Corporate or Government Contracts: The Holy Grail?

Yesterday I posted a link to an article in the Independent about how Capita have been accused of allegedly abusing it’s position as training provider for central government.  That, along with the publication of my latest NLP Demystified series “Your Professional NLP Practice Demystified” got me thinking about that supposed holy grail of any trainer or coach – the contract with a corporation or government institution.

One of the most common questions I get from people who want to set up as NLP trainers and coaches is what I think of corporate and government contracts, if they really are the holy grail people think and, if so, how to get them. So here is my take.

Firstly, you have to think whether you actually want one! There may be a belief that a big corporate or government gig is the holy grail, the cash cow, that will make you rich and successful, but sadly it isn’t true (as we will see).

Here are a few things to consider:

(Note: I have used the word “company” to denote both a corporate or government contract for brevity and ease of reading).

Might is Right

If you contract with work for reasonably large company, you will be expected to abide by their terms and their their contract. You may want to charge £35 an hour travel, stay in 5 star hotels and be paid upfront, but if their terms are 90 days and only pay 43p a mile and £50 overnight expenses, thats what you have to accept.

There may be additional clauses in the contract too, so you will have to pay very careful attention, like who owns the rights to the course or coaching package you deliver, anti-competition clauses (not being allowed to work for anyone they deem as the competition) and all sorts. You have to be really on the ball and sometimes even employ a lawyer to go through it all (which eats into profit).

The company know they can go elsewhere and find a trainer or coach who is willing to agree with their terms, so they have all the power in the negotiations. I have walked away or turned down corporate gigs (or mainly government ones) as the hoops they wanted me to jump through really weren’t worth the amount they were going to pay me. Which takes me to my next point…

It’s Not as Lucrative as You Think

Day rates used to be high (most trainers I knew were on £1000+ a day, most coaches £150+ an hour) and there used to be a lot more work to go around, but that has all changed. Yes, there are some trainer and coaches who can still charge that (me included), but that is because they have a reputation, references and a track record. If you are just starting out you won’t get anywhere near that, unless you are very lucky or have the right contacts (it really is all about the contacts, see below).

Supply has increased significantly, demand has fallen and the process has become much more complicated and time consuming with more third parties, paperwork and processes (tendering and such) to go through to get the gig.

Unless you have a strong reputation you will earn about £200-£500 a day for coaching or training, which may sound a lot, but you won’t be working every day (on some occasions you may be lucky to get a day a month).

“All Your Eggs In One Basket”  – Lack Multiple Streams of Income

I have known a number of trainers who have gone bust because they put all their eggs in one basket and taken work on from just one company. All of a sudden that company has not renewed that contract and they have been without an income and scrabbling round trying to find work. Most of the BIG contracts (the ones that pay well) are almost full time jobs (see below) and you will take up all your time, meaning you are running the risk of not diversifying your income. Other trainers I know have worked through agencies (see below) and all of sudden the agency has cut their day rate or work has dried up, again meaning they struggle to make a living.

What is much more important than chasing that big cash cow contract which will give you a perceived sense of security (but not real security), is to build multiple streams of smaller incomes so you are not overly reliant on just the one.

Almost a Full Time Job?

If you are contracted to just one company as an external coach or trainer, you are essentially working for them without all the benefits of actually being employed! No sick pay, no holiday pay, no redundancy.

If you want the security of big contracts you may want to consider whether being self employed is the right thing for you. Maybe you would be better off getting a full time job doing what you do. For example, many organisations are now actually employing in-house coaches as it is much more cost effective for them than using external ones (another reason that there is less work to go around for external coaches and trainers!)

How to Get A Contract

Still with me? Still want to go for corporate or government contracts? Lets have a chat about how you actually get them.

It used to be about supply and demand. A company wanted a coach or trainer and would look for one. They would contact a few, have a chat, get a quote and then decide which one they preferred, it was all very straightforward. If you had a good reputation and were easy to find and put yourself out there a bit,  you would tend to get approached fairly frequently (that was how I got all my in-house contracts back in 2007!) There were agencies and tendering back then too, but because NLP and coaching was less known, the scope for that was very limited.

Nowadays a large proportion of in-house work is through agencies or a tendering process.

