Take Your Spa to The Next Level: Here's How to Hire a Consultant

“In some ways, hiring a consultant is similar to hiring an employee: Determine the needs of the company, find applicants, determine if their talents and experience match those needs, then interview and select,” says Jim Croghan, CEO of Identity Hospitality, a consulting firm specializing in spa and wellness. As with any position, he adds, you’ll also want to consider which applicants will help you achieve your goals and whether or not their personality and philosophy make them the right overall fit for your company. But companies don’t always go that extra mile, and the lack of due diligence can come back to haunt them. 

“At the beginning, it’s really important to identify what deliverables are required of your spa consultant, and then take a look at the consultants you’d like to interview, and make sure they have the background to provide that type of information,” says Kim Matheson Shedrick, senior vice president of  WTS International . “Ask for referrals, and make sure you have an understanding of where each party is coming from and what they see going forward.”

It’s not unheard of for consultants to pad their résumés, so you’ll want to conduct a thorough interview and check references to the best of your ability. Contact former clients for feedback and read online reviews. But you might also consider touching base with a less obvious source. “Vendors are the secret,” says Innovative Christi Cano, founder and president of Spa Productions’s Christi Cano. “They’re out and about more than anybody else, and they know who the good consultants are. They’ve got all of this really valuable information that most people don’t even think to tap into.” She suggests calling any of the major spa vendors and asking them which consultants they’ve had good working experiences with and which don’t follow up on their promises or return phone calls. “They should be able to rattle off several names without even thinking about it,” says Cano. “Vendors are a really important part of this industry, and people don’t give them the credit and respect that they absolutely deserve.” 

Any way you slice it, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of doing your research and making sure a potential partner is a good fit for your team, project, timeline, and budget. “With some consulting fees topping annual management salaries, why wouldn’t you spend as much time researching, interviewing, and checking references for a consultant as you would for a top management executive?” asks Identity Hospitality’s Jim Croghan. 

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