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denise o

Do you bill in increments of 5, 10, 15 etc. hours or are you flexible?

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Hi there,

 

I typically provide my services in increments of 5, 10, 15 etc. hours per month and all clients seem to understand this. However, I have came across one client in particular who is always trying to reduce my hours. She feels that as I get faster that my hours should reduce. I have agreed to go from 20 to 15 as we were working through processes and things got smoother and I can understand that to a point. With that said, though, it doesn't seem fair to decrease as I get faster but a lot of clients don't seem to see it that way. I am somewhat flexible in the beginning of a business relationship as I know it takes time to get processes in place and usually more hours may be needed in the beginning as with this client. This client is now looking to reduce further and I know that I can't do her work in 10 hours but could possibly complete it in 12 to 13 rather than 15 but then this leaves no room for unexpected issues. Part of me wants to stay strong and only move in increments of 5 and the other part of me doesn't want to lose this client as I have worked hard to get her processes to a good place. She also insists on seeing all detail of work done.

 

I would like to know how others approach these situations/clients and are you firm on increments or flexible.

 

Thanks for your advice.

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I bill in increments of 15 minutes but a client can buy 'blocks' of time ranging from 10-30 hours/month. In my mind, you have two choices with this client. Either stick by your guns on your 5 hour increments, or tell her that you can reduce your guaranteed hours to 10 guaranteed but she will be billed at $xx/hour for any additional time required to meet her needs over the 10...

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Like Lily I also bill in 15 min increments. It takes me that long just to switch on/off with different clients LOL


It usually takes me 1-3 months working with a client to understand best how many hours I will need to service their needs. By 3 months I am faster at doing their services only because I've learned what they need done and how to do it. Typically I don't get any faster after the 3 months so by that time I can judge what size of retainer they will need with me. What may have been 15 hours in month 1 may now just take me a 10 hour retainer.


Basically I would give them a choice tell her you can give her a 10 hour package at $X and then anything over and above is at your hourly rate. Typically my hourly rate is more than if it is included in a package. For example:


10 hour package is $550/mth (that works out $55/hr)

15 hour package is $800/mth (that works out $53/hr)

Whereas my pay-as-you-go hourly rate is $60/hr.


If they want the 10 hour package that's fine but any hours over and above are at $60/hr and I'm firm with that. I always encourage them to go with the bigger package stating other tasks I can do for them with the extra hours if they don't use them all.

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Denise,

When I billed by retainer it was in 10 hour min blocks of time, then 15, then 20. However, I found that when I moved my services to packaged rates based on results as opposed to dollars for time, increments was not the priority anymore.

If you find that you are doing the same tasks month after month, I suggest you consider packaging those tasks into one price. Time yourself and than add an additional percentage onto the rate to cover those situations which arise and typically ate into the hours specified for each client. So if it take you 10 hour or 12 hours to complete something you get one rate and the client gets results and goals met.

I have found that clients see packaged or bundled tasks as more value than being paid for hours worked. If indeed a service is required that is not specified in the contract and in the package presented, the client can be billed hourly over and above the packaged rate. In that case, the client would be notified ahead of time and also that clause would need to be place in the contract as well.

If that specified task is continuous month-to-month, I suggest the package be rewritten to include that service and then adjust the rate accordingly.

Best,
Janine

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You'll all probably think I'm mad, but I bill in increments of 1 minute - a definite "pay only for the time spent"!

 

Nothing mad about that and to each their own. This could be your USP in that you do this and other VAs don't :) Might be a bonus to hire you rather than another :)

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I charge in 5 min increments when doing hourly work but some jobs are package based.

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All of your advice has been extremely helpful! It's so nice to have this forum when dealing with difficult situations in business.

 

Lily, your advice was really helpful and got me thinking that I need to start moving forward and stay consistent and firm with my billing methods.

 

Tawnya and others, I really appreciated hearing about your different billing methods. It was very helpful as I have struggled to find the right method for my business that feels right. Given that I work for lawyers, it's also about finding the right one that will appeal to lawyers.

 

Janine, I really like your advice and I have been hearing a lot about the benefits of this type of service. However, the majority of my clients' work varies month to month so to do this type of billing method is difficult. I wish there was a way around this.

 

Kathie, do you strictly do hourly and packaged or do some clients agree to blocks of time?

 

With the client that I mentioned, I decided to stay firm on my blocks of 5 hour increments and indicated to her that I could not complete all of her current tasks (and recently added tasks) below 15 hours and anything over and above those hours would be billed at a higher rate. I haven't heard back from her yet so we'll see how she responds. Only being in the business for 2 years, I still struggle with the fear of losing a client if I don't give them what they want but this is getting better as my confidence grows.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to provide me with your advice.

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With the client that I mentioned, I decided to stay firm on my blocks of 5 hour increments and indicated to her that I could not complete all of her current tasks (and recently added tasks) below 15 hours and anything over and above those hours would be billed at a higher rate. I haven't heard back from her yet so we'll see how she responds. Only being in the business for 2 years, I still struggle with the fear of losing a client if I don't give them what they want but this is getting better as my confidence grows.

 

Thanks again for taking the time to provide me with your advice.

 

I think we all struggle with the fear of losing a client. I think it is more of an inside fear that we somehow failed in our business losing a client or it could be something to do with our human ego/pride that someone doesn't want to work with us. We have to not take losing a client personally and instead look at it from a positive mindset. ie) That client was not the type of client I want to work with (cheap, disorganized, micro-managing, etc.) so I'm thrilled they are not working with me anymore.

 

By losing this client which was not your "ideal client" you now will have more time to focus on finding new loyal clients. ;)

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Great advice Tawnya!

 

Well I got a response from my client and she excepted my proposal. Woohoo! Thanks again everyone for giving me ideas and the courage to be firm on my billing method and rates!

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Hi Denise,

Even though the tasks vary from month to month, you can still package your services. The tasks may vary but they may most likely be the same type of tasks month to month.

For example I package social media tasks for one price into one package even though those tasks are not always the same each month.

There is more money to be made in packages as people purchase value from you instead of dollars for time.

 

You might also consider the coaching services of Tawnya who can help you. She is amazing!

Best,
Janine

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