By Miles Hall
In last month’s column we talked about the importance (and value) of contracting outside help to assist with any specific problems or issue your establishment may be facing. Here in Part 2 we’ll look at whom to hire. The biggest consideration with consultants is their character. Ask lots of questions; if they’re secretive about themselves, then — simply put — you don’t want them.
1. Do your homework. Now that you have a good idea of the areas in your business in need of help, can this person or company help guide you to tangible solutions? Good consultants will openly admit to areas where they may be weak. An important question to consider: are they a well-known group in the industry or the area of expertise you are seeking?
2. Consider history, reputation and trustworthiness. These are critical areas for you. After all, you’re going to bare your soul to them about the business and matters surrounding it. Ask, dig, verify. Check to ensure they really have specific experience, as well as a track record in the area where you need help. Because this is the shooting sports and confidentiality is part of our world, getting a list of happy clients may be a challenge. Ask not only the folks you’re considering, but also fellow dealers, distributors, etc. We’re blessed to be in an industry with knowledge about some of the problem folks out there. You need only to ask around.
3. Do they know your language, and are they a good fit? The shooting sports is a unique business model, and we tend to use phrases that may seem odd to those who have never been a part of it. Although this can be overcome, it’s important for you and the consultant to communicate well with each other.
Just as significant: are you going to be able to work well with them? After all, in order to help make it beautiful they’re possibly going to tell you just how ugly your baby (business) is. Can you take it and still respect them in the morning? The answer is, sure you can … if they’re the right fit and you work well together.
4. What is your preferred method of communication? Depending on what is being done, you need to decide how the communication should be handled between the two of you. There’s a process to every style of consulting, and this process will involve visits, inspections, interviews and other related discovery methods. For example, if it’s an open project about the business, then phone, text and email may all work. But if something sensitive or potentially illegal is uncovered, then more direct communication with you may be in order. Work this out in advance, so you have control of the feed of information and its possible consequences.
5. Be specific about the scope of your project — hourly or project price can be very different. It’s wise, at the very least, to try and have a strong idea of the scope and price of what you want the consultant to address. This can (and often does) bring to light areas you may not have known are in need of being addressed, but now should. Knowing at the outset how the pricing is structured enables you to you stay in control of the process.
To repeat from our previous column: There are no textbook or cookie-cutter answers suitable for everybody. Any solution is custom-made to the situation.
Miles Hall is a senior consultant at Hall-N-Hall Consulting. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: As noted above, this is a continuation to “5 Things To Know About Hiring A Consultant” that ran in the May issue. Click Here To Read Part 1.