Billing in the Modern Age.

kmetal

Kyle P. Gushue
Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2009
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
Having been on hiatus for a few years now, one thing ive been trying to suss out before re-entry, is billing.

Mainly on the consultation side, which i plan to focus on, since i enjoy it, and it works with my busted up back much better.

Main issue- how does one charge by the hour, when much of the communication is via email, and text these days? Whether its conversation or sending data or drawings ect.

This comes into play with studio design gigs in particular, as the diy studio is the current wave, and i think here to stay even if commercial studios re-emerge.

There's alot of explaining how to and why to, and options being explored in that area, even with good documentation.

Since text and email takes longer than a voice call or sit down is the same hourly rate applicable?

The rest of it, the calculations and drawing is the same either way. Its the actual consultation time i cant figure out a price on.

In my mock up website i had a "quick question" button that charged $1 for a question to get answered.

Then like a 5$ option for a detailed question with a reply that included words and/or drawings, test data ect.

The infrastructure worked ok ie electronic form/billing. But that still left me puzzled about the other aspect i described above.

I like the text/email since it can be done at non appointed times, or times when someone might not be able to talk. Plus i can send photos drawings ect.

Any thoughts on this would be valued as i think this is a common way to communicate these days.
 

pcrecord

Quality recording seeker !
Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2013
Location
Quebec, Canada
I'm charging 30$ an hour for anything I do related to my studio. Recording, mixing, video, montage, photography etc..
I figured that around me most music teacher charger around 25$ dollars.
On second thought, I could ask 25$ instead but bellow this would just encourage types of customers I don't want to deal with.
You know those who end up not paying anyway, those not serious enough to show up to appointment etc..
If I was ask to teach or help building a studio, my rates would be the same.

I guess that if you are to go on site and explain life to someone, 25-30$ an hour isn't expensive.. Just tell them we use to pay 120$ an hour for what they are going to learn to do by themself..
Of course for someone that lives of this and have no other income, it's a bit tricky to refuse business.
In my situation, I'm an IT technician, I will rather choose not to deal with a customer if I sense that I'll end up with a mad headache.

In fact I did just that, there was a musician which played on a gig that I was doing the FOH sound a while ago. He was all excited giving me the speech : I'll do an album, I need to do the drums and recording and all..
Then he came back to me 3 months later, I need this right away, let's me.. So I gave him a date and he never showed up. A month later; Hey I need you to record an other of my project. .
Then I said NO !! It's enough I'm just not feeling it and I don't want to work with you, let's just be friends (facebook friends)
He came back to me like a mad men, I don't understand what I did etc.. I just say, I think we are not compatible. Your are super hyped and excited, I'm calm and reflected.
I think to this date, he never understood.. But me, I'm very happy with my choice, specially with the comments he made after I said no.
Sorry for the long story !
 

kmetal

Kyle P. Gushue
Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2009
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
Yeah i learned the hard way about not trusting my instincts with client selection.

So if i spend an hour texting back and forth vs on the phone for a consultantation, do you think the hourly rate should be different? Phone is arguably faster, like more info conveyed?

Or what about texts/emails that get spread out across the day? Should the bill reflect the time spent reading/writing the text, and include the time taken to assemble the documents/ research for the response?

Im trying to establish a fair method of charging for digital communications vs in person or phone/ Skype.

This way we don't need to make appointments.
 

paulears

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
Lowestoft - UK
By and large, I have been charging, for projects a day rate, or sometimes a half-day rate for some clients. Anything less than half day is charged as a process. So absolutely NOT a time rated thing. So the line on the invoice says things like:
Copying DAT recording to USB drive £37 plus VAT
Converting 20 .wav files to 320K .mp3 files £45 plus VAT

The figures are based on how long, but I don't reveal that to clients. I use the time to work out the price - so 20 x 3 min, so that's an hours work, 50 quid being what I'd base it on, and I just knock off a tiny bit, if the customer is NOT VAT registered, so I have to add on ten quid for the tax - I look at the work, look at the price and if it seems fair, I go with it.

I don't charge for emails and communications - I've had to pay solicitors on this basis and it's a fiddle! That said, I'm having a battle with a solicitors firm who keep bombarding me with requests for information on a previous tenant in my office building. I helped at first but the requests got more demanding, so a solicitor friend told me to send them a communication requiring the to cease and desist from further requests, and if they continued I would take this as their acceptance of my need to charge them for work completed to satisfy their requests. They carried on. I invoiced each letter from that point at £50 Plus VAT. They've not paid yet, and I doubt will, but my charge, apparently, is perfectly valid.

So my billing is based on days, where what I do is irrelevant, and short activity based costings. This works for me. I really don't want to start having to itemise the little bits and pieces.
 

kmetal

Kyle P. Gushue
Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2009
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
Interesting. Im trying to figure out a good way to delineate a quick text or email question that would be free, vs when to charge.

Over the course of a studio design there can be hundreds or thousands of questions that pop up, and while some should be answered as part of the planning fee, some "extra" questions can actually be pretty techincal and time consuming.

I've thought about essentially booking a "sessions" where the client pre pays 1-3 hours or more at a flat rate, then just including how much time was used in each response that should be billed. ie sent wall test data sheet, explained resillient channel install method (15min).

I don't want the client to feel like every communication interaction costs them money, but in consulting is essentially just communitcation. Id like to strike a balance between them getting free quick questions and being billed for "work". A balance between pay by the minute, and endless followup / revision emails they expect for free.

I also like the freedom to assign an hourly rate since im not very fast with skethcup yet, i couldn't bill by the time it actually took, it would be what i think the task is worth.

Im also messing with the idea of video / audio responses, so they don't have to pay me to type/ text, which is slower. They could email a bunch of questions, and i could reply on a video or audio file. And attached relavant files/data/ drawings to the email or dropbox.

For friends i don't charge, but for clients ive had experiences in the past where hours of txt convo goes unpaid, due to me having no real way to assess the time.
 

paulears

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
Lowestoft - UK
I’m going to turn down a job because during the phone calls and emails the client doesn’t listen and frankly I don’t wish to work for him. It’s getting to the stage where serious time and effort will need putting in and that’s when charging would for me, kick in.
 

kmetal

Kyle P. Gushue
Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2009
Location
Boston, Massachusetts
Yeah ive had some nightmare clients. Since moving into "semi-retirement" ive been able to be more selective with things.

Your example is a perfect illustration of why i would like to have a clearly defined billing process for communication heavy based jobs.
 
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