3 Signs it's Time to Hire a Food Consultant

Consultants possess certain domain knowledge that can maximize your food service business if you work with them at the right time. But beyond domain knowledge, the real magic of consulting lies in the experiences gained from working with other, similar businesses. A good consultant can combine all that they’ve learned and apply to it help your business.

Think of it this way: if you can learn from the mistakes and successes of other businesses and you don’t have to spend the time amassing that knowledge with you own resources then you can “fast-track” your path to success. But as a fair warning, don’t expect consultants to give you all the answers, instead use them as a tool to expand your ability to create your own answers. You can maximize your success with a consultant by knowing when it’s the right time to bring them on board and when it’s not.

It's the right time to hire a food consultant when:

  1. Things are going poorly: if sales are down, turnover is up, the competition is beating you out, and/or your expenses are out of control it may be time to bring in a consultant. The tricky part in this scenario is that this is when it will be most difficult to find the money to pay a good consultant. Consider it anyways. Think of it this way: a consultant is an investment in turning your business around and, while you might be able to do it on your own, a good consultant will help you do it faster and better. The investment can, and should, pay for itself. That being said, do your homework, clarify your expectations, be ready to mobilize resources to work with your consultants, and make sure it fits in the budget.
  2. Things are going great: if sales are up, employee morale is high, you’re leading the market, and/or you have above average profitability it is the perfect time to bring on a consultant. Yes, you read that right! Here’s why: the market changes fast and good things don’t last. I don’t mean to be a fear-monger, but we all know how fast our hand can change in today’s business landscape. If things are going well, build on it, don’t wait to see how long it lasts. A good consultant can help you capitalize on the momentum that you’ve built and maximize your success. Additionally, it’s always a good time to start planning your exit.
  3. You’re not sure how things are going: if you don’t know how your sales and profitability are compared to prior periods or to the competition, if you don’t know how engaged your employees are, and/or if you don’t have a plan for the future, it is time to bring in a consultant. A good consultant can help you create and understand benchmarks and goals for your business so that you always know where you are and what you’re working towards- the first step towards any success

You shouldn’t hire a food consultant when:

  1. You can’t spend the time to work with them- consultants are there to work with you, not to do a job and then move on. If that is what you are looking for, consider an employee or freelancer. Otherwise, if you’ve determined that bringing on a consultant will help to maximize your success, look to free up time within your team by cutting failing projects, employing the 80/20 rule to increase productivity, or revisiting expectations with underperforming team members.
  2. You haven’t clarified your expectations- Hiring a consultant without a clear expectation of what value they will add is a recipe for disaster: you will be disappointed and your consultant will be frustrated. You need to be clear on the scope of work, what you hope to get from the engagement, and how many resources you will devote to working with the team and implementing their recommendations. If there’s any ambiguity here, continue to clarify (perhaps with the consultant in the initial engagement meeting) but BEFORE agreeing to a scope of work.   
  3. You’re looking for the “magic pill”- a consultant will never be the magic solution to a problem or to your own discontent with the business. They can, and will, help you to develop and implement solutions, but do not expect them to solve your problems for you. If this is your expectation, go back to number 2 above and clarify your expectations again. And again if necessary. 

If you're ready to take your business to the next level with the help of a consultant, work with one of our coaches.