Are you giving away too much of your valuable expertise without charging? You worry that saying no or asking for payment will mean losing a client. You are not alone, many professional services people I meet fall into this trap and it’s costing you more than just the fees.
There could be a number of reasons why this is happening, but I find that this tends to be in two main ways. Firstly, during the initial exploratory meeting, prior to taking on a client, when a prospect meeting suddenly turns in to a pick your brain, free advice-giving session. Or secondly, with an established client who is paying a fixed fee for a specific piece of work who then asks for something extra to be done without the expectation of paying for it.
One of my clients, Roger, had this problem. He’s an experienced and established accountant, charging his clients £175 an hour. However, many of those hours were not revenue producing, even though he was doing work for clients, he did a lot of work that he didn’t charge for. Every time he worked for nothing, it was costing him £175 an hour. Obviously, that wasn’t good for business. But also it wasn’t good for him either because like many professional service providers, he had lots of internal conflict going on because he knew he should be charging for all the additional work.
This is what was happening. Clients, who were paying a fixed fee for their compliance work would telephone him and ask for something extra to be done, for example cast his eye over their cash flow forecast and let them know his thoughts or fill in a mortgage application form. He would say yes before he’d even had a chance to think, or if he did think, it would go along the lines of the following: “Well I’m not actually doing any work (i.e. not creating the numbers, because that was work to him), so I can’t really charge them.” And so he would do it for nothing. Even though it may have only taken half an hour or an hour to do, what would that extra piece of work have been worth to the client? Would it have saved them from making a mistake that could cost them thousands or helped them secure funding they would have otherwise been refused?
And consider this. If it wasn’t important to them, and if they didn’t value his expertise, they wouldn’t have asked him to do it would they? Realising where he was going wrong was probably the easiest part of the process for him. Actually telling clients that he was going to be billing them for the additional work was one of the hardest things he’d ever had to do in his professional career.
But we worked on it until he was confident enough to do it. As soon as he was, he made an additional £9000 in sales from existing clients in just three weeks! We worked together for a year and during that time he brought in an extra £46,000 by making sure he was charging clients for everything he did.
Can you honestly say that every hour of work you are doing for clients is being charged for? If not, what would those extra hours be worth to you?
If you have any questions in relation to this article, please contact me on 01202 743961 or 07957 672335 or visit my Contact Vanessa Page to book your complimentary True Worth Strategy Session.