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Should I Charge for 'Training''?

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denise quesnelShould I Charge for 'Training''?
by on Jan 22, 2009 at 9:07:59 pm

I have a client in particular that I have been doing work for (just over a year now). He runs a production company and often needs spots uploaded online, DVD burned etc and its rather outside my line of work but I had done this until about two months ago when I notified him that I would be moving away from these tasks from now on, but would be more than happy to continue to edit for him. In any case, I said if he found a replacement freelancer or student to take over the media management I would be willing to work out a deal where I could teach and tutor them.

Fast forward two months- I have continued editing small jobs for him since and have done minimal media management as agreed until he found a replacement. I recently notified all my clients that there would be an increase in my rates, as they all had 60 days notice no one had any problems with it including the client I have mentioned. I found that suspicious though- considering he has always tried to negotiate in the past.

He called me to request a meeting this week and help him do some organizing of the media. I was surprised to find upon arrival a new fellow in the studio, who the client said would be taking over the media management duties. I was relieved he found a replacement, yet surprised I had been given no notice about this. It was clear the client wanted me to train the guy that day, that very moment. In hindsight I should have said 'Unfortunately I only train with advance notice" and I should have walked out, but because we work in different cities and I had given up my entire work day to come I stayed and taught the new fellow for about 5 hours. He had no experience with Compressor, or DVD Studio Pro, and I did NOT teach him anything in Final Cut for obvious reasons. The client had not purchased proper software and they had instead illegally downloaded it, which caused issues.

What I am wondering is if I should charge a training fee for the time I spent teaching the replacement, and ditto for any help calls/requests I may get in the future? The way I see it is that they would have had to hire someone to train this fellow anyway, and the skills I showed him are valuable considering others (and myself) spent our own money to learn. I do not have any contracts with the client, because he was one of my first we always settled on an hourly fee for everything, with me charging this or that extra when appropriate. Any advice on this matter would be helpful- I am working on beefing up my business savyness and outside opinions would be great.

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Stephen SmithRe: Should I Charge for 'Training''?
by on Jan 22, 2009 at 11:46:14 pm

I got a Bachelors degree in Multi-Media Communications Technology and I had to pay for it. No free training whatsoever, why would it be free if you did it. If the client thought you would do 5 hours of free training and you send him a bill that may mean you'll never see that client again...but it sounds like that is the case anyways.

Stephen Smith
Salt Lake Video

Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2

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denise quesnelRe: Should I Charge for 'Training''?
by on Jan 23, 2009 at 12:30:49 am

Thanks Stephen, that helps confirm what I was feeling. I have provided this client with extremely generous rates and exemplary service, and it is too bad he cannot tell me up front what direction he wants to take. I imagine he will probably hire students or interns to take on the work I was doing (including editing) for cheaper rates but I am OK with not having him as a client at this point. There are other clients that have been more professional to me and I am looking forward to continuing my relationships with those.

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Chris BlairRe: Should I Charge for 'Training''?
by on Jan 23, 2009 at 3:37:11 am

When you told the client you would train a new person, did you specify that you would train them for a fee, or for free? If you did one or the other, then you should stick to that.

If you assumed you would be paid, and assumed the client understood that, then I see no reason why you shouldn't bill for your time.

Probably the easiest solution is to call and ask the client: "I just want to make sure you understood that I offered to train someone for a fee...right?" All they can say is: "yeah...I expected that," or "no...I didn't."

You'll have your answer there. If this client books you a lot and is a good source of income, pays on-time, and isn't a pain in the backside, and he/she didn't expect to get charged for the training, then I'd chalk it up as a learning experience and make sure you're specific about stuff like this down the road.

I've found that people are reluctant to bring up money and contracts and fees. But I ALWAYS, ALWAYS bring it up in meetings and go through it thorougly so 2 months later clients can't say, "we didn't realize you were going to charge for that."

I've never had a client get mad for discussing budgets, fees, payment schedules and deposits prior to doing a project. Just the opposite actually...they LIKE knowing what they're getting into and it sets a nice precedent that everything we do has value.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN

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Mark RaudonisRe: Should I Charge for 'Training''?
by on Jan 23, 2009 at 4:37:23 am

[denise quesnel] "should I charge a training fee for the time I spent teaching the replacement?"

