Q: I just had a call from a client: he needs an ad created and it’s due to the newspaper tomorrow! As it happens, I’m free. But should I charge a rush fee? And how much do other people charge?
A: It’s reasonable to charge a rush fee for such a fast turnaround. I know designers who charge anywhere from 25% to 100% of the cost of the job as a rush fee. However, communication is key. I let clients know up front (and it’s in my contract) that projects may incur a rush fee, at my discretion. Then I only charge a rush fee if I talk to the client about it ahead of time, and get their approval. “Hi Client, I can have that to you tomorrow for a 50% rush fee, or by Tuesday at the regular price.” Most of the time, the rush fee is approved. Sometimes the job deadline is magically extended.
I purposely leave the definition of rush loose, because every job is different. A small job may be a rush if it is due the next day. A large job may be a rush if it is due in 2 weeks.
Sometimes I do a rush job but don’t charge the fee. Even then, I include the value of the rush fee on the invoice with “no charge” as the price. This way, the client sees that the project could have been charged a rush fee (so they know that they should plan ahead next time) and they feel good that I have given them that extra-high level of service at no extra charge.
Do you charge rush fees? How do your clients respond when you tell them?