I get asked many times each week if I offer consulting or technical support for the programs I teach, like Microsoft Access, Excel, or web design. The answer is YES, I can help you with your project, or even build a project for you. There are several options available depending on your budget, how much help you require, and your time frame.
If you just have a specific question you need answered, you can submit it via my TechHelp page. Here you can ask your question for free OR pay a small fee to get priority. If I like it, I may make a TechHelp video featuring your question.
This option is best for people who have generic questions where the answers will benefit everyone. Many of my current videos, seminars, and even material for my regular classes have come from questions that were asked of my by students. The Search, Imaging, and Work Order Seminars are perfect examples of projects that started out because a customer needed in-depth help.
Consulting Rates and Types
If the type of help you require will not benefit other people, and is very specific to your needs, then you will need one-on-one consulting. Here are the different types of consulting services and training that I offer. These are my standard hourly rates if you wish to be billed per-hour.
- Offline: $200 / hour
- Live Online: $300 / hour
- In-Person: $400 / hour plus all travel expenses
Offline support is anything that I can do on my own time. Generally the way that it works is you email me your questions, requirements, details, etc. and I will get back to you with either a detailed email or a custom video response. This is my preferred method of consulting, and it works well for most of my clients.
Live Online support involves a real-time interaction at a scheduled time. This can be a phone call, online chat, instant messenger conversation, Google Hangout, Remote Windows Assistance, a webcam session, and so on. If it involves a live connection between us, then I bill at my higher rate.
In-Person training or support involves me travelling to your location to provide consulting, training, or other support. You are, of course, responsible for my additional travel expenses (hotel, flight, rental car if needed, etc.) if you're outside of the Fort Myers, Florida area. These fees are negotiable based on the project, of course. Contact me for details.
The typical time for a response is generally 1 or 2 business days, depending on the complexity of your request and how many other clients are in front of you. If you want priority service (you need help NOW and want me to bump other clients or projects) then I will charge you a priority service fee in addition to my hourly rate, usually $100 to $500 depending on what other projects I currently am working on.
To get started, send me an email explaining your needs and what you would like me to help you with. Give me enough detail so that I understand what you need, but don't be too verbose. If it's going to take me half an hour to read through your question, then that's on the clock. Sorry. Be as concise as possible. I will tell you if your email is too long for a "free" initial consultation.
Sending Me Files
If you have a database, spreadsheet, web site, or other files you need help with and you need to send them to me, remove as much extraneous data from them as possible, ZIP them up, and email them to me. I will ONLY look at file submissions if they're for PAID support. Sorry, I just don't have the time to look at everyone's databases for free. There just aren't enough hours in the day. Even if I can't help you, the cost for me to download and look through your database is a minimum $50 charge. Keep in mind that it's almost always faster, easier, and cheaper for me to show you how to build something from scratch than it is for me to figure out what you've built so far and to fix it or add to it.
Let Me Build Your Database
If you don't want to invest the time or money into learning how to build your own database, or if your database is horribly broken, it may be more cost effective to let me build it for you. I have over 30 years of experience building custom database solutions of all types.
How much does a custom database project cost? That's hard to say. I can work with you on an hourly basis, or I can give you a quote for your entire project. If you'd prefer a project-based quote, start by making a list of ALL of the features that you want your database to have (customer management, contact tracking, phone call list, order entry, inventory management, accounts payable, etc.) and anything specific to your business. Then, I'll put together a quote based on your needs. I've built simple $100 starter template databases, and I've built $20,000 mega-projects for clients. Again, it's completely dependent upon your needs.
Quality, Time, and Cost
As a general rule of thumb, I always tell my customers that there are three factors in any consulting or service work: time, quality, and cost. PICK TWO. You can have it done well not spend a lot of money, but you're going to wait a while. You can have it done cheap and quickly, but the quality will suffer. You can have it done right and quickly, but you're gonna pay for it. So, keep that in mind. I've got a lot of other projects on my plate, so if you need something done yesterday, the cost will go up.
If you anticipate needing regular help with Microsoft Access, or any of the other programs I teach, then you should consider joining my Access Insiders' Circle. This is an elite club that gets priority support for their problems.
If you would like to engage my services for a longer-term contract, or would like to pre-pay a block of hours, my rates are negotiable based on the type and duration of the project. Please contact me for details.
On-Site Training and Speaking Engagements
If you would like to hire me to teach or speak in front of your group, I do provide this service as well. Please contact me with additional information (location, topics, number of students, etc.) and I can provide you with a quote. I will travel outside the Fort Myers, Florida area. You are responsible for my travel, lodging, and consulting fee. A per diem can be discussed.
And Now... A Story...
A few years ago, a client called me and said they had a need for a specific database they needed built. They explained all of the details to me (some data entry, a few custom reports, security, etc.) and asked how long it would take me to build it for them. I explained that I could do it right there on the spot and have them a solution up and running by the end of the day. It was around noon at the time.
The client didn't believe me, and bet me $100 (on top of my hourly fee, which at the time was $90 per hour) that I couldn't do it. By 6pm that afternoon, I not only had built them a database from scratch, but I imported all of the data from their old system AND showed their staff how to use it.
Now here's the good part...
After doing all of this, the client (as he was handing me my check for $540 plus a $100 bill) told me that they had previously contracted another company to build the exact same database. They quoted him $5,000 and two months of development time to do what I had done in an afternoon. After waiting SIX months for a solution, the client told the other company to forget it... and that's when he called me. This isn't the only customer something like this has happened with either.
And of course, there's this legend, which I like to remind my customers of all the time. It goes something like this:
Nikola Tesla visited Henry Ford at his factory, which was having some kind of difficulty. Ford asked Tesla if he could help identify the problem area. Tesla walked up to a wall of boilerplate and made a small X in chalk on one of the plates. Ford was thrilled, and told him to send an invoice. The bill arrived, for $10,000. Ford asked for a breakdown. Tesla sent another invoice, indicating a $1 charge for marking the wall with an X, and $9,999 for knowing where to put it.
Moral of the story: sure, I charge a lot for my time, but I can do in an hour what an inexperienced developer will take DAYS to do WRONG.
Email me if you want it done right.