Who has done professional tank setup and maintenance? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-09-2007, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Who has done professional tank setup and maintenance?

A few quick questions for you...

1) How do you determine what to charge?

2) Who do you get insurance through, and what's the going rate for this sort of thing?

3) Any other advice you can give?


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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-09-2007, 05:13 PM
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i maintained tanks in college for money on the side in the science building at SFSU, and a few other local business around the city, and a Morgan Stanley office in downtown Jack London Square in Oakland for 2 years. i stopped doing it cause of the clients, not the challenge in keeping the tanks.

Setup tank for a set price: $10 per gallon (negotiable) + they provide all hardgoods and fish.
every other week maintenance: $50-$150 per visit depending on clients tank size, and maintenance needs. (really tried to limit myself to 1 hr per visit)

thats what i charged.

my only advice is the following;
make sure the client and you are in sync. If they say they want to do 0 maintenace, you need to figure out a way to keep the tank looking nice between visits. the hardest thing was to balance what the owner wanted against what i thought was best for the tank and its inhabitants.

i think my problem came from the fact the owners in most cases just wanted immediate results, and its just not always possible. Especially when they try and go cheap on you and have you only come in once a month, or every 6 weeks.... and then they expect you to make the tank sparkle the very next visit. it was fun, sometimes very frustrating and very challenging. id like to try and do it again someday.

good luck!


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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-09-2007, 09:03 PM
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I called around, and asked what local 'pro' services charged. They were charging $50 / hr, plus cost of fish, products, etc. I told people what the companies charged, then I told them I was $25/hr (plus fish, products, etc). As already mentioned, be sure you and the client are on the same page - maintenance schedule, total cost, etc.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-09-2007, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evercl92 View Post
I called around, and asked what local 'pro' services charged. They were charging $50 / hr, plus cost of fish, products, etc. I told people what the companies charged, then I told them I was $25/hr (plus fish, products, etc). As already mentioned, be sure you and the client are on the same page - maintenance schedule, total cost, etc.
That seems cheap to me, unless the prices of products/fish is hiked up.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-09-2007, 11:15 PM
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Hey Jen are you planning in starting a full time business? Yoink and I were thinking of doing something along those lines.


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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-10-2007, 12:36 AM
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That seems cheap to me, unless the prices of products/fish is hiked up.
Which is cheap? Pro service at 50/hr or me at 25/hr?

I just left it up to them (or, I'd usually go with them to the LFS) to get fish, after telling them what they should be looking for.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-10-2007, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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Great advice, thanks guys!

I'm still trying to iron out the details, do my research, and find some way of reconciling the horrible cost of insurance ($800-3000, from what I hear...)

Aquanut, evercl92, how long ago was it that you did maintenance? I'm just wondering if the rates have evolved at all. They also may differ based on area of the country.

Did you generally use the tap water on the site?

Thanks again guys, any other input is greatly appreciated.


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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2007, 02:55 PM
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I think Jen reads my mind sometimes.

I've also been thinking about this for a long time. Now for DECA I'm going to be doing a competitive event about entrepreneurship and its to make a business with plan and all that fun stuff, projected expenses and the works.

Jen what are you looking at insurance for? Car, or like small business insurance?

Do you have any projection of what your costs will be?

Also, if the client was far away, would anyone charge more to cover gas or anything?

Thanks,
-Andrew

ps. Jen not trying to hijack just get more information as well, hopefully you don't feel I'm hijacking the thread, if so let me know.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2007, 03:14 PM
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When I was helping a guy do construction he would charge twice the cost of a door or window for installation. He did this incase he accidentally cut a door wrong or smashed a window, so he had enough money to replace it with no extra cost to the customer.

If you were installing a tank for someone would it be a good idea to charge twice the price of the tank?

I would probably charge $35 an hour plus products, just because thats what I charge to landscape. People save with me because I don't jack up the price of plants, and I get the plants 1/2 price from the nursery. I do it mostly for a hobby, and do all work under the table with no insurance though.
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2007, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JenThePlantGeek View Post
I'm still trying to iron out the details, do my research, and find some way of reconciling the horrible cost of insurance ($800-3000, from what I hear...)

Aquanut, evercl92, how long ago was it that you did maintenance? I'm just wondering if the rates have evolved at all. They also may differ based on area of the country.

Did you generally use the tap water on the site?
Not sure why you need insurance. Just provide services "as is". If a tank breaks, fails, etc, it's up to the tank manufacturer to to do the replacing.

My maintenance has been off and on for a year now, and recently.
Used tap water from their faucet.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2007, 05:59 PM
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Its not just about replacing the tank or livestock. What if it was run near a computer with important data? You as a contractor have liability, and they can and would sue you.

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2007, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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Yeeeup, a friend of mine who has been doing this for awhile gave me some advice. When I proposed the idea, the first thing he said was "Get good insurance!".

He knew someone who had a tank leak onto a server, and the guy got sued for $50,000. It doesn't matter if they "agreed" to be responsible for the tank or not. America has had several million stupider lawsuits. Coffee is hot, fast food makes you fat, and tanks can leak - common sense doesn't really run rampant in this country.

He's also installed a BRAND new tank and had it bust in less than two weeks. Luckily for this one, they only asked him to pay for professional carpet cleaning.

Anything can happen, and as a sole proprietorship I would be personally liable for any money should I happen to lose a lawsuit. This means my HOUSE, my CAR, and my PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNT could be taken away if the worse happened.

So yeah, I'd say I DO need insurance.


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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2007, 10:00 PM
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Jen could you have them sign a disclaimer or something?

-Andrew
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2007, 10:08 PM Thread Starter
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What, like a "Warning: Coffee is HOT" type thing? We see how well THAT worked out . I don't trust myself to be able to write a disclaimer covering every possible loophole, and I'm certainly not going to hire a lawyer to do it for me.

I personally wouldn't do business without insurance, too much at risk.


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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-11-2007, 11:36 PM
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^ I thought that disclaimer was the result of that McD's hot coffee lawsuit... in other words, I don't think they used to print it on the cups before the lawsuit.
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