Small Business Academy

3 Nov



Q: With a new client, how do you transition from getting to know the client/needs to getting paid for consulting/assistance?

As a service based business this is a matter of “Best Practices” and should be a regular standard of operations in your company. It is what successfully worked for me in the 26 years I owned my company and has worked well for countless other successful companies.

It all starts with the first contact. One of the first questions you need to ask you customer or client is if they have ever worked with anyone else in your industry before. This will give you valuable information on your customers past experience, either positive or negative and their level of understanding of how things work in your industry. I would highly recommend that the next thing out of your mouth is the following. “I would like to set up a meeting with you to discuss your needs more fully. This first meeting is to an opportunity for us to get to know each other a bit better and find out in detail just what your needs and goals are and if I am the best person to do the job (this gives you an out if you find during the first meeting that you are dealing with a difficult client or it happens to be a job you don’t want to take on). There is no charge for this first meeting. If we decide to work together at the end of the meeting I will accept a retainer of $…… and my hourly fee is $…… You will be billed ( fill in your schedule).”

All this is handled up front even before the first face to face meeting. I also recommend that you include this same information in a section of your business contract and that you bring two copies (one for you and one for your customer) ready to sign with you to your first meeting. You should set an appointment for your next meeting, collect the retainer, and have your customer sign the contract before you leave the meeting if you choose to work together. Let your customer or client know that you work in a similar fashion as a lawyer or accountant would and this is your standard practice. Most clients will accept, respect, and understand this way of doing business.

I hope this has given you a little guidance. If you need more in depth help please feel free to contact me on my website ( I would also strongly suggest that you download a copy of The Princeton Principle. You will find a lot more detailed information than what I can provide to you here. For more free business success tips, tools, and support go to Good luck!



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