[consulting] General consultant's vent

Dane Ensign dane at deepsnow.us
Thu Aug 6 05:49:49 UTC 2009

Good point. Personally I charge for 'Inception' / Discovery /  
Define&Design time if the project is over 1,000. They have to pay to  
get it designed, before a final estimate can be determined otherwise  
your liable to be dead in the water from scope creep. (just my .02  
here) -_Dane
On Aug 5, 2009, at 11:38 PM, Domenic Santangelo wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 7:49 PM, Ayen Designs <info at ayendesigns.com>  
> wrote:
> My fault for being too kind I suppose.
> You know, I don't think that clients need "kindness" per se.  
> Generally, our clients come to us with a problem that needs solving,  
> and we can solve it for them. But sometimes brutal honesty is what  
> they need to get them on track. I don't mean to say we should be  
> rude or condescending or BOFH-ish -- just that true communication  
> is, in the long run, more beneficial to them and to their  
> businesses. *Yes*, we should treat our clients (and everyone,  
> right?) with kindness; but I think you can be honest and kind at the  
> same time. To me, it's a question of what will benefit the client  
> the most in the long run. (caveat: The OP might have meant "polite"  
> or something along those lines, so don't take this as personal  
> criticism :)
> Tangentially, I've been pondering how we as consultants bill  
> clients. Take this horrible car analogy: I go in and say I want my  
> car to do something it doesn't do properly now (I want the brakes to  
> stop squeaking, I want the AC to blow cold air, whatever). The  
> mechanic tells me it will take x hours at shop rate to diagnose the  
> problem, and that he'll call me with an estimate -- usually with the  
> caveat that if it's something really stupid simple, he'll just do it  
> real fast. I agree, he calls me later and gives me a quick rundown,  
> I say yea or nay.
> To abstract:
> 1) Client wants something done by a professional
> 2) Professional promises a quote in X hours for $Y per hour
> 3) Professional provides quote
> 4) Client approve or denies, and work either ensues or doesn't.
> Why is this so different from what we do? The OP mentioned not  
> billing for time investigating. I've seen it done that way in a  
> bunch of shops, where they just chalk it up to the "cost of sale".  
> Maybe I'm just stupid and nobody else works like this, but I know  
> that I've spent a _lot_ of time estimating something out (sometimes  
> as much as 20% of the estimate!) and not billing for it. That  
> doesn't seem right to me. How do you guys handle the OP's situation  
> from a billing standpoint?
> -Dom
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