If you are a new business owner in the hospitality sector, there may come a time in your entrepreneurial journey when you feel that external help may be needed. Rather than carrying on by yourself, the support, mentoring and advice of a hospitality consultant can make a difference to your overall success and profitability.
You need to take great care with appointing a consultant. A successful outcome will come from a consultant who:
- Knows the Hospitality industry backwards;
- Has had at least ten years’ experience at a senior management level;
- Has run a Hospitality business;
- Has a relevant management or professional qualification;
- Can demonstrate a successful track record in consultancy; and
- Can connect you to allied services or other professionals you will need, through their vast network.
Once you have identified a few consultants who you feel may be able to do the job, using the above 6 criteria, it is then time to meet them. To be fair to them and make it easy for you to choose between them, ask them all the same questions and give them the same written or verbal brief.
What are the 10 steps to a successful engagement?
- Make sure that you can relate to the consultant on a personal level and communicate with them.
- Do you feel you trust them and are you confident about their background?
- Does the consultant’s real area of expertise match your needs?
- Have they helped other hospitality businesses in a similar situation to yours?
- Tell them exactly what the issues are that you are currently facing and what you want to achieve by employing their services.
- Discuss the actual process of how they propose to help you and whether that work needs to be done onsite or remotely from where they are based.
- Agree a fee for the work, whether it is a daily or an hourly rate and clarify any additional charges, such as travel and accommodation costs.
- Ensure that the consultant confirms to you their understanding of the brief and exactly what the charges are for the amount of work you want them to do for you.
- After the first agreed amount of work has been done, review what has been completed, consider the value of what has been achieved and ask yourself if you are really comfortable with doing more work with that consultant.
- If you commission additional activities ensure that each new task is briefed exactly as you have done before. Make sure that you continue to be comfortable with the outcomes. If not, then there are other consultants who can help you.
Be prepared for controversy
A good consultant will really challenge the ‘’status quo’’ so don’t be upset by that. It is their job to ask difficult questions and get you to confront issues that you may have been ignoring or putting off. By all means do put your own ideas and views forward but do listen, since a good consultant will have worked with dozens of different businesses and will have acquired a huge amount of valuable experience that you can benefit from.
Make sure you employ the right person since all consultants have different areas of expertise. Don’t be afraid to really challenge the consultant by asking difficult questions. Be prepared to receive direct and honest feedback. Probe into their background and, above all, make sure that the consultant has enough operational experience AND experience as a consultant; they don’t always go together!