How to Use Consultants Effectively – A View From the Other Side

I know that everyone out there sees these articles written by consultants and says to him or herself,How to Use Consultants Effectively – A View From the Other Side Articles “That’s nice – but how does that apply to me?”

All organizations reach a point at some time when they are aware that they could be doing things better or differently. One or several areas of the operation are not achieving their goal or are not functioning as efficiently as they might. The Corporate Office, General Manager and the Department head may aware of the problem but unable to offer or formulate an effective remedy. This is where the timely employment of a consultant can reap measurable returns.

The issue or problem may be short-term. For example, a property or a group of properties may be undergoing a franchise change. To effectively manage the change and maximize the opportunity will require an intense effort, analysis and focus that will stress the existing organization’s resources and potentially jeopardize the well being of the rest manufacturing IT consultant of the operation. This is a situation where a consultant can assist in managing the change until the conversion is complete and the newly franchised properties have stabilized.

Another example is when a position is stubbornly vacant and the right candidate has yet to materialize or the position is such that it can be effectively filled on a part-time basis. To leave the position vacant is hurting the operation but to make a hasty decision has long-term consequences. This is an illustration of how a temporary arrangement with a consultant can keep the operation moving smoothly until a position can be permanently filled.

In other situations, the issue may be more long term and the effective use of a consultant on an ongoing basis may be a cost effective solution to the problem. For example, a smaller organization may not have the resources of a larger company in oversight or training. The example comes to mind of a small company in which several hotels are seeing market share and REVPAR index slide and need assistance to turn the situation around and provide ongoing support. Where there is no corporate regional Director of Sales or for those regional DOSs whose time is already spread thin, a good consultant can fill that requirement on an ongoing but part-time basis at a rate of remuneration far less than the addition of a permanent, full time staff member.

The list of potentially problem areas is relatively endless and includes any number of operational, technical and customer service areas. A consultant allows you to hire a level of expertise that you might otherwise not be able to afford.

But lest you think that this is self-serving — allow me to provide the view from the other side; what makes a ‘consultant-client’ relationship work for the benefit of both. A good consultant-client relationship is a professional marriage. A consultant wants to provide value to the client but recognizes that it requires a bit of work on both sides. Let me share with you how to maximize a consulting relationship:

The Chemistry Thing. Once you have identified one or more consultants who may be qualified to assist you in your problem area, have a telephone conversation with each. As is any relationship, chemistry is an issue. You know if this person has a style that will compliment and mesh with yours and that of the people in your organization. Not every client and consultant has the chemistry required to get the job done, no matter how qualified the consultant. Ask for references and examples of how they successfully assisted other clients in similar situations.

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