From Commuting to Telecommuting

Is traveling getting you down? Gas prices a bit overwhelming?

Well this is a spot where some green thinking can save your business some big bucks. For many of us, there’s no way to stay in business if we only accept freelance gigs within a twenty-mile radius. While I have no problem taking a job for a client two hours away, there is a potential problem in traveling to meet with the clients.

A trip here and there doesn’t faze me until I see my gas expenditure. Of course this would also be the client who wants to meet every time they need to tell me about a color change. I try not to invoke the clause that charges them for travel because then they’d begin demanding more meetings (they’re that type of client.)

So what I have done is drafted up an email stating very clearly that one of my core values is being environmentally friendly and that frequent commuting works against this value. So far I’ve had a positive response to it!

In the email I talk about how much money it can save them by moving to an online consultation. I also explain that while some items may be most effective with a phone call, I understand that the phone lacks a certain personal connection afforded by talking face-to-face. So I suggest they download Skype and we can give it a try.

They’re not only happy to be able to talk in person, but happy that my availability is more flexible because I’m not taking a chunk of my day to travel. They also get dazzled when I’m able to send them images right through Skype. I believe they think that I will be holding up my sketchbook to my webcam. With images prepared and ready to send along I think it’s a quick way to win them over.

So for those of you who want to cut down the traveling, I would suggest an email or discussion to your client. Some key points that I’ve used:

  • Savings for the client (because of my travel clauses)
  • Time spent working versus time spent traveling
  • The effective ability to talk face-to-face while still providing them the same visuals you could provide in person.

I also like to discuss my environmental perspective and for those extremely difficult clients I will even add a little guilt by making reference to the finite resources I’m drawing on.

With the age of global communication on us, how do you translate your meetings with clients into the online world? Do you find one is more successful or the other?

BTW: If you’re looking for resources on sustainable design, here are a few to check out:

  • Master Class: Anne Johnson – Leveraging Sustainable Design in the Packaging Life Cycle DesignCast (download)
  • Pretty Green: How to Design Truly Sustainable, Truly Beautiful Packaging DesignCast (download)
  • SustainableAble: A Handbook of Materials and Applications for Graphic Designers and Their Clients