1. Tendering

I used to have a rule of thumb that if someone wanted me to tender for some work, I would refuse to do it on principle. I was (and still am) very skeptical of most tendering processes. It was once summed up to me by a procurement manager that I knew as “ Cost first, quality second”, so they would often employ substandard and or inappropriate trainers or coaches as they were the cheapest and then get terrible feedback from the delegates!

This is still the case, if not worse! More and more companies are asking for you tender for work. Tendering used to be reserved for very large contracts but the threshold has been lowered by many companies meaning almost all training and coaching programmes have to go through this process now.

This, to be honest, is a nightmare for individual freelance coaches and trainers. Tendering in itself is a very specific skill set, and is time consuming and costly processes (incidentally, in some cases, you used to actually be able to charge to submit a tender. You can’t any more). Add to that the fact that trying find a tender is a nightmare! Most tenders are listed on specific websites that charge you a (not inconsiderable) fee to join and be alerted of any tender you may be interested in. So, you have to find the websites where the appropriate tenders are listed, join, pay the fee, search for any tender you may want to go for, complete bid and then hope that you get awarded the contract. It is a long, drawn out  process that most trainers and coaches are ill-equipped and ill-prepared to do.

Which is why you finding the rise of the agency model…

2. Third Part “Agencies”

The way companies such as Capita tend to work, is they are experts at the tendering process and at building contacts. What they are not experts at is delivering the training or coaching package. For that they will have a network of third party trainers and coaches that they will draw on to deliver the packages they have successful bid for. Sometimes they will already have people on their books that can do it, other times they will need to find someone (it is not uncommon in my experience for such companies to bid for work they cannot yet deliver and then, if they win the contract, scrabble around trying to find someone to do the work).

Which means they may contact you out of blue (as I have been on several occasions) when they have won a contract and don’t have anyone to deliver it, but more often than not they will have a banks of trainers and coaches to draw upon.

If you are going to go down the agency route there are a few things to bear in mind:

1) Most agencies specialise in a particular business sector – legal, finance, etc  – and not in the training or coaching packages. Which means you will need to sign up to a number of them to get a broad range of work (this also reduces the risk of putting all your eggs in one basket – see above).

2) Your training fee will be a lot less (in my experience up to 50% less) than if you work directly with a company. You will earn around £300 when first starting out.

3) Some pay expenses, some don’t, so make sure you clarify that before accepting work a long way away.

4) Don’t think you can use them to get an initial contact and then re-negotiate directly with the company once you have built a relationship. Many of these agencies have an anti-competition clauses meaning you cannot work with any company directly that they have an relationship with.

If you are happy to accept the lower day rate and more restrictions (not always in exchange for more regular work) this may be perfect for you, especially if you are not comfortable with selling yourself or lack the contacts. I know of trainers and coaches who work almost exclusively through agencies as they feel more comfortable with that than touting themselves out and they are very happy.

I must make it clear that I am not against these sort of agencies, I am signed up to a few myself. But what I do have an issue with is a number of agencies that have cropped up who have taken advantage of the fact that more companies are tendering for work and most individual coaches and trainers lack the knowledge to be able to bid. Many of these are too small for the larger agencies to bother with. So what they do is get the tender then offer the work out to anyone they can find, for a meagre sum and pocket the lions share themselves. This bluntly is a scam. I have been approached by a number of such companies who offer a laughably low day rate. Sadly they, more often than not, find someone desperate enough to accept the work. It is a real shame.

Please be very careful when working with agencies and make sure you only accept work or approach ones with a track record, references and good reputation.

3. Direct Contact and Referrals

My recent experience in trying to make direct contact with anything more than an SME, is that you will hit a wall of bureaucracy, requiring a tendering process, or they will be outsourcing their training to the one of the agencies.

Of course, even with all these additional barriers to entry it is still possible to get “straight in”, this is most commonly for shorter training or coaching programmes though (where a tendering process is just not cost effective). You may be contacted because they have heard of you and your reputation, or you have been either mentioned or specifically referred by someone (this is how I still get around 75% of my in-house work nowadays).

Or you could focus purely on SME’s, they tend to have a more straightforward process for in-house training (but a smaller budgets).

