In quoting a concept through detailed dimensioned drawings for a 40-60hr. freelance project, do you think it is fair to give say 4hours free post project support for dealing with small errors/omissions/clarifications that inevitably come up?
Or should this type of thing be handled like up to 1hour free phone time to answer questions, and if the pen has to hit the paper or the tablet, have to requote for that.
What do y’all think is fair for post-project stuff? Thank You.
While I agree with iab, let me try to put it in more gentle terms.
Since you are still quoting you can handle this. Quote all the preliminary stuff and have 4 hours (or however much time you think you may need) for changes at the end. mark this section with an asterisks and say that this time will only be billed if needed.
Of course you should have periodic approval meeting during the design phase so that there are no surprises at the end.
iab, the fact that I am offering this type of support is proof of good planning. I know from working many projects in fast paced scenarios that there is always some error or omission or something that needs clarifying. I am not perfect.
Also, I don’t think the client would want to add extra time to the project for checking, put aside, and re-checking, put aside, and final-checking, to get it perfect. Heck, even when you get it all 100% there, China will have a question on something because they don’t get it and the client will want to come back to you to clarify or revise or add an assembly or other detailed view. Heck product development/ ID projects are different all the time how can you get it perfect unless your have lots of heads looking at it, I know I cannot get it 100% perfect everytime on each new project. I worked in corp. where the doc. group would devote days and several documentation engineers to checking and re-checking documents before releasing them to the system, even then there where still errors that were missed.
So what is the true cost of the service you provide to your customer? Do you buy a car from the dealership and know that you have to take it in for service the next day?
As iab suggested you should have accounted for that time in your original quote and not block that out as an additional charge. If the customer needs changes or clarification because of something on their side, then that’s an additional charge.
Good planning would never ask for more money for things that are “inevitable”. Unless you are using a definition of inevitable that I am unaware.
No quote is perfect. No one has a crystal ball that accurate. Sometimes you come in ahead, sometimes behind and sometimes right on the nose. With experience, you are off by a couple of points, not anything significant. Sure there are times I am personally not satisfied with the work and I’ll get a bit behind. Then there are times when things gel and I am ahead. But I’m not going to nickel and dime a client and I don’t tolerate it from them.
In 20 years I have never had a client want to audit my hours retrospectively. If asked, I would politely say no. I don’t ask to see their margins. My business is just that, my business.
If a client wants to pay me by the hour instead of a quote (has happened under 10 times in 20 years), I require a retainer of a specified number of hours. Then I go all lawyer. I am down to the minute on everything - phone calls, writing emails, filling out shipping labels, and even the time it takes to determine how much time I have spent on their project.
Either way, quote or retainer, only a change in scope directed by the client is acceptable to change the quote or retainer. If you start nickel and diming them, they will never come back. If they start nickel and diming you, you won’t work for them.
How many times do you need to be told the most important item in the business relationship is the relationship?
So if you have delivered a concept and set of detailed plans, you got paid $4,000, Then 10 days later the client’s factory needs more detailed drawings and views to understand the product (maybe another 16hrs worth of work $800) - You would:
a- Not charge, to keep a good client relationship.
b- Not charge, because you should have known they would need those views from the beginning, so it is your mistake.
c - Split the difference.
d - Requote it, and charge.
One things you may want to consider and to set expectations is to ask the client to provide you a set of drawings that represents what they consider to be a final deliverable.
I have several clients and their definition of “detailed” or “manufacturing” drawings vary vastly. One client i can crank out the drawings in less then an hour, another client there are several pages and it takes 3- 4 hours.
If they don’t have a standard to provide you then it would be best for you to obtain an example and provide it to them for review and approval…
Figure 80%-95% of your time will be spent before you submit to your client, and the remaining 5%-20% will be spent supporting your deliverables - depending on the complexity of the problem and your access to the people that need to see your work. If the problem is complex and you don’t have direct access to vendors, you can easily be looking at 20% support time. Obviously try to speak with vendors before quoting so your expectations (and the client’s and the vendor’s) are aligned.
This is what I do for long-term clients where unexpected changes happen and they understand this. However, if it’s something I should have caught, then I fix it or add the drawing no charge… I’m not a big fan of nickel and dime-ing the client–I’d prefer to keep them happy and coming back provided both of us feel we’re getting a fair deal.