Note: Provided as a service to decision-makers planning to employ the services of an external service provider as a consultant, facilitator, coach, speaker, trainer or organisational change, improvement and culture interventionists. South African spelling conventions have been used throughout.
"Consultant" in this context includes Consultants, Facilitators, Coaches, Speakers, Trainers , and Oganisational Change / Improvement / Transformation / Culture Interventionists.
It is a universal truth that you get what you pay for – but in no industry is this more true than when it comes to employing the services of a consultant, facilitator, coach, speaker or trainer. There is a reason why the cheap guys are cheap – in spite of the fact that they will often tell you that they charge less because it is their mission to “give back”, to serve the universe or to provide good value for money. Likewise, there is a reason why the top-end providers cost what they do – and generally, they make no excuse for this.
This does not go to say that all big-ticket providers are competent, or that all of them provide real value... but as a rule of thumb, fees are an indication of where your expectations should be pitched. A quick look at their track-record will separate the contenders from the rest. Here’s mine (track-record, that is).
But occasionally, everyone has an “off” day – no matter how solid their track record may be. So it’s a good idea to have your provider back up their claims with a guarantee of sorts. Here’s mine.
A Scale for Understanding Consulting and Speaking Fees
There are essentially three tiers of service providers in the consulting business – obviously fees are commensurate with these levels of proficiency:
How to tell where your Potential Consultant fits in
New Kid on the Block
Very Rough Guide to Fees
Employing a good consultant, facilitator or speaker is never a cheap affair – as I have said time and time again... there are no bargains to be had in this business. With currency exchange rates always fluctuating, there is no point trying to give an indication of what a top consultant from the UK will cost to work for a company in say, Africa, and so on. But as a very rough guide the cost difference between the bottom and the top is as follows:
New Kid on the Block
The above is a very broad (although reasonably accurate) reflection of the costs involved when employing the services of a “career consultant” – someone who has made a life of consulting, facilitating, or speaking. Of course there are celebrities who charge as much as US $250 000-00 for a one-hour keynote presentation – or more.
On that note... beware celebrity speakers. They cost around double the rate of the career professionals described above – but do not always leave the audience with real take-home value. Of course this is a generalisation – I have heard celebrity speakers who are profound. (“celebrity” in this context refers to sporting, personal-accomplishment and media celebrities... of course the business celebrities bring value for money, even at the rates they command). Having said all off this, the sporting, personal-accomplishment and media celebrities do indeed have a distinct role, which they perform way better than the career professionals... namely that they offer exceptional corporate entertainment. But don’t expect anything to change because they enthralled your audience for a while.
Back to where we were...
What will you be billed for in addition to the fee? Hard to say... there are as many (if not more) billing structures as there are consultants. In general, you will find that they bill for time (as opposed to charging a “per head” cost per person attending a session). In addition, you will probably be faced with travel charges (which is likely to be extended to include excess baggage costs), accommodation, materials (books, workbooks, and other products and programmes), and other agreed upon expenses. Air travel will generally be in business class (this is an investment, not an expense... you want your presenter to arrive well rested and on top of their game, don’t you?), and rented cars are likely to be executive class (I insist on this class of hire – for safety, not comfort).
In addition, they may add an overnight charge in the event that they need to sleep away from home just to present a short session, or where they spend a disproportionate amount of time travelling to, say, another country just to undertake a one-hour speaking engagement. You may also face additional charges for resources, video rights and copyright transfer.
Seasoned veterans have all of this figured out, and a quick conversation will ensure that there are no hidden costs. Then get it in writing! Insist on a contract. My fees are here, and my terms are here
Why the Guys who are Big on Delivery Cost More
Good consultants who are big on delivery would more likely than not have just cause for charging the fees they do for one or more of the following reasons:
Where Stef's Fees are Pitched
As one of the most booked consultants, facilitators and speakers in South Africa, with a global clientele, I am very well established among the upper echelons of the consulting fraternity. My fees are in line with that segment of the market, but are not pitched at the very top of the scale. In order to ensure that my fees have credibility, I do not discount my fees – but will employ whatever means I can to enhance your investment by adding whatever value I can without additional charge.
Limit of liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the author has used his best efforts in preparing this article, he makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of the article and specifically disclaims and implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for particular purpose. The information, advice and strategies herein may not be suitable for your situation. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. The author shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. E&OE