Price Check: My Labor


I’ve been networking for the last couple of months trying to build a reputation in the English speaking expat community in Tokyo for providing Mac upgrade/repair/consulting services.

I finally have my first customer today.

I’m not Apple certified or authorised or any of that, but I suppose I’d like to do so one day. Having lived in Japan for most of the last decade (except for graduate school and my time in Sydney), I know that it can be a real hassle to try to deal with out of warranty Apple stuff here, especially if you don’t speak Japanese. The Apple store is great for English if you are under warranty or your don’t care about cost, but finding fluent or native English speaking technicians otherwise is difficult.

So I need a reasonable idea of how much I should charge. Should it be hourly or per consultation? Is there any kind of chart of standard approaches based on difficulty, etc? Any help would be great. I don’t want to overcharge, but I don’t want to undercharge either. I want to strike the right balance so that it generates word of mouth recommendations.


I’ve always heard Japan has high cost of living, which will probably impact. I’d say price out an electrician or plumber to come for an appointment, and go with that rate.

For comparison, here in Australia, I charge $190+ GST per hour (onsite or remote), with a 30 minute callout fee for onsite, and a minimum of an hour onsite. I’m obviously a registered business, etc.


Japan definitely does have a high price of living, especially Tokyo. That said my targeted demographic won’t probably be able to afford that. Most of the expats I know are going to be relatively young and not earning more than about $3000/mo, if that. I think $80/hr might be a lot more fair. I’ve been called out on site, so I’m charging that and billing for transport reimbursement as well.

But, I mean you spend 5 or 6 hours, and they might as well go buy a new MacBook for that kind of money. The goal is to provide a different style of service than what is usually offered, which many millennials cannot afford. Not to mention the language barrier.


Moving this to The Garage.


Depends what you’re offering.

If you’re doing hardware repairs, I guess you can try to be competitive. But most of what I do you’d need to do even if you bought a new Mac - i.e. very little is solved by moving problems to new hardware. :wink: So don’t undervalue your offerings is what I’m trying to say. :slight_smile:

The cost of managing hardware these days is usually an extra cost that is equivalent to a significant % of the cost of the hardware itself.


Don’t forget to account for any applicable taxes, plus insurances if required.


I’m mostly doing part replacement, upgrades, backups, macOS installations. I’m not doing anything like soldering components or anything like that.

I decided on $80/hr for labour, $40/hr consultation fee, transportation reimbursement (by train) or mileage (by car). This seems fair to me. Since I’m not doing anything one can’t do if they are willing to learn and practice.


I think you’re underselling your skill. I did that too when I started out. :man_shrugging: :grin:

The exact point is they are paying you so they don’t have to learn or practice. Some people change their own tap washers, other people pay a plumber. Just because one can learn how to do something doesn’t mean the professional doing it for them should cut them a deal. :wink:


Well. These are my first customers after years of doing it for myself and doing favors. I do have an IT position with my union, and I’m in my second year of that, so I am a professional, but still $190 is way steep in my mind. I couldn’t afford it and my customers are not that well off. Call it marketing overhead?

How did you scale up your pricing over time if you also undersold your skill when starting out too? I’ve been fiddling with Macs for 20 years but I just now feel comfortable to charge for it.


It’s all about who the customer is, I agree.

I’ve been doing it full time for around 10 years (with a 3 year break for a full time job doing it for someone else). Before I first went freelance about 10 years go a company billed me out at $180ex back then!

Gradually I built up a client base and put my rates up over time. Still have a few long term clients on a regular commitment with a lower hourly rate, but most are at the new rate now.


These folks are a bit technically challenged, they are colleagues in a other organisation, and they spend a lot of money on their special needs child. This MacBook crapping out on them is a major burden. But so would replacing it.

It’s fair to note I’m not a capitalist. I’m a socialist. Not to get political, but just to describe why I do what I do. I’m primarily a public JHS teacher, in between positions, my IT work is for a labour union, I earn a stipend not a salary, that comes out of dues I myself pay, and my motivation for offering this service is how many people I’ve seen struggle to get their older Macs to keep on chugging. Can’t afford Apple repairs, can’t afford a new one.

I’m not looking to make much profit. Profiting isn’t the point. Just looking for something to help me with the bills, which under taxes if I repair at home, becomes overhead. (I have a tax guy for freelance, thanks @cosmichobo). Call me a not-for-profit MacFixIt. :slight_smile:


I did exactly the same thing when I was self-employed. Wayyyy undercharged.


I’m notorious for this as well. I’ve repaired Logic Boards at component level in the past for around $60/hr, admittedly working out of a shed at all hours of the night, and nothing too extensive like BGA rework, just the usual corrosion cleanup, fuse replacements, etc.

Didn’t mind doing it at those rates for AppleTalk members, but to the general public, I’d probably charge a little higher next time.


You also need to factor in an element of re-work. There are times you’ll make a mistake and will need to do something again. There are also times where you’ll be bitten by hardware failure on a replacement part - you need to provide some form of warranty of your work.


Yup, I have thought about that and definitely plan to offer some sort of warranty. What I’m offering now is 90 days on a part I replace or necessary software help (assuming it is related to an issue I fixed). This seems fair.