Hiring a consultant? Why not Me?
It happens to Anyone…Any Time…Anywhere…For any Reason
Written by Robert D. Sollars
Most of you know my CAREER history; The workplace/school (WPV/SV) incidents I’ve been involved in. My work history, albeit abbreviated, and the health issues that gave me sorties into never-never land at times. But the real question is CAN I, AS A SIGHTLESS MAN IN A WHEELCHAIR, give you great and excellent advice to help reduce the risk & lessen the liability of a VIOLENT incident…damned skippy I can!
Then most entrepreneurs will ask a simple question… “What’s in it for me?? Most entrepreneurs, will tell you that there are times when you need an outside objective assessment of…an issue, from training, sales, IT technical support, business strategies, and a myriad of other issues to help their business to be more successful than it may already be…or save it from closure.
Unfortunately, security is one of those areas of expertise, you don’t believe that you or anyone need…until it’s too late. Usually, it takes a criminal event of some sort which would turn out brutally, to even think about contacting a consultant or a service. In some cases, it may just be too late to have a solution or save you from bankruptcy…or death due to workplace violence, in which case it’s all over except the recriminations and litigation.
“It’s a waste of money to call a consultant for anything, especially security before we need one!” I’ve heard this nearly word-for-word from a few (BUSINESS, NOT SECURITY) consultants and organizations in my career. But hiring a consultant can save YOUR proverbial SPAM in more ways than one, by giving you the expert advice you need before an incident or event occurs, which undoubtedly will cost you many more $$$$$, much more than simply hiring one, to remedy and find a solution for…
The obvious answer to the question that most companies will ask before they hire would be…” I’ve tried all of this stuff but it still isn’t right. What the hell is wrong with these ‘gard companies?”. The answer I’d give them is simple. “The problem isn’t necessarily with them. The problem could be with you, the client. You don’t pay enough to have professionals at the post…only enough for seat warmers and a fire watch. Even at $15.00 per hour!”
So, if you’re hesitant to contact a consultant or have the foresight to do it for advice before an incident, what do you look for? Sometimes that is not always an easy question to answer, but here are a few things to consider, and this is by no means an all-inclusive list.
- Objectivity – This should be the major aspect you look at before hiring one. Are they objective in their approach or are they tainted by companies they’ve worked for or the dogma of whatever industry you’re in? They need to go above and beyond what are best policies and guidelines from professional organizations.
A consultant that you know is objective, is the one that will walk away from you and your issue if they don’t feel they can adequately fulfill or do the job correctly. They’ll tell you upfront and in a direct succinct manner that your idea stinks and you need to do what they say…without being arrogant about it. In other words, explain why what you want isn’t acceptable.
Prejudices, discriminatory behavior, or anything along those lines can’t and shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone, much less a consultant trying to solve your problem.
- Listening Skills – For whatever job and skill set you hire them for, the consultant needs to be able to listen to you and consequently break down your problem (s) in a few choice sentences or paragraphs. If they can’t do that then you may not have the right person.
Additionally, the consultant should be able to break through the clutter and discover the actual issue in what you are asking them to accomplish. This may be uncomfortable for you & your staff to hear, but…the consultant is the expert to break through the clutter and discover the real bottom-line issue at fault.
That real reason probably won’t be the real reason you hired them, but a good & decent consultant will get to the overall issue and help you to resolve it. The example above of the ‘guard’ company fucking it up all the time? The truth may be the client, along with their attitudes, contradictory policies, and managers changing the procedures too often.
- Communication – While this is related to listening, it is a separate component of its own. The consultant needs to be able to communicate with you on a level of knowledge, intelligence, and practical level with ideas and feedback. If they can’t communicate what they think to you, then they may not be able to assist you. It doesn’t matter if they stutter, lisp, or have another speech impediment. If they tell you quickly and efficiently what they are doing and why they are doing it…
- Expertise – They must have the expertise to be able to handle your issues, no matter what they are claiming and throwing out there. If they tell you that they can’t do the job because they don’t know how… that is a sign of an honest and reliable consultant. If they can hire the right help or point you in the direction to go.
