Sub-contracting/pass ing on work to an 'associate'

(4 Posts)
sara11272 Thu 27-Jun-13 13:08:10

Hello - after some advice/etiquette, please.

I'm a freelance marketing consultant/copywriter. At the moment I'm swamped with work (nice problem to have, so I shouldn't complain, though I probably will!)

I was wondering if the work I do for one of my clients, in particular, I might be able to give to a former colleague, who's a friend, when I'm swamped (obviously I'd ask the client first if they were ok with it).

She'd be happy to do it - but I have no idea how the charging would work in this sort of scenario. I charge £40 per hour; I know my friend, who is also freelance in a related field, earns quite a bit less, so wouldn't be expecting £40 from any work I gave her (and presumably would be also expecting that I take a cut of the money). How much would you typically keep and how much would you pay the person you sub-contract to? Is there a standard or typical %?

Any advice welcome, also any ideas on how to pitch this to the client (who has effectively bought 'me' and not my business, iyswim) would be v gratefully received.

Thank you.

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 27-Jun-13 19:12:15

Well done on being so busy!

From my experience I think there are 2 approaches.

1) You sub-contract the work, so ask potential associate for their proposal ensuring that the work is under your rate. The pitch to the client is then it is £x to deliver y which includes work delivered by associate.

If you can I'd avoid going into specifics about what you pay them and who is doing what. If you are still the main supplier, the finished work will go through you anyway, so any deliverables are signed off by you as happens now.

I am concerned about obviously including those with lower rates in my proposals as I am concerned it encourages the client to question my rate.

If you want to work on a % basis I am an associate where the main company keeps 20% of earnings. However, that fee reflects them business developing the opps for me and I am part of team - go on awaydays etc.

2) You pass the opp to your colleague and ask for a referal fee. Obviously the huge risk here is that you lose your client. Depends what the work is.

However, when I have been really busy I have really struggled with the senario in 1) as I simply haven't had the time to manage the project. In addition if you are only delivering 5% of the project (eg project managing the associate) that is a lot of work for not much money. Although you are potentially protecting future income from the client.

I have not got involved in referal fees (yet!) but I have heard 10/15% talked about.

So, I think it comes down to how vaulable the client is to you...

Not sure if that is of any help.

Good luck!

sara11272 Tue 02-Jul-13 13:47:37

Hello MrsMargo and lots of apologies for the delay in replying - I have been offline for a few days. I really appreciate you taking the time to post such a thorough reply! - it was really helpful. Thank you.

My situation is slightly different to either of the two scenarios above, as for the client where I was thinking of sub- contracting the work, I have an hourly rate and just invoice them for work done- they send me small projects on an 'as and when' basis. So there are no proposals or project costs set out. I think the closest I would get to either of your scenarios would be, if they sent me some work, to ask if they'd mind me passing it to a colleague, and let them know that the overall cost to them would be the same per hour as if they were using me.

I'd then give the work to my friend at a lower hourly rate and the difference in cost would be my fee for checking her work, lliaising with the client etc. I take it this is a generally acceptable way of approaching it...? (Though someone please shout if there are any subcontracting faux pas in there!!)

WilsonFrickett Tue 02-Jul-13 19:45:18

You have to be 100% clear that the associate can handle the work to your standard, at your pace. Otherwise you'll be rewriting at midnight for £10 an hour...

I tried to set up a 'B' copywriter with my biggest client to pick up my overflow and it didn't work brilliantly. I felt that then reflected really badly on me.

If this work is really ad hoc, can you use the situation to challenge the status quo? As in 'the last three times I've worked for you it has been a real challenge to deal with the 'as and when' nature of the work as I'm getting so busy now with other clients. Can we discuss either you increasing your lead times, me increasing my fees, a retainer or some other way to guarantee I will always have time to fit your work in?'

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