I often do on-site software training for my clients. When I do this, I typically bill a daily or half-day rate. My "half-day only" rate is about 65% of my daily rate because even though I'm only working a half-day, it's usually logistically impossible for me to see two "half day" clients in one day.

Recently I've had some clients asking for "an hour or two" of training (or other on site consulting), and they usually want it during the lunch hour. While it's only an hour or two, if I do it during the lunch hour, it effectively kills my day for any other on site work, and, woes me - the time to get ready and travel there and back - kills productivity for most of my day period.

How do most of you bill when a client wants you to come on site to work on something? Just for the actual time or do you have a minimum "physical appearance" fee? Do you bill for the time to travel to and from the client site? Do you have a sense of what the client expects to pay when they ask a freelancer to come on site?

Sorry if I'm over complicating my question but another situation I've encountered is a client asking me to come "for the day," but then only met with me a couple hours then dismissed me. Then I am start to wonder - will they be outraged if I bill for a day when we only worked a couple hours? I turned other clients away to set that day aside for them, but they probably don't see it that way...



3 Answers 3


Right up my alley!

I worked for a company that charged even for my travel time, x2 (one for each way). It pissed off close customers, but I had to do as I was told.

When I started working for myself, I offered the first 15 minutes of travel (you can vary it if you want) for free, in total. Any other travel time was billed at xx% of my regular rate - I used 80%. The Minimum Callout rate was always set to one hour, no matter what. This guaranteed the customer would use my time as effectively as they could, and we would both be happy.

For trips that do take longer, the driving time MUST be charged, as you're putting wear and tear on your vehicle, and that's one of your costs as a freelancer!

If a client wants to book me for a certain time period (i.e. half day, all day, etc), I make it clear before I commit that I will book that time for them, and they will be charged the entire time, even if only a bit of it was used. I explain this for the same reasons you do: I block it out from work I could be doing for other clients. After one or two of these "appointments" where they want a quick 20 minute session, they learn very quickly to not ask for a full day, unless they have an itemized list of what they need accomplished. Without that list, they run the risk of things not getting done, or communicated to me properly, which costs them money - But not me.

  • thanks @Canadian Luke, this is helpful. In my case I don't want to go on site for as short a time as an hour 'cause most of the time people waat me for a half or full day and it kills that part of the day for me, but I definitely need to make it CLEAR that they are committing to the half/full day in advance. I did have this info in my proposal/agreement, but I've learned no one remembers what that says.d
    – Emily
    Oct 22, 2014 at 2:43
  • Of course they won't! They want to pay you as little as possible for your time. Every client is like that, deep down
    – Canadian Luke
    Oct 22, 2014 at 2:45
  • do you think most freelancers who go on site bill just for the time spent so clients are used to that, or do you think clients are aware and trying to manipulate freelancers by acting oblivious? I think many IT type are different than me in that they can make several short visits in one day, but in my case I'm usually teaching classes that require I be there at an exact time. An open ended visit to a client prevents me from seeing anyone else.
    – Emily
    Oct 22, 2014 at 2:53
  • I Bill for my time, because that's what I feel is fair, if we don't specify the start/end time.
    – Canadian Luke
    Oct 22, 2014 at 2:59

I use a rate sheet, which details, two per diem rates, one short term (higher rate), one long term lower full daily rate, and below that a half day rate for work including travel time of 60% of day rate. (it effectively is explained as that blocks out accepting another client for a full day). Note on bottom of rate sheet "A per hour rate is available to times which are at my convenience, minimum of one hour."

Emily, Specific to the hourly billing rate, I usually use this for long term clients who need me to do jobs at home (bill by hour) or extra visits to site. My rate sheet contains something like:

Schedule of fees. For fiscal year 01 July 2014 to 30 June 2015. Fee rates are exclusive of United Kingdom VAT and in GBP. “Day” is defined as a standard working day of 7 hours 30 minutes. Hourly pro-rata applies to extra hours or non-site work.

United Kingdom services. First two days of a consultancy period: £590-00 per day

Next five days of a consultancy period: £510-00 per day

Subsequent days of a consultancy period: £440-00 per day

European Union services external to UK. Days of a consultancy period: £800-00 per day

Other Territories By negotiation.

Long term contracts can be mutually negotiated according to length and scope of work. Reasonable out of pocket expenses, where appropriate, will be charged as extra to above and the scope of these will be agreed prior to the commencement of the project.

Travel will be charged at; Mileage 45 pence per mile. Rail and air fares inclusive of booking and finance charges (at cost). * Hotels and subsistence inclusive of booking and finance charges (at cost) * Local transport (at cost) * Consular Fees (at cost) * Unrecoverable EU VAT inclusive (DE, DK, FR, NL, etc.)

External documentation: Chamber fees and chamber documentation charges (at cost) Consular and Adval fees (at cost) Translation (at cost) plus secretarial (at cost). Court certified translator services (at GBP/USD cost equivalent). Publications (at cost) plus delivery charges.

Other expenses. At cost plus 20% plus withholding taxes, if any.

Payment: All fees and charges are strictly net 30 days from date of invoice.

Yours faithfully, For on behalf of "Company Name" & signature

Emily: Note: 75% of my work comes from one client (2~3 days per week, long term contract and extra from home (the hourly billing as I can do my work from home, which is not your situation), this is my bread and butter, [I refuse to do more, as otherwise in case of problems there is no other income available] 15%~25% comes from another four clients on a casual basis, capable of developing to replace the main client. I suggest a minimum of a half day fee for any work on customer's site or premises Regards, Eionmac

  • Hi eionmac, welcome to Freelancing.SE! Can you edit your answer to expand, with some details, that may help future visitors of the site?
    – Canadian Luke
    Oct 21, 2014 at 18:18
  • Thanks @eionmac, this sounds like exactly what I need to do. I will go by hourly if I'm in the area, but I don't want to schedule time like that in advance, particularly over the lunch hour which kills both halve of the day for getting to other clients for a half-day session.
    – Emily
    Oct 22, 2014 at 2:44

Reading these responses it occurs to me that I need to decide if I'm willing to book "an hour" on site. And if not, just not do it. (And I've decided I'm not.) I'm worried about disappointing clients but I really can't afford to kill my day that way.

I also think I will make up a boilerplate "confirmation" type email to send after client's book me that confirms the hours and re-iterates the rate and "daily" policy, because the biggest concern I've had has been when longstanding clients who usually deal with me by phone/internet ask me to come to their office, they aren't aware of the policy even though it was sent to them before - that may have been months/years ago.

  • And there's nothing wrong with that. Don't forget to follow up with a phone call to ensure they read the policy, since email can go into /dev/null
    – Canadian Luke
    Oct 22, 2014 at 18:01

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