Not cheap without reason, nor dear without value. (Afghan proverb)


“Hi Florence, 

Our client’s budget can cover  two days workshop facilitation. They cannot pay the cost for briefing, preparation and travel time. I trust the job is really exciting, it would be great if you could say “yes” to that arrangement!

Thanks for your support.


A client had asked Robert at my partner agency for a facilitator for a two-day workshop. Robert asked me if I could jump in at very short notice. Given the far away location, and the contractual framework, the client would have had to pay me for another half day for traveling/briefing/preparation work. When checking his budget, he realised he couldn’t pay beyond the two days of the actual workshop. So he suggested to Robert to not pay for the equivalent of ca. 12 hours of my time (seven hours travelling, briefing, pre-reading and preparing value-adding thoughts and tools). Robert sent me the mail and in a consecutive phone conversation he was very explicit in telling me that they would not book me if I wasn’t agreeing with that arrangement.  Could I control my time investment and go there without briefing and preparation? Both of these activities have  a very high importance for me as a top-facilitator: I need to know what the key objectives are, who is attending, and what is happening in the particular business around that workshop. I might ask questions and make proposals that the very busy workshop sponsor hasn’t even thought about, and he will be delighted to sense that I am able to help all participants get the most out of the time spent together. And it’s precisely how I create value when facilitating workshops. Not to manage an agenda I haven’t fully understood, send people in and out of sub-groups, and take pictures of flipchart protocols. I  want to be the catalyst for truly making happen what that team wants to get done. And yes, this requires curiosity, some pre-reading and prep time. Of course I hesitated with my answer. I could free up my calendar, the payment was good, and the subject was fun. And I prefer to help to not helping. At the same time,  if the client doesn’t have the budget, why should I have it? My business is much too young to be handing out price reductions and special offers – and to run the risk to undermine the value of my contribution. Because of the short notice (workshop should start in two days) and no direct contact to the client, we couldn’t create an alternative solution together. So, I said “thanks, but no thanks.”. Now I am very curious what I will do with those three days I “saved”. I am determined to spend them in a brilliant way creating more value than the fee that I will not see arriving on my bank account.

By the way – without reading this article of Cyriel Kortleven many months ago, I might not have been so clear in my reaction. Thanks, Cyriel!

What do you do when you feel your work is undervalued?

What would you have done in my situation?

As a budget holder, what is your true expectation when you are negotiating cost down?