As an employee, I got sick of incompetence. I got sick of placing myself in departments and organisations where competency was a hazy illusion. Training was my gig then. It’s often seen as an extra, and if it’s not integrated into the fabric of staff development, customer service and business goals, then it’s better to get out.
So, I quit. I quit several times. I swore I’d never work with or for such idiots again. (OK, they weren’t all idiots. I met some people who were interested, really interested, in staff development. But, honestly, they were few and far between.)
Now, as an entrepreneur, business owner, project manager, freelance trainer, blogger, coach, writer… I find that it’s not competency or skills or professionalism that people are strangers to, but paying for it. Significantly, organisations do not expect to pay (much) for the product I provide.
Here’s What Typically Happens When Tyre-kickers Come to me With a Project
- I think about it, a lot. I research it. I look to my previous experience to see if I’ve done anything similar. I consider my professional training and education, for inspiration. I ask other professionals for their advice. (Allen and I will have a pow-wow; his expertise may be more suited to the project than mine.) This may take several days.
- I contact you to give you a rough estimation of price and schedule. If this sounds OK to you (it invariably does over the phone), we arrange a meeting with you to discuss details. We talk. I listen, a lot. I then ask questions. I make suggestions. I listen to your responses. I ask what the REAL issues are. What problem are you trying to nail? I check your budget. (It’s at this point that the deflating conversation happens. Or at least, I can hear the hiss of air in the background. “You know… well, we were hoping for something a little… (insert hourly rate well below the minimum wage, if we spread the work over the REAL time it will take to do it, as opposed to an imaginary schedule.)”
Can I just go off on a rant here? I’ve been designing training and content since I was in my early twenties. I’m now in my mid thirties. Do I know what I’m doing? Yes. Do I know how long it will take? Yes. Do I know how to charge? Yes. So, please don’t tell me “it couldn’t possibly take that long to get a piece of training ready”. “Couldn’t you, you know, just come along and talk?” JUST TALK!
Newsflash – training and talking are two different things!Me, again
Incidentally, I regularly have this conversation with developers, graphic designers and others whose time is chargeable. It seems that some people aren’t willing to pay for someone’s time. Unfortunately, that loaf of Sunblest Veda is still the same price.
- Next, I go off to write a proposal for you. This can take some time, maybe research and an additional call or email or two.
- I email you the proposal, asking you to read it and send off any queries or comments.
- We meet again. (Mr Bond. Oh never mind! :P) We discuss the proposal and any amendments that are required. You agree to get back to me with a decision on whether you want to go ahead.
One of Two Curious Things Then Happens
- You get back to me at the pre-arranged time, with a good-to-go instruction. I’m happy, you’re happy. Everyone’s happy. Or…
- You do not get back to me. I follow up with a phone-call or email or two. Nothing happens. I begin the wearying process of putting away all the research (kicking myself because all my instincts were telling me this person was gonna waste my time, but I felt obliged to provide a proposal anyhow) and getting on with whatever needs attended to.
Update October 2020: I’m getting rather good though at sifting through the tyre kickers*, so if you look like you’re gonna waste my time… you’re not. Gut instinct is now queen.
*If you live in Northern Ireland, you’ll know what a tyre kicker is. For those who don’t, if you’ve ever advertised a second-hand car on a website such as Auto-Trader, then grimaced as tyre kickers out for the evening come along to dent your plastic wheel-trims for the sheer heck of it, then you’ll know what I mean.