Project Practitioners > The Two R's of a Startup

The Two R's of a Startup

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


In starting up a business or division, there are two R’s to focus on, rate and responsiveness. If you cannot do it quickly, then perform the work cheaply. If you cannot perform the work cheaply, complete the tasks faster.

Entering into a new space or starting something new, you have to have advantages. Being agile is an easy one for small businesses or teams. The communication lines are limited, and the ability to change on the fly is easier. You can make one phone call and perform a complete 180-degree turn in an instant.

If agility is an issue, then pricing should not be. Not only having competitive pricing but near the lowest prices helps you compete. Low pricing does not equate to low quality. That perception is something you will work every day until a reputation is established.

What piques the interest of other organizations is the low cost and quick response time. That combination gets people interested immediately. They want to put that equation to the test early. If an owner expects something done in a month and it gets done in a week under budget, that is a winning combination.

Let’s take a closer look at rate and responsiveness and how it can work early to set you up later.




Rate, be it hourly or daily, impacts the bottom line immensely. Even a one dollar per hour increase, throughout a project, shows when the checks get cut. $2,000 over a year may not seem like much, but if your startup has very little working capital, that adds up.

An increase may be necessary, but an agreed-upon rate may be already established. There must be ways to hide that rate within the final cost. Trip charge is one way to make up that difference. In maintenance, technicians travel from site to site every day. Rarely, do they stay at one site the entire day. The moment one job ends, the clock for the next begins.

That 15-minute escapade across town gets billed. Be it mileage or a set cost, somehow that needs to get billed. Having a minimum billable hour also makes up for lost time. If a technician travels 30 minutes to a job that takes five minutes to perform, a trip charge and a minimum may get billed out.

Your rate stays lower than most, but those baked in charges help make up the difference. Free estimates get carried over into the work should it be awarded. Many surface level rates have these hidden features that make up the difference. It is all transparent, and the rate stays the same, yet you get paid like the big leaguers.



For emergencies, hours can mean thousands of dollars. There was one call we could respond to in three hours. By the time I hung up the phone, they had already found someone else who could get there in an hour. When a leak is active, those two hours made the difference.

Responsiveness of your team and organization is imperative, especially at the early stages. You have to be the agile company willing to go anywhere at any time for a set rate. Over time, that changes and you start to charge typical rates, but initially, you are winning because you are available. Sometimes, the best ability is availability.

Owners do not like vacant properties. One day, in a hot market, means they are losing out on tenants. A week or less turnaround is ideal. A day or two is exceptional. The bigger organizations are booked up weeks in advance. You, establishing a client base, can respond much quicker and provide better quality.

This responsiveness carries over to communication. Getting back to owners and managers within an hour of first communication shows you are on top of the game. Reaching out to tenants within an hour of them submitting a work order shows progress immediately. Scheduling something in the first few hours of a fresh work order makes everyone happy.



Two R’s that can jumpstart your startup company or division are rate and responsiveness. Simple, easy ways to set yourself apart that you can control. An email comes in. A simple ‘received’ reply makes a big difference. It lets the tenant/manager/owner know you received it and should be doing something about it.

A quick text or email to the tenant asking about availability shows initiative. Communication is always important. Fast, accurate communication is second to none. You can control when communication is made and how frequently. You can control the rate in which you charge for the job.

Projects have very little control in reality. The weather, people, materials, and so on all can be perfect on paper, but when the rubber meets the road, anything can happen. Rate and responsiveness are in your control.

Take advantage to gain the advantage.

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