For well over a decade I was a consultant recommending services for various telecom companies to my client base. As my sole compensation I earned a back end commission much like many other telecom dealers. A primary provider I worked with was a company called Paetec who ultimately became a multibillion dollar company called Windstream. After many years of building up my base of business and making this company a lot of money I got a letter one day summarizing that they were no longer going to pay me commissions. Apparently they were going through a restructuring and there are some loop holes in the bankruptcy laws that allow companies to continue reaping the benefits of customer contracts but eliminate their ongoing obligation to pay their agents. Many carriers go through bankruptcy but very few have ever cancelled their obligation to pay their agents as it’s usually a death kiss. My guess at the time was some high ups within the organization thought, “Wow if we just keep all the agents’ commissions we will make a lot of money… Let’s do it! “ It seems that they were legally allowed to do it and they were too big to fight for most smaller consultants.
Anyone in business reading this knows the answers…. “We didn’t want to but we had to do it”… or the best one – “it’s just business nothing personal”
It’s all simple right? Not really….
I thought this company was so crooked and their leadership was terrible and by the day I watched the service levels deplete, a mass exodus of employees, declining revenue, and a tarnished reputation. How did this happen and what are they thinking? Many other companies went bankrupt and protected what was important. I just sum this up to short term greed and ignorance to long term consequences.
What happens in life is the full-circle. Short term, they kept our money and maybe we lost a few hundred thousand dollars and my clients were left with no support. What they did not understand is that their success came because of the support of the dealer community. That was the life line of their business and what the clients depended on for escalation, support, and transparency. A reputation takes a long time to repair.
That was a year and a half ago. So let’s fast forward to today. What I thought was one of the worst financial impacts of my life and something that could have put many companies under, turned out to be the greatest gift ever. I built new relationships, gained invaluable life lessons and ironically wound up financially rewarded. Here is what happens full-circle. I had discussions with consultants from all over the country about true partnerships, we recovered almost all of our past clients, added over a hundred new agents to our sales division, transitioned thousands of their former endpoints and took back many millions in annual revenue.
The moral of the story is not a put-down this company but to look at this as a lesson learned for everyone and perhaps even their leadership. Not everything that appears bad today is bad forever… it’s just a moment in time. The things you do in life come full-circle and moreover the best things you get in life are oftentimes removed from your direct actions. Lastly, just because you have the right to do something certainly does not make it the right thing to do. As I write this I feel sorry for the dealers that were not able to make up for this lost revenue and maybe couldn’t recover. Also, I feel for the clients who chose a bad provider in the past and feel like they are trapped. My message to you is that you are not trapped and my company is here for you. Make the call. Life is a journey and I am thankful for the bad days in life because they let me appreciate the good days. I am thankful to have been confronted by and recognized dishonesty as it makes me appreciate candor and respect. I am thankful for my life lessons so that I can be a better person and lead an amazing organization!
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