The Target Advocate
IN THIS ISSUE

Hello, how are you?

- Feature Article: One Consultant Does Not Fit All: How to Hire the Right Consultant

- Featured Network Partner: Lisa Hendrickson

- Member Survey: Thank you!

- Suggested Reading

- About Doubet Consulting

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April 18, 2005

Vol. 1, Issue 2

Published the third week of every month.

A NOTE FROM BETH

Dear Friend,

I truly cannot believe how wonderful the response has been to last month's premier of the Target Advocate. Your feedback has been so wonderful and made writing this month's issue so much fun.

After numerous conversations with friends and colleagues regarding how to hire the right consultant for their firm, I thought this topic would be beneficial to all. As a professional Marketing Consultant for the past five years, I have had many satisfied clients. Some of my clients had hired professional consultants before and others had no idea where to start.

This month, my Featured Network Partner is Lisa Hendrickson. When I first met Lisa over two years ago, she was teaching FutureLab® (a program for entrepreneurs and business owners) at the CW Post Campus of Long Island University and in New Mexico. Today, Lisa is still teaching components of FutureLab® but is also putting her lessons to work with her husband Felix at Hendrickson Custom Cabinetry.

If you would like me to focus on a specific topic or if you would like to be a featured network partner, please let me know.

See you next month!

- Beth

Beth Silver
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FEATURE ARTICLE

One Consultant Does Not Fit All: Hiring the Right Consultant

By Beth Silver

I constantly work with other consultants with or on behalf of my clients. Some are consultants I help my clients locate and other are consultants they have found themselves. 99% of the time, the relationships and projects have a successful result, but in the remaining 1% everyone wonders what went wrong.

The business world is full of examples of consultants who end up providing less than desirable results. Sometimes, it's because the person is not really a consultant at all — they are in transition or just filling time between jobs. Other times, it may be the consultant is not the right fit for the organization or the project was not clearly defined.

When you hire a consultant or contractor you must have the following:

  • A person who is the right fit for your organization
  • A relationship that is set up for success at the beginning
  • A deal that is fair for both parties
  • A project that is clearly defined

I can't tell you how much time, energy and money is wasted when these things are not in place.

An outside consultant offers many advantages to entrepreneurs and smaller businesses, such as the ability to provide objective advice, a frame of reference and best practices from other clients, methodologies and models to gain results more quickly and permanent transfer of skills to internal resources. While external consultants can be fabulous, the wrong one can create as many problems as they were hired to solve. Lack of sensitivity to the client's business and culture, threatening employees by being an "outsider" and providing "perfect" solutions that are not practical for the client's business are just a few problems I've seen.

When finding the best consultant for your needs, I suggest the following:

Referrals: Ask trusted business colleagues for names of people they have used for similar needs, and find out specifically what the results were. If they have someone that has moved their business in the right direction, they will be more than happy to give you the contact information.

Chemistry & Rapport: Speak with and meet the prospective consultant several times before hiring. If you see the other person as a peer and a potential partner, then you are working in the right direction. If you don't respect them, or see them as merely a vendor or subordinate, please don't. You need a business partner for a particular issue.

If this person is a friend of yours, evaluate the relationship as a peer or potential partner. I cannot tell you how many "friendships" have been strained due to undelivered expectations. If you evaluate the relationship as a peer or potential partner for assisting with a particular issue, things will run smoothly.

Due Diligence: Ensure that the consultant has a valid business, with business cards, website, marketing materials, letters of reference from prior clients, samples of work and proven record of delivering what you need. All consultants have different experiences but I believe real world experience is a key differentiator.

Demeanor & Tone: The consultant should look professional and act accordingly. Their language should be clear and articulate. Be aware of their tone. Do they speak with you as a partner or talk down to you? I cannot tell you how many consultants I have met who forgot they were not the client. And, if you get voicemail, don't worry, it shows they are busy. The key is, do they get back to you promptly?

