How Do You Sort The Good From The Bad?
Team building companies are everywhere on the internet. Finding them is easy. But how can you tell them apart? Which will deliver? Which will listen to you and provide what you are looking for? Which are enthusiastic but incompetent? And which are cowboy operators more concerned with cash than results?
As with most areas of business, all these varieties exist. So which tell-tale signs point you to those worth talking to – and perhaps hiring? Which are most likely to run a successful event for you? Here are the main things to look out for:
How long has the company been around?
• 1-5 years is worrying. 10 years is OK. 20 is better.
How many team building events does it run every year?
• Less than 40? It’s more of a hobby than a business.
• More than 400? Either it’s outsourcing a lot of them or is in danger of being too big to monitor quality any more.
Who is in charge? What is their background? And who else works for them?
Look for companies fronted by:
• Actors, facilitators and trainers used to working with corporate groups. People who know the activities and exercises inside out. The people who created them.
Avoid companies fronted by:
• Trainees. Students. Amateurs. Wannabes. People with no personality.
Where is the company based? If it’s in a town centre, especially in the centre of London, think what effect this has on overheads. Which you will end up paying for. Team building companies no longer need fancy, central offices (did they ever?). Most of what they do happens by phone, over the internet and in the venues where the events themselves take place.
If prices seem high, ask why. If they seem low, ask why. Don’t make assumptions. Corporate event specialists aren’t like supermarkets or energy companies. Prices don’t necessarily reflect “market values”. Often, they have no idea what their competitors are charging. Costs and mark ups vary hugely.
No team building company was named and shamed in this fascinating Money Talks News article on this subject. But no useful price comparisons have appeared yet, either. Our own estimate is that most corporate event companies mark up their events by anything from 30 to 300 percent. Quite a difference, as you can see.
Unless they’re mad or lying, none will ever tell you what their usual mark up is. Some will only hire highly experienced people and pay them accordingly. Others will “pay” people with a free dinner. Some will have production values which suggest that the organiser’s dad knocked everything together with a hammer. Others will charge you a fortune to “hire” equipment they already own. Others will offer an “experience” which sounds more exciting that it turns out to be. Is £10,000 added to the bill worth it so everyone can sit in a Land Rover for twenty minutes?
In short, never assume “low price” means “good value”. Never assume “high price” means “best quality”. It’s so much more complicated than that. So ask. Investigate. Enquire. Compare. That way, you might end up with a good deal.
Many companies offer similar sounding games. A “Downton Abbey” murder mystery, perhaps. A scavenger/treasure hunt. A tv-inspired quiz or game show. Something with spies. Something with cameras. Something where people get muddy.
Get different companies to tell you about events they run which seem similar to those other companies run. Find out what the differences are. Find out why those differences exist. Find out how their event first came about. Was it their idea or did they copy it? Look for signs of ingenuity, imagination, originality in how they’re doing it. Look for people who know what they are talking about.
Many companies believe they can leave their competitors behind by offering something new. Something every CEO in the country will want all his/her staff to try. Probably involving Downton Abbey. Or cameras. Or mud. Find out why they’ve come up with it. Is it just to make them seem different? Make them stand out? Or is there something about the new game which really sets it apart? What team building benefits will it bring which none of their previous games did?