Publisher’s Corner

Mar 1, 2007

This is the month where we normally have the Consultant Earnings Survey and while it has been an interesting and useful benchmark for our readers for more than 20 years, we have decided to suspend it until we’re able to devise a better and more accurate survey methodology.

I will tell you that I have spoken with hundreds of practitioners on the subject and, frankly, the cash-in numbers have remained about the same as last year (actually up about 4%) but my conversations don’t really provide enough information to publish reliable results. Suffice it to say, business is getting better by the month.

What I have found, however, is that compensation programs have changed. Depending upon the firm, a person bringing in $150,000 in fees could be paid any-where from $37,500 to $90,000 depending upon such variables as draw, guaranteed salary, benefits, tenure, firm size, specialty niche, owner generosity and a host of other variables.

Is the threshold to move the commission percentage up based on monthly, quarterly or annual results? Do these percentages roll back to the lowest percentage number periodically or are they maintained at the higher level until production declines? Are they paid on billing, cash-in or at the end of the guarantee period? Is there a bonus for getting full fee searches — or a penalty for offering discounted fees? Are consultants paid on a set formula or at the whim of the owner? These are just some of the factors that can skew results.

Guru Tom Peters said, (1) “Hire motivated people. (2) Don’t demotivate them.” In our business, money is the primary motivator. In my experience, there are three kinds of people in this business:

– Passionate professionals who show up on almost any list of big billers – year after year. These are rare.

– Steady plodders who show up and go through the motions but who leave at 5:00 p.m. so they don’t miss the latest episode of American Idol. These are plentiful in many offices.

– Those who are “just passing through,” killing time until the next great opening at 7-11 or the local Kia dealership. There are a lot of these, too.

Much has been written on these pages about Peters’ #1 theorem and our business still has a way to go in selecting its own staffers. But Peters’ #2 theorem revolves mainly around the compensation offered. I gave you my suggestions in last month’s issue and I know that this is a topic of absolutely no interest for many of our readers. But for those who are interested, I’ve com-piled a number of pay plans from firms of all sizes and if you are a subscriber, I will be happy to email them to you. Just email me at and use “Comp Plans” as the subject line.

One of the most highly regarded firms in our business is Kaye/Bassman of Dallas. Beginning this month, its CEO Jeff Kaye will be contributing a monthly column for TFL. Because both Jeff and his firm are so unique, we asked for some introductory comments about his background and the architecture of his firm to familiarize readers with his methods and some of his staff. It precedes his article in the new column which will be titled Next Step.

And now for the BIG news. After years of requests for us to hold a conference, we are launching the FORDYCE FORUM in New Orleans from June 13-14, 2007. Why another conference when so many others are out there? Simple! This is going to be like none other. Not to malign the other offerings out there – there are some excellent meetings planned. Great places to take your rookies and other staffers for refresher courses on the basics. If you miss the usual cast of trainers one month, you can usually catch the same folks in another city at another conference a few weeks later. These are great people and well worth hearing. In fact, many of the best are regular columnists for The Fordyce Letter.

But the Fordyce Forum is designed for big billers by big billers. If you aspire to be a big biller or are close to that goal, this is the forum for you. We’ve assembled some of the best minds in the industry – underexposed on the conference trail but willing to share the winning tips, techniques, tactics, and strategies that have gotten them to the top of the pyramid with those who want to play in the big leagues.

With our relationships with long-time TFL authors, trainers, and other industry thought leaders, movers and shakers we could hold an event that would last over a month but many of our writers are already booked for other events – and rightly so. They are all exceptional but the Fordyce Forum was designed to be different – not an echo chamber of other similar events – presented strictly for big billers and those who want to be. Mark your calendars and expect more details shortly. This is the event you won’t want to miss so make your reservations early. This is a serious forum reserved for serious practitioners only.

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