I hate consultants … too!

Every manager I know … hates consultants. Managers often believe consultants are at best, unnecessary luxuries — like training and travel — that are easy to cut out of tight budgets. Managers often focus on the cost per-hour of a consultant (like they would with a lawyer.) My hourly rate is $275/hour. Managers may multiply that rate by the 2080 hours in a year (52 weeks x 40 hours/week) and get the astronomic figure of $572,000 per year!!! See, I knew consultants were bloodsuckers!

Well, wait a minute. At the risk of sounding self-serving (this is my web site, after all). let’s debunk some myths about consultants.

  1.  No consultant I know works 2080 hours a year or even close. No consultant I know is able to bill even 40 hours a week. No consultant I know is able to find employment 52 or 50 or 48 weeks a year.
  2.  A lot of our time isn’t billable at all, like that spent seeking clients (marketing).
  3.  People like me, who work as consultants, first have to work as freelancers or employees in the field for decades. I have 42 years of such experience under my belt. Like most college educations, this is one heck of a major investment I have made before earning the right to hang up my own shingle and do consulting.
  4.  But, here’s the real myth. Managers often think employees are much cheaper than consultants. The truth is that consultants deliver expertise in an efficient package compared to most employees. Consultants perform a specific set of tasks, with a start and finish to each project and without any benefits and taxes being paid or ongoing obligation.

As we used to say at Marketplace, let’s do the numbers:

Let’s say you hire me for to do a project for you. My typical fee is $7,500 to audition, analyze, critique, lead a 2½ day Intensive and write you a comprehensive plan for a program.

In my opinion, if you had an employee on staff who was actually qualified to do this for you, and allowing for vacations, holidays, sick leave, etc., it might cost you:

 4 weeks x $100,000/year + 30% benefits and taxes = $11,440

… and this doesn’t count office space, telephone, and all of the other “overhead” you pay for an employee.

You can do your own math, but the point remains: When you hire a consultant, you get highly-experienced temporary service with no ongoing cost. For certain kinds of work, the consultant is appropriate. For short-term but high-level tasks like planning new programs, the cost of a consultant is a bargain. Not to mention how it frees you from elaborate and expensive recruiting efforts, relocation costs, training and ramp-up time, and the risk you take that every new employee may not be the right hire.


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