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To Guarantee, or Not To Guarantee

By Michael Zipursky

Here’s a consulting question I received as part of the “Ask Michael” series:

“Dear Mr. Zipursky

Thank you for your kindness. I am a business consultant and have a problem in my job. Some of my customers ask me about some kind of guaranty about the result of my consulting services. How can I assure them about the results without giving them any guaranty? 

Thank you


Hi S, I believe you should offer your clients a guarantee.

If you’re confident in your skills and know you can produce results for your clients than there is no reason not to provide them with one.

Guarantees are powerful.

They remove the risk associated with paying a consultant.

Any objection or fear a client has in hiring you is significantly reduced when you can offer a meaningful guarantee.

There are many ways to create a guarantee for consultants.

What’s important is that your guarantee gives your client peace of mind and doesn’t back you into a corner.

The right guarantee is based on both parties (you and your client) following through with the responsibilities you’ve agreed to.

It’s a win-win for both of you.

5 thoughts on “To Guarantee, or Not To Guarantee

  1. Alistair Marshall says:

    I offer a 12 Month Guarantee and after 5 years have never been asked for a refund.

    • Exactly! As long as you provide value to your clients and are confident in your ability to produce results clients will rarely ask for a ‘refund’ (in whatever form it is that you offer).

  2. As consulting engineers, we do not guarantee our results. Lawyers do not guarantee you will win the trial, and doctors do not guarantee you will always get well. We do, however, promise to provide our best professional advice.

    For us, it is about setting expectations, and being brutally honest about it. Like a doctor, we can not to assume client’s “disease” — all we can do is try to help. If a potential client can not accept that, then we’re both better off not doing business in the first place.

    Finally, we do offer a “no questions asked” guarantee for our software and printed materials. But not so for our time and advice.

    For reference, here is a phrase we use with our quotations:

    Performance and Cost Guarantees – Due to the highly uncertain nature of most EMI problems, we are unable to provide guarantees of success, nor are we able to provide precise pass/fail guidelines. Often, the extent of the problem is not known until an initial evaluation has been made. As such, all cost estimates are based on a level of effort, but estimates will not be exceeded without your prior approval. You will always, however, receive our best professional efforts and advice in any consultation.

    I enjoy your blog, and hope this perspective is useful. Best wishes.

    • Thanks Daryl, always welcome perspectives and opinions. Guarantees may be not right for every consultant or industry. But they are for most. Many lawyers in fact do provide a guarantee – personal injury lawyers will ‘guarantee to win/settle your case or you don’t pay’.

      Perry Marshall shared a great example in one of his posts about Tom Hoobyar who manufactured pharmaceutical tank valves – not an industry that usually has ‘guarantees’. Tom had a very bold guarantee and it’s one of the only ways he was able to gain 90 percent market share in 15 years away from the big $100M players.

      Guarantees aren’t always necessary however. When your business grows and you have clients lining up to work with you, you’ll find there’s often no need to communicate a guarantee – because people already know that you provide results and great value.

  3. SFMH57 says:

    Do we mean “guarantee” or “promise”? Or maybe another word? I’m with Daryl. Consultants can and should guarantee that they are using the best strategies and tactics in the field to plan and execute, but they cannot — should not — guarantee results. An option would be to tell clients that if they ollow your advice, then it is probably “more likely” or “highly likely” that they will have particular results.

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