Coaching vs Consulting and Do I Need it?
What would happen if Tiger Woods fired his coach and determined to golf solo? Would he still remain the best in the world? Maybe for a short time. A coach is hired to offer personal training, encouragement, ideas and to be supportive of an individual. In short, a coach keeps his client goal focused. What is the goal for Tiger Woods? To win! What is the goal of a contractor? To run a profitable and well run business, right? A coach is typically hired on a long term basis, not short term. A coach also doesn’t work just with the owner. He or she might be hired to coach an estimator: i.e. a Sales Coach. Maybe you’ve hired a new production manager from within the company and the new manager needs help setting specific goals, a coach would sometimes be hired to keep him accountable and on target. If a business owner wants more specific help on running his business, such as how to build to sell, how to hire employees, a business plan, having good business systems, he would typically hire a consultant, not a coach. Unless of course he wants someone long term to keep him accountable.
A consultant is typically hired for short term reasons, to help with a specific need or problem. Consultants will typically ask why something is happening and then help his client think through ways to overcome his problems to reach his business goals. Consultants can be hired for all aspects of business: marketing, business planning, taxes, financial, production and more. In some cases, having both a consultant and a coach can be an excellent move for most small and large businesses. Did you know that even McDonalds, the Marriott, and Verizon all hire outside consultants?
Example from my Dad
Most contractors and small businesses I talk to about coaching or consulting services respond the same way, “I don’t think I can afford a consultant.” To answer this statement, let me share with you a personal story: I grew up watching my dad work 12 hours a day running (not building) his small painting business in San Diego during the 80s and early 90s. His customers loved him, and he was blessed with lots of referrals and repeat business. He had one problem. He wasn’t really making any money. Of course there was the typical job that was profitable but most jobs were just paying the bills and keeping the doors open. Borrowing the term from The E-Myth book, he was working in his business, not on it. We had little complaints during those earlier years. We lived conservatively and with little or no debt, but my dad’s business wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t thriving. Then one day my dad hired his first consulting firm. The first guys charged a lot of money and did nothing. Ok, so that was another mistake. He didn’t give up hope. He wanted to run a successful business and have something to sell or give to his kids someday. So he hired another short-term consulting firm. This one was a lot better. Then in the mid 1990s, he finally landed a good consulting relationship with a local firm and got his business working for him. He raised his prices (after discovering he was not charging enough). Sales go down? Just the opposite! He created an employee handbook, business systems, a hiring process, painting systems, a marketing plan and much more. What was the result? A well run business that has become one of the most profitable and steady painting companies in San Diego. In short, he has created a great place to work. He also kept his business consultant and recently added a financial consultant to his team. My dad told me he did not start making money and running a business he was proud of until he hired a good consultant. His current consultant acts more like a coach now, as the problems are dwindling but he still needs accountability.
Your Experience with a Coach or Consultant
What has been your experience working with a coach or consultant? Have you found it to be helpful? Why or Why Not? Let me know your thoughts on this subject. If you have never hired a consultant, will you consider doing so in the near future?