Set Time Frames and On Call?!

I recently had a consultation with a prospective client. I really liked her and the potential business that I would be doing for her. However, later in the consult, she advised that she would need these services done within specific time frames 3 days a week and I would need to be "on-call" the remainder of the time with an approximate 15 minute response time. Does anyone work like this? I have always dealt in deadlines. If you have clients that you work like this for, any tips on managing your schedule around other clients - especially when you receive an "on-call" task? I foresee it becoming burdonsome, but don't want to close myself off to her when it may not be as bad as all that.


Community Leader
I am never on-call for a client. I have a 24-48 hour turn around, depending on the complexity of the task. I would never let a client dictate my schedule like that. I would agree the the 3 days a week but discuss the on-call part. What happens when you take on other clients and they want the same thing? Would you even be able to take additional clients with that type of commitment. You are a business owner and not an employee and they need to understand this mindset.

Let us know how it turns out.


New Member
I'm just starting up and am interested in peoples response on this as well. I have seen some VA's who charge double or more for "expedited services" I would imagine someone calling you with a 15 min response time would fall under that. If you can schedule in the specific time 3 days a week, that is probably fine, but I don't think I would be able to offer such "on-call" service and still be able to manage time properly for any other clients. I could be wrong. :)

The Perfect Word

Community Leader
I have never been on-call for clients, but I will do rush jobs when they come up for my regular clients at no additional charge if doing so does not put work I'm doing for another client behind.

The only way I would even consider being on-call is if the client paid my regular rate for the on-call period whether they had any work for me or not. In my opinion, if they want you on-call for certain periods then you're "working" for them during those periods.

Evelyn Fuertes

New Member
I am curious to see what happened (or didn't) with this client. I don't have a lot of clients and so block out times I work for them. They know the days that I am around and available and we have our calls scheduled. The one time I received an unscheduled call it was urgent and prefaced with an apology and took about 5 minutes. So far so good, I am looking to add on another 2-3 clients and plan to keep the same parameters. I find it unreasonable to expect 15 min response time for a call - that doesn't happen in ANY business, virtual or not.

On the Job VA

New Member
I know this an older thread but wanted to add to it for people like me who are new & read everything toaquire all the great knowledge out there. There are many types of business/organizations that do have the need for "emergency" on call services usually in the physical arena & the paperwork can wait until regular business hours but still it could happen. I personally work for a local government agency that requires an on call person for after office hours. That being said..........they get paid an agreed lump some for their on call period whether they actually have to respond to anything or not. People should get paid for their time even if they are waiting. The rates are up the individuals involved. In ky opinion it is no different than a lawyer requiring a retainer fee just to say he is your lawyer then charge for the actual job should one arise or an air conditioning repair man charging double for after hours. If you are considering I would suggest a special phone just for these type calls or a special ring tone on the land or cell line for the on call clients that way you know it is an "emergency" call as soon as it rings


New Member
Well I don't think there are any hard and fast rules for how you want to run your business, we're all different. I would never say yes to "on-call 15 minute response time" because I know I wouldn't be able to do that and end up disappointing the client. I agree with On the Job VA, if it works for you and you can work out the details and you want to do that, then do it.



New Member
Lee is absolutely right. You are a business owner and NOT an employee. If your client wants you "on-call" you tell her your hourly rate and charge her that for an on-call service. No client should expect you to wait for them and not reimburse you for your time regardless of whether you do actual work for them or not during that on-call time frame. If she says she's not paying you, politely tell her that you're sorry, but you provided a service and blocked off that time from another client, so you'll be sending an invoice for your time.

Please update us on this. Old threads are good learning tools and I like how everyone supports the VAs.

Interesting. I would love to know what happened with the client and how Adele negotiated the on-call requirement. In my opinion, being on-call is the same as being an employee so the client would need to pay your hourly rate for all on-call hours she requires. We have to schedule our time for our clients. If one client requires a 15 minute response on-call for a couple days a week, how can you possibly accept work from anyone else?



New Member
The client/VA relationship can be a difficult one to navigate at times because clients aren't always familiar with working with freelance administrative service providers. I hope newer VAs find this thread and take note so they don't think they need to be on call for clients.


New Member
I am new but I agree with the others regarding being on demand. It's to much like having to Punch a Clock and that defeats the purpose of being in Business for YOURSELF......I feel we have to set rules


Staff member
I can't believe I missed this thread when it was first posted!

The clear answer from everyone who posted here is 'no way!'
I think sometimes clients who are new to working with VAs don't really have a clear sense of how the relationship can, should, or will work - no fault of theirs, but a learning curve you'll have to mitigate if you want the client AND your sanity.

There's nothing wrong with needing certain things done on a regular weekly deadline - but expecting you to work specific hours and be on call (with ANY response time indicated) is the role of an employee.

I wish you'd have posted back as I'd love to hear more about how you handled this...

If she's a smart business owner (and she likely is) then a quick and friendly 'I'm sorry but because of the nature of my business I don't accept contracts that require work to be done at specified times, nor do I offer an on-call service, but let's talk about what it is you'd like to have done each week and see if we can find a weekly deadline that will ensure you get what you need by the time you need it.' or something to that effect...
Just opening up that part of the conversation usually gets the client thinking past the employee box and they'll 'get it' the longer you work through their needs list with them that they don't actually require someone at X hour on X day ongoing.
I handle calls (schedule appointments, speak to potential clients, etc.) for one of my clients and haven't had any problems with the process. Open communication is key. She understands that there are times I can't answer the phone right away, but I try to make those an exception, usually returning the call within 15 min. I have calls forwarded to a cell phone through Google Voice and at 5pm the phone gets shut off. Any calls received after hours (including weekends) get returned the next business day. My client has also established a business that makes email/text the primary method of communication.

If you are going to do 'answering services', you should communicate with your client, so they have clear expectations.

Also, many VAs frown upon being on-call, but it works for me, only because I'm constantly on my computer working on other tasks and projects... many of my clients are start-ups and don't have the finances to pay an employee...

If providing answering services is something you don't mind doing, I would suggest charging an 'On Call' fee, plus $xx per minute (talk, wrap-up and account update).