Monday, January 30, 2006

Small Business: 1. George S. May International: 0


We had a visit at work today from a "Business Analyst" from the illustrious George S. May "business consulting" firm.

He said, "I've just got two forms for you to fill out here. Should only take a few minutes."

We had just been talking about getting more rigorous with our scheduling, so I happened to have a very full and detailed schedule for the day.

"OK," I said. "When do you need these?"

"Today."

"But do you see all of that orange on my calendar? See how it fills up the whole day? That stuff is billable...this," I said, pointing to the questionnaire, "is not billable. So it comes later."

He was annoyed. But it got strange when I asked about an NDA. Was one in place between our company and his? My question was answered with a blank stare.

"A Non-Disclosure Agreement...A secrecy agreement. Do we have one in place with your company?"

"No, we don't do that. I'm bonded at Five-Hundred Thousand Dollars."

Now I gave him the blank look. What does bonding have to do with confidentiality, I wonder. He blathered on about how we wouldn't reveal a single one of his clients, even though they loved him and his services so much.

So I got up and asked our Company Comptroller. He's our main contracts guy, but he usually doesn't piddle around with little NDAs. Mr. Comptroller was concerned enough about the NDA, too. "If he doesn't want to sign one, we'll just write him his check and he can go."

Then the "Business Consultant" made the mistake of double-checking. He called his office, and learned that yes, they do sign NDAs. I wonder if he even realized that it made him look foolish. If he had not checked, but rather just stuck to his story, then we would have believed that his company really doesn't do NDAs -- even as weird as that seems.

Fortunately, though, it was too late. He'd annoyed Mr. Comptroller.

But I feel bad now -- we've ruined it for the next guys. At his next engagement as a "Business Consultant", he'll know what an NDA is, and it won't be quite so convenient to get rid of him.


Update, 2008 November 19 / 2010 August 4: Feel free to comment on your experiences with George S. May International. But just stick with the facts. Many comments have been made here GSMIC that I cannot verify because they were posted anonymously; so I decided to remove comments that make unverifiable claims. There have been many anonymous, unverifiable allegations against GSMIC:

  • Allegations of Aggressive sales techniques
  • Allegations of Rude behavior
  • Allegations of inefficient use of technology (e.g., use of handheld calculator instead of computer spreadsheet)
  • Allegations of long contracts and work agreements, strict adherance to the contract, and unwillingness to terminate the agreement verbally
  • Allegations that GSMIC revises their estimates (e.g., the first estimate was for $1000, but the second estimate makes that $20,000)
  • Allegations that GSMIC verifies the client's cash position and available liquid credit (i.e., how much money is in the bank, and how much is available on credit cards).
  • Allegations that GSMIC's travel reimbursement and travel policies for their staff are difficult


There's nothing illegal about high-pressure sales or having high prices! Here are some common sense guidelines for hiring any consultant:


  • Credentials What education and business background does the consultant have? You should only expect to get good advice from someone who has been successful running a business.

  • Tools and Technology What tools and technology does the consultant use? You should expect the modern use of spreadsheets, high speed computers, and effective use of the Internet.

  • Right of Termination How do you terminate the project immediately if you've already started the project? A good consultant will ensure you can stop at any point, and pay only for the work that has already been completed.

  • Schedule of DeliverablesWhat precisely will be delivered? When will it be delivered? What are the penalties if it is late?


You cannot use this blog to say things that are false or deceptively misleading. To that end, I need a way to verify that your statements are true, so you must identify yourself in your comment. I won't provide a forum for publishing false or deceptively-misleading comments, but if you have real concerns and factual statements, I hope you'll post.

You must include some type of contact information in your comments.

18 comments:

Larlyn said...
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eastvan said...
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dwayne said...
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jon said...
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Sylvia Kelly said...
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msstaffer said...
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Not said...
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michael said...
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Susan said...
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Mark Lindsey said...

You have to provide contact information if you're going to make claims about GSMI. I've tried to contact all of the commentors, but very few of the commentors provided any workable contact information.

You may be required to provide sworn testimony or an affidavit about your claims related to GSMI.

If you're willing to do this, I will post your comment.

In the absence of such evidence, GSMI can just tell a judge your comment is a lie, and that it's damaging to their business. The judge will tell me to take it down. I'd rather just skip the court-order from a federal judge.

Marion said...

If you want some real answers, you should ask to hear from some former employees of GSMIC, such as myself.

Ida said...

It's unfortunate about your experience with GSMI. I've had over 1 year of a relationship with the company and have had a very positive experience.

I. Walter
iwalter1963@gmail.com

Brian Perryman said...

I was Business Analyst for GSMI. It was my dream job as a consultant. You were required to have 10 years consulting experience before they would talk to you. It turned out to be a nightmare for me.

I have dozens of horror stories about my time at GSMI. They could have been their own best client. They did not allow new Business Analysts to use laptop computers for the first year. They figured you needed to know how to do it all by hand, just in case the laptop went down.

