Some consultants love to travel for their consulting projects. Me, I’m not a big fan. I prefer to be with my family, sleep in my own bed, eat healthy, home-cooked meals, and work in my gym clothes.
Besides, when I’m on the road, there’s less time for marketing and business development, and I can’t play old-man hockey at the local rink.
But how do you build a booming, lucrative consulting practice while staying cozily ensconced in your home office?
On a typical, six-figure project I will spend roughly four or five days on the road; perhaps six if the client is on the West Coast or in Europe (because of travel time). It’s not unusual for me to win and deliver a project without ever stepping foot outside my office.
When you limit travel as I’ve done, your time investment in each project is far lower, and your day rate (if you track that metric) is generally four-to-six times higher than if you’re a traveling consultant.
Multiply your revenue by four and see what that does for your income.
Is there an advantage to being at your client’s site? Absolutely. You can walk the halls, form new relationships, strengthen existing bonds, tee-up additional projects, and solve (some) problems more quickly.
Most of those benefits can be accrued in a day or two while you’re conducting essential, onsite tasks.
That’s why I tend to limit onsite visits to:
- Project kick-off sessions.
- Observing the client’s equipment, or setup, or employees in situ (e.g., shadowing employees) .
- Initial interviews of internal personnel located at headquarters. (This could be done remotely, but I want to establish and build relationships that could lead to additional projects.)
- Delivering group training sessions. (Often these are better as remote sessions, particularly if the client’s personnel are geographically scattered.)
- Work sessions. Few projects have more than three in-person work-sessions.
- Project findings reviews.
- Project final recommendations.
Those first three tasks can all be accomplished in a single day or perhaps two. A findings review and a work-session or two may comprise another onsite day. Add a day for training, a day for the final presentation and even if you add a full day for travel time, you’ve delivered a significant project with only one week away from your office.
What about everything else—the other work you’re tackling when you’re at client locations? Most likely you can accomplish it better and more efficiently at home.
Why are you really spending time at client locations?
Is it your need to socialize? Go out with friends at home or create a local, in-person mastermind group.
Is it your desire to be in front of people, leading them? Take on more speaking gigs.
Is it your sense that the client requires you to be onsite? Challenge that belief. Most clients actually don’t want consultants in their offices, disrupting their people and routines. Clients that do expect significant face time often have controlling personalities or are confusing activity with results. Remind them that your responsibility is to deliver results, not activity, and that you are a peer, not an employee.
Stop assuming you need to be onsite to deliver your project. Ask yourself this question:
If you couldn’t be at the client, how would you deliver the project?
- Meetings can be conducted via phone or video conferences. Do some meetings benefit from in-person interaction? Yes. Is that benefit worth all the extra time required for you and the other attendees? Rarely. Spend one hour organizing a more efficient, productive meeting and you’ll far outstrip the usefulness of the typical, in-person powwow.
- Analyses can be run anywhere. Data can be gathered remotely. (Better yet, have client personnel gather data for you.)
- Training and coaching are often more effective when they’re delivered on-the-fly, as needed remotely.
Cut your travel time in half on your next consulting project and see whether you’re able to delight your client. I bet you both end up happier.
What are you doing (or could you do going forward) to minimize your travel time? Please share your thoughts below, in the comments section.
Text and images are © 2020 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.