If you’ve ever been to see a solicitor, then chances are you were charged for your initial meeting.
In the legal industry it almost seems to be common practice, but it’s something that seems to have the accountancy industry split down the middle…
Some of the benefits of charging for initial meetings might include:
- Putting off tyre-kickers/people just shopping around for free advice
- Setting expectations from the outset that your time is valuable and nothing you do is for free
- Establishing an element of ‘premium’ credibility
But some of the disadvantages might include:
- People being put off by the initial fee and not meeting with you as a result
- You being perceived as somebody who’s just ‘after their money’
It seems that one of the main points to bear in mind is whether or not advice is being given in the meeting.
If the meeting is simply one where you listen and decide if or how you can help, then perhaps it would be harder to charge for this compared to a meeting where you listen and offer some advice at the same time.
One of my clients in Ireland has recently started charging for all initial client meetings. The price varies depending on the hourly rate of the staff member holding the meeting and the nature of the advice given.
For example, if one of the partners is present at the meeting, the fee will be a few hundred euros. Likewise, if the meeting is with one of the managers, the fee will be less.
Their process is that all prospects are told they will get good advice in the meeting, and there will be a fee of €X to cover their time and advice. Once they have received verbal agreement over the phone, they will then confirm once more by email.
So far, they are yet to have anybody say no to the initial fee and the typical response they get is “Wow, you guys must be good”.
Another one of my clients based in Canterbury, has a more flexible approach.
They say that if a prospect is just looking for a quote, then that is free. But if they are looking for a quote and some initial advice, then that is chargeable again depending on the person running the meeting and the type of advice given.
I’m interested, who else charges for initial meetings? How do you charge for them? What types of response do you get?
And for those who don’t charge for them, why not? What is it about charging for them that puts you off?