I have an unusual way of handling invoicing compared to the rest of the consulting industry. Usually you’ll have people that will either bill everything by the hour and put more of the risk of anything not going to plan on the client, or you’ll have people that will bill everything at a fixed price which puts more risk on their shoulders but also some benefit if they can continually outperform their estimates.
I do it differently. I give an estimate up front and my clients won’t have to pay more than that amount, as long as the scope of work doesn’t change. But I also track my hours and only invoice for the actual hours I worked. I’m taking on all the risk myself.
I do this because I see invoicing as something more than a way to receive money. I see it as a way to build trust and loyalty, a way to honor transparency, and a way to provide excellent customer service.
I am building trust because I am taking on extra risk. It will be clear to clients that I am not doing my work solely for the money. They will see that my primary motivation is to help them.
I honor transparency by showing them the actual hours I worked. They won’t wonder if I got too good of a deal out of them like you do after you buy a car from a dealership.
All of that leads to an overall excellent customer experience, which will lead to more work (when combined with high quality work, of course.) Future work is much more important than getting the most money right now.