Beware the old ‘Bait & Switch’
I’m on the train back North having attended the Skillfair Consultants Conference in London – I go every year to learn from other boutique and solo consultants with a wide range of skills and services. One of the great grumbles at these sessions is the perception of the ‘big name consultancies’ as low risk compared to smaller operators, when the smaller operator will be cheaper, and, more importantly, you will always get the principal consultant working on your project.
The old trick of buttering up a client with senior staff until signing the contract and then appointing naive beginners to deliver the project is known in the trade as ‘bait and switch’. I recently heard a first hand account (from the frustrated client) of a case where the client wanted to compare the carbon footprints of their numerous but similar sites. The well known firm they employed dropped a different team of juniors into each site (thus maximising fees in a short timeframe) and, lo, each team measured the footprint of their designated site in a different way rendering the comparison useless. Would a one-man-band have done the same? Very unlikely – it would be very inefficient to invent multiple methods – and they wouldn’t stay in business for long if they were so incompetent to do so.
The moral of the story is that big isn’t always better. Choose carefully…