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Charge for meeting?

(16 Posts)
Ferrisbuellersdayoff Mon 25-Feb-19 23:41:32

I have a very small limited company. We send entertainers to corporate events all over the UK. Think along the lines of magicians and bands. Generally, we make the arrangements with the clients by email and phone. It's all very predictable (start time, end time, address of venue etc.). Occasionally (maybe every 2 weeks), a client says they'd like a meeting to discuss the details, which is a massive PITA, as it's usually in London and requires a 90-120min train journey each way from me (I work from home), plus the 30-60 minutes of the meeting, so I could lose 5 hours (and have to book wrap-around care for my child). I try to work on the train, but it's not always possible.

Is charging for (or politely threatening to charge for so it'll put them off having) the meeting dickish?

To avoid drip-feeding:

We don't charge per hour for anything - we have flat fees.

At the point when the client asks for the meeting, we've almost always got a contract and agreed a price for the entertainment. I'm happy to go to London to win a potential client over, but I do think having a face-to-face conversation once the event has been booked is a massive waste of time.

I don't want to preemptively mention meetings, even if it's to warn of possible costs, at the enquiry stage as this may encourage more clients to ask for them.

I have about 200-300 bookings a year, mostly for clients who have 1 event a year. If I had a meeting about each event, I wouldn't be able to do any actual work, so it's not possible (or necessary) to include a meeting in the package.

I'm very responsive on email and phone, and have Skype etc.

OP’s posts: |
Bayleyf Mon 25-Feb-19 23:52:30

Oh god totally charge! It's your professional time, why should they get it for free?

I bet if you mention a charge they'll soon decide a phone call is fine.

Ferrisbuellersdayoff Tue 26-Feb-19 00:01:19

I guess I'm worried about seeming unreasonable or unhelpful.

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Chickydoo Tue 26-Feb-19 00:23:16

You could say something like
" of course Mrs XYZ a meeting is possible, you could come to my home office, alternatively I can arrange a Skype meeting with you, which would you prefer? Oh Mrs XYZ you want me to come to see you in London, I could arrange that, however I must let you know that I will need to add a 1/2 day advisory fee to your final invoice".

Worth a try. I am a freelancer/self employed too, I feel your pain.

Ferrisbuellersdayoff Tue 26-Feb-19 01:07:49

Because I don't charge for my time in hours or days or anything like that, I'd have to come up with a sensible figure. I have no idea!

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AdoreTheBeach Tue 26-Feb-19 06:47:21

OP- I’d offer telephone and Skype booking / planning sessions included in the booking fee or ad hoc in depth planning for a set (name the fee) fee on your website where you list prices or in preliminary quotes.

I’d either charge the same fee as the entertainer (so overall expense is doubled) or work out the total to include your travel time, meeting time, travel expense, childcare expense plus £20 an hour to give you the admin fee. Plus add the VAT. Therefore it’ll be an offering but quite cost prohibitive to keep numbers down and also ensuring you’re compensated for the extra time/costs.

Kazzyhoward Tue 26-Feb-19 09:01:44

They'll soon decide a meeting isn't actually necessary when you start talking about charging them for it. It's just that they're accustomed to meetings (London people are the worst for this - it's the norm to meet to discuss the slightest thing!). If a meeting isn't actually needed, then it isn't needed! For a lot of people, it's just a habit!

I run an accountancy practice. I can go for several months without actually physically meeting a client. I have clients all over the UK (and some abroad). I find 99% of meetings are a complete waste of time. I even try to avoid local clients coming into my office for a meeting. The ones wanting meetings are usually the "needy" ones who are usually a PITA anyway - the ones who don't/can't read emails or letters and havn't a clue how to set up skype. I charge extra for ALL meetings, whether in my office or if I have to travel, though these days, I won't travel far - I limit myself to my home county - if a client further away wants the comfort of meetings, they need to find a local accountant!

Froggyface Tue 26-Feb-19 09:06:55

We always charge for meetings and travel, some want to pay and others are happy to talk on the phone. Some of our clients are six hours away from us and it is an overnight stay too. I think you definitely should charge, make it clear that you are happy to do phone conferences etc instead.

Froggyface Tue 26-Feb-19 09:09:27

Can you add VAT to meetings?!

Froggyface Tue 26-Feb-19 09:09:53

I didn’t think you could

Ferrisbuellersdayoff Tue 26-Feb-19 09:11:13

I sent a polite email explaining that we usually do the planning by phone and email and that our pricing doesn't include face-to-face meetings, that I would be happy to come to London if she would prefer that but that it would increase the price. I asked her to let me know if she wanted a quotation. She replied almost immediately to say yes! Now I need to figure out how much. I feel bad because it's not her fault that I'm not based in London - most of our work is in the City but I just happen to live elsewhere. She probably assumes that I'm nearby.

OP’s posts: |
Kazzyhoward Tue 26-Feb-19 09:18:26

Can you add VAT to meetings?!

If you're VAT registered, you usually add VAT to ALL your invoicing, whatever it is for, even for the recharged travelling costs.

Kazzyhoward Tue 26-Feb-19 09:21:05

I feel bad because it's not her fault that I'm not based in London - most of our work is in the City but I just happen to live elsewhere. She probably assumes that I'm nearby.

Unless you've tried to pretend you're a London business by using a London accommodation address/phone number, then it's her problem that your travel costs will be high, not your problem. Surely she could tell from your website/marketing that you're not a London based business. You need to charge what the lost time is worth to you in terms of what you could have earned/done if you used that time in other ways.

Ferrisbuellersdayoff Tue 26-Feb-19 09:29:26

We used to be in London, and still have a central London number.

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Kazzyhoward Tue 26-Feb-19 09:35:44

We used to be in London, and still have a central London number.

Oh right, so they'll be surprised you're not local then and a large charge will come as a shock to them. I can see why they'd see a meeting as being no big thing if they think you're a London based firm. If you want the business, it may just be something you have to accept that you can't charge them all your time/costs for the meeting - perhaps a nominal charge just to cover the expenses then may be less of a shock to them. But it comes down to how much you want their business - no point doing it if it means the profit on the job doesn't cover your time travelling.

Ferrisbuellersdayoff Tue 26-Feb-19 10:07:08

I'm going to quote as if I lived in London.

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