Practice development

Hasty opinions – lost fees

There is a temptation when speaking with clients to confuse information with advice.

A client may open-up over a pint or glass of wine, telling you about a problem that they may have. The problem may be one that you have dealt with many times before, with other clients, and before you realise what you are doing you reel off the advice that the client needs. Your advice is exactly what the client wants to hear and he rushes to the bar to buy you another drink. “Cheers, that’s just what I needed to know.”

The advice you have spilled out will save the client £3,000 a year. You have been paid a glass of Chardonnay.

With the benefit of hindsight you should have said “Can you leave that with me, I may have a solution that would save you £3,000 a year. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” The client is still beaming, and may still buy you a glass of wine, but come tomorrow you may well be able to confirm your advice and agree a realistic fee for doing so.

There is a difference between communicating information and giving advice. In the above example, there is no reason to provide the advice on the spot. In fact, giving yourself time to sleep on it, you may come up with a better solution. And there is no shame in delaying advice in this way. You will have worked hard to gain the knowledge so why not exchange this for value?

I wrote this blog for Informanagement, and it is reproduced with their permission.

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