When I enter into a contract with a client, much of the language included deals with their responsibilities to the project we’re undertaking. In the business of consulting, that is often not the case – consultants are hired to come in and give the business owner or manager a to-do list and then they leave, not caring whether the to-dos have been done.

The approach that YJC takes is different – we address each consulting relationship as a temporary partnership – I may know how to get things done, but both parties have responsibilities to each other to ensure accountability and to make sure that the fees paid are well spent. Consultants and clients are each responsible for making the project a success.

Recently I had to ask a client to go on hiatus from our contract. Her schedule was simply not allowing her to provide the collaborative portion that makes our relationship work. As I told her when we talked, if I wanted to make money for doing nothing, I’d go into government contract work. I don’t think it’s fair for a client to pay when the lack of progress is due to their other commitments.

The model that many consultants work on is somewhat like a gym membership. You set a monthly retainer fee, and hope that not all of your paying clients show up to work that month. My model is more similar to a personal service business – like a restaurant. If I’m the head chef at the restaurant, I’m not going to demand that you pay for the dinner you didn’t eat.*

When I was at a large firm, many consultants could not book out their time for the week because of client-based uncertainties. Would this company have availability to review findings? Would that municipality finally deliver the documents requested? As a small operation, that uncertainty can set an engagement back weeks or even months. That’s why all of the YJC contracts are structured as partnership deals – I can bring my talents to the table only when you also show up to play.

*I know that many restaurants charge a cancellation fee if you have reserved a table. The metaphor only goes so far.