Consulting 101: How Do I Convince a Client to Let Me Work Remote?
Last updated: 6/16/2002; 10:20:39 AM
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Consulting 101: How Do I Convince a Client to Let Me Work Remote?

As I write this, it's pouring rain outside, just pouring.  And, best of all, I'm at home rather than in transit to a client's site.  This is all too often NOT the case.  We've all seen it time and again.  Even though it's better for you and better for the client, they still want you at their location.  This essay talks about why this matters to them and how you can combat it or:

How do I code with my cat in my lap while looking at my girlfriend?  And get paid for it? 

Understanding Why They Want You Local

This is generally a matter of these factors:

  • Lack of trust – you're a new consultant and they don't yet have confidence in you
  • Control – they think they have more control over you if you are local.  I'm not certain that anyone can really ever control anyone else so the logic isn't really valid to me.
  • Accessibility – they want you close by just to make teir life easier.
  • General Silliness – clients will do this just because they are clients

How do I Counter this?

Here are the ways that I counter it (as much as it can be countered):

10 Steps to Convince them to Yet You Work Remote

  1. Make it cheaper for them.  I don't know about anyone else but I wouldn't mind a $5 - $10 / hour cut so I don't have to get into the car.  Don't force it on them – just let them know that it's an option.  They won't expect it and cost is always a good tool.I
  2. Be Accessible.  Be Very Accessible.  Be Totally Accessible.  One of the reasons that clients want you on site is so they can walk over and ask you questions.  If you play the Instant Messaging game right then you can be just as accessible as you are in the office.  And they can get access to the transcripts (always useful).  Except that you will ultimately give out your cell and home phone #s.  Sad but true perhaps.
  3. Have Good Connectivity.  You need broadband cable or dsl.  That's just a fact.  Deal with it.  Move if you have to.  Or start your own DSL business (that really wasn't a joke, see the link).
  4. Charge for Travel Time & Expenses.  Again, cost works as an option.  If you charge for travel time, even 50% of normal rate, that adds up as a savings to them when you work remote.
  5. Make the Experience Better for the Client when You are Remote.  This is a hard one but I just saw it personally.  During the course of a 1.25 hour phone call, I discussed the topic with the client, took notes, recorded it to my hard drive and provided it to him as an MP3 file, emailed the notes AND located 2,093 new sales leads.  How'd I find the sales leads?  Trade secret on that one but available as a new marketing service from me that might or might not work for your business.
  6. Be Professional.    This is very, very important.  See my essay on Professionalism.
  7. Commit to a Regular Face to Face Meeting.  If you arrange with the client, "I'll work from home in general but meet you every Thursday for lunch and a status update" then it makes it much less scary for the client.


Thanks to Dewaynefor prodding me into writing this piece.

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