strategic consultant to:  

~ serial CEOs & CTOs in software, Internet, technology & digital media
~ experienced consultants in all fields to maximize their practices

I evolved a new pricing model this year to handle my clients’ concerns about cash control and the troublesome economy: all you can eat consulting. This is a variation on value pricing: a defined set of offerings of expertise on a fixed-price retainer, committed for a guaranteed minimum number of months.

Deals can include a reduced price for an initial trial period for multi-year assignments, or a deferral of some of the fees for up to six months for a company still raising its initial capital, and these deals always include equity participation. Screening prospective clients for these deals must be deep and meet criteria that include significant success and exit in a short time frame. Controlling the time, deliverables, expectations and boundaries of this kind of an agreement are challenging, especially across multiple clients, but this can be handled. The structure is appropriate to the value delivered and the clients’ current needs.

I knew of some restaurants experimenting with charging a fixed price for any meal, but then I heard about the SAME Café (“So All May Eat”) in Denver that offers all-you-can-eat for pay-what-you-can. This means the diner can pay what they have or pay what they think is appropriate. If they cannot pay, they can volunteer an hour’s work in the Café in exchange for their meal. The Café is a success and is expanding its model to others.

This from an article in February 2009 ~

“SAME has a menu that changes daily but always features food that’s made from scratch and is largely organic. It has tables, chairs, bus bins, plants in the windows and overhead music (usually a mix of classic rock). But there’s one thing SAME doesn’t have: a cash register. There’s no credit-card machine, no change drawer, no receipt book. That’s because SAME doesn’t have prices. Diners come in and order — some ask for just a cup of soup or a small slice of pizza, while others go for a whole meal, maybe even seconds if they’re really hungry — and then pay what they want.”

The SAME café is combining new pricing models with bartering. Many consultants barter too. The alternative health community has long bartered among itself — masseurs, chiropractors, trainers, and others often exchange services without cash changing hands. And lately service consultants in business have been exchanging marketing or strategy or blogging or web development or web video services among themselves.

How have you changed your pricing structures to meet your customers’ needs?