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Travel Expenses...Me or Client?

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Jeffrey GouldTravel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 1:59:42 pm

Hi, I have a meeting on Thursday in Ohio (I'm in Jersey) to meet a Medical Group for a potential video/website. I'm paying for the initial trip out there, even though it's no guarantee...which I'm OK with. If I book this job and already gave them a verbal quote for the project, is it right that I add on 1K for travel expenses? I personally think that I should honor the price I gave them and not add it, but a few friends disagree...so I decided to ask here. I would drive, so about $500 in gas, plus hotels, meals for a 3 day shoot.

I've had contracts where it stated "plus travel", but this is different as they think the price I gave is all inclusive and I don't want to blow the deal over 1K. Thanks for any input.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Craig SeemanRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 2:28:03 pm

Don't forget there's the cost of travel plus the time the travel takes plus the time in there that you're not shooting but away from your business.

That said, if your profit margin is high enough that you can consider the travel cost included, then you can do that.

Whether you should add to the quote depends on what you're charging and what you've decided as your formula for running the business and making a profit. No one can answer that because you didn't provide that info.

As to the risk of losing the job . . . it depends on how much the job is worth to your business. If eating the travel cost makes it unprofitable then losing it is probably a good thing. If they're going to be a repeat customer you have to take in to account the overall potential value over time. Again no one can answer that because you haven't provided that info.






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Jeffrey GouldRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 2:38:42 pm

Thank you for replying. Being two states away, I'm not sure if they'll be a repeat client, at least not for shooting...maybe re-editing, re purposing the video. I really wanted to have this client under my belt so that I could approach other Plastic Surgeons...I already have one, but two is that much better.

Very good point about the actual travel time, but again, I did charge that in the past...this client seems to be maxed out at $25K, it will cost me $10K in outsourced talents and DVD replication and travel, so $15K is left...is it still worth it? sure, but it would be more worth it if it were $16K...but not at the expense of the deal.

I guess my fear was that they would say "if that's the case, we'll just use local people"...although I'm offering a lot and have worked with a Plastic Surgeon before and they like what I've done.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mike CohenRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 3:08:28 pm

Having hired someone from New Jersey, the client understands you have to get to them and back. They hired you because of your expertise. Anyone certainly has the option to look in the yellow pages for local talent, but you never know what you are going to get. It is not your job to recommend they use local talent to save money, it is your job to do the job they hired you for.

If it was not in your original quote, I would send them an email saying, Looks like I left travel expenses out of my proposal. Sorry about that. I estimate it will take $750 for me to travel to your location and back home, plus $350 for hotel and meals. Will you be able to cover this?"

When we write proposals, we include + T&L at the end, but do not give an amount, since that cannot always be predicted.



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Craig SeemanRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 3:27:45 pm

Mike,
Your approach seems reasonable. I do have a couple of thoughts on that though.

I wonder if making the "No" answer to the travel expense so easy is a good thing. One doesn't want to be coercive though. How about an email saying "We've calculated that added travel expense is $1000." It gives them the option to respond with either "We thought that was included" or "Sure that's a reasonable line item addition." It gives both the client and Jeff room to wiggle on this based on the sense of the response.

The other thing is that from the client perspective is that the budget went from $25K to $26K and they may begin to have concerns about other "not as of yet" included expenses. They may begin to wonder about overnight shipment of approvals or FTP service or . . .

Jeffery, If your overall cost relative to expertise is good there's no reason why they wouldn't be repeat clients. The one thing you may have a problem providing is for last minute or small job work. That would be the only reason they'd go local.



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Jeffrey GouldRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 4:09:48 pm

Thanks Mike, I agree with all you wrote...I would never suggest that they use local, was just playing devils advocate. Since I'm working on a written proposal, I will write it out just the way you suggested...which is what I've done in the past.

Craig, great points and I don't want to come across as not trustworthy by making changes. What if I offer to split it with them...saying "I realize I left this is out of my verbal quote, but would you be kind enough to split the expenses with me?" I'm not a greedy person and have always gone for the long term relationship over an initial big project and then nothing. Thank you for your insight, this forum and it's members is priceless.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mike CohenRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 4:59:50 pm

being reimbursed for travel expenses is not greed, it is generally standard practice.

If a client balks at paying $1000 travel, but they are ok with the other $20,000 or so of your proposed budget, then they are nickel and diming you.

Better not try to bill them for a backup drive. "I can get a hard drive at OfficeStapleMaxDepot for $59 - why should I pay you $250?" and so forth.

I had one client ask for my travel expenses before the shoot. I told him it is just mileage from me to another town in my state. Still he wanted the exact mileage charge. Everyone reacts differently.


