How a bad client made me money

A bad client can turn into a money maker. How’s that? Get rid of the bad client and implement a new policy.

Early in my consulting career, a prospective client asked to hire me for 30 minutes, just to see what I could do. It was late on a Friday and I figured I could use the extra money to splurge on dinner. The guy sent over a deposit within the hour, since he was in a tower down the road. I got to work and delivered the mini project on time.

The client phoned me back and said he loved my work. But now he wanted to see what I could do in 15-minutes. Realizing that administration of the project would soon overtake the time of the project, I declined. I immediately implemented a minimum charge. The client wasn’t willing to commit to such terms. So we parted on good terms. I was happy, because I’d just warded off future five-minute and perhaps even one-minute projects.

All these years later, I still have that minimum charge. It’s allowed me to eliminate clients who have projects that take more time to administrate than to do. As a result, my earning power has increased, since I’ve minimized non-billable work.

What do you think of minimum charges?

Related to consulting fees

Ken G. says:

Absolutely, a consultant has to know what their minimum cost recovery is to acquire and service a new client.

Obviously, for a one-person shop operating out of a home office it will be lower than the 20 person firm with downtown high-rise rent. But there’s a minimum cost all the same.

Not to mention the headache of dealing with people who try to get away with “I only need fifteen minutes of consulting.”