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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
My general rule is to include up to 1hr for this purpose at no cost. If a client is wanting more of a "brainstorming session" than a "get to know everyone", I charge my usual rate.
Hope that helps!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.