How do you choose a consultant for your farming business?
So, you’ve come to the conclusion that you need some more support. You’ve narrowed down where you need to help, whether that be finance, HR, operations, or safety, but how do you decide who is the right fit? You may be feeling a lot of pressure, wondering how you choose the right farm business consultant. Our team have created this blog with some tips to help you narrow down, and hopefully find, the perfect match.
Do you need a consultant?
Let’s start from the beginning, how do businesses know they need a consultant? Many agribusiness owners, overtime, find themselves performing tasks or struggling to keep up with everyday business demands, this could include managing the paperwork, completing tax returns, audit and compliance, not just hiring new workers but finding them too, maintaining a safety management system or introducing new processes to streamline production. As these tasks are completed you will identify areas and skillsets necessary to improve the quality of your decisions, impacting profitability and increase efficiency.
With the right person who can provide their experience, knowledge, and education you can grow, develop, and build on the business foundations you already have. Enter the farm business consultant.
What is their role?
A consultant’s role within your business could be rather broad, from being a sounding board for ideas through to becoming the actual decision maker. It really is up to you how much involvement you want as to what role they will take on. Their role could entail:
- Acting as a broker or mediator
- Discussion facilitator
- Training and educational purpose
- Business administration and record keeping
- Advice and data analysis
- Act on behalf of management or act as a stand in for management
- Assist with restructuring your organizational model
- Provide support in a business merger
- Make market/industry recommendations and forecasts
How can you find a consultant?
It’s important to remember that every consultant’s level of expertise and the area in which they specialise will vary. You need to do your research and check that their expertise and experience matches what you are wanting them to do for your business. There are a lot of different ways you can find a consultant, but it also depends on the level of support you want. Are you looking for face-to-face, one on one, or online? Below we have listed just a few avenues to help you on your search:
- Check with industry groups, government regulators, farming organisations or an agency.
- Word of Mouth: Asking for referrals from neighbours, friends and colleagues could guide you in the right direction. This is how most consultants tend to advertise themselves.
- A Google search (or any search engine) just make sure you are specific about your search terms. For example, Farm Business Consultant in Victoria
- Did you know that Safe Ag Systems has partnered with a network of agricultural consultants, discover if there is a professional in your state or region.
Questions to ask and things to consider:
- What is their specialised area or expertise?
- What is their knowledge of your industry?
- Do they have connections amongst the industry?
- How do they provide an independent perspective?
- Is their work and solutions backed by research, documentation, or experience?
- How do they analyse the situation?
- Do they utilise tools to help them determine answers and source a solution?
- Can they provide references or samples of their work?
- Can they present their qualifications?
- Cross check details with relevant professional associations
- Look for reviews to gauge their reputation
Keep in mind, every consultant may operate in different ways and have their own approaches and processes.
Below are just a few things you can expect, but your own experience may vary:
- Leadership skills
- Objective advice
- Knowledge on the latest information and technologies
- A strategic plan/approach
- Effective training
- Knowledge of your business
- Accountability – this does not mean they take on your responsibilities
- Measurable results
We could bombard you with a tonne of reasons why you should consider a farm business consultant to supplement your current workforce. They’re independent, experts in their field, they can make the difficult decisions and may be a cost-effective solution when you reach your capacity. Properly selecting a consultant is not an easy task, however, with time and effort the right consultant can be life changing.
Having an independent and professional opinion as part of your decision-making process can result in significant returns further down the line. Engaging the right consultant, is much like being prepared to pay for the right farming equipment, it is an investment. We know, no one person has all the skills to do everything and sometimes we need a bit of help from the experts.
Topics: Find a Consultant
Disclaimer: Content on this website may be of relevance to users outside of Australia, but content links and examples are specific to Australia. Please check with your local authority for your country and industry requirements.
Originally published 16 November, 2021.