Ever been tempted by those business coaches that promise you a 50% or 100% increase in turnover within 3 or 6 months, or your money back?
There are a few interesting hooks there.
First, there is an increase of turnover. The quoted percentages are high, and certainly you might consider annualised rates of growth at these levels absolutely dramatic – it’s the sort of things that dreams are made of, along with lotto wins and certain aerodynamically implausible swine’s.
Next, the timeframe is short. It needs to be short so that results can be measured quickly. It also needs to be short because like most “flashes in the pan” they don’t last forever. By keeping a tight control over the timeframe, then the results can be better managed and targeted.
And finally, the money back guarantee. Don’t get me wrong, money back guarantees are very useful marketing tools. This immediately builds product or service trust with providers that you may have never dealt with or, for that matter, ever heard of. If they are willing to offer a money back guarantee what have I got to lose right?
Like all one-sided contracts, there are usually an extensive list of exclusions embedded in the fine print, as well as no guarantees of sustainability. Generally speaking, most of these coaches do offer a good service, some even offer a fantastic service. Their websites are full of glowing references and testimonials. Be careful though that it might be easy to create “fake” testimonials (checkout www.fivver.com) from freelance actors that will send you a testimonial for a fiver.
I don’t want to come across as a sceptic. Far from it. I have written extensively about getting another set of eyes to look over your current operations. Sometimes, all that is needed to kick along a business is a different viewpoint.
The absolute classic business development tool is to “Pick the low hanging fruit”, this is identifying the most obvious business development tasks to do that will improve your business. If you can step back from your business and view the operations or services or product range from an external viewpoint, then you might avoid the initial coaching costs by looking at the obvious changes first.
If, on the other hand you cannot step back, then utilising the services of a business coach might be the smart thing to do. Remember the hooks I mentioned before? Well this is what you need to be aware of when forking out big dollars for business development professionals.
Discuss if remuneration is based on increased turnover or on increased profits.
Investigate the option of staggering the fee over an extended period, say current plus next financial year. This will ensure that the changes that have been implemented are sustainable.
Be prepared to listen to the advice. If the consultant suggests that you need to let that family member go because they do not add any value to the business, then do it.
Be prepared to share business confidential information. If the consultant knows your business and your goals they will be better equipped to take you in the right direction.
Establish the ground rules for fee payment if there is an impasse between what the consultant suggests and what you want to do.
What happens to the staggered fee if you sell the business?
Business coaches, business development consultants, advisors, business improvement specialists (there are lots of different names) can and do offer an alternative to business improvements than just trying to do this alone. It could be money well spent. Don’t be under any illusion that these services are cheap – they are not. But rather than accepting the consultants contract for work, make sure that you can negotiate a more favourable deal. Don’t concentrate on a fee reduction, instead move towards a system of sustainability over an extended period of time. Achieve this, and the fee will fade into insignificance.