The lines between these two have become very blurry and that’s mostly because of our own perceptions. So let’s start by examining what the technical definitions of each of these are:
- Meeting: an encounter or instance of junction or intersection between people.
For example; “I am meeting someone for lunch” or “I have met a girl/guy last night”.
- Consultation: a conference where an exchange of information or advice happens, a meeting or appointment with a professional person. For example; an appointment at a doctor, a meeting with an attorney etc.
These two concepts are very confusing for business owners and clients alike.
Does this mean that we as businesses can no longer have meetings and can only classify our meetings as consultations with a price tag attached to it? No, not at all. There are many instances where you can still call a “get-together” as a business a meeting and not bill for any time spent.
If you arrange a meeting with your employees, it’s irrelevant whether an exchange of information or advice or services take place since you’re already paying them a contractually agreed upon salary. They don’t get paid extra for attending meetings. If you offer certain service packages that include a specific amount of consultation time or you’re in a property or maintenance industry role that requires a certain amount of hands-on and personal attention you will have to identify what and when meetings become billable. And if you’re in some form of negotiation or company merger, there are quite a lot of meetings that come along with it that you can’t bill for.
The key to the meeting vs consultation debate is that a meeting will (and should) become billable as soon as it involves two independent parties where an exchange of information or advice is given by one to the other (unless otherwise agreed upon).