By John Lehman
We have all questioned our value. We have all wondered what we were really worth. The reality is that our worth reflects how valuable we are to those willing to pay for our services.
To understand the question, “is your worth in line with your value?”, let’s put the question into proper context with an analogy.
A parachute is not as valuable closed as when it is opened. But you purchase it packed as a product based on the feeling of reliability the brand gives you. Even “who” is selling it makes a difference. Would you buy a parachute where you buy your laundry soap?
Consider the same value system applied to the brakes on your car, a prescription pain medication, a fire extinguisher, or a bulletproof vest.
Are you as valuable to your client when standing against a wall or walking next to them as when you are dodging in front of them to save them from a potential attacker?
Consider a client paying $110,000.00 USD, for a single Close Protection Officer for one year. Your client must also pay for all your expenses. You will work an average of 2080 hours in this year if you work 5 days a week and 8 hours a day. Your “worth” is about 58.00 dollars per hour. Does your client see this cost as an investment or an expense?
Are you worth 110,000.00+ dollars to your client? Are you doing things to earn that money or do you feel you are entitled to it simply because the client signed a contract and must pay you no matter what? If you are everything your client expected, you are valuable. If you exceed his expectations, you are more valuable, hence, worth more than you are being paid.
If you operate like a parachute, you are an investment by your client in your “brand”. They purchase what they think they might need and hope they never need you. When your client does need you, they just hope you perform. If you perform as expected, your brand is praised. If you fail on any level, your brand is all over the news and you go back to selling shoes or hamburgers or worse.
Unlike a parachute, you can perform other tasks such as an information gatherer, driver, or simply being another person in the entourage to add strength to the group in a merger meeting. All of which add value for the client and maintain your own worth.
You can study your client, environment, and condition influencers. You can read people, the weather, and traffic to predict how these will affect your client. With most assignments, if you do your job, you are the invisible accessory that the client brags about but realistically has never tested. He may never know what you are truly worth because he will never know the hours you spent behind the scenes, planning to prevent an unwanted occurrence.
So, the question really needs to be: How do I sell my true value to my client? How do I get them to pay me what I think I am worth?
As mentioned in other articles, your education, training achievements and both physical and intellectual prowess allow, (or prevent) you from advancing in your career. These attributes are referred to as KSA’s, (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities). If your client is sold on your resume when you are hired but you perform beneath your stated capabilities, your “value” will have been overstated and your “worth” never realized. On the other hand, if you understate your value on your resume but perform beyond your stated capabilities, you will be underpaid, and while your client will be ecstatic, you will have underachieved your worth.
The alternative approach is to adopt a moral code that prevents you from overstating your “KSA’s”. Your resume must be brief and factual. It is not a biography. List only the facts and do not embellish. List the things that the client can relate to in order for them to see how you will avoid trouble, not how you will react to it.
Add something to your KSA’s every six months. Attend classes in language, business, or culture. Attend an Instructor school. Take a summer course one night a week. Practice your skills with your associates. Jog, swim, climb, box, and go to the gun range. Don’t forget wine tasting, dining etiquette classes, and attend formal black-tie charity events to stay polished in these environments and remember, a smile can calm your client in stressful situations, so learn how and when to smile.
Learn the art of negotiation and learn when to say no. If you have successfully sold your client on your value and you find yourself sitting in front of an advance check, you still need to negotiate the conditions under which you will execute your contract. These conditions can affect your ability to perform your duties. If you find that a prospective client is asking for miracles, be careful not to sell yourself as a miracle worker. You are a professional. Insist on being treated like one.
Keep your word and perform as promised. This is ultimately what allows you to ask for more money next time. Your reputation is your name brand. Reputation is what allows businesses to raise their prices. It is also the reason some businesses fail. If you are reliable, you will be successful. Never gamble with your reputation.
Your client pays you based on their perceived value of your KSA’s. They are paying you what they believe you are worth. The challenge is to get them to pay you what you think you are worth. If you are successful, you will bring your worth in line with your value.
About the author: Mr. Lehman is the Vice President of Athena Academy & Athena Worldwide LLC. He is the founder and CEO of White Star Consulting, llc and White Star Defense Industries, llc, as well as GlobeCastR, based in Texas. He is a certified TCOL (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement) classroom and Firearms Instructor, NRA Certified Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor, Federal Protective Service authorized Instructor, Texas Concealed Handgun Instructor, ASP Baton/Handcuff Instructor and unarmed defensive tactics Instructor using the Russian Systema discipline. He is a Texas Licensed Instructor for unarmed and armed Security and teaches the Texas Personal Protection Officer (PPO) course. Mr. Lehman joined Athena Academy Instructor’s team on January 2013 and has 30 years of corporate and private security experience from facility and physical Security to Executive Protection.