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?
That might depend on whether you do business from a "transaction" or "relationship" perspective. If you're transactional, you might want to let him know you'll be billing time spent to his firm. However, if you're into building lasting, referral style business relationships, I'd call it an investment, unless there is actual business conducted. Personally, I value relationships as they are similar to golden geese that, when treated well, often lay golden eggs in the form of future contract and referral business.
I normally provide a free consultation (prior to signing the client). If you have not already provided a free consultation session, then giving them a free hour in the "meet the team" would be great.
Make sure that during the "meeting the rest of the team", to provide valuable insight and information that they can use. I would provide these insights - afterwards in a summary "thank you" message. This way you are providing the team with not only an introduction of yourself but also insight into what you can do for them. At every turn, show them exactly why they have hired you.
Include that you are looking forward to assisting them in these new projects, etc. And can't wait to get started.
Hi Libby- you don't indicate what service you're providing..but I would advise to always be flexible either way. I never accept hourly rate deals, and rather opt for monthly 'retainer' deals-to allow flexibility for the client to you and access for discussion at agreed upon business hours. Always be willing to 'over deliver' and bend over backwards to please your clients. The good ones will recommend and refer you to others...:)
If you call it a "meet the team" it should be free. I prefer the term Discovery Meeting which clearly indicates questions and initial setup, which is the main foundation of the relationship and makes sense to charge for. Especially if it involves senior staff which you could even justify more money.
Slaying the 'how to charge' dragon is extraordinarily important for a building the foundation of a successful and peaceful business life.
If you have agreed to an hourly rate for client work, then I believe it would be a big mistake to not charge for your time when the client requests a meeting. If it were during the selling process, that would be a different story. This all should be explained in your contract (When fees are waived; how travel time is charged, whether you ever refund fees, how disputes are handled, etc.). You may want to consider - for the next client, including an 'onboarding' or 'intake' charge that includes up to (name the number of hours) either via Skype or on site to meet everyone and become more familiar with the organization. This could be at a discounted hourly rate, if you like. Travel expense should always be billed at actual, whether car mileage or air. They key to happy clients - and reducing your worries - is being 100% clear up front on how everything is charged.
You will save a lot of hassles by making sure you get paid ahead of time (retainer) for hourly work, or having all payments go through an intermediary (with arbitration) such as Upwork.com (formerly eLance).
In my business, I charge monthly retainer clients the first day of month through their credit card on file, unless I have received their check (it's all outlined in the contract). By-the-hour clients are charged a contracted monthly fee, which credits their account with the agreed-upon number of hours. I explain this to clients by saying "I hate having to deal with accounts receivable, and I keep my hourly rates more reasonable by using these terms."
In 18+ years of business, I have only had 3 minor fee disputes. If there is ever a question about a charge that I think may be valid on the client's end, I apologize and refund the client. Then, we get back on track, and I figure out how to prevent that problem from ever happening again.
Best of luck...as I said earlier, slaying the 'how to charge' dragon is important for a peaceful business life!
For me, what I do, I don't charge for the first meeting with the potiential new client.
Now since the client wants you to come back, I would charge. For my thinking is this you got the job. You are now going in to get the details, and possible get to know "a chain of command"
Even if you meet the team for an hour I would put in for it
As a gesture of good will and a desire to build relationships with others in the company, I always provide time to meet with clients and their teams at no charge. This not only allows me to gain further insight about who works with my client but how they connect with others in their office and how their peers or direct reports view them. The added bonus is that if anyone else in the company needs what I offer, they have already met me. Last year I was successful expanding my service with 3 different clients because of the initial meetings I had that I did not bill them for.
It also helps if you tell them up front how you operate. Since many coaches and consultants don't do this, it makes you stand out as someone whose main focus in your client.
I usually do not do hourly rate contracts. All of my meetings are built into the price for the project that was agreed upon.
If you did not negotiate a meeting of this nature as part of the engagement, then you could do up to an hour of :meet the team" at no cost. I agree with he others on this one.
Libby, Tim O'Krongly provides you the best alternative answer. Put this into your due diligence folder for the future.
I have always found that charging for meetings results in fewer and more productive meetings - however consider offering a discounted hourly rate for meetings & communications.
