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Apology For Overbilling

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We rarely overbill our clients, in fact it's fair to say it never happens. One reason it never happens is that we've made mistakes in the past. In this case, we double-billed a client, not realizing she had already paid in full. E-mail #1 below is very direct, because it's the second or third e-mail I sent. The free ExecuNet breakfast was a $35.00 value.

E-mail #1

To: Carolina Burnett
From: Bill Frank
Date: January 15, 20—
Subject: Balance Due


I sent you this reminder in January and am concerned that I haven't heard from you. First of all, I saw you as a courtesy to Suzanna Briner, and because she referred you I did not ask for a credit card, as is our usual custom.

Second, I have a genuine concern about you and have inquired several times as to how you're doing with no answer. Third, your balance of $1300 still remains. Will you please contact me immediately to discuss the past due balance?

Thank you,


E-mail #2

To: Bill Frank
From: Carolina Burnett
Subject: Balance Due
Sent: January 20, 20—


There must be something wrong. You billed me on Oct 10 for $1,300 which I paid (see below). I have not used any of your services since or seen you. How could I owe you $1,300 more?


E-mail #3

To: Carolina Burnett
From: Bill Frank
Sent: January 30, 20—
Subject: Apology for error . . .


I'm sorry I did not receive your e-mail of January 20 questioning the remaining balance on your account. Otherwise, I would have reviewed it carefully. All I had was our accounts receivable statement showing an additional $1300 due. Just now, I revisited your file, and the time we originally invoiced ($1300) is correct. I apologize for the error—it is our mistake.

By the way, you alluded to a charge for the "Career Blueprint."  There is never any charge for the blueprint, per se; it is a FREE article on our website. "Career Blueprint" is simply my shorthand for the notes I took on 10/09: "intangible complex sales, close to the action, manage a diverse group"-those kinds of things.

We will get a better handle on our accounting so this doesn't happen again—and we offer you a free visit to ExecuNet, if you ever want to network with high-level executives.

I hope this resolves the matter for everyone.

With best wishes,


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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.