According to Treister, the biggest hurdle to raising profitability is change. “Operators want to hear what you have to say, but they don’t always want to implement it,” he said. The resistance can be due to the monetary investment, or simply discomfort with change.
“People contact consultants when they need outside help on internal details,” said Treister. He has spoken with operators who want to exit the business, but don’t trust their kids to run it, or who didn’t train their staff to run the business effectively. “A consultant can help inform and enlighten to help them make a good decision for themselves,” said Treister.
IMPROVEMENT REQUIRES COMMITMENT
Operators who aren’t ready to make serious change and hard decisions probably won’t benefit from the services of a consultant, according to Tom Britten, owner, Britten Management Services, LLC, based in Zephyrhills, Fla.
Britten started Britten Management Services after working in every conceivable position in the industry, from route person to executive positions, domestically and internationally.
“Having an outsider look at your business, particularly one that understands your business, can be an eye-opening experience, albeit often dramatic,” said Britten. The consultant should not tell an operator what they want to hear. It’s a consultant’s candor and objectivity that make them beneficial to a business.
Britten likes working as an advisory board member where he can bring in his unique business models and analytical tools to help the company.
“The help most operators need is usually not in the functional areas of vending, foodservice or OCS.
The help that is most beneficial and where the greatest bottom line impact can be made is in combining solid business practices with the existing technical expertise,” he said. Britten has done business orientated tasks, such as review proposals, critique financial statements, or create a template for tracking route productivity, as well as being a sounding board for prospect pitches, or conflict resolution with big accounts.
ALTERNATIVE: ONLINE CONSULTING
Britten admits consultant fees can be steep, especially when travel expenses are added in, but the services are still valuable. His solution is to begin serving clients on a remote basis through teleconferences and e-mail. “A few years back, we all probably would have thought this arrangement was weird and unworkable,” said Britten. “I admit that it is just another example of how the world has changed and how methods are adapting.”
In this tough economy, it’s easy to get stuck in old business practices that aren’t working and not be able to pull enough useful knowledge from the seminars and literature about business. Consultants can give operators that third party clarity that is industry specific.
For more information, contact:
Tom Britten, Britten Management Services, 813-469-5437, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Ford, Edison Strategies LLC, 812-240-1854, email@example.com
Rick Piper, Piper Group International, 503-620-1800, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gary Pretzer, Consolidated Services Group, 520-300-5072, email@example.com
Chuck Treister, U.S. Vending Management, 877-524-2485, firstname.lastname@example.org