When you walk into a store and see something you like, do you assume you can take it without paying? You enjoy a wonderful meal in a restaurant, with fantastic service. Are you surprised when presented with a bill? Why then do people think service providers should be free with their time? Time is your inventory. Stop giving it away.
Service professionals who don’t sell a product are often treated like they should give advice for free. You meet a doctor or a lawyer at a party and decide that, since it’s not an office visit, their professional guidance should come with no fees attached. Could you walk into their place of business and walk out with something you didn’t pay for?
Why do we only apply value to tangible items?
Anyone who bills their time by the hour should protect the value of this inventory. Whatever your hourly rate, it comes from years committed to developing your knowledge and seeking experience to build on that foundation. You have done all this to establish the value of your time inventory, just as a company invests in research and development to improve a product.
What R&D have you done to perfect the quality of your service? What have you sacrificed? How have you amended it? How have you pushed yourself to become a more valuable professional? These all contribute to the cost of your service.
I work with a variety of service professionals, including a tech specialist, a videographer, and a content developer. I respect the value of their time, just as they do for mine. We don’t waste this precious commodity. And I happily pay for the service, because I appreciate that each person provides significant value. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t engage their services.
Fend off the freebies
The next time someone has “a quick question”, needs “a small favor”, or wants “a little advice”, consider the cost of your time. Do you want to give it away and deplete your inventory with no payback? If not, suggest the person contact you at your office to set up a time to consult.
“But I was just hoping for a little help.”
You reply, “And I’m happy to do that, but right now, I’m off the clock.” OR “I’d be glad to work with you, but I am presently helping the clients who have hired me for my assistance.”
If you don’t respect the value of your own time, how can you expect others to appreciate it?
When time is your inventory, you have a limited supply. Use it wisely.