How to Set Expectations When Working With A Food Consultant

I can't stress enough the importance of setting clear expectations for employees, vendors, and partners to: 1) avoid unnecessary problems and 2) lay the foundation for the potential to EXCEED expectations. The same principles apply when hiring a food service consultant.

Once you have decided that it is a good time to hire a consultant, the next step is to establish your expectations as clearly and concisely as you can before agreeing to the final engagement contract. We recommend creating an Expectations Statement (you can download a free template here) that contains the following:

  1.  Your ONE goal of working with a consultant including a deliverable, a deadline, and trackable metrics for how you will know progress is reached
  2.  How long you expect to work with a consultant and how long is too long to get results
  3.  How much time you and your team will contribute to working with the consultant
  4.  How much communication and updates you expect to receive from the consultants and in what form it will be received
  5.  How often you will review this statement throughout the engagement 

You should share and seek consensus on the Expectations Statement with those on your team that will either be expected to work with the consultant or whose work will be impacted by the project. 

You should write & revise your Expectations Statement at least three times: (1) before seeking out potential consultants, (2) again after your first meeting with a consultant, and (3) before agreeing to any extensions of the agreement. We also recommend visiting your Expectations Statement at regular intervals throughout the engagement and again if the project needs to be extended.

Here’s an example timeline for creating and revising an Expectations Statement. You can download our Expectations Statement example here.

January 1: Decide with key stakeholders that it is a good investment to work with a consultant for long-term strategic planning.
  •  Meet with key stakeholders and develop Expectations Statement and begin searching for the right consultant to work with
Late January: Meet with potential consultants, discuss Expectations Statement with each.
  • Meet with key stakeholders to discuss selection of consultant, revisit Expectations Statement and revise as necessary 
Early February: Select consultant and meet to discuss scope of work. Share and agree upon revised Expectations Statement with consultant.
  • Work begins, every 2 weeks receive an update from the consultant and review the updates along with the Expectations Statement. Address any expectations that aren’t being met with the consultant.
Late April: Initial engagement is coming to an end, consultant suggests extending the project for another 2 months to further implement their recommendations
  • Meet with key stakeholders to discuss extension, review the deliverables, and revisit the Expectations Statement. Revise the Statement if an extension is being considered.

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