Hiring a consultant is not cheap, so to get your money’s worth, there are several pitfalls you should be sure to avoid.
Hiring a consultant in your practice is a big decision. You have to decide if you want someone you hardly know to have access to all of your practice, and often, your personal financial information. You have to feel a need for something to change in your practice, and that can be an emotional moment.
Then there is that commitment to actually doing the hard work of preparing information for the consultant to examine. After that, there are meetings to discuss the findings.
Perhaps the hardest part is to hear the things you need to change to improve the practice. If that isn’t hard enough, then there is the execution of the changes suggested.
Hiring a consultant is not cheap, so to get your money’s worth, I have a few suggestions about what pitfalls to avoid.
Continue to the next page to see the top four ways to waste your money...
Withholding key information
You may feel that the consultant is asking questions that are too personal and have nothing to do with the goals at hand. Withholding key information is like your patients intentionally refusing to tell you that they are allergic to antibiotics.
An example of that is if you have been financing expenses of the practice on credit cards that have a balance, but haven’t been charged as an expense to the practice. This throws the income and expense sheet off because the true expense is not shown.
Things may look lovely, and in balance, when in fact, you took your whole team to Bermuda for a reward for good performance, but haven’t shown it as a continuing education expense yet. Nothing illegal, but just off the books for now.
Delaying getting your homework to your consultant
Consultants usually have contracts with a term that has a beginning and an end. Visits and projects are usually spaced so that the team has time to learn and absorb and apply the new information. If you are to work on a project and get the feedback to the consultant, you should work with the agreed upon deadlines. If you don’t, it pushes back completion of the project. One of two things happens then: You either do not get to all the projects projected for the timeframe, or it extends the length of time it takes to have full success.
Consultants have reasons for assigning certain projects in the order and timeframe they suggest. The better you comply the better and quicker you are successful.
Not doing your homework
Life often interferes with your practice. I agree that you need balance in life and work, but you hired a consultant for a reason. If you passively don’t do what required, or just don’t see it as important enough, you are wasting your money. You need to assess if you really are ready for a consultant at this time. If you aren’t ready, just pray that you do not have a long-term contract.
Some consultants work by the job, with a contract for a certain length of time, regardless if you decide this was a bad idea.
Other consultants do an initial assessment for one price, and have a monthly fee for as long as you feel they are adding value to your practice and life. If you are not totally committed to the process, you may want to find a consultant who is more flexible. That does not mean this is an excuse to opt out of having a consultant because quite often you will find that keeping a consultant long-term has a value higher than doing a project and quitting. Having someone you are accountable to often is a long-term strategy for success. Professional athletes, who arguably do not need coaching, retain coaches throughout their life.
Not acting on recommendations
Sometimes you just don’t agree with someone you asked for help. Consultants work with industry norms and their experience interpreting how they see their expertise in light of your situation. That is a reason to terminate a consultant.
Alternately, there is when you just don’t do what they suggest. You may know that they are right, but it doesn’t feel right for you, or you just don’t want to do what they say. At this point, having a consultant is a total waste of money for you.
I think you should have a way to decide at some reasonable length of time, to get out of a long-term contract if this particular consultant is not for you or you do not feel you are getting your money’s worth.
Sometimes you just don’t get along with the particular consultant, or they do something to anger you or your team. This is a sure way to waste time and money.
The time to make sure there is an escape clause is before you sign on for 12-18 months, with a penalty clause for escape.
Consulting helped me become much more successful in my practice. I had good experiences, so much so that I decided to become a consultant after I pulled away from the chair a year ago. The important thing to do is to be able to have time to evaluate if you like the consultant personally, make sure you can work with him or her and, if you feel you are no longer getting full value, have a way to terminate the relationship without it being like a divorce.