B.S. Draws Flies

Jun 07, 2004

If you listen to Tony Soprano talking to his therapist about his rage in recent episodes of “The Sopranos” on HBO, he complains about all the B.S. It just makes him mad. And when he gets mad, look out! He’s not a very nice guy. Though I’d like to think there’s little I have in common with Tony beyond our mutual adoration for Italian food and the fact we both drive large, late-model GM sport-utes, I can understand his frustrations at times with B.S. There’s just too much of it out there with principals, clients, vendors, job candidates, and even co-workers, at times. I always say that if something smells like B.S., looks like B.S., and even tastes like B.S., there’s a real good chance that it is B.S.! I’m sure a lot of our readers agree. Here’s some of what I could call B.S. and the way I respond to it: Client says: “We can’t pay your bill because of ___________.” Insert your choice of words here— it really doesn’t matter, unless you are working under a pay-when-paid (PWP) agreement. For everything else, I have a simple response. “Why did you buy if you cannot afford to pay?” That’s B.S. Principal or supposed rising star employee says: “I couldn’t follow up on that call from the new potential client because I am too busy.” This drives me insane. My immediate response is, “Why they heck didn’t you ask someone else for help?” Employee says: “I don’t have time to clean up my mess in the _____________ (insert your choice of conference room, kitchen, plan review area, office, etc.).” I always think, “What makes you think anyone ELSE has time to clean up your mess?” Principal says: “The client won’t pay a good fee (so we are working for him for peanuts).” This drives me crazy. My response is always the same: “Why are we working for the client then?” It is almost always better to just pass on the job and save our capacity to serve clients who WILL pay us decently. Client says: “We need a detailed scope and price from you to do this project, but don’t worry, we aren’t going to shop that around.” I’ve been in this business for 24 years now. My inner response is, “Yeah, right…I’m sure you aren’t (NOT)!” Client says: “Your former employee X, who is now in business for him/herself, says that you guys are in bad shape and close to going broke.” This is one of my favorites. After my blood momentarily boils, my response is, “Can we provide you with audited financial statements and D&B credit reports to ease your mind?” Department head says: “I don’t see how we can get that job done for __________ (insert the name of any loyal long-term client) by the deadline.” And when you look at the department’s utilization, you see it’s 68%— with the department head himself being only 37%! This prompts a response from me to the effect of, “It’s OK if the managers actually do work here— in fact, that’s how we make money!” Job candidate says: “I took some time off after leaving ABC Associates (eight months) because I wanted to spend time with my family.” My reaction is, “Sure— the fact that you couldn’t find a job had nothing to do with it!” Office landlord says: “We’ll get someone over there to fix that overflowing urinal in the men’s room ASAP.” Unfortunately, I know the “someone” is not a real plumber. No way will the landlord pay real money to someone who knows what they are doing. Instead, we’ll be seeing the Brazilian guy who normally operates a leaf blower in the parking lot and doesn’t know a monkey wrench from a plunger! Now THAT’s B.S.! Originally published 6/07/2004

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.