“I got BURNED by another Consulting Company”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this story. I’m going to be brutally honest here. Some colleagues have told me not to address this issue. Some have told me to focus on Hardesty Hackett & Partners, not other companies. “They say “There’s no need to cry over spilled milk.“”

Well, I will never say anything bad about another company. In fact, I have a great deal of respect for every consulting company out there as they all ultimately start with the best of intentions.

Most small/medium sized business (SMB) consulting today is done INCORRECTLY, from start to finish. I hear this “I’ve been burned” phrase so often from small business owners. I’ve seen the look of guilt, anger and defense that comes across their faces when they revisit these experiences with one of these firms and it upsets me. I was mentored from a very young age by entrepreneurs so I know what they’ve been through.

So I will stay positive, because we all know that it is not classy to talk bad about other people. But I will also not put my head in the sand nor encourage others to do so.

Hopefully, you would do the same for me, wouldn’t you? If you own a reputable car repair shop, you’d warn me about the shop giving your industry a bad name. If you own a wedding photography studio, you’d teach potential clients how to make a good informed decision. I’m no different. I don’t like seeing my industry needlessly maligned.

Anyway, I’ve decided to provide my clients this link www.hardestyhackett.com in order to review the issue when it arises.

Here goes…

Almost 50% of my clients have had a bad experience with one of the huge legacy SMB consulting companies out there (You can count them on 1 hand and most come from the north side of Chicago). And it is always the same story:

  1. Salesman comes in and tells you how your company is about to fall apart.
  2. Salesman talks about how you’re going to be bankrupt shortly and about how you must do their bidding right now or your head will literally explode.
  3. Salesman uses their emotional manipulation tactics to amplify your fears and insecurities (This is the same fear and insecurity that ALL business owners have).
  4. Salesman promises the world.
  5. Enter “survey” person (actually, another salesman) who conducts a scripted 2-day overview for a few hundred dollars.
  6. Then enter consultants. Usually two people, a junior and a senior, both billed on some outrageous hourly rate plus expenses. Consultant(s) then slowly start reneging on promises.
  7. Consultant slowly starts adding costs to the agreement i.e., padding the hours.
  8. Consultant begins billing as quickly as possible before being thrown out.
  9. If consultant makes it to the end, they then provide a very pretty binder. In fact it’s the same binder they presented to their last client with only the names and logos changed. The problem is…


Listen, I’ve talked to literally HUNDREDS of business owners that this has happened to and, I’ll tell you what I tell them…


These old consulting companies have been around for DECADES, carefully honing their high pressure sales and marketing tactics. Along the way, they’ve learned that it’s most profitable to focus 90% of resources on sales and 10% into “production”. They learned that beating up business owners is the best way to “close” the deal.

Then before the business owner can recover or realize what is happening, some antiquated consultant comes in and begins preaching buzz phrases out of Harvard Business Books or Zig Ziglar’s “See You at the Top” books and then they claim it as the Holy Mecca. They print out cookie cutter templates and then blame the owners for not succeeding with them. These companies pretend to be “gurus” in order to manipulate the most cherished resource in the United States…Small Business Owners. Here’s my advice…


That is unless you want to learn how to plaster your company’s name all over ripoffreport.com. With the transparency the internet is bringing to the marketplace, these companies will soon be obsolete. If you’ve ever Googled “XYZ company scam”, you’ve seen that you are not alone.

You’ve also seen that good consulting does exist. There are good SMB consulting companies out there. The best SMB consulting companies put their consulting quality ahead of meeting their sales numbers.

At Hardesty Hackett, we systematically eliminate the barriers to implementing the solutions…we don’t just recite the solutions.

At Hardesty Hackett, we consistently provide results, not empty deliverables.

At Hardesty Hackett, we deliver tools, not binders. We create company-wide habits, not burned clients.

Based on the feedback we’re getting, a more nurturing, up-front sales process leads to a far more successful project. My advice is this…DO YOUR RESEARCH. Know the cost of your investment on the front end, the deliverables and the expected return on your investment. NO HOURLY RATES! If a salesperson starts hard-selling you, don’t walk away. RUN!

If you don’t want to change your company, that is fine. I tell my sales people to run, not walk, away too. Wouldn’t you rather have a missed sale than a betrayed customer?

Wouldn’t you rather have a smaller company, with glowing testimonials, than to be headlining ripoffreport.com? We sure would.

So if you have ever been burned by one of the “Old Boys” small business consulting firms, remember that it’s not your fault. Consider it a learning experience to grow from.