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Denying Commission to Consultant

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A consultant resigned from our company to take a salaried job, but thought he still had the right to be paid past commissions. This note explained the situation to him, and we have remained close, personal friends. Tammy was our bookkeeper; Karen and Kelly were clients. All others were consultants.

From: Bill Frank at CareerLab [wsfrank@careerlab.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 20— 8:56 AM
To: Lonnie Broomfield
Subject: Answers to your questions . . .


  1. I called Tammy about the W-2 and she said she was mailing it that day. Your wife should have received it. If not, let me know and I will follow up.

  • I am mailing the $150 commission check for Karen today.
  • Regarding Kelly Blackstone, you participated in the sale of the first phase and were paid full commission on that. When Kelly came to Denver, Mark Johnson spent the morning with her; I took her and Mitchell (her husband) to lunch, and laid groundwork for a subsequent sale. Then I created a custom program for her, and Carole, Mark, and I called her and Mitchell and sold them an additional $5100 program. (We have stopped selling $12,000 deals; they are too hard to predict and control.)
  • Lonnie, since you were not at all involved in the sale, I don't believe we owe you a commission.
    Also, when employees leave a company, their pay ends on their last day of employment—except for severance. I'm paying you commission on Karen because I recognize the key role you played in securing her business and in maintaining her as a client.  Although most corporations would have ended those payments when you left, I elected to continue them.
    Last of all, office expenses include such things as: 1) office space, 2) furniture, 3) computer, 4) telephone, 5) copier, 6) FedEx, and 7) storage of your vehicle. If we totaled these expenses, they would exceed any commission.

      Lonnie, I've researched this issue at length with Mark, Carole, and even with Sandy [our Chief Operating Officer], to be sure I'm not being unfair in this, and all of us see things the same way.
      I've worked with everyone on the team to find a solution fair to all of us—and I'm pleased that you've found a position where billable hours and sales commissions are a thing of the past.
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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.