If a large part of your client base is residential then you may have been asked “shop around” on a clients behalf. The client knows they need to purchase something but want to do it alone because they want to make sure they dont purchase the wrong one or get ripped off. This usually occurs in two ways:
- 1. The client tells you what they want, you look around for an item that does what they need and gives them the best bang for their buck, then they purchase it through you.
- 2. The client already had a store in mind to purchase the product from (usually a Bigbox store) and wants you to help them choose the right one.
While this sounds like an easy way to make money, how do you charge? Do you charge for your time or do you place a markup on the product?
Well, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this and if you get it wrong, you can end up wasting a lot of time or upsetting your customer.
The client will generally let you know whether they want to purchase through you or purchase from another business but you may have to ask. Here is what to do in each situation:
The Client Wants To Purchase From You
If the client wants to purchase the product through you, then you simply to treat this like you would with any other stock you carry, where the markup makes it worth your time. You do the research for your client, you buy the product through your business and place your markup on it that is appropriate for the amount of time you spent, and the client never knows who your suppler was.
The Client Wants To Purchase From Another Business
If the client has another business in mind like BestBuy or Newegg, you need to charge based on your time rather than have a markup. Marking up a product is difficult to do in this situation without looking like like you picked a price out of thin air.
For example, which way sounds sounds more legitimate?
- “Here is the screen from BestBuy which cost $150. That’ll be $200 please”
- “Here is the screen from BestBuy which cost $150. It has been an hour at fifty dollars an hour, so that’ll be $200 please”
The first looks like you plucked a price out of thin air, the second sounds fair enough.
The best way to go about this is to shop with them either physically or using remote support software to shop with them online. This way they know they are taking up your time and that you need to charge for it.
Otherwise, if you tell them what to purchase after you put in the time researching for them, it is possible that they will just go buy it from a Big Box store and circumvent you entirely. There was a topic similar to this in the Technibble forums recently where Lisa from Call That Girl said: “We tell the clients to pay us for our shopping time. Remote time with me is our normal rates, $59-$79 to shop online together, or they can take my lead tech to Microcenter and he’s $125 an hour. We save people money by shopping with them.”
Following the simple guideline above, this should help prevent you from getting stung when shopping on behalf of your clients.