I don’t have a problem per se with consultants, but the type of “business expert” who hasn’t adapted to today’s changing business world drives me nuts! And sadly, I think far too many business consultants fall in to that category. You know the type I mean? Guys, and it is mostly men, who are still preaching tired old mantras that were appropriate maybe ten years ago, but no longer fit the demands of a more open and transparent society.

Let me tell you what happened at a business networking event this morning:networking

I was speaking with a young man who really impressed me. Paul Roseman started his business PJR Services several years ago primarily as a gardening service. He has grown his company over the last few years and can now provide a wide range of contract services from grounds maintenance through to cleaning services.

We started talking about the products Paul was using and I was pleased that he chooses eco-friendly options whenever possible. He was excitedly talking about how his business was growing and that he doesn’t lock organisations in to long contracts when our consultant joined the conversation – as happens in the ebb and flow of business networking. We’ll call our consultant Alistair for the purpose of this exercise.

Paul continued to explain that his customers liked the fact they weren’t locked in to long term contracts and it had been a real differentiator for him. He said he believed he could keep clients by providing good service and value for money and therefore really didn’t see the need to insist on longer term contracts, although he was moving from one month’s notice to three months because of the staffing situation.

Alistair frowned. “Yes, I can see that’s a good way to build your business but it isn’t good for the longer term. You need to start thinking about locking your clients in for a much longer period. If you want to sell the business or get additional funding, you are going to need to show you have those long term contracts in place.”

“I totally disagree,” I said. “All Paul needs to be able to do is evidence his current contracts and be able to very clearly demonstrate that he maintains his clients even without long term contracts. That is a far better indicator of the company’s integrity and worth than being dependent upon locking in clients for the longer term.”

Well, the look on Alistair’s face said it all! Clearly, he was a long established business consultant who knew how these things should be done. What on earth was I talking about?

I think our conversation may well have degenerated in to a bit of a spat but for another delegate unwittingly extracting me at that point from the conversation!

Paul has developed his business on the principle of trust. And it’s working for him. And it will continue to work for him if he maintains the quality service he is currently providing.

Paul has adopted a comparatively rare approach, but not unique. Jennings of Garsington Ltd, for example, are commercial landlords who own and operate business parks in Oxford. They are members of ORB and their profile page is really worth reading: www.theresponsiblebusinessdirectory.co.uk/jennings-of-garsington-ltd

Jennings have been established for over 30 years and have built a reputation based on honesty, courtesy, trust and fairness. They don’t lock their tenants in to long term contracts – and they don’t use solicitors to prepare complicated and costly agreements. Their short term leases are four pages long and notice is minimal.  And guess what – their tenants rarely leave them and rarely cause any problems.

Honesty, courtesy, trust and fairness create a mutually harmonious environment.

So Paul, please don’t listen to Alistair’s tired old mantra. Follow your instincts and stick to the great business model you have created. I’m sure if you do that your business will continue to grow and be extremely successful.

PS. If you are a business consultant reading this and would like a little insight in to why “Doing Good is Good for Business,” drop me a line to jill@orbuk.org or call 01702 468387. I’ll be running some short CPD accredited workshops next year that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.