If you hire a business consulting firm to help with your company, how much should it cost? The short answer is that in the long run, those business consulting fees should have generated such significant returns that they are “better than free.”
Before we get into the value of business consulting, let’s discuss the difference between compensated and complimentary services.
If you stay at a hotel for a couple of nights and housekeeping makes the bed, that’s complimentary. You might argue that technically, it’s part of the bill. And by custom, you should leave a tip for the staff. But you’ll never find “sheet folding and reconstruction” listed as a line item on the final invoice that appears under your door.
Of course, compensated services are those that you pay for. The hotel will bill you for room service and any long distance calls you make from the phone in your room.
The purpose of this discussion is to remind us that if we don’t have to pay for it, we don’t value it. As Thomas Paine once said:
What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.
So how does it work with consulting? Isn’t all consulting basically listening, talking, and writing reports? Should that be something we pay for or should we expect to get it for free?
It’s true that consultants provide advice, but the best consultants observe and listen first before saying much of anything. And whether you pay for a consultant’s expertise or find a way to get it at no direct cost, the ultimate outcome should be some kind of improvement. You should save time, money or effort. And if you’re working with one of the best consulting firms, the final outcome should so far exceed your initial investment that you make back your money many times over.
In other words, for every dollar you spend on consultants, you should receive two, five, ten or more dollars in increased production, savings, sales, receipts, or financial efficiency.
Like reading a book, the amount of money you pay at the book store or in library fines is nothing compared to the impact the book could have on your life.
Consulting services are not a cost, they are an investment. If you use the investment wisely, it should pay dividends that eventually far exceed the value of the initial investment.
In that sense, good consulting is better than free. It pays you back. So what are you waiting for?