Who Works off of Client's Cloud Network?


nVisionTEKBIM
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Hi fellow Chief users! I'm curious who here has clients that requires you to work on their cloud network (i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, ect.)? If you do, do you structure your fees different so you ensure they can't easily run away with work that is unpaid?

 

Normally I work off of my Drive folder and just email the watermarked progress PDFs until I receive payment. Some clients want the Chief plan file to review more thoroughly, since they have Chief, which is fine to me. Now I have a builder client that wants me to work directly off of his cloud network. I'm wondering if it would seem acceptable to require a retainer for a portion of work. I guess I could give the option of NOT working on their cloud network, and just sharing the files when ready. I just want opinions from other Chief users.

 

I just recently I had a client pay me almost 1.5 months late on a small invoice, all because I had to constantly "bug" them to pay me. I worked on their cloud network and never charged a deposit (it was a unique situation since I was a former employee turned subcontractor). For that client, I always did the work right away, then usually got paid within 2 weeks.

 

Lately I've changed my payments to be 100% online, with checks in only unique situations. It's amazing how quickly you get paid electronically vs waiting for checks!

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after being stiffed a few times and having to "hassle" with others for payment

I switched to a retainer system - just like lawyers use

 

they deposit funds with me and then I start to work

 

that way I can share the work progress with them as needed

 

when the fund balance drops - they send more money

 

no fuss - no muss - no billing - no chasing - everyone is happy

 

Lew

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2 minutes ago, lbuttery said:

after being stiffed a few times and having to "hassle" with others for payment

I switched to a retainer system

Lew, do you do the retainer flat-rate work as well? Have any potential customers went elsewhere because they didn't feel comfortable doing a retainer? 

 

I have a retainer with one client for a set amount of hours each 4-week period. It has worked out well, but I'm considering moving to a retainer for any client requiring me to work on their cloud network. Maybe eventually for all of my work, but I don't want to lose work opportunities.

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Dustin:

 

generally we did by the hour

we also sent the client a time sheet summary of what the hours were spent on

always count the time spent on emails - when they send lots of info and punch lists

it takes time to review them and then respond to them etc - just be fair about it

 

I don't remember anyone refusing to work that way

 

If it was a large project we would collect two days retainer

 

smaller half a day

 

minor task was a 2 hr retainer

 

we did send refunds for unused funds

 

the work always takes longer than they think it will

 

a fellow chiefer needed help with roof and some other tasks

we took a 2 hr retainer - did the work - more needed - collected another 2 hr

but he kept stating this should take x and that should take Y

after the third round I got tired of it and sent back his retainer 

I said "if you know how long its going to take then you do it"

 

Another sent an $800 follow-up retainer but then decided he was unhappy with the time spent

so I tore-up his check 

 

we later moved to a Paypal system where the could use Credit card if they didn't have Paypal

we ate the 3% fee

 

Lew

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yeah I got tired of chasing down the occasional client to collect my last payment, so I switched to requiring money up front  for new clients. I typically collect either 1/3 or 1/2  in order to start preliminary design. You find out real quick who is serious and who isn't. I also started using the online version of Square, its pretty simple but works for me, I was surprised at how many customers utilize a credit card, I absorb the fee, and think its worth it for the service they provide to me and the convenience it offers my customer.

 

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6 hours ago, nVisionTEKBIM said:

Hi fellow Chief users! I'm curious who here has clients that requires you to work on their cloud network (i.e. Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, ect.)? If you do, do you structure your fees different so you ensure they can't easily run away with work that is unpaid?

 

Normally I work off of my Drive folder and just email the watermarked progress PDFs until I receive payment. Some clients want the Chief plan file to review more thoroughly, since they have Chief, which is fine to me. Now I have a builder client that wants me to work directly off of his cloud network. I'm wondering if it would seem acceptable to require a retainer for a portion of work. I guess I could give the option of NOT working on their cloud network, and just sharing the files when ready. I just want opinions from other Chief users.

 

I just recently I had a client pay me almost 1.5 months late on a small invoice, all because I had to constantly "bug" them to pay me. I worked on their cloud network and never charged a deposit (it was a unique situation since I was a former employee turned subcontractor). For that client, I always did the work right away, then usually got paid within 2 weeks.

