You should never do work for free, and you should bill for everything you do. It is easy to start giving away what seems to be meaningless bits and pieces of work. Sometimes you are giving the client a little “bonus” of a better product without paying extra for it. This turns out to usually be a bad practice for you or the client.
Why can this be or become such a problem? When you first start giving away work, you may not be totally busy. You might not mind taking the extra time to give a little more. What else are you going to be doing look for a few more clients? Now there is a novel idea
There are really a few reasons that this is bad for you and your client:
As a long term strategy, the best way you are going to develop a good strong working relationship is providing a win/win situation. Free sets a tone that your work is not valuable. If you don’t charge for it can there be any real value? Then it becomes standard where it is work that is expected. If you stop the freebees you’re a bum
Eventually you will try and burn through the free work as fast as possible. Less detail means more mistakes less quality,
The only real alternative, while it may be hard to swallow is to confront your client when you are asked to do a favor is to be understanding and at the same time explain why it is important to charge for your services.
What you will end up finding is that you will start doing a better job and your clients will be happier. Your clients will understand the value and respect for your time, talents, effort and expertise. The clients who are unwilling to work in this manor are not worth your time and would probably end up being fired as a client anyway down the line.
At the same time you may not realize it but there are also a lot of hidden costs that you should also bill for. Project management is a large part of any project, sometimes the correspondence with clients, delegation and planning can take just as much time as the labor itself. Admistrative costs are costs and if necessary they are billable. If you don’t think so look at the last bill form your lawyer. They even charge to fax out information.
Your business spends a lot of time and money finding new customers. You’re pricing should include that time and effort so that you can cover your costs. How you integrate it is up to you (setup fee, higher hourly rates, etc). As it is a f2f sales call is costing somewhere between $201 and $500 per rep.
It is an ongoing process. Some of this is simply being able to openly communicate with clients regarding what they are paying for (your hours and expertise. The other aspect of billing for everything is tracking and monitoring all of the hard/soft costs that your business has incurs daily. Once you get it all figured you will find happier clients, do better work and increase your and your customer’s profits at the same time.
Larson note: I know this really hits hard but you got to charge them. Tracking, then billing everything. As hard as it is you can’t give your time away? How many stores give products away just because? Is time really any different? Time and knowledge is your product. Don’t let your “shelves” get emptied and not get anything back.
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