Biblically, 7 is the number of perfection, and 6 is the number of “man.” Remember 666, the “number” of the Antichrist? In light of that, I’m going to enumerate the worst sins consulting companies can make. These are the ones that doom them to hell on earth. If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you have probably already nailed these and gotten past them. But they may be worth reviewing.
#1: Ignoring your customer’s complaints
The customer is always right, right? No, not true. But, when they believe they are right, you had better be there to work things out. Sometimes you can make them see your position in a disagreement, but more times than not, you’ll need to suck carpet and make things right. That’s part of what they expect of the relationship. The mere fact that you take money from them puts you in that position. Cruel fact of life – get used to it.
#2: Failure to smooze
This one is akin to the first, but slightly more on the positive side. Remember the old adage “out of sight, out of mind?” That’s what happens when you haven’t had face-time with your customer in a while. They literally think less of you. The relationship grows cold and they are less likely to call on you when a need arises.
#3: Letting sales slip
Consultants and consultancies have two big jobs: consult and sell consulting services. Both are equally important. Once a gig has been landed, the tendency is to settle in and forget about what comes next. Looking for the next gig is hard. It’s much easier to do what you’re competent at, and let the sales work take care of itself. Problem is… it often doesn’t. When the gig ends, you’re on the street again without work.
#4: Shoddy work
This one’s so obvious, it’s hardly worth mentioning. But it really goes deep down to the type of person you are. Keep your standards high. Remember that you are competing with other consultants, and for future work.
#5: Low utilization
Got a nice high billing rate? Higher than working at Wal-mart? Consider this: your “effective” billing rate (or utilization rate) is your revenue divided by the total calendar hours. For example, $50,000 divided by 2,000 possible billable hours in a year is an “effective” rate of only $25 per hour. You may charge $100 and hour for your time, but only book 25% of the total possible hours.
#6: Not picking up the scraps
Nobody likes to think of themselves as a handyman who takes odd jobs. We’re skilled professionals with higher education. But there’s no shame in stooping down to pick up small jobs. Sometimes you can even charge more for them. They can fill gaps between the big gigs and give you interesting new experiences.