TFYW#083: 7 Ways to Charge More For Your Time

Apr 12, 2024

This week, I want to get into how we can structure and charge more for expertise.

It’s All About The Communication

My first subscription client, Jason, ran a construction company.

He was a long-time friend, and his monthly fee was embarrassingly low, and the service included unlimited access to me.

I remember sitting in a shawarma shop with him one day, chatting about business.

He was frustrated with how little he was making.

He made $47k that first year, doing light renos for mall stores.

However, over the next four years, he grew into an asbestos remediation specialist, grossing $1.2M, with no signs of slowing down.

He was the fastest-growing client I ever had. Triple or high double-digit growth every year.

Looking back, the difference between him and all my other clients was the time we spent talking.

Given he was my first subscription client and a friend, I was pretty lenient with how much we talked. A lot of our conversations were ‘off the clock.’

We talked, at minimum, twice a month. Jason was constantly thinking about his next few steps.

When he would call, he always had a list of things to discuss.

I am not taking credit for his business success, but I was involved in almost every major business decision.

My valuable contribution to his business wasn’t clean financials or tax returns but our conversations.

Our approach to managing his business became a blueprint for how I wanted to leverage my expertise and advise all my clients.

Expertise as an Extra

At certain points, I was stuck not knowing how to package my expertise.

I treated my expertise like dispensable packing peanuts tucked around the deliverables.

I remember delivering numerous corporate tax returns and adding a two-sentence comment offering advice to clients on improving margins.

Looking back, I wonder what I expected the clients to do with that random information.

I spent a lot of time completing the return only to gloss over the things that could actually improve their business.

 

If you don’t remember anything else from this newsletter, remember this:

 

Our expertise is our most valuable offering. High-value services require intentional placement and leverage of your /your team’s time and communication.

 

A minimal amount of expertise can be relayed with simple deliverables and explanations.

However, the expertise that will change a client’s business trajectory comes with consistently giving them your time and attention.

When I first launched my firm, I offered unlimited support to clients. Whenever they had a question, I would be there.

I thought being attentive would justify a larger price tag. I would be a partner for everything they needed.

I learned, though, that there is a big difference between being attentive and paying attention.

Clients don’t know what they don’t know.

Most of them don’t know what questions they should ask to overcome their next barrier to growth.

When we are attentive, clients drive the advice we give. We’re reactive to their questions.

When we pay attention, we drive the advice we give. We’re reviewing their situation and are proactive with our communication and time.

The question remains: How do we systemize our advice to our clients so they benefit significantly without spending all our time with clients?

Time and Expertise

Firstly, the time you commit to each client has to be crystal clear in the engagement letter. Time with clients is one thing that we cannot automate.

Your time shouldn’t be an ‘extra’ in the engagement but rather a key service component.

Here are seven variables to consider when charging for and delivering your time and expertise:

1. A Consistent Cadence

Don’t wait for the client to initiate the communication. Set a schedule and meet twice monthly, monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

This eliminates random client phone calls that disrupt your team’s schedule.

A consistent cadence sets the stage to effectively deliver the rest of the variables below.

2. Send Information and Video Before Hand

Financial statements and metrics or updated dashboards should be accompanied by a video explanation.

By identifying two or three key items to focus on you will save the client 20 minutes going through all the detail.

Video is the easiest to consume, and it will allow the client to digest the information to maximize your time together.

3. Lead the Conversation

You should run the meeting. A major part of offering advisory services is helping carry the leadership burden.

When the client knows that you will be handling the meeting and the follow-up, it is easier for them to attend the meeting.

4. Have a Set Agenda

A set agenda doesn’t mean you can’t focus on unexpected items, but it helps structure how advice and expertise are delivered.

Success in business is less about a flash-in-the-pan idea, but about consistently adjusting and executing.

It keeps all parties accountable and heading in the same direction.

5. Revisit Goals Every Meeting

This goes hand in hand with having an agenda.

Consistently returning to what everyone is trying to accomplish, helps maintain focus.

This strings the meetings together instead of having random discrete meetings.

The client’s goals should be what everything is weighed against. This helps you take a non-neutrality approach – i.e. every single thing will either move you towards or away from the goal. Nothing is neutral.

Review the success of achieving the steps that were set last meeting.

6. Set Next Steps

Set the steps, rocks, or initiatives for the period before you meet next in the context of the 12-month goals.

This can be borrowed from EOS or any business operating system that helps businesses plan changes.

Again, helping carry the leadership burden of the business adds significant value to the relationship.

7. Set Specific Component Goal

To add more structure to your discussions, you can break down your meetings into

    • Revenue-generating activities (marketing + selling);
    • Fulfillment activities (Cost of sales);
    • Administrative activities (operating expenses);
    • Cash collection + Financing (cash flow)

This simple approach gives attention to each engine in their business.

A clear structure for the communication you offer your clients is the key to significantly increasing how much you can charge.

Build the firm you want.

Mark

P.S. Email Mark@FirmNexus.com with something that you want me to talk about. I’ll add it to the list. 

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