 

Lately I've changed my payments to be 100% online, with checks in only unique situations. It's amazing how quickly you get paid electronically vs waiting for checks!

I'm not one to try to make others conform to my rules, but I think I would draw the line at someone else having ownership and control of the files. If I'm not mistaken, they could lock you out of access, and take all your proprietary work (that's embedded in a Chief file) straight to someone else who has Chief. 

Now if the situation is discussed and agreed to ahead of time, then you have to choose how much you want to leave available for someone else to have access to. 

 

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1 hour ago, robdyck said:

I'm not one to try to make others conform to my rules, but I think I would draw the line at someone else having ownership and control of the files. If I'm not mistaken, they could lock you out of access, and take all your proprietary work (that's embedded in a Chief file) straight to someone else who has Chief. 

Now if the situation is discussed and agreed to ahead of time, then you have to choose how much you want to leave available for someone else to have access to. 

 

Well this was how I felt originally before becoming a subcontractor to a former employer. They wanted me to work off of their cloud network (which I actually setup for them), and because they were my former employer I never felt the need to charge a deposit. Well, they have been terrible with paying me on time, even though I did my best to jump on their projects ASAP when they needed me. I will note that they had other people doing work on the file at times, and I feel they would blame me for their sloppy mistakes. That is what's dangerous about working on someone else's network.

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3 hours ago, Rpadge said:

yeah I got tired of chasing down the occasional client to collect my last payment, so I switched to requiring money up front  for new clients. I typically collect either 1/3 or 1/2  in order to start preliminary design. You find out real quick who is serious and who isn't. I also started using the online version of Square, its pretty simple but works for me, I was surprised at how many customers utilize a credit card, I absorb the fee, and think its worth it for the service they provide to me and the convenience it offers my customer.

 

Yeah, I require a 50% deposit for most of my customers. I send watermarked drawings with a few days to review, then re-send them along with the invoice for final payment. Even with that, I still have clients waiting to pay me at times, and I have to bug them. I may have to start requiring a full deposit for each phase of work. If there are 2 phases in the project, then I won't start on the 2nd phase until I'm paid upfront. As far as hourly, I normally don't like estimating time, so I'd prefer to invoice whatever hours I have when I'm done, so there wouldn't be any need to refund a customer for a retainer balance.

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Yeah I try to avoid the hourly thing, I really dont like keeping up with the hours, and I have had clients question time spent. They can have a difficult time understanding the time it takes to do a good job with proper documentation. Thats just what works for me right now, it could change at any time. In the past I have done by the square foot, hourly, lump sum, just about any combination that you can use.

 

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1 minute ago, Rpadge said:

Yeah I try to avoid the hourly thing, I really dont like keeping up with the hours, and I have had clients question time spent. They can have a difficult time understanding the time it takes to do a good job with proper documentation. Thats just what works for me right now, it could change at any time. In the past I have done by the square foot, hourly, lump sum, just about any combination that you can use.

 

I'm right there with you about some client questioning the time spent. Especially when they want design changes after the drawings are already ready for permit. I also prefer flat-rate by the square foot. I just use that fee divided by my hourly rate as my max budget for myself. It has worked out 95% of the time for me.

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agreed,  the main issue with a fixed fee is of the client increases the scope, I do have a clause in my Design Agreement that states if the scope changes significantly, I have the option to adjust the fee.

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For what it's worth, here's my take. I would never work on their cloud. I only work by the hour period. I require a retainer up front and bill every additional $400.00 or so  of plan time. I work on a pay as we go method. I never deliver engineered stamped plans until I receive final payment (except for a couple of builders that I know will pay me fast). I don't provide structural plans unless it's engineered and stamped otherwise I provide only a conceptual plan...no structural details or specify framing. If a client thinks I'm charging too much, then I'll be happy to send a PDF and/or cad files of the project I've done to date provided I receive payment for time to date. (never had anyone complain about my time). I usually give an estimated cost range but make it clear that it can changed due to revisions and that billing is based on an hourly rate. If people don't like the way I do things, then I'll turn down the job (that has happened). Not hurting for work. 80% of my work comes from my engineer who refers me out.

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