Be Careful Who You Associate With

– Or the Law of Association will Bite you

You should be cautious of the company you keep. Associating with those of low reputation may not only lower your own, but also lead you astray by the faulty assumptions, premises and data of the unscrupulous. – Wikipedia.

I once wrote an article called Choose your Advisers with Care in my Powerlines newsletter that adds to this statement and also quoted this:

  • Advice is like mushrooms; consuming the wrong kind might prove to be fatal.
  • Education  –  What you get from reading the fine print. Experience – What you get from not reading it.
  • As Florrie Nightingale said…”If you aim to be a leading light; get a little expert help to polish your lamp”.

The bottom line:  Choose  your advisers with care! The Bell Pottinger and KPMG fallout has certainly underscored that statement.

In my Market your Practice workshops I use this modified questionnaire as a guide to get professional services providers to think about their advisory services. (Source: Adapted from the book Managing the Professional Service firm – David Maister)

Think back to your own use of outside professionals. Did they:

  • Make it their business to understand what was special and unique about you and your company?
  • Listen carefully to what you say and what you wanted, rather than substitute their own judgment for yours on what needs to be done?
  • Give good explanations what they are doing and why?
  • Let you know in advance what they are going to do?
  • Keep you sufficiently informed on progress?
  • Avoid confusing jargon?
  • Keep promises on deadlines?
  • Document their work activities well?
  • Make sure they were accessible and available when you needed them?
  • Make you feel as if you were important to them?
  • Show an interest in you beyond the scope of the task?
  • Were helpful beyond the specifics of the project?

Most clients say that if they found a provider that RELIABLY behaved in the words described, they would be:

  • More likely to return to that provider
  • More willing to refer to that provider
  • Less fee-sensitive about those providers’ services

As one person said once “The key to marketing success is not how good you are, but how you’re perceived.” Remember the words from an old song: “It isn’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it: That’s what gets results”

Unfortunately the reputations of numerous professional service firms and individuals have been tarnished by the State Capture saga. Government is reviewing and scrutinizing all consultant relationships.

These questions and your relationships with alliances will be monitored. Do your homework.