August 07, 2019

If Airlines Sold Consultants

Michael Sizemore
JK Seva/Management Advisor, Product Implementation Consultant and Interim EVP Business Development

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If Airlines Sold Consultants

By: Michael Sizemore

If you have spent any amount of time shopping for consultants, you probably know that rates, availability, experience, and quality change a lot. If you wait too long then the price could go up or in the rare event, go down; you could lose “the one” your project team liked the best, or were promised one consultant but end up with a different consultant. The ups and downs of consultant rates, experience, and value delivery can provide you vastly different experiences depending on their industry/system knowledge or business acumen, keeping in mind that what you are buying is usually the same no matter the rate.

Wouldn’t it be easier if you knew you got what you paid for and the rate was consistent and transparent all the time, with no increases just because your staffing/consulting partner or vendor can? To illustrate this concept, I have taken a satirical article (Hess, 1998) and applied consultants as if they were a product you would purchase like airfare.

Customer: Hi. How much are your consultants?

Account Executive: Well, sir, that all depends.


Customer: Depends on what?                        

Account Executive: Actually, a lot of things.


Customer: How about giving me an average price?

Account Executive: Wow, that’s too hard a question. The lowest price is $50 an hour, and we have 900 different rates up to $350 an hour.


Customer: What’s the difference in the consultant?

Account Executive: Oh, there isn’t any difference; they’re all the same.


Customer: Well, then, I’d like the $50 an hour consultant.

Account Executive: Well, first I need to ask you a few questions. When do you intend to use them?


Customer: I want them to start on Monday.

Account Executive: Sir, the consultants for Monday are $275 an hour right now.


Customer: What would be the start date to get the $50 an hour consultant?

Account Executive: You would have to start them very late at night in about 75 days; however, you will have to agree to start them after Wednesday but before Friday of that week and work them until at least the first Sunday of the 11thmonth following their start date.


Customer: You’ve got to be kidding me!

Account Executive: I’ll check and see if we have any consultants available.


Customer: Your website says you have a full bench of consultants available. I can see their bios online!

Account Executive: But it doesn’t mean that we have consultants available. We sell only a certain number of resources any given week, with more being sold on the weekend than during the week. Oh, and by the way, the price per consultant hour just went to $95. We don’t have any more of the $50 an hour consultant.


Customer: The price went up as we were talking?

Account Executive: Yes, sir. We change the prices and rules hundreds of times a day, and since you haven’t actually signed your contract yet, locking in your price, we just decided to change the price. I suggest you sign your consultant purchase agreement as soon as possible. How many consultants do you want?


Customer: Well, maybe five consultants. Make that seven, so I’ll have enough just in case we need more later.

Account Executive: Oh no, sir, you can’t do that. If you buy consultants and don’t use them for the full duration of the contract, there are penalties and possible confiscation of the consultants you already have.


Customer: WHAT?

Account Executive: We can sell enough consultants to do your system upgrades but if you stop before you do the Business Intelligence and Workforce Management, you will lose your remaining consultants.


Customer: What does it matter whether I use all the consultants for the full duration of the contract? I already paid you in advance for them!

Account Executive: We make plans based upon the idea that all our consultants will be used for the full duration of the contract, every hour. If you don’t, it causes us all sorts of problems.


Customer: This is crazy! I suppose something terrible happens if I don’t keep using the consultants until after the first Friday of the 9thmonth!

Account Executive: Oh yes! Every consultant hour you bought automatically becomes $350 an hour.


Customer: But what are all these “Consultants on sale, $25 an hour” emails you keep sending me?

Account Executive: Well that’s for our budget consultants. It only comes with half an hour of a consultant instead of a full hour. One half an hour consultant rate will get you 15 minutes of actual consultant work. The second consultant to complete the remaining half an hour of the hour is $55 an hour. None of these consultants are guaranteed to have the specific skillsets you are looking for, some might not have any experience at all (just out of high school or even college dropouts), there are no refunds, even on the ones with no experience who might not even show up.


Customer: I can’t believe this! I’ll contract what I need somewhere else!

Account Executive: I don’t think so, sir. You may be able to contract consultants to do your Financial and Supply Chain projects from someone else, but you won’t be able to contract someone to do your interfaces, integrations and Business Intelligence from anyone but us. And should I point out, sir, that if you don’t contract to have someone manage your project, then it will be $500 a consultant hour for every consultant you purchase.


Customer: I thought your most expensive rate was $350 an hour!

Account Executive: That’s if you hire a project manager as well. You will also be required to hire a technical project manager, which is different.


Customer: And if I buy the technical project manager but not the project manager, you’ll confiscate the remaining consultants.

Account Executive: No, we’ll charge you an extra use fee plus the difference on your next consultant contract. But I believe you’re getting it now, sir.


Customer: You’re insane! This is utterly ridiculous. I’ll contract my consultants from somewhere else!

Account Executive: That won't do you any good, sir. We all have the same rules. At Skyhigh Staffing we never forget you have a choice, so thanks for contracting with us. Now, for 5 consultants that will be $1,750 an hour plus taxes, fees, surcharges and a doing business with us charge. Have a nice day! 

The hassle of finding, hiring and using consultants should be one less task to worry about. With multiple areas of proficiency, decades of versions and a plethora of solutions, suppliers and manufacturers, the choice and availability of consultants is just as complex as deciding what solution you need, but hopefully not as complex as if Airlines Sold Consultants.

I invite you to evaluate your process for procuring, hiring and deploying consultants within your organization, whether they be IT, Operations, Administrative, Executive, etc. If your experience is like trying to purchase an airline ticket (stressful, time consuming, filled with gimmicks and tricks or anything but a pleasant and straight forward experience) then let’s assess your current processes and introduce a stress-free approach, saving you the headache, turmoil and trepidation of using consultants within your organization.

Michael Sizemore | Peak Cybernetics 

Hess, A. H. (1998, October 15). If Airlines Sold Paint. Retrieved from Hess Corporate Travel: sold-paint/

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