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emails as billable hours?

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I was wondering how many of you charge your clients for time you spend emailing them or with them on the phone.

I don't charge for either as I don't have much work and am not worried about "wasting" hours on something for free.

This is something I have wondered about as I think about the future of my business and how things will change.

 

Thanks!

Valerie

 

 

Virtual Creative Resources

www.virtualcreativeresources.com

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It depends. If it's a quick e-mail to clarify something then I probably won't charge for the time. However, if it's going to be something that takes some prep work and a while to type, then I will charge for it. Most of the time when I send a client an e-mail that's directly related to their work, then I'm 'on the clock' for them already anyway and don't stop the clock just to send them an e-mail.

 

If it's an e-mail to update them on how much time they have left on their retainer (I send them periodically), then I consider that part of MY overhead and do not charge for that (just as I would not charge them for my time spent invoicing them for my services or any other admin task related to MY business).

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I do not charge for email communication, but I do charge for phone calls, whether they are long distance or not. I'm not billing to disburse my phone charges - I'm billing because I have to stop whatever I am doing to handle something for that particular client at that particular time. With email, I can handle it on my own schedule, which of course is why we like to be virtual! :)

 

Any standard phone call for me is billed at 15 minutes, as I bill all my time in 15 minute increments.

I generally don't bill over 15 minutes, even if the call exceed that length of time (unless it's really crazy which doesn't happen very often at all).

 

Hope that helps,

Tracey

 

 

 

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It depends. If it's a quick e-mail to clarify something then I probably won't charge for the time. However, if it's going to be something that takes some prep work and a while to type, then I will charge for it. Most of the time when I send a client an e-mail that's directly related to their work, then I'm 'on the clock' for them already anyway and don't stop the clock just to send them an e-mail.

 

If it's an e-mail to update them on how much time they have left on their retainer (I send them periodically), then I consider that part of MY overhead and do not charge for that (just as I would not charge them for my time spent invoicing them for my services or any other admin task related to MY business).

 

That's exactly what I do. Fortunately -- yippee -- I can say if I talk to any client every 3 months that's a lot but if I did, I would most certainly charge them after the first 15 minutes as that is time I could be spending on billable hours; and if I was working at an office, phone time would be part of my pay, so....hope we've helped you!

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I charge for both telephone calls and e-mails to clients when they relate to client projects.

 

If we get "off-topic," I'll subtract that time, and like Sherra, I would never charge for invoicing or billing discussions/activities--that's overhead.

 

Ramona

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If we get "off-topic," I'll subtract that time.

That is also what I do. Some of my clients are quite easy to talk to (and a few I know "in real life"), so when we start to go 'off topic', I stop the timer because to be quite honest, I'm quite a talker myself, so I don't feel it's fair to charge the client when I'm chatting right along with them about non-business related topics. There are only a couple of clients that I tend to go 'off topic' with. They know I 'stop the clock' when we start talking about non-business related issues (like our dogs & kids). :whistlin:

 

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so when you charge for emails and/or phone calls, how do you itemize these on invoices?

 

 

Valerie

 

Virtual Creative Resources

www.virtualcreativeresources.com

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Hi Valerie,

 

I'm with the other folks. I don't charge for a quick email but if it involves research or prep, I turn on my timer. I also charge for phone calls over 10 minutes (this is stipulated in my retainer agreement).

 

I do not provide a strictly detailed invoice - in fact, all my invoice says is "Monthy Retainer - XX hours per month", but I do provide a weekly report that has categories that I log my time in. Email and phone calls would fit into my "General Administrative" category. I don't detail it out.

 

Hope that helps!

Cheers,

Pam

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so when you charge for emails and/or phone calls, how do you itemize these on invoices?

I do not do itemized invoices. My invoices say either "xx retainer hours $xxx.xx", "xx block hours $xx.xx" or "xx hours over retainer hours $xxx.xx". If a client wants to know how much time I'm spending on certain tasks to know how to better allocate time, then I will provide a report, but the time I spend on creating the more detailed report is billable because it's not a normal service I provide. Some VAs do break it down by task, but it's not something I do, nor have I been asked to yet.

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Hey Valerie:

 

I do provide detailed billing for my clients.

My detailed invoice provides line items for all work done - date, description of task, time spent, and total on each line, then grand total at the bottom.

When there is a phone call I indicate that as "Telephone Consultation - (subject of call)" under description, and the length of the call (rounded to the 15 minute mark).

I also indicate all 'free' and discounted work on my invoices - if I've done something that I'm not charging the client for (say a free bit of graphics work, or a referral discount, something like that), I also put that on the invoice and indicate 'no charge' or whatever the discount is on the line item. I'm big on offering my clients something free now and again. I get very good feedback from my detailing, and since I log all of my hours into myhours.com I have the details to back up all of my invoices anyway so I figure the client should get that info.

 

Tracey

 

 

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Unless it is a quick email I generally bill for emails as that is my main form of communication with my clients AND it takes up a lot of my time.

I wait and check all the emails from one client at one time. I sort the emails by name and turn the timer on and focus on just that one client. If I provide a detail report that time is recorded as client communication. It really helps me to check all their emails at once and saves a lot of time.

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I bill for both and I note it on my timer. I have just gotten into the habit of jotting down what I'm doing or have done, when I click the clock off and before I save the time. It makes it easier for me and the client and I'm not giving away the farm...which I would do if I wasn't detailed like this.

 

 

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I use TimeSlice on everything I do and bill my clients for all time on the phone, e-mails, working, etc. If you were in a corporate office you would be paid for your time. Your corporate office is your home office, no reason you should not be paid for your time.

 

My contract states, "I bill for time spent in communication with you, verbally or electronically (phone, e-mail, faxing, et. al.), and for time I am working on your tasks or conducting business on your behalf.

 

My clients each receive an extremely detailed report, along with their invoice, at the end of each month. Most of my clients have been with me three to almost five years and this has never been a problem. :)

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Thanks so much for all the detailed feedback!

It is so great to hear what others, who are obviously successful, do and what works.

This will help me figure out such issues as they become issues in my business!

 

Thanks again!

Valerie

 

Virtual Creative Resources

www.VirtualCreativeResources.com

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