38 | The Jewelry Business Magazine WHAT DOES A CONSULTANT DO? Some people would say that a consultant simply tells you the blindingly obvious things to do – often things you already know you should do, but need someone from the outside to confirm it. That’s probably overstated, but what good consultants do – and what good owners, leaders, and managers do – is listen more and talk less. I was doing an assessment for a family business and after speaking with the husband, I asked to speak to his wife. He asked why I wanted to speak with her. I answered: “Because she’s your business partner and life partner (and I hoped soul mate) and I want to know her thoughts, too.” Truth be told, I always want to speak to an owner’s wife because she will keep her husband honest. So, when I asked the wife what she thought about the problem they were having in their business, she said “I told my husband not to do that years ago.” I then asked the husband if he ever listens to his wife. Sheepishly, he said, “Now I do.” Husbands often need to hear things from someone other than their wives, and the reverse is also true. That’s one of the key values of a consultant. WHY IS OUTSIDE COUNSEL SOMETIMES NECESSARY? When you run a jewelry business, you are involved in so many things that you can get tangled in the weeds. You’re dealing with marketing, advertising, merchandising, management, personnel, scheduling, purchasing, inventory control, appraisals, repairs, and the list goes on. One of the great values of someone from the outside is that they are able to see the business and the issues of concern from a higher elevation and with an unbiased eye. You pay a consultant to help you solve problems, give advice, and hold you accountable to what you know you should do, but won’t do, without outside help. This isn’t therapy – although some would claim it to be. It is practical, reasoned, well-thought-out counsel that you often can’t live without or can’t run a business without. A consultant’s wisdom, intelligence, and experience is revealed more by the questions he or she asks than by the assertions that are made. The questions create a learning environment and a thought-provoking mechanism to get to the answers that everyone is seeking. By Bill Boyajian WHY HIRE AN OUTSIDE CONSULTANT? An upscale jeweler once called me to visit his stores, meet with his key managers and employees, and review his overall operations. By the second day, I asked him why he had me fly across the country to conduct the assessment when he had such a great business already and when everything seemed to be motoring along. He answered that he knows he does 80% of everything right, but that he was determined to improve the last 20%. I knew right away why he was so successful. Hiring a consultant from the outside is not something I would normally recommend if things are humming along, but in this jeweler’s case, it didn’t matter. He wanted constant improvement. And if you saw the size and growth of his business over the last decade, you would know why he gets it. What does a consultant do? Some Key Questions Why is outside counsel sometimes necessary? What will happen if you do nothing?