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cartage/travel mileage rate
Old 21st December 2010
  #1
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
Talking cartage/travel mileage rate

remotesters,

I need to quote a gig that is 100 miles away. How do you handle cartage/mileage for your road gigs?
Old 21st December 2010
  #3
I have a 25 mile ring within which there's no travel charge, even though we have MissR bridge and causeway tolls. Outside the ring, which includes everything considered local suburbs, we charge the IRS mileage rate PLUS half rate on the usual hourly rate, per man.

If it's a fly-out, shipping costs plus travel out-of-pockets, up front; travel days are half days, as are afternoons sitting around waiting for producers to get their sxxx together. Make a note of what your customer drives and make sure your basic rate is never less than what her mechanic charges.

Charges to get on location for a remote recording are expected so don't short yourself just to get the gig. And make sure you stay on hire/half-hire until you get back to the shop, in case you get snowed in at a motel, somewhere on a closed interstate. Gear insurance in the vehicle?
rgds
WalterT
Old 21st December 2010
  #4
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
Thanks guys,
Insurance, definitely.
I don't need to short myself to get the gig, I am not hurting for work these days. I think it is reasonable to charge mileage, although I have been considering just rolling it into a flat rate and accounting for the extra expenses on my own balance sheet.
I have kept most of my gigs close to home, within 50 miles, and as such I haven't even needed to think about whether to itemize the extras until now. This gig would be a 2pm load in, show starts at 9, triple header, strike done by ~3 am. If I turn around and drive back that makes it a 17 hour day, so lodging for me and my A2 might be appropriate as well.
Old 21st December 2010
  #5
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IRS Guidelines are just that... guidelines... standard rates YOU can declare as expense deduction from your personal or company taxes. What you charge your clients should be based on (1) your time; (2) your actual amortized expense (depreciation, maintenance, insurance, etc.) for the use of your vehicle; and (3) your fuel costs.

My "normal and usual" fee is 1/2 my daily rate for travel out of state (or for over two hours inside the state); meals outside that radius; accommodations (if I'm traveling or spending the night at the location, and the client doesn't provide suitable lodging) and $0.45/mile in my car; $0.55/mile in my van; $0.75/mile in my F350, towing the trailer (AV gigs with projection, PA, lighting, etc); and (rarely, these days) $1.00/mile in my 6-mpg 1987 GMC 24' box truck.

Yes, those rates are higher than the Gummint will "allow" me to deduct for personal vehicles. So, I pay the tax I owe on the profit from my expense charges. Is it "fair" to charge more than an employee can expect to be reimbursed? YES! Everybody has to make a profit to stay in business. My policy is to mark up everything not PROVIDED by the client. I carry it for (usually) at least 30 days, and either pay interest or pay the opportunity cost of the money I "prepay" to cover expenses accrued on their behalf before their check hits my account.

If it's more than they can afford, we negotiate. If they won't at least cover my raw costs, we have a serious problem, because I won't lose money on transport just to get the gig... especially when the client (those clients especially) will usually have been attempting to whittle down the pricing all along. As far as the client is concerned, what they pay for my travel is a line item on my invoice. They write it off, just as they write off my fees and marked up expenses for consumables. It's only with their INTERNAL travel reimbursement deductions that they must stay within strict Gummint guidelines... as must I when I account for my income and expenditures at the end of the year.

A smart man once told me... "I've never known anyone who went out of business for saying 'No' to a bad deal."

It's worked for me for 30 years. I don't think I'll change it much at this point.

HB
Old 21st December 2010
  #6
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
Great post, Harry.
Old 21st December 2010
  #7
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
So then when you bid on a gig, do you tell your clients that it is x amount plus expenses, or do you calculate the expenses ahead of time and present the entire solution to the client as a bottom line price?
Old 21st December 2010
  #8
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by recordinghopkins View Post
Thanks guys,
...This gig would be a 2pm load in, show starts at 9, triple header, strike done by ~3 am. If I turn around and drive back that makes it a 17 hour day, so lodging for me and my A2 might be appropriate as well.
If you were a hotel AV guy at Loew's Vanderbilt Plaza or the Cool Springs Marriott, you'd likely get your normal hourly rate for the first eight; then double time for 9/10; then triple time over 10. At least, that's what the client would be billed for that kind of "day" for a on-site tech director.

The other issue is safety... I've done a LOT of stupid drives in my past... and, bless God, have not suffered (or caused suffering) because of it. But I avoid them now. Stay in the local hotel. Drive safely. At least for the sake of your A2...

Besides... then you get to have a couple of beers after, with NO twinge of conscience...