This is why having contacts is so important (see “Your Professional NLP Practice Demystified”), if you don’t have any relevant contacts yet, you need think of ways you can run in the same circles as your prospective clients. Business clubs, events and networking organisation are good things to consider. Join professional organisations and go along to their workshops, seminars and event. Offer to do talks to organisations. Remember, if you are going to these to avoid the direct sell, it is about building contacts (it is also a long game, you may not see any fruits from your labour for some time, but I have had people contact me years after).

LinkedIn is also a great place to build contacts, but that really is a topic for another post!

Closing Thoughts

This may, in places, sound a bit of a cynical post. That is probably because I really wanted to highlight the pitfalls that most people don’t know of. The world of in-house training has changed a lot since the “credit crunch”. No doubt some of these changes will be permanent and some only temporary until things settle down (it is hard to believe it has been 7 years and things are still in a bit of flux). I am certainly noticing that direct contact from companies as increased in the last few months, mainly for sending employees on my open training courses (where the agency or tendering model aren’t appropriate).

You hopefully now have some more knowledge and choices about what you can do to get company contracts and are more aware of how it works.

I wish you the best of luck.

A new year, a new name, a new lower price and a new improved way for you to buy!

The Practice Builder Handbook has been renamed Coaching Business Tradecraft and is now available to purchase exclusively on Kindle through Amazon.

why publish it on kindle?
Kindle Apps

Because Kindle publishing gives you the most flexible way to read the book. You don’t need to own a Kindle, you can download the (free) Kindle reader app for your phone, tablet, or PC, including:

  • Android
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Windows 7 phone
  • Windows and Mac

There has never been an easier way to sky rocket your success!

Click here for  more details or click below to buy now:

My other ebooks will be following onto Kindle very soon.

can you help me?

Have you purchased the Practice Builder Handbook? I would really appreciate it if you could take 5 minutes to write a review on Amazon. If you do, email me and I will send you a gift to say thank you.

Have you got your own blog or website? Do you run a practice group? Why not write a review or add it to your recommended reading list (if you do it through Amazon Affiliates you can earn commission!)?

There is a massive trend at the moment to list your wares on these discount sites that have suddenly exploded all over the internet. This may be fine if you are running a restaurant, or hairdressers, or even doing one to one coaching/therapy.

But it is not an effective strategy for advertising trainings.

Why?

The only person who benefits from the sale is the discount site. Simple as that.

You may be thinking that you are getting a good deal as a customer, but you are not.

Think about it for a second. If the company runs a course that is priced at a £1000 (for ease of maths). The discount sites demand that they offer at least a 75% discount, so that is £250, they will then have to pay the discount site 50% in commission, so they will be getting a grand total of £125 per person for what should be a £1000 course.

This means the companies are running the course at a (big) LOSS.

This is not a good thing for you as a trainee.

Why? Well, they have to recoup that loss somehow. Which means they will cut costs and reduce the overall quality of the training, using a substandard venue for example, or they will wedge more people into the training, giving you a less personal experience (maybe cutting the amount of trainers or assistants), or  (and this is the worst) use the whole training as basically a marketing exercise to get you to book on another more expensive course. This means you will get a substandard training which won’t fulfil  your requirements.

If two car dealers were offering what seemed the same car, and one was offering it at a 75% discount to get you to buy it. Would you trust them? Would you buy it?

Companies who use these discount sites are DESPERATE for your business. If they think that the only way they can attract you is by giving you dirt cheap trainings, what does that tell you about what they think about the quality of their course?

I am committed to offering quality NLP trainings to small groups and have been for the last 10 years. I cannot do this (nor, do I think, can anyone) by offering massively discounted trainings. I have had these discount companies constantly calling me up and I have turned them down every time.

Do you want quality or do you want cheap?

I have been helping coaches, therapists and trainers start up their own professional practices almost since I began running NLP trainings in 2003. In 2008 I poured all my knowledge into my top selling “Professional Practice Builder Handbook” (now in it’s 4th edition), which helped coaches and therapists start businesses from scratch as, with honest down to earth advice without the hype.