If the client said no, you were to call in to the HQ and the bosses would try to close the sale with a HARD close. Sometimes those calls didn't go well.

I was the first and only person in my GSMI training class to sign a client. It was a learning experience.

Robert said...

You all can stop beating a dead horse. George S May is out of business. They have closed their doors. If your many negative comments are to keep others from doing business with May, you are wasting your emotions on a business that is gone.

Johnathan said...

GSM taught me a lot about consulting. I have managed numerous businesses over the years and have an MBA. Many businesses have been saved from bankruptcy as a result of a successful consulting experience by me and others. A few greedy people in GSM made for a bad reputation by short cutting and being interested only in the money and not the client. GSM grew to be a decent sized company as a result of delivering on the promise. In the later years it had problems as a result of greed as a number of businesses experience.

Unknown said...

Back in 2002 GSMI consultants were called Staff Executives. I was one for almost six months before I wised up. Annual turnover rate of SEs was 600% at GSMI. Out of 40 people that started with me, only 3 others were still with the company after six months.

We had to have a laptop back then, but the only training that we ever received from George was how to full out billing paperwork. We were given a CD (under the table) full of management policy documents developed for former clients. we were told to pick the one that fit our current client, do a global word replacement on their company's name, and then print it out to hand to the client, and we were to act like we wrote it from scratch just for them. We were pressured by management to prolong the job as along as possible, but at least three days for the GSMI to break even. No morals at this company. No pay for waiting in airports or travel. You got paid from the time you entered the clients company until you left since that was a lll that you could bill for. And bill we did. The hourly billing rate back then was $125/hour, but I saw about $10/hour after you factor in travel time with actual working time. Sit around and wait was the rule of the day.

Bad to see that after another 10 years that George is still doing the same thing. Oh they help some small companies, but I say only one in eight gets their money's worth.

Michael said...

Greetings!

In spite of being a "Johnny-come-lately", I feel the urge to post a comment of my own here. From October 2005 until July of 2007 I was a consultant working for the George S. May International Company (GSMIC, for short).

I am aware of many "bad" experiences in connection with GSMIC, both on the part of the client, and the consultants, as their dealings relate to GSMIC. This seems to mostly be driven by a philosophy within the company, that clients are "butcher cows," rather than "milk cows." Even in my own experience, the company seemed to want to milk every available dollar from the client, rather than truly helping the client succeed in business, and develop a long-term consulting relationship.

My own experiences as a consultant were quite different as they relate to the client, but very similar as they relate to GSMIC. However, in spite of the pressure from management, my personal goal on each and every engagement was to benefit the client to the extent I was able, during the often too short engagements.

At the time I came aboard, the "golden days" of GSMIC were long gone. I never had the pleasure of experiencing the well-run company of the '90s under then CEO Don Fletcher, where the focus was on the client and quality consulting work.

However, I had the pleasure of working for some very talented people in the home office, who still shared the ideals the company was founded on, and in spite of management, together, we were able to make a significant positive impact on many client businesses I worked on. Examples include a 53% increase in productivity at a vegetable packing plant in Arizona, increased productivity (and therefore profits) with a highway paving contractor in Wyoming, and cost recovery of $350,000 due to poor inventory controls with a drywall contractor in Utah.

My billing rate was $245/hr, and we offered a guarantee that the engagement would pay for itself over time, to the tune of double the cost of the engagement, less expenses. My performance consistently doubled that.

I separated from the company in 2007 after they closed the office in Las Vegas, and eliminated some very talented and skilled leaders, who truly cared about the client's well-being and success.

Yes, there were issues with the once-great company, but there were some very talented and skilled people who worked hard to ensure the clients experienced a significant benefit from the engagement. There were also many poorly qualified individuals, who did little else than charge the client for no work. I took over one such job in Montana, where the consultant after 3 weeks of billing $245/hr had produced nothing of substance.

I took over the assignment on a non-billable basis under the service guarantee, and in the matter of 7 days, I had turned the disaster into a satisfied client, who was well on his way to the success he had hoped for when starting the business.

I learned much from my 3 years with GSMIC. Lessons learned, that I take with me today, as I am starting my own consultancy, Advanced Business Consulting (http://www.bestabcconsulting.com).

My billing rate reflects significantly lower overhead than that of GSMIC, at $185/hr, but the service guarantee persists. I believe in guarantees, I believe in delivering quality work, and I believe I can make a significant positive impact on client businesses - and so will my clients at the end of an engagement.

It is unfortunate, that a company that was founded on such high ideals, delivering a high-quality, high-impact service fell so low in its final years due to greed and poor management. I wanted to counterbalance the negative impression so many people have of the company. It was once great, and has during its history saved and improved many, many small businesses.

Its positive legacy lives on in other consulting outfits, including the one Don Fletcher started; Legacy Analytics (http://www.legacyanalytics.net), and now, Advanced Business Consulting (http://www.bestabcconsulting.com).

Peter D. Maxim said...

This depiction of GSMI is totally true. I experienced the exact same things during my six months with this company. I'm glad that they went out of business.