Consultant fees: How much are you willing to pay?



WITHOUT considering so many things like credibility, work experience, education, popularity, etc., how much is your budget for an expert helping you solve a management issue, if not facilitating an exclusive workshop for your team?

Sure, the reliability of your management consultants is very important. But in this ballgame, you can’t really compare the qualifications of people as if you’re doing an apple-to-apple comparison. This is difficult because consultants have different work experiences, educational background, training methodology, and other things behind them, that at times, you’re limited by how they project themselves on social media.

So, how much are you willing to pay, say for a one-day professional work? P25,000 or below? P50,000 or below? Or P75,000, more or less? I’ve seen some companies paying as much as P120,000 per day so that they can be inspired by an external, inspirational speaker whose basic message is found in the Scriptures, except, it is peppered with humorous stories.

If comedy is what you’re after, then you better hire Vice Ganda or Willie Revillame.

In economic theory, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you come across alleged consultants who are willing to receive only plaques of appreciation, umbrellas, coffee mugs or T-shirts advertising their company products or services, then you’d better be careful. You could become a victim because the “consultant” sees it as an opportunity to practice a presentation delivery about what he has just read from some books, to say the least.

There’s no real work experience to back him up, except maybe for his good looks or soothing bedroom voice. And he would like your company to be listed as one of his “clients.” Ask him real questions about your management issue, and he will settle for a vague answer. Pablo Picasso was right:

“You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea.”

The trouble is that you don’t see it that way. Instead, you treat the “consultant” as the willing victim, until you discover the result in the end, if there’s any. Was the “consultant” helpful to your company? What was the actual outcome, say after three months? Are there clear, tangible results, that you’d like a repeat work with the “consultant?”

It’s a different thing in a free public event. Your organizer can give it for free to the public because it has tons of sponsors selling or marketing real estate properties, life insurance policies, health maintenance systems, newspaper subscriptions, or something like that.

Is it really free? Let me repeat myself – there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Besides, the “free seminar” requires you to pay a minimal amount of about P2,500 per person to cover for the cost of hotel venue, coffee money, tokens for the resource speakers, some taxes, and administrative expenses. But what you don’t see is the fact that you’re required to surrender your email address to help fatten their database, which could be used later on for the real thing – for marketing big ticket events. That’s a costless pyramiding.

Does it matter to you? If not, and you’re a sucker for these free events, then that’s your problem.

How about the resource speakers in those “free seminars?” It’s a quid pro quo. A favor in exchange for another favor. I’ll scratch your back, and you have to scratch my back. They don’t mind being given tokens because such events are helpful in marketing their careers as management “consultants” to prospective clients. Or is it?

I know what I’m saying here, because I’ve been invited hundreds of times by these event organizers offering only umbrellas or T-shirts as sweeteners, in exchange for giving a talk in front of their willing victims. These jerks! One of them was in the insurance business and did not even care to offer a one-year insurance coverage for my vehicle.

The sooner I responded with my professional fee, the faster they gave me the silent treatment. And you know what that means. Good riddance!

If you don’t want to spend good money on hiring a management consultant, I have a better option for you. Better accede only to a results-based consulting arrangement, which in my case means something like 35 percent if I’m successful in reducing, if not eliminating, the management issues at hand. The computation is limited only to the first year, and you can even verify the cost savings with your accounting department.

If my advice resulted in solving your management issue, like employee absenteeism, product defects, low productivity, or anything like that, then you have to pay the agreed sharing arrangement. Or else, you don’t have to pay anything. Fair enough? That’s on the condition you’re willing to be upfront with actual data as certified by your accountants.

I’m old and professionally mature enough to go for fairness and equity. These values are part of my character since time immemorial. Be careful in your dealings with people. If however, you seek to move people for your own end, make sure your tale is believable.

Pay attention to the sound of silence, as much as you respond to irritating noises.

Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random thoughts on Elbonomics.


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