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A Guide to Working With a Business Consultant

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The senior living industry involves a mix of social and allied health services. This industry can be challenging to manage, even if the manager has been in this business for decades. One way of keeping an enterprise afloat is by engaging the services of a business consultant.

A business consultant is a professional who provides expert advice in a particular area of business operations. Often, many clients misconstrue “business consultancy” as “meddling with the business owner’s affairs.” To avoid conflict, here are some ways to help you have a good working relationship with them.

Determine Your Consultancy Needs

The common reason for misunderstandings is that some clients don’t know why they need consultancy. They want a consultant to “fix” things. While it’s true that consultants provide practical solutions to business problems, they are not problem fixers. Instead, they are problem solvers. Once they extend a solution, it’s up to management to implement it.

Hence, you should know first why you need consultancy. Do you have financial or cash flow problems? Do you need help with marketing? Is there a recent change in management? Are you planning to expand your senior living facility? These are just some of the guide questions. 

Ultimately, it’s your job to spot the problem before asking a consultant to solve it.

Define the Engagement

Once you engage a senior care consultant, you need to set boundaries on the engagement. For example, you hired a consultant to provide expert advice on your financial transactions and transaction cycles. Consequently, the engagement is a finance and accounting consultancy. Everything related to finance and accounting will be the subject matter of the consultation. 

But why is defining the engagement important?

Having clear engagement terms in mind can help you and the consultant perform your tasks and responsibilities. It also helps prevent misunderstandings. For example, your consultant is asking for your marketing plan. Since the engagement is about finance and accounting, you must not give them your marketing plan. As far as finance and accounting are concerned, the consultant’s work scope only involves financial transactions and relevant business processes.

Set the Responsibilities of Both Parties

After defining the engagement, setting the responsibilities of both parties is a must. First of all, do you need advice from the consultant? If yes, then the responsibility of the consultant to recommend solutions for your business problems. Second, do you need the consultant to provide advice and participate in the implementation of the solution? If yes, then the consultant may meddle with business affairs affected by the solution he proposes.

Again, the end goal here is to help you work towards a long-lasting solution. The last thing you’d want to happen is having an antagonistic working relationship with your consultant. That’s why you need to be clear about the responsibilities right from the start. As a client, your responsibility is in the next section.

Provide Information to the Consultant

Consultants aren’t fortune tellers or psychics that can read minds. They’re not magicians who can create a solution in just a snap of a finger. Before arriving at a solution, they need to have sufficient information with them. Providing information to them is your first responsibility as a client.

If they ask for financial statements, give them a copy. Aside from the financials, they might ask for company manuals so that they’ll understand your business processes. Ultimately, you need to give them information to formulate a solution.

Make the Decision Today!

Generally, business consultancy is recommendatory only. If you don’t like their recommendation, don’t take it. A consultant only aims to provide an unbiased, third-person perspective. You are not required to follow their advice even though you paid hundreds of dollars for it. In the end, it’s still up for you to decide. Make that decision for your business today!
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