They shouldn’t be selling products because it creates a conflict of interest. Consulting firms are hired to bring tools into a business that the business doesn’t have or can’t afford normally. They bring experience and skillsets that enable real change and shine light on issues in the company that sometimes can’t be seen by anyone but an outside party.

    They also bring the ability to tell it like it is without fear of reprisal, because they are an outside agent hired to come in and do a job.  Good consultants should have broad experience and up-to-date market intelligence that lets them look at a clients current process and agreements and make suggestions to improve their results.

    Having finders-fee based relationships and commission-based income from vendors and service providers makes you a broker at best…not a consultant.

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    shopping basket of building materials
    Starting out

    When people start a business, they go in guns blazing with business plans, market research, networking and advertising.  They find vendors, open lines of credit, and start closing jobs. After a few months and some success, all those things seem to get shelved for “more pressing” needs.

    Owners wear lots of hats, and the things that drive immediate income take precedence over everything else.  When you only spend $30,000 in a year on materials, leaving 10-20% on the table isn’t as painful as when you spend $300,000 or $3,000,000.

    Businesses evolve and change over time and their needs change, but purchasing seems to get neglected.  As long as product shows up and complaints from the field are minimal, all is well.

    But is it? When was the last time an owner, partner, or C-level executive took a hard look at the market (or markets) they are working in to compare vendors?

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    Project Management Triangle, Triple Constraint

    Price, quality, speed – choose two.  We’ve seen this “rule” written and rewritten in different ways since the 1950’s, when the Project Management Triangle first appeared.  Also known as the Triple Constraint or the Iron Triangle, it is a simple way to define the complex mix between time, cost and quality.  “You get what you pay for” is a cliché everyone knows, but people keep trying to change the dynamic in their favor.

    We’ve all seen signs and internet meme’s stating something like this;

    We offer 3 kinds of service

    Good – Cheap – Fast

    You can pick any two

    Good service cheap won’t be fast

    Good service fast won’t be cheap

    Fast service cheap won’t be good

    For many building materials buyers, this “rule” is an absolute fact.  However, I believe that with proper planning and the right vendor relationships, it doesn’t have to be.

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