We won a new client recently and I read something interesting in a letter from the previous accountants.

It said, “We bill based on the seniority and expertise of the staff member”.

I mentioned in a facebook post recently that only by providing brilliant service can you go beyond customer satisfaction. Billing by the expertise of a person is something we don’t do at Orange Umbrella and I think sets us apart.

It’s fair to say I do all the difficult work at Orange Umbrella so should I have a person hourly rate? After all I’m really experienced and I’m the most senior person in the company.

Our fee policy says “We charge for the difficulty of the task being carried out”. It makes no reference to an individual, although we do employ extremely skilled people.

I cannot ensure that I have complicated work to do all the time where I can charge my top hourly rate. Nor can I maintain a whole day of difficult work without a drop in my own efficiency.

Is it fair for the client to pay the same rate for me irrespective of the difficulty of the task? The person hourly rate seems to be how most firms work and something I disagree with.

I can sometimes be found doing some bookkeeping work. This is only work billed at £25 per hour.

I don’t think any member of my team would mind me saying that I’ve got the most experience and knowledge. Why would I then lower myself to the level of a bookkeepers rate?

This comes down to simple maths. If I only have three hours of £100 per hour work I’ve only made £300. However, my day in reality looks a little different. I might do 3 hours at £25 per hour, 3 hours at £50 an hour and an hour at £100 per hour. Overall, I’ve only made an extra £25 but the real trick is that the our firm actually had 9 hours of available work and I’ve managed to turn out 7 hours of this work. Plus I’ve actually made more money as well as clearing more work.

If you can extrapolate this idea to the whole team then you will find several results:

  • Increasing the speed of work turnover so we get our money sooner.
  • We do more varied work for a client and I can provide a more rounded service while keeping the price competitive.
  • Improved customer service, with clients saying how did you do that so quickly.
  • You will need fewer staff as you are working more efficiently and thus increasing profit.
  • The work is spread more evenly between the team without people feeling stretched.
  • You have every team member working to one goal which is to provide the best customer experience.