In the business world, is it frowned upon to charge for email? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about sending an invoice for every email that comes through my desk… but this is the biggest factor (so far) that I’m experiencing running my own show.
I want to notify clients that I will be sending an invoice after say 3 hours of email support… that might include random questions, random help and/or just anything that requires my time.
Ok. So is that standard practice? Or do I need to frame it carefully?
If I have a client who pays their bills, spends lots of money, and sends a few emails here and there I won’t bill for those emails unless there is a distinct task involved.
If I have a client who pays their bills but doesn’t spend much and they send occasional emails, I’ll usually answer them for free but if it’s excessive I’ll send an invoice for 15 minutes (minimum billing).
If I have a client who just sends emails, I send them an invoice for actual time.
These problems usually self-correct. A good client will respect your time.
I wouldn’t charge for it explicitly however I would include it in your overall costs when working with a client. The thing is that you don’t want to give the impression to clients that you charge for support and communications otherwise the client will try and cut costs by being less willing to talk with you and that can result in the end project being affected badly (as the cost of communication will hurt the ability to understand what the client requires) or even suffering delays.
If you are spending three hours answering support emails, that’s three hours of your time that should be accounted for. Just make sure you have an understanding ahead of time so there are no surprises. You can include this type of thing as “communications” as part of a project bid.
Ok, thank you for your advice. Solid…
If you were simply providing advice via email then indeed you could charge for it as a service. Many web professionals offer consultation on a payment basis where they will dedicate a specified amount of time to helping someone else (on a fixed payment basis or per hourly rate). If there’s no goods involved except the passing of your knowledge and advice I would establish a contract and lay down some set consultation fees for the period they require assistance.
PS: In the case of where instructions are given (and ignored), I would place that firmly in the maintenance fee section as the goods will have been delivered.
I wouldn’t charge for it explicitly however I would include it in your overall costs when working with a client. The thing is that you don’t want to give the impression to clients that you charge for support
Right, but what if it’s non-stop & there’s no actual work? So there is no overall cost in other words. They may be brainstorming or getting ideas for later but have no actual work in mind. I notice things come up that I’m asked to look into & it’s very vague. I definitely consider this an issue…
Another thing I experience is that when I’ve set something up & provided exact instructions to follow, but the instructions are ignored & questions are asked … so it’s repetitive and time consuming. really, I don’t see how I can expect a profit with that style of service because it’s constant. Is this where maintenance bundles come into play?