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aquarium service fees ?


JamesHL88

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I recently began maintaining aquariums for a fee. I set up a 110 gallon fish only for my first customer and i feel like i lowballed myself on the monthly fee.

I just met with a man that wants me to maintain a 300 gallon semi-reef, a 90 gallon reef, and a brand new 60 gallon shallow propogation system. The tanks are all vodka dosed and he wants water changes every two weeks. What is a fair quote to give this guy without hurting myself in the process?

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I'd ask how large the water changes are going to be every two weeks. I know a guy in my area that charges a dollar per gallon just to change water, and it goes up after that depending on how much maintenance needs to be done.

 

Good idea on calling the local competition to get a baseline, though, zixxer.

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dont work for less than 25-30 per hour and make sure your gas is covered. so come up with a price based on that.. $1/ga is a pretty normal rate in some areas.. but when i was doing just water changes and cleaning i felt bad charging $180 for 30-60min of work on a 180g

 

 

i bet you could charge 150ish for all that work..

 

300g might take you an hour or so.. and the 90 and 60 shouldnt take more than 30min each.. so even then you should be covered.

 

i would toss $150 at him and if he goes for it..sweet.. if not then go as low as you are comfortable with. and being honest with the client is usually appreciated.. you could start with a number and let him know that the first round is an approximate price since you dont really know the time and work involved in his systems yet. I do that with my landscaping.. i tell them that if it takes alot longer than the time i think it should then the price will reflect that.. if its close then i will just stick with my quoted price.

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I've talked to a few LFS here in the past and they general thing they told me was a dollar per gallon per service. That included testing, w/c, dosing. But that would mean 450 a time for your customer... I definitely agree with the 25-30 bucks an hour as its specialized work, from there just build your cost based on what it's costing you. Maybe work out a different w/c fee like X dollars per gallon and include that on the quote.

 

+1 to calling competitors

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I went down this road a few years back with another member. The first quote you need to get is a insurance quote from a insurance adjuster. Tell them what you want to do I don't care if these tanks are friends tanks. If you are receiving compensation have the correct insurance. A home owners insurance will eat you alive if a tank floods someones house and it was not even your fault. They will lawyer up then you will have to pay for your own lawyer. Have you ever been sued for a million dollars? I have and I urge you to have insurance for this. I had a lady slip and fall on ice at a restaurant that I maintained there parking lot. She fell face first into a curb broke her arm wrist cracked her skull pretty much destroyed her face. I would not want anyone going thru what I did for a year of my life with lawyers. I had insurance thank god.

 

Ow the outcome my insurance company and the restaurants insurance company settled the case. She sued me and the restaurant in a joint lawsuit. She was awarded 105 grand.

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I went down this road a few years back with another member. The first quote you need to get is a insurance quote from a insurance adjuster.

 

+1 to this. As sad as it is, people are opportunistic and horrible to one another. Rand's affirmation, "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine" does not apply to 90%+ of people who are presented with the opportunity to ask another to live for their own sake.

 

My take on the above lawsuit and its outcome should be fairly obvious. *rolls eyes*

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Deleted User 3

Have each customer sign a waiver of liability contract where you are not responsible for anything that happens, to avoid the legalities stated above :)

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A waiver of liability will not cover every contingency. I would personally consult an attorney before starting any kind of business.

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I recently began maintaining aquariums for a fee. I set up a 110 gallon fish only for my first customer and i feel like i lowballed myself on the monthly fee.

I just met with a man that wants me to maintain a 300 gallon semi-reef, a 90 gallon reef, and a brand new 60 gallon shallow propogation system. The tanks are all vodka dosed and he wants water changes every two weeks. What is a fair quote to give this guy without hurting myself in the process?

 

These are separate systems?

 

I would charge $500 a month to maintain that as a bare minimum. Assuming he has space there to mix the water and all you are doing is wiping walls, cleaning equipment, changing water, etc. Customer pays all costs including salt, new fish, corals, media, equipment, etc. If you've got to lug buckets of water up stairs because somebody didn't design things properly, that's a fee increase.

 

I'm torn on the insurance thing for just a few tanks. If somebody else installed the system, you really have no liability if you are doing maintenance. If the tank fails, that's a tank/stand manufacturer liability. If the lights/ballast start a fire, same deal. Etc. etc. Unless you do something incredibly negligent, you're free from liability. At least here, my insurance is something like $1000 yearly. It's a nice safety net for a big business, but I never felt the cost was justified when I just did a few tanks.

 

Also, I'd be surprised if your competition gives you helpful advice. Out here shady folks will follow their competition around, find out where their accounts are, and then lowball them to steal them. It's a cutthroat business.

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thanks wombat, thats about the number i had come up with. i shot 450 at him and he said he would get back to me on it. that was 3 days ago. oh well, i really didnt wanna do 6 water changes a month so no sweat off my back.

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One thing I don't regret is taking on clients who want to play a lowball game. I come up with a number and that is my payment, no negotiations. To sell people on it who are hesitant I point out that they are not paying for just the service, they are paying for the peace of mind, and paying me to be on call 24/7.

 

I mean, look at what a lawyer or dentist does as far as actual labor--hardly anything, right? They do some fancy talking to a judge or poke around at your teeth for exorbitant fees. You're not paying for the labor, you're paying for the peace of mind that you get knowing that they know what the hell they are doing. Same goes for fish tanks. It might seem easy to wipe the glass with a magnet and do some water changes, but when something goes wrong the average schmoe has no idea what they're doing. That's what they are paying you for. If you ever have to show up at somebody's house at 3am because a pump failed, you will regret settling for a low fee.

 

It also helps if you can show up with a portfolio of very nice tanks you have created and just say "here is what I can do for you". Xenia + Green Star Polyps + Rose Anemones + Dory + Nemo sells to Joe Public very well.

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A waiver of liability will not cover every contingency. I would personally consult an attorney before starting any kind of business.

This is true if the husband signed the waiver the wife could sue you because she did not sign the waiver or the home owners insurance could pay for the damage and they could sue you. Only way around this would be to have the home owner sign a waiver that states you are not responsible for any water damage AND by signing the waiver they will assume all liabilty and release you from ANY lawsuits judgements or claims. If the homeowner signs that which I am sure they would not they are idiots. Pretty simple get the correct insurance.

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