The TOP 5 Questions you Need to Ask before Hiring a Consultant

Author: Lori Karpman

Date: NOV 14th, 2014

Topic: Industry Experts

As every business grows it reaches a point where outside expertise is required. With the multitude of service providers and areas of specialization it is important to do some research before awarding any project. In order to assist you in selecting the right consultant for your needs ask yourself these Top 5 Questions:

1. What are the consultants Credentials?

Does the consultant have any particular designations, dedicated training, higher education, awards, or anything which signifies that he is an expert in his field?

2. What is the Consultant’s Experience?

What is the consultant’s background, how much experience do they have solving the kind of dilemmas you are now facing and what kind of mandates have they completed in your industry. A long history means they have seen a greater variety of real life business situations and ways to resolve them in a variety of circumstances. This makes them better equipped at devising creative, practical and effective solutions for you. Much like your doctor or lawyer, you don’t want to hear ‘you have an interesting case!” “Interesting” in this context means. “I’ve never seen this before!” which ultimately results in higher fees as the client pays for the consultants learning curve. Get a list of references and find out what kind of work was done for those clients and what their experience was like.

3. What are the Included/Excluded Services and Fees?

This is the most crucial element of the contract. Every consultant has a different fee structure for different packages of services, making it hard to compare apples to apples. Make sure you get a complete list of every service that is provided and if there is a fee for it, what that fee is. Speak with others in the industry that would have contracted for the same services and see the fees that they were charged. Keep in mind that the more experience and expertise a consultant has the more their fees will be however, the better your experience will be. You will be able to tap into their network of contacts, such as lawyers who charge $700/hr, for free, when you could never have afforded this service on your own. There is a great hidden savings and value that is not factored into the price that has to be considered.

4. Do you have the R-Factor?

The R-Factor is the Relationship Factor. How well do you and the consultant ‘click’?? This is probably the most important question of all. As your team and the consultant’s will be working closely together you must feel that there is a ‘good fit’. You must have confidence and feel comfortable that the consultant has your business’s best interest at heart. The ability to build a long term relationship is important because the consultant often becomes an extension of your in-house team and will grow with your company.

5. Do we need a consultant or should we hire the expertise in house?

This is a really important question.If you have a one time project and do not have the in-house capabilities then it makes sense to hire the expertise. However, if the project is an ongoing one it may be better to hire someone to occupy an in house position to take care of those duties. In this case you may only need a consultant to create the program and/or train the employee.

Of all of the above, the essential factor in deciding whether to hire outside expertise is the R- factor. If the relationship between the parties is not based on confidence and trust, no matter how good the consultant is, there is no long term relationship to be built. It is in the building of this relationship over time that the consultant’s value can truly be maximized.