How to tell a client they are too far away for an in-person meeting?


7

We're students, and we don't have a car. A client would like to meet up, but at a location that isn't far to get to by car, but is a pain by subway/taxi.

It would be awesome if we could handle the entire exchange over phone and email. What is a nice way to say this to a client? Is the truth the best approach here?

The project is a new website, by the way.

Meet Up Travel Clients

asked Sep 1 '11 at 00:45
Blank
Mirov
384 points

7 Answers


15

Don't mean to offend you, but if you think it "is a pain" to meet with your client then maybe you should rethink the whole business-owner thing. If they were hours away, that's a different story but it seems like you're saying it's just plain inconvenient. I'm concerned about your commitment to your clients and the long-term viability of your business.

Having said that, if I've made an incorrect assumption and it is truly a burden to travel to their location, then one way to handle it is to charge them for your travel and leave it up to them. If it's worth their while to pay extra to have you there in person, great. You've covered any expense and extra time. If they don't think it's worth it, then they'll be happy to save themselves some money and conduct business by phone/skype/email.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 01:15
Blank
Jon Di Pietro
1,697 points
  • Covering travel expenses is a good idea. We thought it might be imposing a bit much, but apparently it's a common theme. And your concern is noted, though in this case extraneous. There are times when an in-person meeting is more than inconvenient, and for students without a car, beginning a business, this is one of them – Mirov 9 years ago
  • Generally, clients expect to be charged for mileage at the going rate, which is currently 51 cents per mile. These rates are posted by the IRS each year. But that's if you're using your own car. In your case, you can simply charge whatever it cost you in terms of cab fare or public transit. It's unusual to charge for travel time itself. – Jon Di Pietro 9 years ago

8

Just ask for a preliminary meeting over the phone, to review the project, discuss milestones, whatever.

Once you know the project is likely to happen, then maybe it's worth investing the $40 of a taxi ride to actually shake hands with the customer. Just pad your quote with the $40 and you're good.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 01:29
Blank
Alain Raynaud
10,927 points
  • You need to pad it more than the $40, since there is always a risk that the business won't go ahead. – Mike 9 years ago

5

You should keep in mind that there are things about how you run your business that the client will not care about. Whether or not you have a car is one of those things. If you have not explicitly put those facts on the table up front, then I believe there are certain reasonable expectations for the client. If the distance is such that another company like yours could easily get there, then you should do the same. And I don't think billing for time/expense in this case is appropriate. If I was the client I would be concerned about your company's inability to perform these basic business functions. Asking for a face to face meeting in the same "city" or location is not an exceptional request. Something which is a hardship specifically for you, because of your choice or situation, is not the client's problem.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 03:09
Blank
Cdk Moose
429 points

2

You have to pick your battles carefully, and the same applies to clients. If they are not worth your time, just move on and look for another one. However, this doesn't seem to be your case.

That said, business is about building relationships. As DiPietro said, if meeting clients is a nuisance to you, I suggest you become an accountant and let somebody else manage the front office of your business. Better yet, sell your business.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 01:39
Blank
A. Garcia
1,601 points
  • You sound like a fun guy. I didn't say that meeting clients is a nuisance. We simply handle meetings in person and over the phone, and I was wondering how to encourage the latter case. – Mirov 9 years ago
  • I agree with you to certain extent. But it doesn't seem that the opportunity cost here is too much. Believe me, if you don't have the time to build relationships, networking, meeting with clients, somebody else will. – A. Garcia 9 years ago

1

Suggest an alternative place that is easy to get to?

Or skip it.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 04:05
Blank
Tim J
8,346 points

1

In my not so humble opinion, it depends on the price you're charging for the work.

If it is a $100-200 job, then expecting to meet you in person is unreasonable on their part. If it's a $3000 job, then the expectation of reasonable and you should go.

Since you're a student, it's likely that it'll be on the lower end of the scale. Assuming they know you're students, if they wish to meet, let them come to you.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 09:02
Blank
Mike
310 points

1

As a student, you can learn a lot simply by meeting your clients, and as a new business, you need to do everything in your power to get in front of potential clients.

Unless the travel time by car--public transportation doesn't count--is more than a couple of hours, I'd suggest you make the meeting without asking for travel fees. In cases where the travel time is more than two hours, try to assess your client's commitment by learning more about their goals and budget.

I started in business eleven years ago by knocking on doors and traveling up to three hours without a commitment from or imposing a charge to my clients. Only when we got too busy did I begin charging for travel. The effort paid off, we're still around after a decade, and I wouldn't change a thing.

answered Sep 1 '11 at 22:42
Blank
Dawn Green
21 points
  • +1 for learning by meeting your clients – Susan Jones 9 years ago

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Meet Up Travel Clients