I have no issue with long days... especially with my regular clients who tend to repay the hours with perks (room upgrade, extra day onsite after... especially nice in Naples in January... a great off-site dinner...) but I will not drive dead tired ever again.

But, then, I'm old, and who cares?

HB
Old 21st December 2010
  #9
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by recordinghopkins View Post
So then when you bid on a gig, do you tell your clients that it is x amount plus expenses, or do you calculate the expenses ahead of time and present the entire solution to the client as a bottom line price?
These are usually multi-day out-of-town AV and photo gigs, mind you... but my policy is the same.

The client will receive (especially first-time clients) a formal Estimate and Confirmation form via email, and the job won't be booked solid until I receive a signed, dated copy via return mail... and, usually with new clients, a deposit sufficient to cover all my estimated expenses or half the fee, whichever is greater. Any cancellation within 14 days, the deposit stays.

Annual or continuing clients who know the drill usually work from the Estimate, but I waive the deposit. If they don't want to pay marked up expenses to me, they book my air, put me up in their hotel and feed me like a staff person (i.e., no MickeeDee's while they all troop off to Ruth's Chris). In that instance, I don't mind not profiting from them spending their money.

If the question about receipts comes up, I explain my mark-ups, and offer them the opportunity to carry the expense themselves. They usually decide that what they pay for my time and money is worth less that what they'd pay a staffer. After the first go'round, they know I'll shop the best airfares and eat and lodge reasonably...

To help me with that, I use a bit of business software called "InView" ( InView, Business Management Software for Creative Professionals ), created specifically for photographers about 20 years ago. I've used the same basic pricelist (like a checklist spreadsheet with rates and fees) since the get-go, modifying it whenever I add services (video, audio) or drop items (film, processing, printing). Solid as a rock. My accountant loves me at tax time... and the past three years have averaged $275 for TWO Schedule "C" businesses and personal 1040 filing jointly. That's it. My entire accounting bill for the year.

HTH,

HB
Old 21st December 2010
  #10
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recordinghopkins's Avatar
Excellent advice.
I usually charge by the gig, not by the hour, but when drawing up a quote I do the hourly rate in my head. Sometimes this bites me in the posterior when I bid conservatively, but as I said, most of my work has been local and that's only an hour at most from the shop and is usually no more than 10 hours of work.

From this post, it would seem that the "right" way to do it would be to bill them a day rate for the use of the gear, then hourly for me and my assistant, and itemize lodging and mileage.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hbphotoav View Post
If you were a hotel AV guy at Loew's Vanderbilt Plaza or the Cool Springs Marriott, you'd likely get your normal hourly rate for the first eight; then double time for 9/10; then triple time over 10. At least, that's what the client would be billed for that kind of "day" for a on-site tech director.

The other issue is safety... I've done a LOT of stupid drives in my past... and, bless God, have not suffered (or caused suffering) because of it. But I avoid them now. Stay in the local hotel. Drive safely. At least for the sake of your A2...

Besides... then you get to have a couple of beers after, with NO twinge of conscience...

I have no issue with long days... especially with my regular clients who tend to repay the hours with perks (room upgrade, extra day onsite after... especially nice in Naples in January... a great off-site dinner...) but I will not drive dead tired ever again.

But, then, I'm old, and who cares?

HB
Old 21st December 2010
  #11
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hbphotoav's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by recordinghopkins View Post
Excellent advice.
I usually charge by the gig, not by the hour, but when drawing up a quote I do the hourly rate in my head. Sometimes this bites me in the posterior when I bid conservatively, but as I said, most of my work has been local and that's only an hour at most from the shop and is usually no more than 10 hours of work.

From this post, it would seem that the "right" way to do it would be to bill them a day rate for the use of the gear, then hourly for me and my assistant, and itemize lodging and mileage.
Sounds about right.

Also... consider the difference between a "bid" (an open RFP for a published contract with identical terms and conditions to the bidders, with the bid being the contract with the weight on the side of the client) and an "estimate"... where you may not know who else is in the hunt, or whether the specs are the same. I tell people who ask for a "bid" that, unless I have a printed set of specs in my hand, I can't, in good conscience, bid on the job... not knowing all the facts... but that I'd be happy to estimate what my participation will cost, with expenses, and a +/- variance if the specs change mid-course.

That takes care of a bunch of potential ass-biters... like all the "Oh... by the way..." stuff. Once my estimate has been accepted and signed off, it becomes the contract that binds the relationship, with a good bit of weight on my side of the table. Remember... verbal contracts aren't worth the paper they aren't written on. Especially with total strangers. And whoever has the best lawyer and deepest pockets wins. Period. And that ain't gonna be you or me, short a miracle.

