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Taylor Pratt asks whether or not to charge a client who is on a monthly contract when, because of their fault, he wasn’t able to provide services. It brings up a great question... how do YOU balance the strictness of a contract with the fairness of understanding a client’s current situation?

I like the frankness of Taylor’s post. He is right, all of us have been there before or we probably will soon enough.
Comments5 Comments  


from planetc1 3788 Days ago #
Votes: 1

For some clients, monthly Autopay may be a way to go (if you have a fixed rate).

from pratt 3788 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I like the autopay idea, too. What do you think about charging them at certain milestones in the project? Also, thanks for the kind words Ross :)

from LtDraper 3787 Days ago #
Votes: 3

If the contract says monthly, you bill them monthly.  You probably gave up something during the negotiations that you could have gotten if you weren’t going to be billing rain or shine.  And you most likely had to forgoe other opportunities in order to be available while they tried to get approvals.The most important thing to be to your customers is a reliable provider of goods and services. A lot of people say "Under promise and over deliver."  That’s actually a bad strategy.  Often, especially in the technical areas, over delivering can be a bad thing.  You’re just as likely to get it wrong and give them something they don’t want, need, or already have when you try to go beyond the contact.  I’ve seen entire customer relationships destroyed because a technical person threw in an extra bell and whistle with good intentions, but it made the system less useful for the customer (from their standpoint).  Most customers want what they bargained for and no more.  In fact, with most vendors getting what was promised is tough enough.  You’ll stand out if you can reliably deliver everything you contract for.  If your customers always want more than they bargained for, it’s a bad relationship and you should get out of it.The last point is that when you don’t bill, it cheapens your service.  They don’t view you as an expensive expert, but more of a commodity they can push around.  Once you start throwing in free stuff in a consulting relationship it all heads downhill.  Do you think their lawyer tells them not to pay their retainer just because they didn’t use it?  Does their accountant tear up his invoice because there wasn’t that much to do that month?  Are you a highly sought after expert, or a low level technical commodity?

from pratt 3786 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Great points, LtDraper. I really like your last point about the possibility of getting pushed around. Once they see they can take advantage of you once, they might just keep doing it.

from sphinndr 3785 Days ago #
Votes: 0

What really bothers me about this type of scenario is what do you do when they go through a complete redeisgn of their website.  This would include changing URL strings, then maybe added query strings to the mix.  Do you go about your business reoptimizing the entire site and no additional setup cost.  Or better yet what happens when their FTP information expires and they take 3 months to getting around to getting you new information. 

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