Where in the hell am I?

January 3, 2011

Frustrating shortsightedness

Filed under: archaeology — Tags: , , , , — John @ 8:10 pm

Yeah yeah, I know I said I’d post again tomorrow…on December 1, 2010. Please accept my humble apologies.
Rather than do another catch up post, I’m going to talk a bit about something I’ll be dealing with in the next week or so that will be stressing me out/frustrating me/making my life a bit more hellish.
I have to drive to San Antonio to do some lithic analysis at the curation facility of the Center for Archaeological Research (CAR) at UTSA. The drive is 80.7 miles, and takes 1 hour and 27 minutes according to Google. Of course, anyone familiar with Austin and/or San Antonio rush hour traffic knows that it could easily be an hour more rund trip. And, since CAR is only open during normal business hours (8a-5p), I’m gonna catch at least a little bit of rush hour one way or the other. At best, I’m looking at 2.5 hours drive time (since Google always overestimates a bit), at worst up to 4 hours.
Simple solution is to put me up in a hotel to reduce the drive time to just one round trip. This maximizes the amount of hours spent doing actual work as oppose to sitting in a car listening to NPR.
But to the client, that’s too expensive. They see the $85/night max. hotel allowance and $36/day maximum reimbursed food per diem (in this case, other times it’s a flat $46/day) and freak out.
So, we try and build in more hours to account for the travel time, which is always the first place that gets cut when clients want a smaller budget. And they don’t care if it takes longer, because that comes out of our overhead/profit rather than their billables.
If only we could charge them for the extra time, maybe they’d realize how much cheaper it is to pay for the damn hotel room and per diem.
For the 4 days left in this week, which will be 9 hour-days, I’m looking at roughly 12 hours drive time. With a hotel, it would be closer to 3 hours. Let’s say my billing rate is $45/hour (a rough guess, not to mention a secret). That 9 extra hours of drive time costs $405. The comparable hotel and per diem cost for 3 days is $363 maximum, or a saving of $42.
Throw in the cost of mileage reimbursement, which at 55 cents/mile is $88.55/day for this particular project. Technically the hotel pays for itself RIGHT THERE, since you would cut out three round trips (minus minimal travel from hotel to work area).
We won’t even go into the unmeasurable costs and impact to the work of having a tired, frazzled employee.

OK, I needed to vent. This particular job has been super stressful because the budget was hacked to pieces over the last couple of years, without an accompanying reduction in the amount of work to be done. There’s already not enough hours budgeted to do everything I need to do for this analysis, so each useless hour of drive time is just that much more stressful and frustrating to me. I’ve already underbilled my hours for this project, considering it my penance for any slacking off I may have done over the last year. And yes, I know I shouldn’t do that.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] flying up, we actually saved the client a couple thousand dollars. I explained before about billable rates , in a post about budget shortsightedness on the part of clients. In this case, the cost of the airplane […]

    Pingback by Whirlwind trip to Oklahoma « Where in the hell am I? — May 3, 2011 @ 5:21 pm


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