What I Learned about Advisory Services from an “All You Can Eat” Buffet

Years ago, when we would go to visit my mother-in-law, we’d offer to take her anywhere in town she’d like to go for dinner. As it turned out, her favorite place to go was the local Chinese all-you-can-eat-buffet. This is not to say that she was a big eater; she wasn’t. She liked the idea that just by each of us walking in and paying a fixed price, we could have, without waiting for service, anything they served and as much of it as we wanted, even if the amount that we wanted wasn’t all that much. But since my kids were older and liked to eat (both are very athletic and burn calories like crazy), we usually ate at least our money’s worth, sometimes more.

“All you can eat” buffets like this make money because:

  • Few people eat a quantity of food greater than what it costs the buffet to serve it.
  • People are selective – not everyone eats everything.
  • Few if any people will sit there all day eating. When you leave, you’re done.
  • Nothing is cooked to order. What you see is what you get.
  • No “doggie bags”. You can’t take any food home with you to share with others.

Traditional advisory services use a very similar business model. Access is a fixed fee for each user, and once “inside”, the user has “all-you-can-eat” access to a whitepaper library.

Traditional advisory services make money because:

  • Since a whitepaper only needs to be written once and can be used many times, members can’t possibly consume more than it costs the service provider to “serve”.
  • People are selective in the information they need – Not everyone reads everything.
  • These expensive subscriptions expire. When they do, access is denied.
  • Nothing is done to order. What you see is what you get (unless you pay a premium).
  • No “doggie bags”. You can’t share the information with others that are not subscribed.

For the service provider, this is a great model. It allows them to sell high-priced services with the expectation that they’ll have customers like my mother-in-law… customers that consume less of the service than they paid for. This means that for the high seat license fee, the value drops quickly with services that go unused.

So what can you do to make sure that you get proper value for your advisory spend?

Look for advisory services that:

  • Allow you to pay for only what you want/need
  • Do not require subscriptions
  • Do not use seat licenses
  • Allow information sharing
  • Give targeted answers to what you ask, not answers to questions they think you should be asking

I don’t know about you, but I’d like my advisory service to be more like a fine dining experience rather than the all-you-can-eat buffet. I prefer to sit down and be served exactly what I want instead of wandering around with the hopes of finding something that may satisfy me.

We at TAC understand that you don’t want to pay for what you’re not going to use. So to give clients a more value-centric IT advisory service, TAC has created two unique service options:

  • EaaS Advisory Services – Client companies and individuals get access to TAC’s network of expert practitioners through moderated “Expert Phone Consultations” and custom written “Personal Advisory Reports”. This no-seat-license, retainer-based model brings everyone in the enterprise to the table. You pay a retainer based on only the number of deliverables you choose to consume, you grant access to those in your company that need it, and you share information freely throughout your enterprise.
  • TACwizard (launching March 10, 2015 – www.tacwizard.com) – With this pay-as-you-go option, the occasional IT advisory services user gets full access to the power of one of the world’s largest vetted expert networks. Users ask their own questions and receive answers custom written by an expert practitioner.

Contact TAC to find out more about how you can leverage one of the world’s largest vetted private networks of expert IT practitioners.