You already have a signed deal that should cover any "immersion" or introduction. If you didn't negotiate that up front, or it's not part of your deliverables, then you risk starting off on the wrong foot with a new client.
I suspect you invested many hours trying to land the business and over the course of your relationship you will invest even more of your time. If you priced your services fairly... Don't fret over nickles and dimes.
Yes, plan to charge. You likely spent unpaid hours explaining/selling/ outlining, etc., before signing. Go with a written agenda putting you more in charge than the client -ask each, or almost each, attendee a question. Methodically keep moving down the agenda, making notes. That is work. If you feel the meeting made little progress, graciously tell the main person, it was gratis - and show the hours on your invoice - following by "No charge".
You said you signed a contract. Hopefully it spells out the scope of work--what is included and what is not. Surely, such a meeting is within the scope and you should get paid for it.
I would want it to be more than a meet and greet. When I have meetings like this with the teams of new clients, I'm getting their input that is related to the project. This is often part of the needs assessment. It's a critical part of the project, and of course I get paid for it. Also for my write up after that meeting.
And depending on the distance, I may also charge for travel time.
Rule of thumb: If the client asks you to do it, or it's essential for the project, you bill for it. But spell these things out up front in the scope, so there are no unpleasant surprises on either side.
This is totally my opinion, but every minute of your day has value to you. Absolutely log it, and then waive it at the successful completion of the project if you feel that's appropriate. Otherwise you'll be doing free favors all the time. Even good clients don't feel they should actually pay you for anything. Make sure that precedent never gets set.
Absolutely! Your team will gain a wealth of intelligence at that meeting that will help inform their decisions on your new client's behalf.
Congrats are in order. Way to go. Libby, a lot of questions for you. But have some suggestions and recommendations too to help.
You can look like a hero and a partner or a consultant. You need to tell us more. Any prior relationship with one on the team? Your rates? Monthly retainer? It is helpful to ask them too.
But I'd suggest investing some of your time getting information. Unless it was an rfp, and you spend a ton of time winning the business.
Is it coffee? Is it an input meeting? Is a conference room, and how many involved? The more formal you should be charging.
I would recommend "make it productive." Maybe give them an hour and get everyone involved. Everyone wins if you and they are moving forward. It should be a partnership.
Good luck. It's a journey for all.
I think that there is certainly an element of judgement involved and in part it comes down to how you see the relationship with the client developing? Personally I prefer what I consider the professional approach where I don't expect either side to end up counting paperclips, either literally or metaphorically. If the client's first engagement with your team is undertaken in the shadow of a pending invoice then that may not be most conducive. Instead I like to price overall (eg add 1%) with the expectation that such a meeting will be needed, but provide it for "free" I've no specific invoiced item. I will let the client know that at this initial stage we are happy to meet without charge and that the clock starts running at (define the point). That way the client can feel they are being treated well and you can limit the opportunity to feel you are being take advantage of.
Presuming that the decision / agreement been closed, try to have the purpose for this "Meet the team" gathering defined in the client's words.
For example, A) Is this is the time for the team to sit with you and fire off a few questions leading to discussion during this meeting, perhaps even specific issues they hope you can help with? Or, is it (B) more of a social, low-key time to get to know each other in a 1 1/2 hour social setting (Meeting at the corner Pub, or, playing Dodgeball, etc.?
I usually describe these two examples when responding to the clients ask. If the client's idea of this is more "A" than "B" I would then go deeper with more specific questions leading to determining exactly what they hope to achieve from this team meet, as well as get a specific amount of time they would like and eventually leading to confirming this will be billable.
Of course there are always exceptions to this- Let's say they vision this to be a meeting during lunchtime, on-sight, lasting 50-60 minutes, and voluntary for those on the team who can attend (per the clients description), I would not charge for this. I would also be standing up and closing the meet-n-greet at 55 minutes.
Hi Libby congratulations on landing a new client and all the best with the contract.
My rule of thumb is not to charge for either the initial consultation to assess the needs of the client, or the 'meet the team' session.
But what you choose to do will depend on a number of factors, for example:
- do you have to travel a long way to meet the team - is there a major cost to this?
- how much of your time will this take?
- have you already agreed a contract price and would charging for this increase the contract price?
- how comfortable do you feel with charging for this?
I hope that this helps you to make the decision and all the best