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A service- or barn-call fee is added to a customer’s bill to cover regular vehicle expenses (fuel, maintenance, fluids), vehicle operating expenses (registration, insurances), travel-time and the cost of a replacement vehicle. This fee may be a flat fee or a variable fee (typically per-mile).
Tracking vehicle expenses allows you to more accurately separate these expenses from other shoeing expenses. It makes it easier to determine if you need to increase your service fee when costs begin to rise. By charging a call fee, you do not have to consolidate clients to specific areas on certain days.
Another reason to charge a service-call fee is as part of a contingency plan for a new vehicle. Too often, when a farrier’s vehicle dies, there is no cash on hand to purchase a new or used vehicle and it’s necessary to seek a loan. Charging a service-call fee will help you set money aside for this situation.
Don’t call your fee a fuel fee, mileage charge or anything else that ties it to a particular expense. Terms like these can lead to unnecessary arguments and assumptions that the fee is based on the cost of fuel alone. I suggest calling it a trip charge, travel charge, service charge, service-call fee, barn-call fee, ranch-call fee or perhaps a dispatch fee if you are in a multi-farrier practice.
To determine what to charge, consider the cost of your vehicle, how often you…