T&M. We have a 1 hr. mimimum and we charge an additional dispatch fee on top of the first hour. We waive the fee after 4 hrs. Our hourly rate covers all the stuff you listed as overhead. Can't stay in business any other way.
It's hard to collect on a real little job. Say the customer just wants a simple light hung, 10' ceiling, two lamp, surface mounted.
7 minutes to discuss the job on the phone(and gain the customers respect on confidence), 4 to enter it into the scheduling software, 5 to explain it to the installer, 20 to 30 to get there, 5 to chit chat briefly, 15 to get a ladder and do the job, 8 to write up the ticket and collect, 6 to have the admin enter the job in Quickbooks, 7 to get the checks cashed at the bank, and now you warranty it for a year.
Trip charge $50.00 Hang light per flat rate book $50.00 Minimum call $115.00.
If you bill hourly, plan on staying an hour cause that's what your selling.