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Requesting Referrals From Former Clients

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Editor's note: A newsletter is an opportunity to tell your story. So fill it with details and tell your readers a lot. Answer questions. Don't leave them guessing.

My mantra is that 80-90% of good clients come from family, friends, and business acquaintances—and from their contacts. Therefore, any time we have a new service to offer or product to introduce, I always return to my friends and former clients with the news first. Often, that's as far as I ever need to go. It's so simple, and it works. Every time.

I'm writing to you because you're a friend and former client.  Better than anyone, you know what we do and how we do it.  You've tried the product on, and hopefully, you liked it!

I need your help in reaching a specific, targeted market:  the market of people "just like you." 

We can't attract these clients by advertising.  They come to us by referral and by referral only.  I'd like your help in getting the word out about who we are and what we do. 

Our clients are presidents and senior executives of companies, senior partners in major law firms, entrepreneurs--yes, even NFL players.  Brand name people whose names are household words whose names you'd easily recognize.

Right now our clients include the ex-President of a $300MM company, ex-banking executives consulting in Russia, and current Denver Broncos players--just to name a few.

We work with individuals in all situations at all levels, from recent college grads to $50,000 mid-level managers.  But we're specifically targeting the $100,000+ person, because that's what we do best.

—They have difficult, complex, and sophisticated career problems.    We rise to the occasion—it tests our expertise.

—They're tough, demanding, and impatient. 
  We like that.

 —They expect results.
   That's what we deliver.

In my experience, a senior professional or senior executive—someone who's at the top of their game—wants answers fast.  They don't have patience for people who don't know what they're talking about.

We're experts—not beginners.  "We've been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt."  We know what we're talking about. 

Our ideal client is:

  1. Age 40+
  2. Career-oriented
  3. Already successful, desiring more success
  4. Male or female
  5. Earning $100,000+
  6. In a career dilemma:  facing some kind of crisis or transition, such as job loss, burnout, or conflict with a boss.
Unlike some of our competitors who charge a $5,000-$15,000 fee up-front, we still charge by the hour ($150) and bill at the time of the meeting.  The client is always in control of the budget—never surprised by a large invoice.  Our fees are usually very small when compared to outcomes and benefits.
For Example:
  • After 12 weeks with us, SA now reports directly to the President of H&R Block.
  • In six short months, JM established a $100,000+ consulting practice, while still considering $450,000 full time offers.
  • WW's offer letter ran 5 pages and included everything but the kitchen sink. [Editor's note: I can't believe I put that cliché in here.]
  • We helped TC, ex-VP Information Systems for a major hospital, to launch a national consulting practice. 
Geography isn't a consideration in our business.  We have clients in Paris, Viet Nam, England—worldwide.  And we work globally via long distance telephone, phone, FAX, FedEx, e-mail, and the Internet.  It doesn't matter where people are—we can help them.

Bill Rector, ex-President of Coors MicroLithics—now President of NMI, Inc.—described CareerLab as "a small personal firm that cares."  And it's true.  That's our market position.  Our client load is typically 12-20 clients per consultant, compared to 45-50 for many of our competitors. 

Our facilities at CareerLab are updated and expanded—you wouldn't recognize the place.  Our state-of-the-art center now includes:

  • Large and small conference rooms
  • Individual client workstations
  • Large, well-appointed private offices for executive clients
  • Full library of research books and directories
  • On-line databases of 5,000 recruiting firms and 11,000,000 employers
  • Extremely accurate electronic database for Colorado
  • Internet connections at every phone terminal in the suite. [Today we use wireless connections.]

The Internet gives us access to 12,000,000 pages of research data, hundreds of resume banks, job search data, company profiles—you name it, it's there.

Much like an executive suite, we furnish any service career explorers could possibly need:  videotaping, word processing, postage, FAX, FedEx, voicemail, Internet e-mail, and WEB browsing.

Once a stand-alone company, we now have a full-time branch office in Houston.  In addition, we've created strategic relationships with 15 affiliate offices—we're a local firm with a national presence. 

I think you'll admit CareerLab looks good. 

I've enclosed a packet of background materials for your review.  Please look them over, then give me a call.  I'd like your harsh critique and your observations about our direction and our programs. 

If I haven't heard from you within a few weeks, I'll give you a quick call.

With best wishes, always,

William S. Frank
P.S.—Since 1978 we've worked for more than 150 major U.S. corporations. We have an elaborate product line directed to the corporate market, focused on:
         BETTER Recruiting & Hiring
         BETTER Training, Developing, and Managing, and
         BETTER Separation & Outplacing.
         I'd like to show it to you some time.  


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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.