Beyond Billable Time

An accountant, a wealth advisor and a consultant walk into a bar……

Actually, it was lunch at a restaurant, but you get the idea. And the key conversation? Not the economy, Not whether the government would shut down. It was all about pleasing clients. The challenges, the benefits—the reality that a lot of what we do that delights our clients most isn’t billable.

The accountant gives tips about running her clients’ business. The wealth advisor deals with personal life changes and holds his clients’ hands, sometimes literally as well as figuratively. And I help clients appreciate how their life experiences enhance their professional story. None of it billable, yet we do it anyway.

Why? Because we care. Deeply. We are entangled with our clients in ways that sometimes surprise us, delight us or even (occasionally) horrify us.

So the next time you’re deciding whether to take that extra step, offer up related advice or do tangential research, just do it. Odds are, it is exactly that care that bonds you more closely together.

And isn’t that our goal?


  • Isn’t this the truth? There’s a line between being too accommodating and being strictly “by the book.” I try to stay somewhere in the middle.

  • Thanks Lori–good advice! The best spot for each of us is between those 2 extremes where we can demonstrate what we uniquely (and authentically) bring to the party.

  • Rochelle
    This is exactly why I bill by the month, not the hour. In my monthly fee, I build in a bit of time for such extras. Thus I don’t feel like I am giving my time away when I do extra things that may well be the most appreciated by my clients.

  • Good point Mike. Regardless of specialty, your business model has got to enable you to provide excellent advice, some hand holding AND make a profit…

  • Tom Heinmiller

    Great post- to me this is all about branding. And branding is an essential element of my marketing strategy. It’s all about how people interact with me and the mental image they form about me. Including: what I do, how I serve, and how I sell. The kind of activities you describe become a part of the picture a prospect holds in his/her mind about who I am. I prefer to be seen as responsive, helpful, and essential. The task of converting this to billable work is up to me.

  • Exactly, Tom–thank you for sharing!

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