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.