How Does Ad Agency Charge Rush Fees – Why Charge (Part 1 of 4)

How Does Ad Agency Charge Rush Fees – Why Charge (Part 1 of 4)

Rush Job, Usual Price

I believe that proper strategizing and planning will yield a better result compared to a hastily put together rush job. Racing against time, going without sleep, working non-stop under immense pressure, bashing with internal and external folks to get things done are stressful and nerve wrecking. I much prefer to plan ahead, get things organised and keep my sanity.However, every once a while, we’ll have a client pounding on our door, breathing down our necks to get a job done at lightning speed. It could be poor management, bad planning or just an unfortunate incident of emergency that could not be avoided. Whatever.

The questions boil down to does ad agency and design firm
– take the job at the usual price?
– add an additional mark-up for the extra efforts it has to put in? (a “rush fee”)
– reject the job because it will put other clients’ projects in jeopardy?
– reject the job because it doesn’t like to rush for urgent jobs?

I will talk about these over the next 2 weeks. Today, let’s start with taking the rush job without charging a rush fee.

Every company operates differently. Even if we are enlightened entrepreneurs with big hearts and are all prepared to pitch all that we have whenever the need arises, the fact is there are bills to pay every week, every month. Sure, the client understands but

“I have been supporting you for so long, surely you can make an exception.”

Now, that is a legitimate question and it needs a good reply. So how do ad agencies and design firm decide? I cannot answer for all but the underlying considering factors will centered on:
– Principles
– Relationships

If the culture is such that industry folks earnestly take the cues from moderating bodies like Design Institute of Australia or Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Singapore, the chances are both agencies and clients will happily abide by the industry rules on rates and rush fees. In other words, agencies will simply by matter-of-the-fact add a 100% for an after-6pm rush job and the client will accept it – even grudgingly. For clients who don’t like to pay but accept the status quo, they will learn how to avoid paying such premiums by better time management of their projects.

If no one heed such recommendations and supply exceeds demand, price wars will sway client loyalty from right to left swiftly and easily. If you are from the agency side, how many times have you lost your clients because of price? If you are from the client’s side, how often have you awarded the job to the lowest quote because you cannot justify to the boss that you have a better understanding with the higher priced agency?

The fact is, most clients appreciate a certain agency because of the quality and punctuality of work delivered plus the sparkling chemistry in the working relationship. So when they have an impossible deadline, their natural instinct is to run to the most trusted agency for support even though its price is much higher than Joe Smith Advertising. This explain the cajoling and appeal, “I have been supporting you for so long, surely you can make an exception.”

If this is a client that pays you 80% of your income or has been around for the past 15 years supporting you from agency to agency, what are you going to do? Say “sorry” and see this loyal client distance himself/herself from you? Hardly, right?

“But, but it’s not right that the client is not paying the rush fees.”

Well, you can maximize your oratory skills to convince the client to do the “right” thing. Or you can immediately do a mind shift and tell yourself (and the boss) that no time is better than now to demonstrate the agency’s strong support – especially if all costs are internal costs. If it involves external costs, then you might want to work the sums to see if you are losing money. If you are not, what’s the problem? Not right? Not fair? What about thinking from the perspectives of CRM and PR?

You can be right or you can be rich. All marketing gurus will tell you that it’s easier to get repeat business from existing clients, compared to cultivating new ones.

I will add in the quotation as well as the invoice, the additional time and chores my team got to put in. I will state the actual amount it would have cost the client. Then I will cross them out and distinctly put the word “Waived” beside the line. What do you think if I have just done?

I stated it openly and publicly that our urgent services were chargeable, they were not rendered free of charge. However, I chose to offer it at no additional cost to the client – as long as this is an isolated case, and not something that I will have to make an exception very often.

We are always grateful and appreciative of people who run an extra mile for us. Sometimes, when that extra mile is called for, offer it with nothing except understanding, concern and plenty of gratitude to the client who has been so nice and so supportive. A good deed will always results in another good deed.

Be nice.

This post is dedicated to Laura Spencer, a professional independent copywriter, who has written on the same topic. Check out what she thinks about rush jobs.

Read the rest of the series on Rush Fees
Part 2: Charge Rush Fees Creatively

Part 3: Charge Creatively

Part 4: Don’t Like It but Don’t Reject it.

4 Replies to “How Does Ad Agency Charge Rush Fees – Why Charge (Part 1 of 4)”

  1. It’s a tricky question, and one that everyone will deal with differently. I personally haven’t had a single client follow me around for fifteen years, although I have had some that have been loyal for nearly five years.

  2. Except for those big agencies whose work goes through a definite process, most small agencies have to wade through some bad experience. I faced a critical situation when one agency came to me for freelance work. They wanted to have the job done in two days flat. I had to do it to keep my pockets warm. They said they’ll take 30 man days to pay all the vendors. And it was my mistake to give the copy, heeding to their frantic calls that the client was pushing them. That was one terrible experience I tried hard to swallow.
    I feel most agencies/clients push the copy and creative folks to the wall by saying ‘it’s very urgent’. Most of the time, the deadlines are fake, smacking of distrust, or plain malice. I just can’t fathom how these business visionaries or strategy-gurus could not think of or relegate such an important business paradigm – advertising to such outright negligence or insignificance!
    It’s a matter of one’s values and genuine respect for others’ ethos and expertise that guide one to admire and appreciate the other.

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