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Jeffrey GouldRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 5:11:05 pm

These people don't seem petty and what from I heard their office is decorated very high end...so it seems they aren't afraid to spend money on things they deem worth it. I'll go for the $1k and if they balk, I'll say "how about split it?". Thanks Mike.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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David Roth WeissRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 5:16:30 pm

[Mike Cohen] "being reimbursed for travel expenses is not greed, it is generally standard practice."

Agreed! And, charges should typically be door to door. Meaning, if you leave the house at 5am to catch a flight, the clock starts ticking at 5am. I may make adjustments, such as half my normal rate for travel, depending on the job and the budget, but my time on the job begins as soon as that job takes me away from my ability to work on other jobs.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Mike CohenRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 6:11:05 pm

{david roth weiss} my time on the job begins as soon as that job takes me away from my ability to work on other jobs.

One can never of course say this to a client - every client is the number one priority :)

Our prices reflect the expertise of our personnel, as well as the time spent out of the office (this out of office cost is implied, although generally not questioned by a client - if they don't like the quoted rate they will say so).

Don't ask, don't tell. If a client does not say "justify your $3000/day rate" then you needn't justify it.


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David Roth WeissRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 29, 2008 at 6:26:50 pm

[Mike Cohen] "One can never of course say this to a client - every client is the number one priority :)"

Agreed!!! However, one needs to be aware of these things and apply them consistently, otherwise customers can feel as though you're padding instead of charging an otherwise "customary" charge.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing, and Indie Film & Documentary forums.


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Orin JenkinsRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 30, 2008 at 1:49:37 am

Hi Jeffrey:

When you are shooting on spec you usually pay your own way with the hope that you'll not just impress the client with your talents but also that you are secure enough in your business to be able to shoot on spec. If you do great then your new client will know that they have to pay it all in the future; but they've probably done this before.

If your client is a newbie then they'll appreciate any knowledge you can give them, short of giving away the job, in how to handle future jobs. I take along Talent Releases, Location, Children, and Expense Agreements -- all sorts of releases so that I know I can cover myself and that there are no further business questions to ask nor answer.

If you gave a quote I'd recommend you stick to the quote to look more dependable and educated in the business. If you call back and start adding one item the client may expect in the back of their mind that you may call back with other little updates as you go along. Don't take advantage, and absorb your forgetfulness as a lesson learned.

If the client comments when you get there about your travel expenses you can either say you forgot (nope) or that you shoot spec as spec; with this honesty they may reimburse you or come to some other agreement with you concerning your "good will" as a spec shooter. Maybe they'll buy you lunch AND give you the shoot.

Repeat business is what you need these days to keep it in the bank instead of their pockets.

I hope you work things out and your honesty pays you back.

Director: The Photo College.com teaching all what they love about capturing things, then letting them go into the eyes of others.


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Jeffrey GouldRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on Apr 30, 2008 at 2:16:29 am

Orin, I think you misunderstood...my trip this week is just to present myself, my work and to see their facility...so in that way, it is a spec and I have no problem flying on my "dime".

The questions was that if I book the job, can I then present a proposal with an added line item of "Travel Expenses" even though I gave them a verbal for the project? From what I got from some of the posts here, is that they are two separate things, the work and the travel. You made some great points about honesty and client perceptions and I'm known by family and friends as "honest to a fault". Does my explanation change your views about adding the travel at all?

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Jeffrey GouldRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on May 2, 2008 at 3:04:43 pm

Hi, Just wanted to give an update on how this all worked out. I updated my written proposal to say "plus travel expenses, estimated to be $900-$1,1100". I gave my presentation yesterday, the doctors loved it, asked how much, I gave them the proposal, he signed it with no questions asked. I then asked the Administrator (who really wanted me to book the job) if they are OK with the travel and she replied "he signed it, all you have to worry about".

Nice to have people on your side, the Panera Muffin Tops didn't hurt. So thank you to all who gave me the confidence to pass these charges along to the client...where they should be.

Jeffrey S. Gould
Action Media Productions


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Mike CohenRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on May 2, 2008 at 3:46:56 pm

mmm, Panera muffin tops...


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Mark SuszkoRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on May 3, 2008 at 8:30:11 pm

I once did a 2-3-day freelance corporate shoot in Frisco for an Oakbrook Illinois company. Instead of me adding the travel and hotel bill to my invoice, they just had their own in-house travel department book and pay for my flight and hotel; we (about 50 people) were all going to the same conference that I was going to record, and they could get a bigger discount using their own booking agent, so we all saved money on that deal.


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grinner hesterRe: Travel Expenses...Me or Client?
by on May 4, 2008 at 9:08:47 pm

When ya start handing your time away for nuthin, ya soon can get int he red. If you actually pay... well, thats red from the get-go.
Bottom line is it deserves investment, do it. If it's just another gig, it's their penny. I charge the same for travel time as I do for anything else.



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