May Day, may day.
If you dropped by yesterday you now know how to do the consultant Sneak-away. This topic deserves a little unpacking.
The fact that clients can so easily drop someone on a moments notice, even when they had a CONTRACT, just amazes me. The disillusionment gets cranked up with their explanation. It is ALWAYS justification for the drop. None of the justification ever has anything to do with the consultant. Nothing wonderful about that (especially when consultants give their heart and soul to the client during the engagement).
The fact that it is hard to have direct contracts where there is both a written and a verbal agreement (guilt is far more powerful than law) is the highest level of disillusionment. It just does not make sense.
I’ll give some wonderful though.
There is nothing more exciting than starting to think about the next big thing. I am blessed to get to a point in my own career where the next thing is always better (if only because I keep raising my rates for the next client to make up for the loss with the last).
New stuff is WONDERFUL. Carrying a little bit of a sour taste from the old makes you wonderfully disillusioned (in a good way if you correct a little the next time around).
I am thinking I do not dish out enough hints and tips to consultants so for this scenario here are a few:
- Lay out your work parameters at the beginning.
One of mine is that Friday has to be virtual or bargained for. It might be that I work Fridays in order to take a vacation in the middle of the engagement. My billing, or a flexible arrangement with the client, accounts for that.
- Let the client know you consider most deliverables unnecessary.
If you are lucky enough to be direct charge them extra for the ones you think make no sense. But also make sure you offer up deliverables that DO make sense when the client hasn’t thought of it.
- Don’t work by the hour work by the project.
If the client insists on hourly charge them for every one- even if you are just there to wait for a meeting. They will quickly learn that flexibility with a verbal contract is REALLY helpful (and keeps the budget neutral).
- Assume every engagement will end a month or so early (or a year).
Either always be looking for the next engagement (clients hate that, but have no hesitation in getting rid of you) or start about 6 weeks before the end of the “contract”.
- Don’t ever feel like you have to “do this for the team”.
That is an internal thing. You will rarely benefit from the extra time and effort. If you are helping them get to solutions and don’t rock the boat too much they will recommend you (or at least not flame you- I have had a few of those clients too).
- Always be nice, gracious and accommodating (within reason-your reasoning not the clients).