HB

I am not a lawyer. But, I had one in my wedding.
Old 21st December 2010
  #12
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Plush's Avatar
Jason Heath's Bass blog helped me calculate that the REAL costs of driving my Toyota minivan (my business vehicle) is $.75 cents per mile. So that is what I charge beyond a 20 mile radius.

A daily mileage log is kept here. It lists all business and personal miles for the year.
Old 21st December 2010
  #13
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I do a lot of long commutes all over my area--not overnights so much, but often hundreds of miles in a day. This used to be a matter of negotiation, since producers had the attitude that I was "crew" and that personal commuting costs have to be eaten by the commuter (as w/ people w/ regular jobs). When fuel costs really started to take off a few years ago I changed that policy--all miles are charged for at the IRS rate. If hassled about it I tell them my van is an equipment vehicle--no different than a lighting truck (who also charge a higher mileage rate AND fuel expenses). The bridge tolls have gone up a few times around here in the last few years as well, so I can't give that away either. On jobs where we set up, leave the gear overnight, drive home and back for subsequent days, I sometimes don't charge or charge less for the "empty van" commutes--that depends on other factors, like how bad they beat me up on labor and gear rates.

phil p
Old 22nd December 2010
  #14
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John Willett's Avatar
 

cartage/travel mileage rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse
This would not apply in this case - it looks like the same as the UK where this is the amount you can receive from your employer tax-free for using your vehicle for their business.

I charge £0.50 a mile at the moment and think this is a bit on the low side, especially as it is taxed as income.

But I do look at each case on it's own merit and don't always charge - it depends on the client and the distance.


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Old 22nd December 2010
  #15
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John Willett's Avatar
 

cartage/travel mileage rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by philper
I do a lot of long commutes all over my area--not overnights so much, but often hundreds of miles in a day. This used to be a matter of negotiation, since producers had the attitude that I was "crew" and that personal commuting costs have to be eaten by the commuter (as w/ people w/ regular jobs). When fuel costs really started to take off a few years ago I changed that policy--all miles are charged for at the IRS rate. If hassled about it I tell them my van is an equipment vehicle--no different than a lighting truck (who also charge a higher mileage rate AND fuel expenses). The bridge tolls have gone up a few times around here in the last few years as well, so I can't give that away either. On jobs where we set up, leave the gear overnight, drive home and back for subsequent days, I sometimes don't charge or charge less for the "empty van" commutes--that depends on other factors, like how bad they beat me up on labor and gear rates.

phil p
I agree with most of this, except the IRS rate bit.

That rate is the amount you can receive from an employer tax free.

You would actually be liable for income tax on these mileage charges and they should be correspondingly higher. The correct amount to charge is the full running costs of the vehicle plus a percentage that will account for the tax you will have to pay.

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Old 22nd December 2010
  #16
25 mile radius No Charge

Over 25 miles 55 cents per mile.

If over night $150.00 per person per day as a per diem. If in an expensive city like NY the per diem is doubled.
Old 24th December 2010
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Willett View Post
I agree with most of this, except the IRS rate bit.

That rate is the amount you can receive from an employer tax free.

You would actually be liable for income tax on these mileage charges and they should be correspondingly higher. The correct amount to charge is the full running costs of the vehicle plus a percentage that will account for the tax you will have to pay.

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That's a tough negotiation to make. They often begrudge paying the IRS rate when the charges end up being $60-100 on top of my invoice per day, when they are often unhappy to be paying anything for my mileage, per tradition, and feel like they are being ripped off even at that rate. It's just another entrenched attitude in my business (like how camera assistants get paid for prep days but I don't, etc). But I've gotten pretty hardened on it as the expenses for commuting have gone up so much, and the labor/gear rates have gone down....

phil p
Old 25th December 2010
  #18
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John Willett's Avatar
 

cartage/travel mileage rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by philper

That's a tough negotiation to make. They often begrudge paying the IRS rate when the charges end up being $60-100 on top of my invoice per day, when they are often unhappy to be paying anything for my mileage, per tradition, and feel like they are being ripped off even at that rate. It's just another entrenched attitude in my business (like how camera assistants get paid for prep days but I don't, etc). But I've gotten pretty hardened on it as the expenses for commuting have gone up so much, and the labor/gear rates have gone down....

phil p
I agree it's tough.

I know sound recordists in the UK often charge mileage in a different way - eg: delivery and collection or the like; it seems to get taken better by the client worded differently.


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