Recently I was interviewed for an article that appeared in the Globe & Mail: The Downside of Seeking Business Advice on the Cheap. Journalist Guy Dixon says that if you’re going to invest in hiring a business consultant, it’s worth paying a little more for someone one who’s going to deliver the results you’re after. Naturally, I agreed!

Here’s an excerpt:

Businesses in trouble and in need of consulting services all want more for less these days. But in trying to save money and implement strategic changes, management restructuring or other productivity improvements themselves, they end up getting less for less,” said Heidi Hamilton, a management consultant with Priority Solutions in Vancouver.

“What happens is that you leave, and they go back to putting out fires, as opposed to addressing what they need to address,” Ms. Hamilton said.

From the business’s perspective, owners feel they are stretched nearly to the breaking point and have limited resources to implement consultants’ recommendations. So they try to implement the changes piecemeal, with the consultant no longer around. As one of Ms. Hamilton’s clients acknowledged, “It’s great to have the recipe, but what we really need is the cook.”

Throwing good money after bad?

I was happy to provide my two cents. As I’ve said before, businesses that are struggling are often looking for ways to cut back on costs; paying extra to hire a qualified consultant can seem counterintuitive. It’s not.

Unfortunately when companies try to cut corners by hiring a less qualified consultant or attempting to implement strategic changes themselves, they are often left worse off than before. Then they end up spending even more money trying to clean up the mess.

Hiring a qualified professional adds value

The manager of a business that’s struggling will often feel pressured to reduce costs, so they will look for the cheapest way to get things done. The example I give in the article is an audit.

Many businesses don’t realize how to fully utilize an audit to proactively change up their business. By spending a little more money to hire a qualified accountant, they can dig deep into operations and discover where they can reduce expenditures and increase revenues.

Transparency is key

You should only consider paying someone who will do the job right the first time. Any good consultant will offer their clients complete transparency.

One of the first steps you can take when hiring a consultant is to check that candidates are CMC-Canada qualified, as I’ve written about previously. Another way is to dig into some of their previous projects to identify what kind of proven, measured results they have delivered to past clients.

As an example, my own record is out there for all to see: from growing sales conversions from 37 percent to 82 percent for Verizon SA, to quadrupling annual revenue for Erickson College to $2.8 million, prospective clients can see what they get when they hire me.

If you’re going to invest, commit to the best

You’ve already identified that your company needs to improve its performance. As well, you’ve committed to bringing in an outside consultant to help you determine how to get there. So why would you risk hiring a candidate that doesn’t possess a spotless track record backed by proven results?

A good business consultant will work hard on your behalf to determine what needs improvement, then work with you to deliver results: increased sales, increased productivity, and increased revenue.