- Why do businesses use consultants?
- Aren’t consultants expensive?
- How do you charge for your services?
- I have a very limited monthly budget. How can I keep track of consultancy costs?
- I like what I hear. Can I find out more without committing myself?
- What geographical area do you cover?
- My company is a small to medium-sized business but is a subsidiary of a larger group. Can you add value to my business?
- I would like to arrange a meeting but can’t easily do anything in normal office hours. Can we meet at other times?
- Can you supply me with references?
- I’ve never used a consultant before. What’s the best way to get started?
- I know exactly what the problem is. How do I determine which is the best way to solve it?
- What should I expect to pay for this analysis?
- I’ve thought of using a consultant before, but have heard too many bad consultant jokes. How do I know whom to trust?
- Will your analysis be a disruption to my business?
- Am I obliged to appoint your firm for corrective action or implementation after your analysis is complete?
- I think this problem is too big for a medium-sized consultancy to handle. Shouldn’t I find a larger firm?
1. Why do businesses use consultants?
Businesses use consultants for a huge range of activities and advice (too many to list here). However, some of the most common include:
- acting as troubleshooters
- providing coaching, mentoring and general business advice
- acting as a sounding board for owner-managers
- helping to develop business plans and business strategy
- helping management to develop or implement new systems
- providing an independent professional view from outside the organisation
- implementing change – in any form
- assisting in financial planning, including fundraising and exit strategy planning
- assisting in developing marketing and sales strategies
- helping with recruitment of senior staff
- giving specialist advice on subjects such as health and safety, COSHH, ISO9000-2000 and so on.
TCii can provide advice and practical help on a broad range of business areas.
2. Aren’t consultants expensive?
A good consultant should not be expensive to your business overall. The cost of engaging a consultant is relative to the benefits derived from it, and a good consultant will be able to add value to your business.
We firmly believe that money invested in our type of business advice is a true investment, which will pay for itself many times over.
At TCii we always look to demonstrate excellent value for money and return on your investment in the work that we do – through better efficiency, direct cost savings, increased profits, or some other measure, depending on the project.
3. How do you charge for your services?
Every assignment is different, so we have to assess your needs carefully, according to factors such as the type of work, the length of the project and the amount of supporting resource that can be used from your business.
Longer-term projects and some individual assignments can be delivered under the popular Business Support Programme developed by the Institute for Independent Business (IIB). The rates for this are lower than normal consultancy rates and the cost can be spread out as a fixed monthly retainer.
We can also tailor a fee structure to your needs, charging by the hour, day or week, or by the assignment. Where appropriate, a proportion of our fees could be success related.
4. I have a very limited monthly budget. How can I keep track of consultancy costs?
All businesses have budgetary constraints, and adding any level of cost – on consultancy or anything else – is always a big decision.
The IIB’s Business Support Programme has been designed to offer a full range of consulting services at a very competitive reduced rate, which can be spread out as a fixed monthly fee. Therefore the cost is known and can be planned in the same way as your payroll costs. Indeed, we are happy to time the monthly payment to coincide with your normal payroll date if this helps your cash flow planning.
You may of course find that you use our services for a number of projects, which will incur costs over and above the base number of hours allocated under the Business Support Programme. We will always discuss our time with you and will bring any potential overspend to your attention before it occurs, so that you remain in full control of the cost.
In the event that we do agree a project outside of the base number of hours allocated under the Business Support Programme, we can very often secure such additional work at the same reduced rate.
All time that we do spend will be accurately recorded and made available to you.
5. I like what I hear. Can I find out more without committing myself?
Of course. The best way to find out in more detail if and how we can help you is to book an appointment for us to come and talk to you in person. We could even go through our full free Business Health Check at a meeting with you.
As well as giving you the chance to meet us face to face, we can take you through a structured exploratory meeting during which we can quickly get an overview of most aspects of your business, and we can discuss problems and issues that you may be facing. During the meeting we should be able to highlight key areas that need to be addressed in your business. Some issues you may already be aware of, but don’t know how (or don’t have the time) to resolve them. Others might be more of a surprise!