Fees & Deal Structure: A good consultant is willing to structure the agreement in a way that works best for both of you. Consulting fees vary dramatically and work is generally done either on a project basis or an hourly basis. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

Proposal: The consultant should provide you with a proposal based on achieving clear business outcomes, and not a methodology. You need solutions and you need them the first time. Every proposal should include an outline of work to be performed, milestone dates, how often you will be billed and whether payment is due immediately, Net 15 or Net 30.

And most of all: As a consultant, it's also my job to make sure that I am the right fit for any client's organization as well. I love working on new projects with clients but also get great satisfaction when I am able to refer a potential client to another consultant who I believe will provide solutions specifically tailored to their specific needs.

An outside perspective is a great asset for business owners; I hope this list helps guide you as you search for the right fit for your organization.

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FEATURED NETWORK PARTNER: Lisa Hendrickson

When I first met Lisa over two years ago at a Company of Friends event, she was teaching FutureLab® (a program for entrepreneurs and business owners) at the CW Post Campus of Long Island University and in New Mexico. After the initial meeting, our networking has developed into a wonderful friendship. Lisa and I, along with Jeanne McDonald (last month's Featured Network Partner), host a "ladies luncheon" a few times a year. At this lunch, women we have met thru networking and life are invited to get together and have some fun. Last year, we had four luncheons and our plans for this year are to continue them. Today, Lisa is still using components of FutureLab®.

Hendrickson Custom Cabinetry (HCC) is Manhattan's premier custom cabinetry studio specializing in the finest handcrafted architectural millwork, cabinetry and furniture made to order for discerning individuals residing in some of the tri-state area's most desirable addresses. Clients mostly learn about HCC from their architects, interior designers and general contractors. If you have ever walked into Soho Sanctuary, the fabulous spa in Soho, you will see Hendrickson Custom Cabinetry work throughout the spa. It's truly gorgeous.

Their unique Five Step Design/Build Methodology ensures all custom millwork, cabinetry and furniture are handcrafted and installed with care and precision and ensures that their high quality standards are built into every piece of custom woodwork.

One of the wonderful things Lisa and Felix are doing to bring professional development and improve communications within HCC is to teach English as a second language to their employees. HCC is a proud recipient of the Bronx Small Business Initiative, a grant given by Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation that partners new companies with resources to provide marketing, training and business assistance. Currently, Booz Allen Hamilton, New York University and the National Black MBA Association are partnering with HCC in a variety of growth-oriented projects. HCC is also a member of Architectural Woodwork Institute, the national organization that sets the manufacturing standards for superior quality architectural millwork and custom cabinetry. If you would like to learn more about Lisa or Hendrickson Custom Cabinetry, she can be reached at 212.544.0190, lisa@hccco.com and website www.hccco.com.

Lisa Hendrickson
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THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE READER SURVEY

Thanks to all who participated in last month's Reader Survey. The response was wonderful! The good news is, the topics I plan on covering this year are what you are looking for. This month, I am covering, how to hire a consultant and in the next few months, I will cover topics related to customer acquisition, networking, retention and of course marketing your business.

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SUGGESTED READING

I am always asked what books I recommend. These are among my favorites. I hope that you agree.

Now, Discover Your Strengths
by Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
by Seth Godin

Between Trapezes : Flying Into a New Life with the Greatest of Ease
by Gail Blanke

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ABOUT DOUBET

At Doubet Consulting, we help our clients acquire new clients, retain the good ones, become more profitable and move their business forward. We identify, create, and implement effective marketing and business strategies for entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized companies. As Target Advocates we take a comprehensive look at your overall business, ensuring that you effectively meet the needs of your target customers. Businesses often refer to themselves as a piece of a pipeline and we look for and fix gaps in that pipe, making it whole so that it works more efficiently.

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Our Address
310 East 75th Street, Suite 3H, New York, New York 10021 United States