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I'm developing a software for a client and the project had a delay of about a week. I warned the client about the delay (this happened because I made a course and he knew about it). But now he wants to meet me for an entire day for us to sit and work in person. He says that he wants me and his design team to work together and our agreement was only for programming, not for design (he would provide the flow and images). He said that if that meeting does not happen he will hire some other company.

The agreement is per-project. He wants to do some "supervised work" in his words. Do I include this as an extra cost?

  • Sorry, what's the question? Whether or not to meet with a client when they are requesting it? – Scott Jun 16 '16 at 17:09
  • @Scott no, it is not. I just want some opinion about the situation that I described. – ikkarion Jun 16 '16 at 17:33
  • My point is.. your description doesn't really state what the dilemma is. Are you not wanting to meet with the client? Do you feel he is asking for things above and beyond what your contract states? Are you seeking just general advice on how to handle a client demanding a meeting you don't want to attend (this would be off topic kind of)? – Scott Jun 16 '16 at 18:28
  • Stacey edited the question and put in words what I was trying to say. Sorry if I couldnt make myself more clear. – ikkarion Jun 16 '16 at 20:02
  • I would trust my gut and would fire a micro-managing customer. – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 17 '16 at 2:32
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He says that he wants me and his design team to work together and our agreement was only for programming, not for design (he would provide the flow and images).

This implies a change of project scope.

If he is talking about a single day, then I suggest you consider a separate invoice for your time - apply a discount since some of your time is paid under the existing contract. Present the customer with the quote, explain to him the additional costs help cover your travel time, and your hours of work which were previously flexible are less flexible. Perhaps not charge first time, but explain to him that any other onsite visits will be chargable.

Working with customers, like any relationship, can be tricky. You don't want them to waste your time, nor do you want to under sell yourself. Consider a rate for offsite work, and consider a rate for onsite work, and share that with the client. Explain that you have expenses to cover just like they do and the flexible working practices (like location/time) help you to offer a cost affordable service. When your working practice becomes less flexible, you have to adjust the cost accordingly.

If the customer balks and walks, examine your contract and find the exit clause. My contracts stipulate that my contract can be cancelled immediately if the project is cancelled. If your contract is the same, their walk should cost them some money (and cost you the chance of any further work from them for the next year). Best thing though is to avoid rocking the boat - find compromise - especially if you think there is the possibility of additional work to follow.

When you talk with the customer - smile - be pleasant - your body language helps just as much as the words you use. Your customer did not wake up one morning deciding to make your day bad - their requirements changed so work with them to help them deliver the goals and you will profit along the way.

Lastly, for your next contract, include an hourly rate for onsite visits. Perhaps budget that 20% of your time will be onsite. If/when the customer asks you to be onsite, then go, but advise them that after x number of hours/days onsite, your time becomes chargable. I never say no to a customer - I just become more expensive, it gives them something to think about before they ask me.

Best of luck

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    This solved my problem. I clarified the costs to the client and we made a new agreement about onsite work. – ikkarion Jun 17 '16 at 14:00
  • That is great to hear! – Emily Jun 20 '16 at 5:26
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What does your agreement say? I'd stick to that, and offer a new contract if he wants to renegotiate.

How do deal with the company? Simple - either agree or don't. If you agree, you better be charging your hourly rate during that time - remember, if you're working hourly, you are NOT working for other clients during that time, right? The agreement is a two-way street where BOTH of you need to agree to it and stick to it.

Should this be included in your per-project cost? Not a chance! Per-Project has the unspoken rule about being the project done in your own time, meaning you can work on other things at the same time if you are able to. Per-Hour billing is for when you are taken away from working for other clients, and should be one of your higher rates. So if you want to do it, I'd tell the client "Sure I can! My hourly rate is $xxx. When do you want me to start?"

  • The agreement is per-project. Thing is that he wants to do some "supervised work" in his words. I cant include this as an extra cost, right? – ikkarion Jun 16 '16 at 17:24
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    I'd say either trust my skill or I walk... But that's just me. Hourly rate usually gets around this – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA Jun 16 '16 at 19:40
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Will this "supervised work" slow you down so that you're having to put more hours into the project than anticipated when you gave him the project price?

Also, if this is design and your part of the project does not include design, then this is out of scope.

I would say something like "That sounds great. But let me get you a quote for this change order. I never want a client to be surprised when the invoice arrives."

If he says "This is not a change! It's part of the project!" say: "Our agreement is for programming only so I didn't include my daily on-site rate or travel expenses in the quote."

The thing is, it sounds like this client is nervous that you are not up to the task. So ask yourself how much do you want/need this particular client/project? If this could become a great long term client, I would try to make him happy. Maybe say "I can do this one time but for future meetings, once I begin a project, my on site fee is ___ per day."

I have found that clients like this often turn out to be more trouble than they are worth. If he expects you to spend a whole day at his office without extra compensation, he is probably going to become a huge pain if you humor him. You might be best off telling him "It will cost $X for me to come on site" and if he says "Then I'll find someone else." Say "I'm sorry to hear that. If things don't work out, please contact me." and just walk away.

Also, do you have a contract with him? Can he just "decide to go with someone else" at this point?

If you don't have a contract, these are all things to think about for your next project.

Clearly

  • detailed scope of project Fee for meetings/on-site visits (daily rateor minimum billing per visit since you can't go see other clients if they booked you and you don't know how long it will last.)

    • Cancellation fee if they decide to go with someone else after hiring you
  • Travel expenses if they want you to come on site (mileage, parking, etc.)

  • Get a deposit before beginning project (so they will think twice before canceling on you at the last minute)

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