Making sense of making money

Part of this blog is directed to help specialists make smart operational, tactical and administrative decisions while working abroad.

Yesterday I read a tweet from a specialist I follow who said that his cell phone bill during a recent detail was over $1,500. I instantly responded to him in an effort to extend a lifeline.

Here’s what happens. When we travel abroad we all are quite aware that the roaming charges and data charges are ridiculously high. There is no way around having to make calls. Operational calls vary from: setting up meetings, calling POC’s, calling other specialists and of course calling the client. The charges accrued can actually pass what you make on your daily rate. In this specialists case, if he was making $500 a day ( which is about right) he would have lost 3 days of his billable rate to his phone bill.

Heres what I recommend and what I do: I find a “reputable”cell phone company through the concierge or trusted local asset and rent a cell phone while in country. I can almost guarantee you won’t accrue a $1,500 bill. For instance, I purchased and expensed a local cell phone in Liberia and then every time I’ve returned I purchase scratch cards for air time. You can use the airtime for local or international calls back home as well as texting. The most I’ve ever spent on cards in Liberia is about $300 over a 30 day trip. Last year when i was in Monaco I rented a local phone for 2 weeks and the total was $150. This saved the client a substantial amount of money if I had used my own phone. Clients are appreciative of you protecting their bottom line. That gets me to the next point of this blog.

I am in a couple groups on Linkedin. About 2 weeks ago someone posted a very interesting topic, “who would work the Casey Anthony protection detail”. This spawned countless responses from me and others who stated we would stay away from it for various reasons and others who flat out said, “a job is a job”. What I did was shift the conversation to see where these “experts” were in reference to admin and billing rates.

My question was, “would you bill as a daily or hourly rate and how much would you bill?”. I always try to save the client money while still making money for BPI. If I know that we will be working 12+ hours per shift I will give the client a daily rate that will save them money as opposed to an hourly rate that will bring in more money for BPI. My rationale is that by saving them money in the long run it will assist in the detail running long term
Sticker shock is a killer for most details. Many companies smash the client across the head with pricing and wonder why they never get called back. Here’s an example and should not reflect what BPI’s actual billing rates are. If we know the hours are from 0600-1800 I may bill at $500 per specialist per shift. If my hourly rate is, let’s say $65 per hour I’ve saved the client $280. I know this formula is turning some stomachs now, but this is why our client base has grown and not subsided and we have sustained success for over 10 years. In some cases I will add an over 12 hour rate on top of the daily rate. That over 12 hour rate is an hourly rate that is tagged on top of the specialists daily rate.

What I got in response to my question was shocking. The rates I heard were nothing short of price gauging at the gas pump. It’s no surprise why guys are looking for work and why others are accused of spiking the market by low balling. There are however, snakes
out here that will come in an underbid a fair rate, only to put substandard work on the ground.

Clearly there is gap in equity in rates which may also explain why many clients option to use substandard, and untrained people. Maybe this is the reason for the rise in bodyguards. I’m in no way saying that what these guys are doing with higher rates is wrong, if they can get away with it, but I would venture to say that they spend more time during the year looking for work than working.

Tomorrows blog, “what is a fair rate and what determines what you should be paid”

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