Many Management Consultants and Business Coaches are asked the question ‘Which Industry do you specialise in?’ or more specifically ’I want a consultant who specialises in Industry X.’
If the consultant does not specialise or is not a specialist in this particular industry, then according to these rules, they have no chance of winning the client.
This can be entirely incorrect for a number of reasons. All business is fundamentally the same and objective opinions come from those who are not constrained by detailed knowledge of said industry.
How can all businesses be the same?
A restaurant is very different from a Hydro Electric Power station just as a bus service is equally distant in essence to an accountancy practice.
There are two key elements to all businesses – product or service and profit.
The client is only interested in one thing –the benefit of the end product or service they are buying. How that is produced or brought into being is irrelevant to them. That is the producers issue, not theirs.
The company may have to employ specialist skills, knowledge of equipment, language and labour relations or specific motivational or managerial skills. They are of no interest to the client who simply wants product or service ‘X’ on date ‘Y’ for the agreed price. How that happens is of no concern.
Profit, not loss
The flip side of this is profit. A provider of products or services is not in business unless they are making profit. Without profit the company cannot survive. There are many situations which can debate this point such as loss leader marketing techniques, market share capture initiatives etc. At the end of the day, the business must make a profit in some form or other in order to survive.
The combination of all elements that go on behind the scenes all cost money. Manufacturing, learning, training, marketing, building, teaching and developing – they all take place to differing degrees; prior to the product or service being delivered.
The sum of all things
Knowing the sum of all these costs and charging them to the client is the process of doing business. Adding a mark up on that cost is the principle of running a profitable business. The final price will be driven by what the external market forces allow. Competition, cost of raw materials, costs of staff and the clients’ ability to pay.
Fundamentally the business is the supply of a product or a service to a client at a given price that will allow the business to continue to trade, making all business fundamentally the same.
They must provide and survive.
Why then when looking at external advice and coaching do clients demand or request specialists in their particular field?
A Consultant or Coach working on a specific project in a key area of a business will naturally have specialist knowledge. The more specific the remit and project the more specialised the consultant or coach needs to be.
However, where driving business growth in conjunction with motivation, strategy, communication and planning – an in depth knowledge or experience of one particular area can hamper progress.
For example, a Consultant or Coach working in the health and fitness industry might focus primarily on the day to day running of the health centre. Areas such as staff recruitment, management, pool ph and chlorine levels.
The non specialist approach
In contrast, a non-specialist coach or consultant will focus more closely on the two fundamentals of business – member numbers, retention of members, quality of service, consistency of service and other sources of income. The ph levels in the pool are details that the client is not concerned about unless it goes wrong.
The processes need to be in place in the background, but the focus should be elsewhere on growing the business.
A non-industry specialist objective viewpoint will examine the bigger picture of the business without being constrained by the small details that do not affect the overall goal.
Clients simply want product or service ‘X’ on date ‘Y’ for the agreed price. How that happens is of no concern. If the producers complicate that system and make it difficult for the client, there will be a competitor elsewhere more than willing to take over.
Difference of Opinion
An objective opinion from an unbiased or clouded opinion can give a far greater return in the grander scheme. It may involve work in conjunction with those that have specialist knowledge in a key area.
The long-term view will drive businesses further, faster and more effectively towards their primary goal. Give the clients the product or service at a price that brings you the level of profit that will enable the company to survive to fight again another day.
The first things to do when contemplating which consultant or coach you need is to understand exactly the reason for seeking external advice or assistance. What is the reason for doing x, what is not working, what could work better, is it a symptom or a cause that you are not happy with?
About the Author
Mike Pagan is a keynote speaker, known as the:-
Straight Talking, Business Focussed Professional Speaker.
Forthright, practical and thought provoking, Mike speaks passionately about business growth strategies and celebrating success in business.
He is also Managing Director of Breaking Frontiers a business growth consultancy specialising in keeping businesses focussed on the growth strategies they plan.
Got to MikePagan.com for free downloads, ‘Top Tips’ and DVDs available for sale.
Building The Right Sales Pipeline – Mike believes companies should concentrate FULLY upon 4 or 5 key marketing methods in order to gain new clients.
Building Your A1 Clients – We all want them, but do we know who they are, when they buy and why they buy?
Celebrating Success – Not many businesses do. Life’s meant to be enjoyable, so is your business.