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FletcherTax
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For me personally, I offer a free no obligation consultation to start with. In fact it’s more of a meet and greet to get to know each other.

I don’t think its right to be an accountant for a client whom you can’t help or can’t get along with – it will make me miserable and unproductive.

I would take up a coffee request (though these are rare), but usually they come to my office for 30/40 minutes for an informal chat.

The way I see it is that you have you foot in the door with whomever is interested in your services. Like anything – you need to sell your services, benefits and personality and hopefully get the client. And if not – at least you got a coffee! If the coffee is clearly going nowhere and you are not amused on a professional nor social level – make an excuse and leave the discussion. Or tell them in advance you only have a certain period of time.

But, if I get a request for a specific technical inquiry – then yes I quote a fee and go from there.