Do you charge for the first "meet the team" meeting?
I recently landed a new client and we have both signed a contract and agreed on my hourly rate. The client wants me to come in to the office to meet the rest of the team, and I'm not sure if I should charge for this time? What is your rule of thumb?
This is a good question. It's one I have thought much about. I do not charge for initial consultations prior to starting the actual engagement. These consultations include mutual information sharing up to and including contracting. Once I begin doing the work, I charge.
Mostly depends on the contract you signed. IF you stated in your contract that you have an hourly rate and everything you do is hourly then absolutely charge for the hour.
You teach people how to treat you, and if you are willing to do things for free that you should be paid for they will expect that repeatedly.
That said most contracts that are based on hourly rates, are just that. The are not relationship contracts, and they are not about value models. They are about the work specifically. Your only value here is what you deliver in that time, so make sure that you understand the purpose and goals for the meeting and meet or exceed them.
Relationships are great and businesses can grow on relationships, but it is critical that you don't confuse business relationships with friendships. You may become friends over time, but that should be based on mutual respect and interests. By not valuing yourself upfront is not respecting your time and not a good way to start a friendship, or business relationship.
If it"s the first meet and greet, don't charge them. You want them to be comfortable with you and not feel like every time they talk to you the clock is ticking.,you're not a lawyer. When you start working on the project, that's when the clock starts ticking. You have the contract, and its good to do a good faith meet and greet.
You have a number of great answers.
My suggestion is not to charge your time for the first meeting, that way there is no clock, which means you have all the time required to gather information. As the contract is already signed you are not in a selection situation. Limit your answers and as much as possible indicate that it's a great question, that required more insight, until I have a good understanding / picture regarding your mechanics, I would suggest it's better for me to get back to you. I do have some ideas, but it's too early for me to discuss them.
What I would charge for is my out of pocket expenses. If they are small, again I would not charge them.
It depends on how he set his relationship with the customer.
Generally it is an act of courtesy to know the team, but without this turning into a business activity.
Why in the world would you NOT charge them? You are already under contract and this meeting would directly affect your ability to execute the project successfully! But, did you include it in your proposal? Here's the question. Do you want to be in the situation where for every client interaction you have to sit there and ask if you will charge them or not? Usually, the client's perspective is that once they've contracted with a person that they are paying for their time from now on.
If this were prior to your getting a signed contract then you could consider it a marketing/sales expense. But, I would suggest you not do that if you can. I have found tremendous value in charging them for this type of meeting because it does two things:
1) It makes them put skin in the game. Only serious prospects would do this.
2) It makes you seem a higher value than those who will give away the time.
Of course it depends on what your funnel looks like. At this stage in my career I can pick and choose my clients so making them put a little skin in the game is a great qualifying criteria.
I always go on investment of building a relationship and trust and give 3 hours free for such meetings. I do have that in my service agreement though but I've never had an issue.
The client is king so make him fee very important and bring important things then see if he offers you any compensation
For me, the question has to be: who will get the value?
If the weight of the value goes to the client - your meeting delivers ideas, or contributes substantially to the delivery of what you are commissioned to deliver, then my presumption would be towards charging for your time.
If the weight of benefit is on you - you build relationships and understand your client better, so you can continue to serve them beyond this one contract - or even serve them better in this contract, then I would be wary of charging.
The other consideration is the relationship you want. As others have said, are you after a highly structured, pre-contracted relationship? If so, document every charge in your proposal and respect that if you missed something, then at best you will rely on goodwill to make an extra charge.
Are you after a one off 'hit and run' delivery only relationship? Then by all means abandon your concern for reputation and charge whatever you can.
Are you looking for a long term, mutual relationship? If so, absorb costs to build good will. What I do is show the cost on my invoice as a line item, then add a note 'no charge' against it and enter a zero in the cash column. That way my client sees the value but des not pay the price.
Yes...but make it refundable against future work to ensure that your contract is respected
Definitely do not charge for the team meeting, however you can for your own (and any involved colleagues), time if you manage it so the client spends additional time with you to discuss your initial project (outside of the meet the team activity),
Of course you do. Administration and kickoff activities should have been included in your project proposal estimate, and the time for them should be billed.
You have massive amounts of 'insights'...'advice'...and 'guidance' within every 25 answers to your question. How about we reverse rolls here allowing you to Answer...while I ask 1 or 2 correlated Questions.
(In NO way, shape or form should you or anyone assume or imply in thought that the questions I ask below are to be viewed as derogatory nor defamation of character, business practices, stature and/or beliefs of Original Question asker nor of Experts who Answered)
Whew...Now that's out of the way here are my two collaborative Questions for you...
Is Business Personal or considered Personal Business?
If an individual takes their Business Personal, when do an individual's Moral Business Practices apply?
Only trying to help...just a brief and to the point view without knowing any other details other than what has been provided above.
With Sincere Gratitude,
Libby, I don't charge for the first meet the team meeting as it's part of me getting know and understand the client as much as they want to me and get to know me. Both sides benefit from this first relationship building meeting. All other meetings, even if it's to meet new or different team members, are charged at my standard rates and the client knows what they are, so when they ask, they're doing so from a position of being informed.
Depending if it required a long-distance trip or not, I would recommend that you don't charge for taking the time to meet the entire team. It is important that all concerned nurture the relationship with you and your company.
Hello Libby - Here is my overview. I strongly believe our industry and the professionals that make certain decisions tend to undercharge in general. So many are anxious to secure a new contract that they may be willing to reduce what their real value is. Even worse, sometimes I see flat out low balling in an attempt to get by competition.
My rule of thumb is to always get what you have established as your true worth. Then go from there.
I spent years getting numerous certifications so I know I offer a higher degree of expertise and experience than some others. With that in mind, I try to stick to what I established as my own value and that of my team and offerings. It has just become too easy to reduce a retainer in exchange for a new client. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that doing this also makes a statement to that client. It says that you don't value your services as much as you want them to value your services.
In this particular case, I would agree with Barbara Dennis and think about the unique factors of this specific case. If it were me, I would be charging for the introduction time because of the fact you have to travel and will lose every bit of that time to spend working.
On the flip side of this coin, I do not charge for up to 3 opening meetings where we establish goals, expectations and a starter plan. But leaving your office and spending who knows how much time on this client's request deserves compensation.
I hope this helps and congratulations on the new client!
If it is a large assignment you should not charge for a meet and greet. It is always good pr to give the client extra benefit and consideration.
I offer a 45-1 hour introduction for free, but that is at the beginning - before contract signing. In that case, I would charge: you still have to get there and you cannot do any other work in that time.