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The proper use and need of consultants - when, where and how.

Having been in the food industry for 40 years and experienced both sides of the consultant-client relationship, I know whereof I speak when I say, "If the need for a consultant is there, do it."

In my previous business I used consultants. We didn't always agree, but they served me well, and there was never a question of their honesty. Honesty and objectivity define the successful consultant. That's why when you ask a good consultant, he will tell it like it is.

There are many reasons for hiring a consultant: to serve as a General Advisor and Consultant to the management of the Client in initiating more effective procedures in the areas of corporate planning and development is surely a major use of consultancy, sales training, market information, new product development, financial planning and plant expansion, etc.

These questions can sometimes be best answered by someone outside of your own company, someone who is not emotionally involved in the daily flow of meeting deadlines, making procurements, talking to stock analysts or to one's banker. It may be that you have an opportunity, but have not recognized its existence. You may have a glitch in operations, but haven't identified the problem. Today's world of business is so complex that the question of using a consultant has often become axiomatic, it's not if you will use them, but when you will use them.

So how does one go about using them? How does one hire them? What are your costs?

Hiring a consultant can itself be a challenge. But it need not be. These advisors have resumes and references, just like anyone else you engage. And your commitment to a consultant can run from one meeting to an ongoing business relationship. Keep your eyes and ears open for good consultants. (The odds are very good that your colleagues and competitors are using consultants right now.)

During your first meeting or interview with a consultant, define your company's needs. You may come in with a good idea of what needs to be done, but if you don't, a true consulting veteran will help you define them. He may surprise you by saying your needs and his expertise don't mesh. If so, fine. You've learned something. Try someone else.

When you find the right consultant, you will know. You will understand every word he says. He will understand you. He will understand your industry and respect your corporate culture. And he will be clear about his commitments.

Soon after that first meeting, client and consultant should agree on a mission statement. This statement should define the job or jobs the consultant will perform. It should include not only specific duties, but a time table, costs, and review procedures as well. Also, define how the consultant will relate to your staff. A specific outline will help ensure the success of this unique and adventurous partnership.

Since selling Bit O'Gold Foods Corp. and retiring, I have been offered many staff positions by companies in the food industry. However, in these cases, I have chosen instead to review company problems, opportunities and goals, and determine from that point how best I can be of service, as a consultant.

NOTE:

Lou Litrofsky has been in the food industry for 40 years, owned and built Bit O'Gold Foods Corp. into a major Chicago distribution company. Lou sold the business in 1988. Lou was soon called upon by a number of companies offering positions. Lou was quick to suggest that they would be best served by a mutual review of their problems, opportunities and goals to see if, where and how he could help their cause.

That's how Lou Litrofsky and Associates consulting firm started. That was three years ago. Since then, Lou's company has helped companies, big and small. "The most important thing I have discovered is that one must respect a culture of a company. One must be scrupulously honest with your client, the truth as you see it; not what they want to hear, but how you see it. In my previous business I used consultants. We may not have always agreed, but all of them served me well and there never was a question of their sincerity and integrity." Mr. Litrofsky advised, "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible," by Johnathon Swift--a quotation on the Litrofsky mantle.
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Title Annotation:management consultants
Author:Litrofsky, Lou
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Words:722
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