Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How much is your time worth?

If you are a consultant, coach or freelance writer, your fee is probably based on your time. Most likely you have an hourly rate or you base a project fee on the amount of time you estimate it will take you to do the work. I've been working as a freelance writer, editor and consultant since the late 80s, and I can say I've yet to find a great formula. So this blog post will not be about how to set your fees. Something came up this week that opened my eyes to the value of my time.

I had an unhappy client. That was distressing to me, but it got even worse. The client complained to someone else who is well known in the community and whose opinion is highly valued. I cannot deny that my client had a valid complaint. However, to my knowledge all that was mentioned was the mistake without acknowledgment of the months of good service.

While I lived in Florida, I went to the same hairdresser for over 20 years. We often talked about business and he had a great attitude about customer service. "You're only as good as your last haircut," he told me many times. I'm just now realizing how well that applies to any service.

In my mind, I had served my client well, giving far more hours worth of service than I billed. Yet from her perspective, the one bad "haircut" was what she remembered. It was a good wake-up call for me. Now I understand that it's not about what my time is worth or how I set my fees; it's about how my time is spent delivering what I promise--because good customer service is all any of us have to offer. It's really never about the money.

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