Why We Charge a Consultation Fee
by Henry Meléndez
Most people are surprised to learn that we charge a minimum of R150.00 “consultation fee” depending on the consultation type a potential client chooses to go with, whether they choose:
A) A Live Face-to-Face Consultation;
B) Video Chat; or
C) A Telephonic Consultation.
I understand that most business and branding consultants offer “free consultations.”
We do not - and for a good reason.
Ever since we started Khular Brand Management, we did not really charge for consultations. I gave away thousands of hours of my time, and used a lot of energy with many potential clients who were “kicking tires,” “pushing some time” or just looking for free advice and worse set an appointment and not pitch.
Because we were blessed with dozens of potential client messages each week, consulting (for free) became a full-time job. And that business model eventually became unsustainable, because most people looked at me as a friend to just go chill with and talk to about business, and I finally reached the point where I was spending more time with people and less time on my actual work (the designing, researching, writing, coding, and such).
This made me become incompetent to paying clients, especially because I would deliver their projects late or lacking the promised standard of quality, and I could just not offer them enough of my time, and attention, and this had a huge impact on our brands reputation.
I was so busy consulting for free that I had a hard time keeping up with the work required to service our paying and existing clients. Even worse, my whole team and I were frequently left with the lingering feeling that the potential client had consulted for the sole purpose of obtaining free advice and education, with no intention of ever retaining any of our services.
As with any business, a digital agency’s clients are its lifeblood. New blood is an essential component of sustaining a business; yet we came to dread consultation with potential clients because, truth be told, there were just too many. Even worse, some of them would go out, try it on their own or with a different service provider, failing and then bad-mouthing our advice - with influence - then we would lose other potential clients.
Something had to change, and in the beginning of June, I decided to start charging a commitment fee, while also enhancing the meeting to a valuable “strategy session,” as opposed to a generic interview. This was one of the best business decisions I have ever made - for us and for the people who are genuinely interested in turning their ideas into reality and the services of a serious, knowledgeable and dedicated brand and business consultant with some pretty good testimonials.
Below are the key reasons why we charge a “commitment fee,” and strongly believe that a “free consultation” is worth nothing more than what you pay for it.
1. YOU WILL CONSULT WITH A PASSIONATE CONSULTANT
I am extremely passionate with seeing ideas turn into reality and I am in love with the entire process - from interview to design to distribution - and I don’t think anyone else around does it like we do.
I also - personally - spend 2-3 hours every day on learning more about business, branding - what’s new and what works and what worked - and extend my research to psychology, human behavior, and the six basic human needs so that I can better understand how to leverage an individuals needs to boost their brand and/or business.
2. OUR CONSULTATION IS A LEARNING TOOL FOR YOU, AND NOT A SALES PITCH FOR US
Too many times, and we’ve also done this before, consultants, coaches and agencies who advertise for a “free consultation” use this as a sales gimmick to attract more clients. Our consultations are intended to be educational opportunities for our potential client, and not a “sales closing” for us. The purpose of your consultation with any brand/business consultant should be to gain knowledge about the execution of your business idea and obtain the strategies available for a more effective roll-out.
The very fact that you want to meet with a brand/business consultant means that you have determined that you need help and guidance, beyond your level of expertise, knowledge and resources.
Given that realization, potential clients are often vulnerable to sales pitches that appear to offer quick, cheap or simple solutions to complicated problems. This quickly converts the benefit of a consultation to the consultants advantage.
We believe that consultations should function solely for the benefit of the potential client, provide them with insight and knowledge about business, branding, available solutions, potential outcomes, risks and costs associated with their branding or business ambitions.
In other words, the potential client should receive value, and not a sales pitch, from a consultation.
During our consultation, I will listen to you, review related documents, and understand your desired outcome. At the conclusion of the consultation, we will provide initial brand/business advice.
We will also give you a job/client number for your very own Action Plan, which will include a summary of the consultation, start-up/growth advice, step-by-step on how to get started and make appropriate recommendations.
You will walk away from our consultation feeling better, amped up and more knowledgeable than when you walked in.
3. WE ARE SERIOUS ABOUT TURNING YOUR IDEA INTO REALITY, AND GIVE OURSELVES TIME TO WORK ON IT
Because clients schedule their consultations with us in advance, we are able to set-aside time to prepare for and conduct the consultations.
The nature of developing a brand/business is broad, and it is very important to do prior research on the specific industry so that we can have a better, current and futuristic understanding and knowledge of the client-specific industry of choice. We also do social media screening of the potential client so that we can have an understanding of their personality, style and other factors. I personally love doing research, along with my team, and we gladly do so for every potential client.
Unlike brand/business consultants who over schedule free consultations, and are then in a rush when a potential client does not present an opportunity for profitability, we take the time to understand and breakdown the best way to approach your brand/business idea.
We conduct one consultation at a time, and afford to the prospective client the opportunity to ask questions and gain knowledge.
We utilize our intimate familiarity with online database to educate, and often our potential clients leave the consultation with notes/documentation they did not previously have or know existed.
4. WE WANT TO ENSURE THAT YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT TURNING YOUR IDEA INTO REALITY
We are serious individuals with passion for the ideas we undertake. We have serious clients with serious ambitions, and we would like to keep it that way.
Some of our existing clients have been with us since our inception. Many have left because we were too busy with “free consultations” but those that remain have trusted with most of their projects, while others look to us for advice and counsel on an almost daily basis.
Our clients regularly refer their own colleagues, friends, family members and own clients to us.
They are ready to nominate us for awards and asking us to attend and speak at events.
Many have become personal friends.
The bottom line is that we obtain results and deliver value for our clients - although it has taken a slump here and there.
Our clients also understand that servicing brands and businesses is how we make a living, and support our families.
An unfortunate reality of business and reality is that time is expensive and can never be regained, including the time of branding and business consultants. Where business is involved, there are many people who just enjoy talking about their business ambitions, only to wake up the next morning, and carry on scratching their balls, and hunt for the next beer, get drunk and talk about a whole new idea without even executing the one from the night before. That’s how most people who talk about business ideas spend their time and we have grown to value our time.
Most people have nothing better to do and aren’t passionate enough, and so a “free consultation” is a good way to push time and create a make-believe of being “up to something,” just to fool the fam, and confuse the haters. Couple of days, sometimes weeks later, the person is no longer on the boat, and has jumped off to “something better,” or rather - more convenient and more convincing to the fam, and the haters.
We believe that any potential client that is unwilling to spend a minimum of R150.00 to obtain our strategic insight on their brand/business idea and/or explore the viability of our mentorship, lacks the seriousness that our relationships require. To be honest, if you do not believe that your idea merits a R300.00 discussion, we are probably not the best agency for you.
5. CONSULTATIONS HAVE OPPORTUNITY COSTS FOR US
By charging a commitment fee, we are minimizing the financial impact of spending time considering a non-paying potential clients brand/business development, when there is no guarantee that an agency-client relationship will ever materialize. We are also offsetting the opportunity cost of being disqualified from working with a potential client to another agency/consultant.
To turn your idea into reality with us, you can learn more about our consultation types, or book for your consultation by clicking here, otherwise please follow us across social using the hashtag Khular and please spread the word.