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When to charge and not charge a client

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GregWhen to charge and not charge a client
by on Dec 12, 2005 at 7:16:06 pm

I have a client with whom I've produced, directed and edited 4 training videos over the past year. Now they are having their national conference here locally. They've asked me to shoot and edit several presentations over the course of 4 days. Along with video production, I also do meeting staging and production.

I received a call from my client today, asking me if I would be available to meet with him and the hotel staff(AV folks and others) on Friday morning 9:00AM. The problem is that Miami traffic blows at that time of the morning. I figure it'll take me 1.5 hours each way, plus meeting time. I also figure that I'll be doing alot of consulting, as my client has no experience in running a large meeting.

My question is do I charge the client a fee for my consulting services, or do I show them how much I know in order to get the job. I hate to spend half a day not getting paid, however, if I land this gig, and I'm sure I will, it wouldbe time well invested.

If I tell my client I'll have to charge them to attend this meeting, will I be looked at as a "nickle and dimer"? Should I just suck it up? What would you guys do? Thanks.

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debeRe: When to charge and not charge a client
by on Dec 12, 2005 at 9:25:03 pm

In general, I don't charge for meetings, unless they really do take up half my day. I'm usually up front about it both ways.

I don't charge for driving time, either, unless it's a courier run that could've been handled a different way and I want to make sure they don't get into the habit of thinking I'll just do it because I did it once. Of course, many times, if it's on my way, I volunteer to deliver, and don't charge, but I make sure I have said at least once, "Oh, it's no big deal. It really is on my way home. What's a couple of minutes more north?"

That being said, I don't have that many meetings. Most of my stuff is done over the phone and/or through email or iChat. I also don't charge for that time, either, unless it takes up an inordinate amount of time and it keeps me from doing things that could be earning me money.

If you anticipate this being a significant number of days' worth of your time, perhaps you can find a way to work that into the bill for the event. Many of the event companies I work for have a "pre-production planning" charge. You don't necessarily have to break it down into hours, unless that seems like a good idea to you. If the client asks about it, the guys I know just say it's to cover all the time you put in before the event, which is usually substantial. They can't really expect you to put in a week's worth of work and not be compensated for it. Unless your markup is huge and you make a huge margin. Then, no, don't charge. If your margins are small, then charge for your time.

I should've started with that. What's your anticipated profit? (I'm not expecting a real answer, mind you. That's none of my business). If you're expecting to make a lot more money on this event than your regular day rate, then don't charge, that WILL look like you're nickel-n-diming them. If you're only making your day rate during the course of the event, then consider charging them meeting time or adding a pre-pro planning charge. Unless it adds up to only a half-days worth of your time or so over the course of the planning. If it's that little time, I'd just chalk it up to good client relations. If they ask for more of your time than that, then I'd be more likely to charge, if I were you. More than a day, charge, less than a day, don't charge, I'd guess is what I'm saying. Unless you're making a big profit on the event, then don't charge at all.

Gee, could I have made that more circular?!?


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David Roth WeissRe: When to charge and not charge a client
by on Dec 12, 2005 at 9:26:41 pm


The most important thing is to attend the meeting with bells on and a twinkle in your eye. If you did a good job last time out you're their man, and you should impress upon them that you're on their team. Later, depending on the lay of the land you can always bill them for your time or at least discuss it with them.


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