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“Do you bill for time on the phone?”

I’ve had this question a few times from prospective and existing clients. The answer is probably different for them, but the answer probably isn’t as easy as just, “Duh. Uh, yeah!”

If you’re not a current client and we’re still talking about the project or details or how the relationship could work, then no, of course not, we’re still working things out. But if you’re an existing client and we’re talking about work–and not the latest Harry Potter film–then chances are yes, it should be billed. I’ve been thinking of how to make sense of this for clients. Here are some possible answers.

“Do you bill for time we spend on the phone?”

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes, if it’s time we’re “working” together on the project.
  3. No, our project is based on a flat-fee and these calls are part of that project fee.
  4. No, but I only have 15 minutes of unbillable time for today’s schedule.
  5. No, because we have you on a monthly retainer and these phone calls fall into the service agreement.
  6. No, I don’t have to, I suppose. But is that OK if I don’t really listen and I work on some client work for a client that pays me per hour?
  7. No, but I won’t have time to be on the call because I’m going to be working with some clients that are paying for my time. Let me know when you’re done with the call and if you could write up the summary and the action items that you’d like me to do, I’ll get started on those.

Those are all I can think of for now. I have to get on a–paid–conference call with a client.

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