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Old 05-11-2012
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Default Providing Potential Client With Advice and Solution
Hi ladies,

I am just curious how you handle potential clients who keep asking for your professional advice and solutions regarding the issue/project/taks for which they are retaining you (or at least say they are, ) after the initial consultation and receiving your proposals but before they sign anything?

Where you draw the line? Where do you think is the line between your investing your time/expertise/knowledge in "winning the client" versus "wasting" your time/expertise/knowledge knowing you can't bill for it and assuming that this might be just a shopper or someone not ready/willing to commit?
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Old 05-11-2012
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Default Re: Providing Potential Client With Advice and Solution
I run into this a lot with people who want to have some work done on their website.

My initial consultations are scheduled for 30 min only, more than enough time for us to go over their list of needs and for me to give them a general breakdown of how I work.
Any time left of the 30 min, I answer whatever questions I can without giving step by step directions. If they want to keep asking I let them know that I allowed 30 min in my schedule but if they would like to set up another time to ask more questions, they will need to pay my 1 hr rate first and I will fit them on my schedule asap.

FYI- 1 hr of explaining how to do something/tutoring them is double my normal rate. I tell them that as well. When/if they ask why so much, I remind them that it's what I do for a living and teaching them will take 2-4x as long as it would if I just did it myself.

Be helpful- not a doormat!

:-)

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Old 05-11-2012
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Default Re: Providing Potential Client With Advice and Solution
After the initial consultation, I don't do any more work or offer advice until the contract is signed, and first payment is made. If they have specific questions about your service that's one thing, but if it's task or project-related then your time should be paid for, and a contract must be signed.
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Old 05-12-2012
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Default Re: Providing Potential Client With Advice and Solution
I provide a 30-minute consultation, but that is more for me to ask questions than to allow them to. I will offer one or two tips or answer one or two questions of theirs (very general in nature)...just to engage them...but the purpose of the 30 minutes is for me to understand what they need and to advise them how I can help them so they go forward to the proposal stage.

I also charge for doing the proposal. Some consider it a cost of doing business, but I've found that when they have "skin in the game" they are more serious and more likely to move forward. The cost of the proposal, if they do business with me is credited back to them on their first invoice, so they are only out of the money if they decide to not work with me.

Never do I provide any consulting or coaching for free...not ever, ever.

@Christina - I love what you do with charging double! I'm going to steal that idea!
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Last edited by On My Wings; 05-12-2012 at 12:11 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 05-12-2012
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Default Re: Providing Potential Client With Advice and Solution
I offer a complimentary session as well, and I will offer advice or recommendations on how things could be done but I always put in a way that shows my knowledge and how I can help them succeed.

I've been contemplating doing what Pam is doing when it comes to pulling together the proposal as well, as I've had a few instances in the last couple of months where the client changed their mind 3 times and I had to adjust the quote for each change. Turned out to be way more work than it was worth.

I never, ever offer coaching and/or training for free either. It's my time and it costs more for them to have one on one time with me, I have some clients take me up on it while others just prefer to get my quote for the task and move on with that.
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Old 05-12-2012
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Default Re: Providing Potential Client With Advice and Solution
Ladies, I completely agree with what you all have said about not providing any free advice (perhaps just a tip to engage the PC). I have seen many times, in various industries, how potential clients keep returning with different questions (well, some are honest ones to make sure the service provider and them are on the same page), keep adjusting what they wanted in a proposal, etc. In fact, I have witnessed a business owner coming up with the whole game plan and needed vendors during the process of trying to satisfy the PC's requests and closing the deal. Well, the PC then took the proposal/game plan and ran... Hours were lost in this...

I guess that for us newbies, who are working towards establishing ourselves and still building clientele, it is even more important to set boundaries and rules despite the fact that it's so easy to be carried away in "desperateness" of closing the deal...

@Christina, I, too, have higher rates for coaching/tutoring as well as for in-person meetings (if a client wants me to come to their office, etc).

@Pam, can you tell us more about charging for a proposal: do you tell your PC about the charge right upfront, during the consultation, etc.? How do you charge them - I would imagine sending them an invoice after the initial consultation and once the payment is made, sending them a proposal within a day or so? Do you charge your regular rate for it?
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Old 05-12-2012
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Default Re: Providing Potential Client With Advice and Solution
I am soon going to be noting this on my website too, but yes - up front in the 30 minute consult. I send them an invoice for the proposal, stating within that invoice that the charges will be credited to their first invoice should they decide to move forward. I charge my regular hourly rate and I give them an estimate of the time up front and I never charge more than what I estimated even if it takes me longer.

Sometimes I will say it will take me less time than I know that it will, especially if I'm feeling pretty sure about them. Again, for me it is getting that skin in the game. If I know it will take me an hour and I charge them for 30 minutes, then I've still accomplished the primary goal of doing this.
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Old 05-12-2012
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Default Re: Providing Potential Client With Advice and Solution
@Pam, thank you! This is a terrific idea that I will be implementing, too:-) I have already made a lot of changes in how I operate and present my business since I started a few months ago (hey, we live to learn, right), and this is certainly the next one. Thank you again for sharing it!
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