Help with fee structure & Mobileme technology


I’ve been asked to look after the diary of an osteopath, booking appointments when he is busy with clients etc. It’s unlikely to be a lot of work but a bit fiddly, as it’s two practices etc.

I don’t need to do anything but take the call and book the person in to the right slot.

What its the best way to price that? per appt made, total time spent, fixed monthly fee?

Does anybody do anything similar? I’d appreciate talking to you if so.




Hi Emily

I do similar for one of my GP clients who acts as an expert witness for road traffic compensation claims.

We keep track of his clinic dates/times using a spreadsheet on Google. I have set him up with a telephone number and act as his private secretary, liaising with solicitors/medical agencies/clients.

I charge on a per call basis of £1.00 per call (based on a 3 minute call) and then £1.00 per email to him or any of the agencies we deal with.

If I have to do any letter writing (sometimes to clients with appointment times etc) I charge an hourly rate equivilent to the 3mins x £1 basis - this equates to £20 per hour, plus I charge him printing/postage at cost.

Hope that helps



There are two parts to this - the phone answering and the work involved in making the appointments. I’m going to deal exclusively with the call answering because it’s one of my particular bug bears!

So you are really saying you would be prepared to sit at your desk from 9-5 each day without a break, on the off chance of that phone ringing and earning £1??? Why oh why do VAs say they are going to do this??? :no:

Excuses I get range from: “But I’m sitting there anyway” (so you won’t be doing any other chargeable work which gets interrupted by the calls?); “My client knows I’m not a call centre and is happy that I can’t answer every call” (yes, I’m sure they will be thrilled when you miss a call which costs them a big contract); and the inevitable “But I can always ring the client back” (and the point of using a call answering service therefore would be???).

In my opinion you cannot do phone answering if you are a single VA working alone. You will always need a loo break, to get lunch, be on another call, have to go the the post office/bank and sods law is that the calls will come in whenever you are doing that. Plus you need to charge your clients for the convenience of you sitting there being prepared to work 9am-5pm for them - how much depends on how many other clients you have also paying you to be there, but it still needs costed and accounted for.

And why do I know this? Because the VAs come crying to me when they can’t cope any more and their client is demanding they work 8 hour days without a break and they need a holiday/get sick/get pregnant and need to have cover. And I CAN’T help them because it would cost me more to invoice the VA for the cost of the calls than to actually do the work! And the client WON’T pay any more and is utterly spoiled because the VA has agreed to this insane fee structure.

Rant over sorry!



I do ‘get’ what you are saying about sitting there waiting for calls. However, my client is aware that I am not always at my desk and so long as I can call back the patient or the agency within 24 hours he has no problem with that.

If I am in the middle of something intricate for another client, I let the phone go to answer phone and pick up messages later (I may therefore be missing business for my own company!).

For other clients where telphone answering is part of the service, they have provided mobile phones which can obviously come with me whenever I need to be out of the office. Again these clients know I work for other clients and are happy for me to pick up messages with a reasonable time.

I don’t offer a service for just telephone answering/message passing though - I would object to having to sit at my desk all day on the off chance the phone may ring. However, I am in the process of partnering with a company that does this and will be offering this type of service in the near future but answered by a call centre not me.



But you can’t offer a service and then not deliver - particularly if the client is taking the service on to improve the professionalism of their image (most definitely this is part of the attraction of call answering/appointment booking). So mobiles and answerphones are just not acceptable.

If they didn’t mind the phones going to answerphone why wouldn’t they just have it set up saying: “Please leave you name, phone number, availability and what you would like after the tone”? Or an email autoresponder or a website form?

An alternative might be to have a call centre answer the calls and transfer them through to you to make the bookings. But then why would the client not use the call centre for everything?


The client I take bookings for used to use his GP surgery staff for the bookings which was then cutting into their availability for NHS work.

I can’t answer why he doesn’t use a call centre but he is more than happy with the situation we have. As it is I am not very often away from my desk and only take a few calls a day at most - yesterday 5, today none.

If he is happy with the situation, who am I to question his motives. So long as he pays me the going rate and he does - much more quickly than other clients I have too.



for this type of project I would charge an hourly PA rate as you are being a PA and booking an appointment, so as soon as you pick up the phone until the whole task is completed is chargeable.

There is also a further post on setting up a call answering VA pool in the Approved VA section of the forum which may help you/other VAs in the same position with regards to not being able to be at your desk every minute of the day and wish to offer this service.


I undertake call answering for a recording studio client of mine but have partnered with a call centre as it is not practicable for me to answer the phone with either one or both of my children running riot in the background.

My client loves this arrangement, the messages are emailed both to myself and him and then I call the person back for more information (using booking a slot for studio time/helping with the online shop/taking song choices).

He could have the call centre do all of this but he prefers the personal touch. As his business is not 9-5, Mon-Fri I return calls within 24 hours of them coming in (usually within the hour or two though) sometimes at weekend and evenings although he only gets around 30-50 calls a month anyway. To make it eaiser I charge on an hourly rate and this incorporate the cost of the calls as well.