What you charge your clients is a personal thing, and not something that you should set before talking to clients. Certainly, there is a basic fee schedule you can set, but as needs vary amongst clients, so should your fees. For example, clients that need billing only with processing through the lock box need less personal attention than those who do not process payments through the lock box and should be charged accordingly. These are things that you want to discuss with the client before they go live with you, not something you hit them with after they agree or when you send the first invoice.
All new clients should be given a contract to sign. This assures you that there is no question about the rates and gives you an edge in the event that someone doesn’t pay. Without a contract, if your client doesn’t pay your invoice, you don’t have anything solid to force them to pay, but with a written agreement, if you are forced to go to court, you have cause for a judgment.
You may also consider setting fees based on the volume of work. Many times a vendor of any kind will base prices upon how much of a product that a customer buys, and in reality, your client is buying a product – your services – so the more business they send to you, the lower the rates should be since continuous work is more cost effective than having to do a little bit of work for several different clients. For those who have not thought about that in the past, think of it this way. Each client has different requirements, and as such, your system must be set up to accommodate those needs. If you have one client who gives you a great deal of work, and it takes you an entire day during the week to complete it, you don’t have to make changes to your system. On the other hand, if you have several small clients, and you have to keep changing the setting on the computer for their needs, you have lost time and thus, productivity. Think of it in the same way you think of the auto industry: a new model requires retooling, and retooling means shut down time in order to prepare. It may not be as detailed and precise, but it still requires a change in order to switch from one client to the next.