For this meeting you need to allow about two hours. It is completely free of charge and with no obligation.
6. What geographical area do you cover?
Our head office is based in London, UK, and serves clients spread throughout the UK and mainland Europe. Our international network covers most countries, ranging from Australia to Russia.
7. My company is a small to medium-sized business but is a subsidiary of a larger group. Can you add value to my business?
Yes we can. The service we offer might be a little different. For instance, you might have access to a good management team with a lot of the skills you require, and you may have very clearly defined plans and budgets laid down by your parent company. However, we can still add a great deal of value in specific projects or initiatives, and we would be delighted to discuss your requirements with you.
8. I would like to arrange a meeting but can’t easily do anything in normal office hours. Can we meet at other times?
Yes we can. Just let us know when you need to meet, be it early morning, later in the evening or even over a weekend, and we will do our utmost to meet you at a time to suit you.
Having said that, it is often very valuable at our meeting to see where you work, and see the business at work. It helps us get a feeling for the business at an early stage. However, we do recognise that this might be impossible due to time commitments or the need for confidentiality.
9. Can you supply me with references?
Of course. Consulting firms have a confidential relationship with clients and must protect it. However, we can provide references to serious prospects so that they may speak with them directly.
10. I’ve never used a consultant before. What’s the best way to get started?
First, you should formulate the question or problem you want to solve. Then, most importantly, find the right consultant for you and your business problem. Ask business colleagues who have used consultants about their experience. Look carefully at several appropriate candidates and review their credentials, reputation and experience in your industry or general business situation. Then ask the few who are best qualified how they would proceed.
11. I know exactly what the problem is. How do I determine which is the best way to solve it?
Even if you are certain of the problem, ask your preferred supplier for their analysis of the problem. Compare their reasoning and approach. Do these seem compatible with your style of business? This should help you in both the selection process and in seeing the problem from several different points of view. Keep in mind that one of the important values that a consultant can provide is unbiased objectivity.
After you select a consultant based on this preliminary assessment, you can go directly to the analysis.
12. What should I expect to pay for this analysis?
Since the analysis is the consultant’s opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities to you, the cost should be minimal. TCii provides a no-fee Business Health Check to all first-time clients.
13. I’ve thought of using a consultant before, but have heard too many bad consultant jokes. How do I know whom to trust?
Trust is a matter of careful judgement based on information about credentials, professionalism, and an assessment of an individual’s ethics. As professional management consultants, we are bound by our Global Code of Conduct. We must continuously demonstrate compliance with this code and the highest standards of professionalism.
This includes a regular peer review of completed projects.
14. Will your analysis be a disruption to my business?
Definitely not! After a brief introductory meeting with your employees, we will work around the timetable of you and your staff. You and your employees are free to get on with the business while we go about our work.
15. Am I obliged to appoint your firm for corrective action or implementation after your analysis is complete?
The analysis stands on its own. As part of our report to you, we will recommend appropriate alternatives and make specific recommendations.
If you like our suggestions you are free to accept or decline. You are always in control.
16. I think this problem is too big for a medium-sized consultancy to handle. Shouldn’t I find a larger firm?
If what you want and need is a contingent of fresh MBAs led by a senior marketing consultant, you should certainly get proposals from some of the larger firms. By the way, be sure you get to spend some time with the senior consultant who will run and lead the project.
On the other hand, if you want the concentrated efforts of one or several senior consultants, a firm like TCii is probably your best bet. We regularly employ other qualified senior consultants whom we have known and worked with before. Our consultants are most often experienced management consultants and members of the Institute of Consulting. We don’t build our firm’s strength with “on-YOUR-job-training”.
You should also know that we regularly subcontract ourselves to some of the best of the larger firms, so we could end up being your lead consultant even if you take the large firm route. Of course, you may well find that those large firms are somewhat more expensive.