Is this a trick question? YES! Your time = money. Period.

Your story sounds like something I'd hear on "Dr. Laura". Snap out of it! You're enabling a
"grinder". Stop being a churchmouse and stand up for yourself. State your terms clearly and
unambiguously before any "booking", and stick to them. Your self esteem will rise along with your
bank account.


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tahir whiteRe: Should I Charge for 'Training''?
by on Jan 23, 2009 at 1:43:30 pm

Hello denise,

The issue of money should have been top priority when the client asked to burrow your time to train the replacement.Of course money is always a touchy subject when it comes to on the spot situations and activities. If you don't speak up and clearly project your ideas you will end up losing money and wasting your time. You should call the client ask him about compensation, be firm with the matter in explaining your case and if he declines charge it to the game as a lessoned learned and move on to your next project. Chances are he'll be needing you before you need him.


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denise quesnelRe: Should I Charge for 'Training''?
by on Jan 23, 2009 at 7:00:56 pm

I think I should specify too that I completely intend to charge for the time I spent at the client's studio, that was always clear. Everytime I went there to do any work for the client I charged, and we had always been clear about it. But what I was wondering was if it would be fair to charge a 'training fee' in particular, in this case it would obviously be more than the regular rate I would have charged.

What made the situation really complicated was the 'surprise attack', telling me I would be helping him work on something and then getting there (to another municipality no less) to find out what he really wanted me to do was train someone. Like I said in my first post, in hindsight I should have walked out.

"When you told the client you would train a new person, did you specify that you would train them for a fee, or for free? If you did one or the other, then you should stick to that." - Chris

I had brought up the subject of training someone before, and was going to mention my standard training rate, but the client had interrupted me at some point and changed the subject. It never came up in all honesty I forgot, but had he brought up the fact that he had hired someone instead of 'surprising' (or lying?) to me when I came in the office, it would have been discussed along with the fact that I don't train on illegally downloaded software etc. Thanks for the reply Chris, it is true that all fees/charges should be brought up (ideally signed on paper) to avoid disagreement.

And Mark, thanks for your honesty! I admit I have given this client too many breaks in the past, that stopped a few months ago but I am absolutely opposed to enabling grinders which is one of the reasons I turn down ALL free projects for example. I am always clear about my terms but like I said above, what makes this situation difficult is that the client told me I was coming in for one agenda and surprised me with something completely different.

And Tahir, that is all true. Same thing as I mentioned several times though- it was a situation where the agenda was changed without my knowledge. You are right about ending up wasting time and money though if we aren't 100% clear on a project, I think we have all been there before and it is always a lesson learned, never repeated!

I am certainly charging the client a training fee rather than my regular rate - he put me in a really tough spot and I will communicate to him that and how I typically go about with training.

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Stephen SmithRe: Should I Charge for 'Training''?
by on Jan 24, 2009 at 12:25:38 am

This post makes me think of a great article Ron Lindeboom wrote on Clients or Grinders...

Stephen Smith
Salt Lake Video

Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2

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Timothy J. AllenRe: Should I Charge for 'Training''?
by on Jan 26, 2009 at 10:48:55 pm

I'm sorry, I don't understand. You never spoke to him about rates, (due to him interrupting) yet you did agreed to train someone, and now you want to charge them more than your regular rate?

I have to take the client's side on this one. He only put you in a rough spot because you let it be a rough spot. When he asked you to stay and train the guy, you should have said "not today" if you weren't prepared and it inconvenienced you. If you did have the time to stay and train him that day (which I understand you did), it would have take all of ten seconds to step back and say "I do have some time that's available this afternoon to train him, but since we never discussed my training rate, let's talk about it to make sure we are all on the same page before we start".

Of course you should charge. Set your rate and conditions, communicate them, and stick to them. If you go "above and beyond" to help your client, with extra time or reduced fees, that's your decision.

If you had stepped back for a moment, it would have also given the client more value by giving them a chance to make sure they had the correct software installed before you trained. If the software wasn't installed and you weren't prepared, the training could not have been as effective as it could have been.

I really don't intend to be harsh, but sometimes the client isn't so much out to screw you, but just ignorant of how their request might affect your day. That's when it' incumbent on you to be bold and speak up - before anyone owes anyone else money.

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