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Hire a Consulting Firm on strategic competence, not industry expertise

April 18, 2022

Businesses ready to take their growth to the next level often search for a strategy or management consulting firm to help. However, let’s be clear: a consultant will never be as privy to your industry as you are. Yes, knowing the ins and outs of an industry matters, and your consultant should have enough exposure to be dangerous, but you’ll always be the industry expert.

At Treacy & Company, we have deep exposure in specific verticals, but believe a solid foundation in developing growth strategies across industries (horizontal focus) is significantly more critical for a consultancy than single sector knowledge (vertical focus). If you’re considering hiring a consultanting firm, here’s what you need to know about how a horizontally focused firm, rather than a vertically focused firm, can best serve your business.

Why we put strategy first

As an industry leader, you’re bogged down by years of experience in the “same old situation.” You hire a strategy consulting firm to give you fresh eyes and to push the envelope further than you would have by yourself. This push is certainly possible with a vertically focused firm – they can still provide insights based on your competition and the most up-to-date trends in your field. A horizontally focused firm, however, will be able to base their recommendations on a much broader set of best practices from across high-performing industries. These recommendations often lead to industry beating strategies, rather than strategies that will just get you up to par.

Our industry expertise at Treacy & Company is complemented by a broader, more industry agnostic bent within our practice. We combine frontline experience from a range of industries with solid, proven growth strategies that can help our clients grow faster and more reliably than the competition. We take what we know about your company to develop and execute a plan that will work for your unique business, not based on what “everyone else” in your industry is doing.

What to look for when shopping for consulting firms

So, what should you look for when hiring on growth and innovation expertise, rather than industry expertise? The following signs are a great place to start when choosing the right partner for your needs.

Proposal tailored specifically for solving your firm’s problem

Choose a consultant firm that will take an in-depth look at what your business wants to achieve and create tangible goals based on keen observations of your current operations. Be wary of overly genericized proposals — project frameworks are valuable and often needed, but cookie-cutter approaches should not be used at the expense of developing an approach for your specific needs.

Track record of outside the box thinking

Consultant firms should present real, achievable opportunities for innovation. Ensure your future strategic consultant has a track record of out-of-the-box thinking and of challenging client and industry norms. Consider asking for references and testimonials from previous clients to corroborate a firm’s claims.

Eager to work closely with your team

Some strategic consulting firms create a plan for their clients then leave it up to them to implement the changes. Others see projects through to the end and work with their clients as true partners to ensure proper execution. Pick a consultant that is eager to work closely with your team to accomplish goals and ground quality ideas in reality.

Educating you along the way

Partnering with a consulting agency is an opportunity for businesses to learn and gain new insights. The traditional management consulting model often involves a firm telling clients what they need to do and what they need to change. Instead, look for firms that are eager to educate and involve you and your team along the journey. You will be more informed at the end of the process and more able to carry the growth and innovation principles learned into your future endeavors.

The firm you choose shouldn’t just give quick-fix solutions to your most pressing problems; they should seek to enhance your services, channels, and customer experience with long-term strategic processes to support future growth long after your project is completed.

Treacy & Company is a boutique consulting firm focused on helping clients design and deploy growth strategies for innovation across industries. Contact us at [email protected] to learn more.