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Home > Richard Rost > Consulting
 
Consulting Service Consulting Service

This page is for my PAID consulting services. If you are looking to submit a question for FREE, visit my TechHelp page.

Sorry, I'm Booked Right Now!

If you need help with your database, visit my Access Developer Network.

If you have a question about your database, the only thing I have time for right now is quick Tech Support.

Sorry folks, but right now my plate is completely, 100% overflowing. I can't take on any more consulting work right now unless it's an emergency. If that's the case, the fee is $1000 for priority service plus the hourly. I'm way behind schedule on a couple of projects, plus I have my weekly commitments (TechHelp, Access Developers, ABCD). I can't take on any more new projects at this time.

I'd be happy to put you on a waiting list if you want something done, but I can make no promises as to a timeframe. If you've got ideas for a specific project, a module for the ABCD or a TechHelp video, please do send them to me. I am not accepting ANY work related to troubleshooting, fixing, or adding to databases that I haven't built at this time. Please visit my Access Developer Network if you need this kind of help.

Consulting & Training Rates

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.

Support Type Hourly Rate
TechHelp Free*
Email "How Do I" $500
Email Troubleshooting $1000
Live Help $1500
In-Person $2000

TechHelp is my "almost daily" video blog where I answer questions that are sent in by all kinds of people. Members do get priority. There is a long waiting list if you're not a member, but if you're not in a hurry, it's a great way to get your question answered for free, in a step-by-step video. If you are in a hurry, consider becoming a Member

Email 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 even a custom video response. This is my preferred method of consulting, and it works well for most of my clients. Here's why. There are two kinds of Email Support:

  • "How Do I" Support involves questions that begin with "How do I...?" For example, "how do I create an accounts receivable report?" "How do I compact and repair my database automatically?" These kinds of instructional support I'm happy to provide. Again, I'll either make you a custom video or answer your email personally.
     
  • Email Troubleshooting involves you sending me your database to be fixed, worked on, evaluated, added-on to, or anything else that involves me looking at work you have created. I don't like troubleshooting. I prefer to not do this work. I will... but as you can see I charge a lot more for it. Sorry. I'd rather be recording videos. Again, if you're looking for someone to help you with your database visit my Access Developer Network.

Live Help 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 Zoom session, and so on. If it involves a live connection between us, then it's considered Live Help or Training. Again, I personally prefer email. Here's why.

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. I reserve the right to charge more for large group sessions.

Please note that no discounts of any kind may be applied to support.

Priority Service

The typical time for me to start your project is generally 3 to 5 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 projects) then I will charge you for priority service which is double my normal hourly rate for the type of service you require. I don't like doing this, but if you're in a hurry and I have to put other clients off, then that's the deal. I will not bump other clients unless they're OK with waiting a little longer. 

Initial Consultation

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 at my above hourly rate. 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. After you send your file click here to submit your payment.

Even if I can't help you, the cost for me to download and look through your database is a minimum charge of one hour of service. 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. I hate trying to tear apart other people's databases to find bugs or fix things. I'd rather build you something that I know works right the first time.

Plus, if I have to look at your Access database with VBA code in it that means I need to be able to run it from a Trusted Location for the code to work. That means I have to take some time to look through ALL of the code in your database to make sure there's nothing malicious in there. That doesn't mean I don't trust you. YOU might not even know it's in there if you're infected with a virus yourself. So... hence the minimum cost I charge to look at your files. It's almost always quicker and easier for you to explain to me what you want to do, and I can teach you how to do it.

If you need to show me something, and you don't want to pay the troubleshooting charge, send me a screen shot. I can see what you're talking about without actually having to look at your database file, or charge you a fee!

Taking On Projects

As you can imagine, I've got a lot on my plate. Between recording my courses, my TechHelp videos, handling customer service emails, and working on projects for clients, I've got little free time. If you want me to take on a custom project for you, and I think it's something that would make a good video to add to my site, then I'm happy to add it to my list. This list is always quite long, however, so I can't make any promises as to how soon I'll be able to get to it. If you're in a hurry and need it done quickly, then I'll have to take it on as a paid job. I can either give you a quote for the entire project, or charge you hourly, depending on the nature of the product and the amount of support you need. Jobs that I can turn into lessons for my other students will always cost YOU less up front.

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.

Fixed Price v. Hourly

While I am happy to give fixed price estimates for products that I build from scratch, any service that involves me working with a project that you have started will be billed strictly by the hour. I cannot gauge the condition that your database is in unless I get under the hood and tear it apart first, plus I'll have to take time to learn and figure out what you've done so far. I know how long it takes me to build certain types of databases. I've built hundreds, if not thousands, of them in my career. So if you say you need contact management, invoicing, and scheduling, I can give you an exact price, up front.

If you want me to look at your database and fix or add things to it, that's strictly billed hourly. I can give you a range if you prefer, but I will always err on the high end, and I cannot be held liable if I'm in the middle of something and discover another problem with your database that I didn't see up front. It's kind of like when you take your car to the shop and say "it ain't workin' right." Well, they can't always tell what's wrong until they get under the hood - and then it could be something quick, or you may need a new engine.

Request for Proposals

If this is a job that's being sent out for bids and is going to the lowest bidder, please don't even bother asking me. I will never be the cheapest. I know there are developers in other countries who work for $5 / hour. I know there are young startup businesses that will promise the world. I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I don't accept every job, but the ones I do take get done right. I emphasize quality over everything, and remember the old saying "you get what you pay for." It's certainly true in the world of software development. 

The ONLY way that I will give you a low price on your project is if it's going to be something generic enough with mass appeal that I can turn into a lesson for one of my classes. Then you might get a really low price because I can resell it to other clients. But if this is a project that is specific to your business, I won't be the cheapest, but I will be the best. 

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: speed, 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 built properly 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.

Insiders' Circle

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.

Service Contracts

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.

Training & 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. Of course, right now during the COVID pandemic, I'm suspending any in-person meetings, but...

Live Online Training

I'm willing to provide LIVE virtual training for your personnel. A combination of video tutorials PLUS live sessions works great. Your people watch a lesson or two on their own time, and then we meet on a regular basis to review and ask questions.

Update on Live Events

I stopped offering live in-person events once the pandemic hit. Until that's over, and everyone is vaccinated, I'm definitely not doing any live in-person training sessions. Plus about a year ago I suffered an injury which left me blind in one eye and I get pretty bad random migraines, so I don't generally schedule ANY live sessions (even online) because I never know when I'm going to have to go lay down in a dark room on a moment's notice. That's why I've raised my rates on anything live. I can still do it if absolutely necessary, but it's difficult for me. I prefer to focus my efforts on recording my video lessons. I can record for a little while and take a break whenever I need to. Thank you for understanding.

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. This was many years ago and I was young) 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.

One More...

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.

Contact me if you want it done right.

Richard

 

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