When I broke into this business in the early 80s, my first gig was as a technical writer for a large electronics manufacturer. I had been placed there by a broker (who received a percentage of every dollar I billed). Thus, when I told my manager at the electronics manufactuer that I had nothing to do and that he was wasting his money (development on the project hadn’t started yet), the broker was not terribly happy with me. In fact, he threatened not to pay me for the time I had been there.
From this unpleasant situation I realized that there was an accountablity issue. I felt accountable to the person I was working for — the electronics manufacurer — not the broker who hadn’t a clue what I was doing so long as I continued to bill. And it was at that moment that I decided that when I had my own company, my writers would be full time employees of my company, be accountable to me, and I would be accountable to my clients.
Over the years, this model has worked well. While scheduling can sometimes be a nightmare — making sure everyone has billable time all the time — at least I know and can assure my clients that if there’s nothing for us to at a particular time, we don’t need to be there and come back when there is something to do. This has worked well for my clients (for obvious reasons), for my writers (they feel like they’re always productive) and for me. Mostly, though, it’s just good business.