Regular or advanced degrees, Certifications, years in the field, and presentations given are no indication that they can work well for you & your situation. While all those things are important, it’s just as important to have someone you can work with efficiently & effectively both in the office and in the field.
Keep in mind that all the certifications, degrees, and such are not indicative of someone who is worthy of your trust. They may have all the knowledge in the world of your issues, but can they actually do the job you need effectively & efficiently? I’ve met many security officers, this would include managers & consultants, who had degrees up to and including Masters, and doctorates, who couldn’t figure out why a door was kept locked and not letting people in the door. The client they worked for just sluffed them off until they quit (the reason for leaving a door lock is not up for the officer to question, just so that it remains locked).
- Personal Discussion – How long are they going to talk to you at the first meeting? This can be an indication of whether you want them or not. If they take up the time of your initial meeting with meaningless minutia, then probably not. Likewise, if they start talking about sheep and goats, a South African friend does this to engage the audience and client, and then keeps on then, well…
Are they asking pertinent and probing questions? Do they get the problem? Are they taking notes and thinking of ways to solve the issue while the meeting is going on? Ask yourself, and them, these questions in the first meeting.
It is unfortunate, but many times the size of a consultant’s report is the basis of whether they did a good job or not. The size of the report means absolutely nothing, except they spent an inordinate amount of time writing it for one purpose – to pump up your response as well as their payment and reputation.
I have written reports like I write everything I do. Succinct, concise, & blunt. No verbose or flowery language or security jargon. And if I did use jargon, I defined it in the report. I made the report simple, sweet, and easily understandable to anyone who would read it.
Did it offend some people who read such a simplistic report? Yes, but in the end, they appreciated how easy it was to read and implement. One client had my report of 10 pages or so. They hired another consultant who wrote the same exact ideas I did but in much more verbose language…their report was 90 pages long. The major difference was my company did it for free and they paid $5,000 for the consultant’s report, wish I’d have gotten that!
- Independence – Are they truly independent or are they trying to sell you a product that they represent and get a commission on? There are consultants out there who will try hard to sell you products of one type or another. An independent consultant will only recommend general products and services specifically if asked.
In this instance, you must beware of those who try to sell from only one company. They say they are independent consultants, but they are trying to sell you on one product or service instead of giving you options.
- Price – This should not be the final consideration factor for hiring a consultant. Most consultants who are truly independent and not affiliated with services or products will usually be more than willing to work out a payment system. So, if their price seems a bit high and you want to hire them It never hurts to ask and if they won’t negotiate… then move on if you wish.
I’ve known some excellent consultants who charged only $100 per hour. Others I’ve known charged in excess of $25,000 per day. The difference between these people? Reputation only. One had a bigger name in the field than the first one did, but both did fabulous jobs at their consultancies.
You may think this is foolish, but a quote from a Star Trek, trademarked “The Next Generation episode says it best: “A reputation not proven or refuted is not worth it.”
Hiring a consultant is a big step for any company to accomplish. They can cost thousands of dollars or as few as a couple of hundred, depending on the chore you’re hiring them for. Just don’t get blinded by the flashy reputation or promotional methods/items they present to you. Cut through the disco glitter balls and ensure that they are right for you and your company. Not all will be a good fit. But with diligent thought and comparison, along with interviews, you’ll be able to find the one that works best for you & the organization.
Want to hire a consultant that is blunt, succinct, honest, and gives you no bullshit? Then contact Sollars Violence Prevention Training & Consulting or write firstname.lastname@example.org or the direct way 480-251-5197
I’ll guarantee no flowery sales pitches or presentations…just straight-from-the-heart security advice that may rile you, but is responsible and designed to keep you and your employees/students safe.
Like these blogs? Then please feel free to pass them along, with proper attribution, to friends, colleagues, or anyone who may benefit, from proper attribution. Have them subscribe at my website: Sollars Violence Prevention Training & Consulting
It happens to Anyone…Any Time…Anywhere… For any Reason
I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear
Copyright 2023 Robert D. Sollars