Hugh Joyce (center) lists the reasons to consider using business consultants.
ST. LOUIS - Hugh Joyce feels that "everyone needs a consultant at one time or another." The president and co-owner of James River Air Conditioning Co. Inc., Richmond, Va. (and formerNews'"Best Contractor to Work For" winner) spoke with Comfortech attendees about choosing the right consultant.

Joyce used the example of his own business, which showed a sales volume increase while profits remained the same or went down. His overhead also increased during the rise in sales. He needed a business consultant to help him break down the numbers.

With tongue in cheek, Joyce described consultants in the following terms:

  • They are very lucky.

  • They are not always right.

  • They analyze their input and act on client's instincts.

  • They sculpt their own plan for your business.

    Joyce put the joking aside and remarked that he has received a great deal of benefit from choosing the right consultants - including advice he took on selling his own name-brand equipment - because it all boils down to selling the company and not the equipment.

    "I am convinced that private labeling is the wave of the future," he said.

    His consultant also suggested increasing the number of service agreements in order to secure a strong customer base and year-round work. He revealed a chart which showed the number of service agreements increasing from 2,800 to 4,500 in two years. "We would not have done this without our consultant," he said.

    He recommended that as contractors reach certain plateaus in business, they need to make changes - changes recommended by business consultants. These plateaus are sales revenue figures (such as $500,000, $1 million, $3 million).

    Whatever the timing or plateau, Joyce said it is important for manager and employees of the company to know that consultants are being asked for help.

    "Keep all employees informed that consultants are coming and why they are there," he urged. "Tell them, ‘We are working on the business and trying to improve the business.'

    "It is critical that your management team buy into an agreeable plan established by the consultant."

    Publication date: 10/18/2004