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Random Thoughts (Blog)

Should We Bill Like Lawyers and CPAs?

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 11:30 AM

I remember reading John Grisham’s novel, The Firm, several years ago, and recall Mitch’s marching orders from the nefarious firm of Bendini, Lambert and Locke as being something akin to, “If you talk to the client on the phone, bill them. If you make a photocopy for the client, bill them. If you even find yourself at your desk, drinking a cup of coffee and maybe flipping through a magazine, and your mind happens to wander to where you even think about the client, bill them. In fact, just thinking about billing the client, you should probably bill them to be on the safe side.”


While this constant billing would certainly be good for the bottom line – I mean, who amongst us hasn’t laid awake at night obsessing over a project? Wondering if we remembered to pull every cable we needed, or how we are going to program our way out of a particularly tricky problem. That would be a few extra hours of billing a week easy – is it in the best interests of your company to have a lawyerly attitude to billing?




My post last week titled “Why Recurring Revenue Service Contracts Don't Work for My Company”  produced a comment that I’m using as the springboard for this post.


Dallas Dingle wrote, “My girlfriend is a CPA and she feels there should be a way charge clients for all the telephone assistance we provide. She is around on weekends and evenings when I grab a call and start troubleshooting with a client. As most in our industry know this can be a 24/7 job. Many problems are resolved over the phone, so no further revenue is added from these interactions. I know that we get a ton of referrals from existing clients, so I (mentally) write off the phone time as good advertising.”


I think that we can all empathize with Dallas regarding the amount of phone assistance that we provide to both customers and non-customers alike on a daily basis, and certainly a boundary needs to be established when clients are calling you at all hours of the day. But I’m sure that Dallas’ girlfriend would be shocked if she knew just how much time we spend helping clients out pro bono. In fact, if I had a $1 for every time I just walked someone through resolving some issue with their cable box – “Yes, ma’am, I’m sure it’s your cable box. Just trust me, and I’ll walk you through the process of rebooting it…” – I would easily have enough extra money to get a sweet new iPad Air. And I mean the 4G one with 128 Gigs, not some wimpy 16 Gig, entry-level model.


Sure it’s frustrating some times. Walking people through the process of getting into a set-up menu to fix something they messed up, or adjusting an aspect ratio that is stretching the score ticker off the screen, or helping them get back onto the right input, or figuring out that they can’t see anything because somehow the receiver’s “Pure Direct” button magically got pressed even though they assure you that no one has touched the receiver… There are a myriad of things we do at no charge on the phone each day to support the systems we’ve installed. (At least the Tape 2 Monitor button is finally gone though, am I right?!)


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Categories: November 2013, CTA, Rants

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