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Old March 19th, 2010, 02:55 PM   #1
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Whats a reasonable consultation fee....

If I have to drive 30 minutes to a clients office for a consultation fee for their video what should it cost them or should it cost at all?

$50?

How do you bill it, right there on the spot, or with the potential work you would be doing IF you get the job?

OR do you not even mention it and just add $50 to any jobs that you have to go and do a consultation with?

I know for alot of the corporate jobs I have taken, the consulatation could have been done on the phone, except I am sure the client would like to meet us in person too.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 03:12 PM   #2
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If this is consultation to win a potential client I would consider it marketing and that should be rolled into your overall rates. If this were truly consulting for a project you would have already had the fee worked out and the client would have agreed to it. Then it should only be a matter of when it gets billed.

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Old March 19th, 2010, 03:16 PM   #3
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What about consultation for past clients?
They already know you, and they want to "meet" 30-60 minutes away for something new. Usually after such meetings in the past I felt that I could have easily discussed things on the phone, saving myself 1-2 hours of driving (both ways).

For new clients, it seems reasonable I guess.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 03:33 PM   #4
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For existing clients I generally would do any discussions regarding new projects over the phone. Then if they want to move forward I would build that into the rate for the project. But you still have to considered that you'll have spent a 1/2 hour or hour with them on the phone to secure the new project.

I come from a consulting engineering background so I look at it in this way:

I have a certain overhead cost that includes a budget for marketing/business development. That amount goes into my overall calculation for my hourly rates which are then multiplied by my estimated hours for producing a project. So, the cost of doing the BD is already being charged.

This is basically how all consulting businesses that I've been involved with operate. Until you secure the project it is marketing. And you should be giving away work, including preproduction work, before the client has agreed to pay for that work and you have an agreed amount that they will be paying.

Just my approach and other may do it completely differently.

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Old March 19th, 2010, 03:40 PM   #5
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I see. I had a client who kept insisting I come out and I kept declining saying we could talk on the phone. I never got the job, but they liked my past work for them.

I only do free consultations with wedding couples in my area of town, or if i am in a area the same day I am willing to meet a new client free there.

I do not like to "work" on plans for a project really until I am sure that I am hired.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 04:22 PM   #6
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I agree with Garrett other than the fact I keep "preproduction WORK" to an absolute minimum until the prospect has become a client (ie. I'll talk in generalities about what we can do for them but won't give away any "secrets or concepts" until I'm "on the payroll").

Marketing YOUR business shouldn't be a cost to the client. But watch out for clients that want WAY too much face-to-face time if you can't bill for it. When meeting with clients for evaluation meetings etc. I charge my Producer hourly rate, plus REASONABLE location expenses (parking etc.) but pitches are NORMALLY at my expense (given that I have built in a certain amount of time INTO my billing structure to ensure that I get paid what I need to to survive).
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Old March 19th, 2010, 04:40 PM   #7
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yes, keeping all unpaid work to a minimum is a good idea.

So the time for "free" meetings should be factored into the hourly or day rate for projects then and watch out for "those" certain type of clients who need to much face to face time.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 04:55 PM   #8
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I see the odd consultation as "built in" to my overhead. If I was to spend 40 hours a week AT work, I wouldn't anticipate being BILLABLE for all 40 hours, even though I AM working... Again, this is why I am opposed to the $25/hr camp that some propose.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 04:58 PM   #9
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So your saying bill by the project then and not hourly?
Thats actually what I usually do. Usually make more with a project rate then day or hourly.
Of course it does nt always work out too though.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 05:02 PM   #10
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I bill shooting by the day or half day and editing by the hour. This is pretty common.

You will almost ALWAYS get "screwed" with project pricing IF you are doing long form projects UNLESS you can command such a premium for your services that even if clients go WAY over the expected time, you're still in good shape.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 05:04 PM   #11
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That makes sense.....actually billing editing by the hour seems like a good idea, maybe give an estimate and then bill for it. whats your hourly editing rate?
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Old March 19th, 2010, 05:07 PM   #12
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Unless I'm hired strictly as a "consultant" I'll sit with a client for up to an hour or so to make sure we're both on the same page. That's part of running the business. the clients I've got wouldn's sit still for a consultation fee. I've gotten work and haven't gotten work forom some clients after the "consultation" but if I'm not out there talking to them someone else will.
Like Shaun, I bill shooting by the day and editing by the hour.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 05:18 PM   #13
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Silas, you do have to assess at what point a client needs "too" much attention to be worth it. If they insist that you meet face to face for everything and they are not willing to pay for all that face time, you may need to decide whether it is more costly to be working with that client.

As far as how to bill a project, I give them a set to produce the project and in the agreement I have all of the assumptions listed, which do include an assumed number of meetings. I have never had to strictly enforce the number of meetings and admit that I do have to meet a couple more times for each project but it does make the client thing twice before calling me to meet over something that could easily be handled on the phone.

Shaun, its not so much that I have any "secrets" that I'm not willing to divulge. I've just been burned before. I'm willing to put down some ideas and work through some details but I learned quickly that giving too much information can backfire.

For one of my first pitches I had prepared for (probably over prepared), I worked out a great concept for a local "Boot Camp" trainer. I met with him for about an hour and a half and convinced him that the best thing he could do to raise his conversion rate was to put a good video on his website showing what his program was about and show it in action. We talked a lot about what could be done in the video and what some very good ways were to get more people to follow up and contact him to join. We left the meeting with him figuring out when he could financially best get the video made. So a couple of months go by and I'd been doing my usual follow-up calls and emails to try to keep everything on track. So months later I look at his web site and he has this horribly made video up there trying to execute all of the concepts we talked about. It was pretty obvious that he or one of his friends just took a handycam and shot a bunch of crap footage, then took iMovie or something and just slapped it together.

So now I do my homework, work on the concepts in preparation for a pitch, but am careful to gauge how much info to give away. I try to figure out how much is enough to wet their appetites, just enough to make them want to at least hire me for more concept development. I'm sure there have been projects that I still go over on and some that I could have won if I gave out more details but, live and learn.

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Old March 19th, 2010, 05:20 PM   #14
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Don,
Do you factor in this time in your work somehow?

It seems like you could waste a lot of valuable driving time by driving to meetings that may not work out. (Some clients just want to find out information, not book you).

I like to make sure we are on the same page but for a "meeting" I like phone better.
And if they really want me to come in and meet or have a consultation, I am fine with it free if its in a nearby part of town. But if its over 15 minutes away I figure I need to add something to the price of the project to cover my gas and time.
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Old March 19th, 2010, 05:24 PM   #15
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Garret,
It it unreasonable, in your opinion, that if the project is worth it to them, they can come to the area of town I am in? (Just like you take your car to a service station, or you go to a store).

Of course, if its a huge client, like the goverment or something, then some exceptions are fine.

But in general for small businesses, restarurants, event planners, speakers, training video people.....
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