Now I am proud to announce the launch of www.websites-for-coaches.com. The next step in my journey to help coaches, trainers and therapists succeed in their business.

websites-for-coaches.com came about through frustration. Since I commissioned my first website in 2001 I was constantly disappointed with the level of service I received from so called web designers and the astronomical fees they were charging NOT to do what I asked them to do!

I worked my way through several web designers, each time feeling let down by their service and struggling to pay the spiral costs.

Many web designers out there are brilliant designers, brilliant coders, but they know nothing about your needs as a coach, therapist or teacher. They may build you a brilliant looking site, but if it doesn’t attract and convert paying clients it is not what you need.

So in 2008 I took matters into my own hands and taught myself how to build websites (although, I had been doing my own Search Engine Optimisation since 2005), firstly using Dreamweaver MX, which was clunky and unwieldy and then I discovered WordPress…

Because I use WordPress as a platform to build your website, not only do you have the security and assurance of the most popular CMS (content management system) in use on the Internet, but you can also easily upgrade the site at very little or no costs as and when you need to. Once the site is built you are in charge.

benefits of wordpress:

  • The most popular CMS (content management system) in use on the Internet.
  • Free updates for life.
  • Robust and secure.
  • Excellent support.
  • Many plugins, mostly free.
  • Infinitely customisable.
  • Built for simple SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
  • No complicated and time consuming coding, so I can offer lower cost, professionally performing solutions.

Now I am using what I learned to offer low cost, high quality professionally designed websites specifically for coaches, trainers and therapists. With prices starting at just £199 and a 20% discount available for all members of, or graduates from, the following organisations:

  • Central England College of Clinical Hypnosis
  • Isis Centre
  • The Society of NLP
  • The Association of NLP
  • Phraya Pichai Muay Thai Camps International

I have been where you are and understand your needs.

For more information go to www.websites-for-coaches.com

Matt

I have just released the 4th edition of my top selling “Professional Practice Builders Handbook” where I show you how to set up your own coaching, therapy or training business from scratch.

The world has changed a lot since I released the first edition of this ebook back in 2008, to reflect the changes there are  over 40 pages of additional material, including:

  • The four keys to success (you don’t need to do them all, but you should do a couple at least)
  • My thoughts on Social Networking and beginners strategy.
  • Back to the old school, why the old methods may actually be the best.
  • The simple success strategy (or how to use Social Networking properly).
  • A much more in-depth process on how to create online products.
  • An updated section on how to design and build a website, which is completely different to how I used to say to do it!

Available now as instant pdf download for the introduction of price of £29.99 (+VAT) for a limited time.

You can get it here.

Matt

I have recently lost some “friends” on my facebook page and was wondering who had “unfriended me”, but, after looking, I had no idea who they were! It made me realise that my facebook policy has become a bit of hodgepodge. On my personal page I seem to have a mixture of friends and business colleagues including a few people I am unsure whom they are (who have sent a friend request which I assumed were business related). I also have a very underused “Business Page” at www.facebook.com/mattcaulfieldtrainingandconsultancy

Basically it is a mess.

Because of this I am making a few changes to the way I use facebook and social networking:

here is my new principle:

My personal profile (www.facebook.com/matthew.caulfield) will be for close friends and family only.  If you are “friends” with me for business or networking reasons please either “like” my business page (www.facebook.com/mattcaulfieldtrainingandconsultancy), which I intend to use much more, and you can communicate with me through that (you can write on my wall, send messages, etc) or request a connection on my linkedin profile at www.linkedin.com/in/mattcaulfield. If you have you own business page I am more than happy to add it as a favourite page, please contact me to discuss.

I will be sending invites to “like” my business page and removing “business friends” from my personal profile over the next few weeks and make this profile very private.

Please don’t be offended if I remove you from my personal profile as a friend and request you join my business page instead.  It is not meant as a hierarchical thing, but purely to delineate business colleagues from close friends and family. Just because I “unfriend” you, doesn’t mean I want to disconnect.

Of course if you are friend of mine who also wants to keep up with what I am doing in my business please do “like” my business page.

I will be changing my twitter feed, so that twitter.com/mattcaulfield will automatically update my business page rather than my personal profile and will use that twitter feed for business only.  I have set up a new personal twitter feed, which will be private and will be set to update my personal profile.

I hope all this makes sense, if you have any questions please contact me.

