[consulting] General consultant's vent

Christian Pearce christian at pearcec.com
Thu Aug 6 17:16:50 UTC 2009

One thing that lawyers do is ask for a deposit upfront.  That shows people
are serious and have the money.  I think for piddly work, the best thing to
do is try to get the person on a support contract.  Otherwise insist on a
minimum to start.  For example need at least one hour minimum for any
project. If they are on a support contract bill them for all calls and
lengthy emails. They will begin to understand that when they come to you it
is going to cost money.  Some how lawyers and accountants have this well
established expectation with their clients.  You need to do the same.
Support contracts can be really cheap and simple too.  You can tell the
custom if they aren't willing to sign one then you can't guarantee your

I take the time to work up a quick site plan for small website in drupal
that doesn't require any custom coding.  I think to be competitive you need
to get fast at drawing up this types of estimates.  So if you can give the
customer an estimate on the part that doesn't require modifications they
have something to work from.  For the parts that do require customization
you can tell them this type of work is specific to your needs and I can't
possible quote something for free. If they can't do that or don't like that,
then just walk.  We have had customers leave and come back, because they
find someone cheaper and it doesn't work out.

On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 12:48 PM, Domenic Santangelo
<domenic at workhabit.com>wrote:

> On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 6:34 AM, Brian Vuyk <brian at brianvuyk.com> wrote:
>> I agree with you in principal. If the client doesn't approach us with
>> fully drawn up specification and design documents, they should expect to pay
>> consulting time to get their project refined and firmed up. Historically,
>> probably 10-15% or more of my hours were tied up in this aspect of business.
>> However, as long as so many developers are willing to do this for free, it
>> can't easily be stopped. Small shops, like mine, can't give up a competitive
>> edge like that, and charging a client several days labour that another shop
>> would give for free just doesn't work.
> I recently needed a legal document drawn up, so I called an attorney that
> came highly recommended from friends in this area. He drew up the (one page)
> document, sent it over, I looked through it and said, "great, let's do it"
> and he asked for a large retainer. I can't use this doc unless I pay it.
> That too got me to thinking about Drupal work -- okay, fine, let's estimate
> and wireframe for free, and build that cost into contracts we DO land.
> I don't really have an answer here, but I think examples from other more
> established industries might show good patterns that we can follow. I dunno.
> -Dom
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Christian Pearce
xforty technologies
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