I work mostly from home, but I do have some clients that want me to commute to their homes for updates.
How should I handle these fees? I would love to hear from people who have experienced this kind if work. :)
I generally don't charge unless there are unusual costs involved.
What that means, is...
If I have to drive 150 miles, I'll rent a vehicle and charge the client for the vehicle rental then 50¢/mile for time, then work time on site. I do not charge my hourly rate for drive time.... I can't work on anything and can only drive. While I deserve to be compensated, I don't feel it's justified to charge my hourly rate to drive.
If I need to purchase airfare.. the client is charged for that, plus accommodations, in addition to actual work hours on site. I don't charge for actual time traveling. I can work on anything I choose on the plane or in the hotel... so if I happen to be working on the client's projects, then they are charged for that time. But as a blanket rule, there's no direct, automatic charge for travel time.
If I have to drive 20 minutes across town... I don't charge for that. I charge for time on site, but not for travel. These costs are so minimal that I just see them as the price for doing business.
It depends on the type of meeting and the "size" of the project.
If it is a medium-big project, I usually add a certain amount to the whole price that will cover the first meeting and the next 2 or 3, in terms of work time (for updates, quotes, drafts, etc) and travelling cost. I don't charge directly for the meeting itself but I get paid anyway because it's included in the whole price.
If I am requested to work at the client's company or office, I charge an hourly rate for all the hours that I stay there plus the time for travelling.
For example I stay at client's office for 6 hours plus it takes for me 45 minutes to travel by car from my office, I charge in total 7,5 hours x my hourly rate. Because if you in your working hours stop to work to drive 1 hour to your client, you could use that time to do something else that will produce a gain for you, also you are spending money for fuel etc, that's why is correct to charge for the travel. It's a refund for gain loss and car expenses that you wouldn't have if you didn't have to go there.
Of course if the client is close and I take 30 minutes or less I don't charge anything.
Also if the clients are reliable and we have a good work relationship, we usually agree by voice and all is ok, otherwise before I go I make them sign an "intervention receipt" with the time I stayed there, the travel time, and final price, so they can't complain after.