Matt

Below is a list of my upcoming 2011 training dates. This year I am doing things a little differently…

In a previous post here, I talked about keeping it simple, and, taking my own advice, I have reorganised how I present my trainings. They will now be split into qualification trainings, that offer specific NLP qualifications, and Master Classes that are seminars and workshops focusing on a specific area of NLP or associated fields.

For more details please click here to visit the Master Class page.

In addition, I have re-launched and completely updated my Business Practitioner of NLP training programme, this is thoroughly unique training, taking NLP for business in a new direction.

The dates for 2011 are:

nlp practitioner training

spring module 1: 06 – 08 May
spring module 2: 20 – 22 May

autumn module 1: 30 Sept – 02 Oct
autumn module 2: 07- 09 Oct

An NLP Practitioner is someone who has learned to use the attitudes, principles and techniques of NLP as they are intended to be used, by its creator, for themselves and with others.

For more information on this course, click here.

This course carries certification from the Society of NLP

master practitioner training

module 1: 10 – 13 Jun
module 2: 24 – 27 Jun

A MASTER Practitioner of NLP is someone who has mastered the creative and innovative applications of the principles and methodology of NLP. They are highly skilled communicators, able to easily change their own behaviours and those of others.

For more information on this course, click here.

This course carries certification from the Society of NLP

business practitioner of nlp

spring module 1: 08 – 11 Apr
spring module 2: 15 – 18 Apr

autumn module 1: 09 – 12 Sept
autumn module 2: 23 – 26 Sept

A Business Practitioner of NLP is someone who has learned to apply the attitude, skills and methodology to the NLP in a corporate environment.

For more information on this course, click here.

This course carries certification from the Society of NLP

master class series

My NLP Master Classes are one and two day workshops and seminars on a particular area of NLP or associated fields. They are designed for someone already experienced in NLP to deepen and broaden their knowledge and skill.

1-day workshops are £97 + VAT
2-day workshops are £149 + VAT
3-day workshops are £199 + VAT

To book on any of these workshops, please click here.

developing your dynamic voice – 05 feb

A good communicator takes responsibility for all nuances of their communication. Yet, it astounds me how many professional communicators and NLPers pay very little attention to the quality of their speaking voice. In this workshop you will understand how the voice works, as well as go through vocal warm up exercises to help you improve the quality of your voice.

business applications of nlp – 05-06 Mar

NLP strategies are becoming more and more prevalent in the business world and learning to apply the attitude, skills and methodology to the NLP in a corporate environment can drastically increase your

If you have no NLP training or experience you can elect to do you Business
Practitioner as part of our flagship Practitioner training.

psykologika esoterika – 02 Apr

Let me take you on a strange journey into the weirder side of psychological understanding…

An entertaining day of using NLP and hypnosis for fun (and profit!). These impressive skills are not magic tricks, they are applications of psychological techniques, including NLP and hypnosis for entertainment purposes.

coaching applications of nlp – 04 – 05 Jun

More and more individuals and businesses are asking for coaching and the growth of coaching companies is dramatically increasing. If you are already an NLP Practitioner or Master Practitioner, you can do a 2-day “fast-track” training to become a licensed NLP Coach.

business building training – 03 – 04 Sept

Go from Business “Novice” to Professional Practitioner in Just 2 Days.
In this Master Class you will be taken step-by-step through the process that will take you from scratch to having a complete business and marketing plan in JUST 2 days!

mindfulness and nlp – 22 -23 Oct

Mindfulness is a HOT topic right now, with Mindfulness Based CBT becoming one of the most sought -after therapeutic applications of the moment.

Mindfulness and NLP go hand in hand and by learning about Mindfulness you can improve your own NLP skills and have additional approaches that can improve your success rate with clients.

supervision days

2 July
26 Nov

Supervision days are a loose and relaxed day of practicing and revising the skills you have learned on your NLP training so far. Before each day I send out a question to find out what it is you want to practice in the day.

remember: these works assume a working knowledge of NLP, although you do not need to have a formal qualification in NLP to attend, it is essential that you have some experience or my find it will all go over your head. If you are unsure please contact me to have a chat about it.

To book on any of these workshops, please click here.

Matt