I've had a new client request a web site in 2 weeks. Not only I already find that pretty quick but I'm totally loaded so I charged a rush fee that I was comfortable with. I wrote the rush fee in my quote and figured that it would remind them to plan ahead of time for the next project. However, I also see there are downfalls to this as the client tried to negotiate (getting the rush fee lowered).

Do you write rush fees in your price quotes or do you just keep that to yourself and why?

  • 4
    How big a rush can it be if they want to take the time to negotiate the fee?
    – user27410
    Jul 17 '14 at 18:45
  • @HarryK Good point. "Fast, cheap, or good; pick any two." Jul 17 '14 at 19:49
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    @HarryK Exactly what I was thinking! I actually ended up having to back out of my own quote because they wouldn't make up their mind and by now I was 100% sure I just would not be able to deliver something of quality on such short notice and retain my sanity.
    – curious
    Jul 17 '14 at 21:53
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    Good choice, I think. Some clients aren't worth it. Jul 18 '14 at 0:18

A rush fee is a premium. You are telling your client that you do not normally turn a project around this quickly, and the client is paying you to put aside other work and prioritize this project.

I would have no problem putting that into the quote and calling it what it is:


However, as Scott points out, it's up to you to decide what constitutes a rush. If it's a situation where "this would normally take three weeks and I'm doing it in two," I would follow Scott's reasoning and build that into the quote without a line item. "This would normally take three weeks and I'm doing it in three days" would get a line item from me. Consider the client when making this distinction.

  • 1
    I like the idea of writing a line item of how much time it would necessarily require as well to make the context better understood by the client.
    – curious
    Jul 17 '14 at 13:49
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    @Emilie Oh, I wasn't actually suggesting writing "This would normally take three weeks and I'm doing it in three days" as part of the quote. I'm saying that would be part of my thinking process to help me decide whether I was padding the quote or charging a rush fee. Jul 17 '14 at 15:16
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    @Emilie I wouldn't normally tell a client how long something takes because that's revealing a little too much about how the sausage is made. "Three weeks" may mean 21 eight-hour days, or three 14-hour days followed by three days of someone else's project, etc. That's my workflow and my business. I don't want to give the client places to complain about how and/or how fast I work. Jul 17 '14 at 17:52
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    Lauren, that's why I'd state "Delivery time" without stating "rush" specifically. The client doesn't need to know how long I would like or normally take. They merely need to to know what it costs to meet their timeline.
    – Scott
    Jul 17 '14 at 18:54
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    Some other industries quote with resource/hours or resource/days which is why I figured it might work but then again, since it is a creative business it is difficult to even know exactly how much work something will be ahead of time.
    – curious
    Jul 17 '14 at 21:48

Yes, I would line-item a rush fee to make it very clear that they are asking for something above-and-beyond the norm.

And if you want to let them negotiate it, that's certainly up to you.

  • Why? This answers only part of the question.
    – Anko
    Jul 17 '14 at 8:37
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    @Anko I explain 'why' in my first sentence.
    – DA01
    Jul 17 '14 at 14:00

Customarily I only cite rush fees for same day or overnight projects where there's a clear rush involved.

In my experience, clients can't really argue the addition of a rush fee when they know they are asking for an unreasonable turnaround. But, as you've discovered, they will argue every time if there's a minimum of three or four days until delivery. They don't really see that as a rush, although it very well can be on your part.

Any project which extends past same or next day, but is shorter than I'd like, doesn't have what I would refer to as a "rush" fee. There's nothing specifically called out in quotes to indicate stress due to short delivery dates and any additional fees due to that stress are built into the project fees.

This is merely how I handle it..... not sure if it's right or wrong, but it works for me :)

  • A web site in 2 weeks is a pretty clear rush to me. :)
    – DA01
    Jul 16 '14 at 21:45
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    @DA01 I wouldn't argue that one bit. But I've run into many clients who may. All I was saying is I build in such fees, I don't indicate it's a "rush" for the quote.
    – Scott
    Jul 16 '14 at 21:47
  • I think the one risk there is if you don't state it's a rush, then this is now the expectations from the client on future projects.
    – DA01
    Jul 16 '14 at 22:01
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    @DA01 I'd indicate delivery time as a factor in the quote - Delivery 14 days $xx - but I wouldn't call it "rush" in anyway. This indicates that delivery time is a factor, but it avoids any connotation of "rush fee". "Rush fee" simply tells a client "Oh, you'll do it for less, you're only charging me more because I have a deadline." And they argue it every single time in my experience.
    – Scott
    Jul 16 '14 at 22:05
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    Maybe I should just write "VIP service" instead of rush, it would be funnier to hear them negotiate on that :-P
    – curious
    Jul 16 '14 at 22:47

I would certainly write rush fee in my quotes, but most of my clients will almost always negotiate the price.

Because no matter what you put in the quotes, if the clients really want to negotiate with you they will find ways to do so. But I agree putting "rush fees" in the quotes for the intended purpose is the right way to go to make sure the client understand.

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