How to Determine If You Need a Retail Consultant

As you work to determine if you need a retail consultant, it’s important to first understand what a consultant is, what a consultant does and what the difference is between a retail consultant and a retail strategist. Read on to learn qualities to look for, warning signs to avoid and how to know you’re ready to hire help.

What Is a Retail Consultant?

A retail consultant is a freelance professional who typically specializes in a specific job. This individual is hired to perform that specific function, his or her expertise in the space.

“Retail Consultant” Isn’t Synonymous with “Retail Strategist”

It may come as a surprise, but a retail consultant and a retail strategist are not one and the same. While a retail strategist can serve as a retail consultant as well, providing fashion business consulting does not automatically make a person a retail strategist. For example, our team is made up of retail strategists who offer bespoke consulting services.

Retail strategists stay at the forefront of what’s happening in the industry with regards to business models, marketing and trends. It’s our goal to be industry experts and stay on top of innovation, new strategies and business trends. In contrast, a retail consultant consults in areas that don’t necessarily need to be strategic. By contrast, strategists are intellectually engaged and always have fresh ideas about the market. They‘re mentally agile problem solvers who can adapt to different models.

A retail consultant has a niche. A retail strategist has widespread, in-depth knowledge across many topics in the field. For example, at Scaling Retail, we have expertise in everything from human resources and profitability to negotiating and P&L (profit and loss).

How to Confirm You’re Ready to Hire Help

Everyone can stand to use a strategist. Even the most experienced business owners can receive alternative strategies or reinforcement of a strategic direction to help support (and drive) profitability and success.

The 2 Types of Business Owners Hiring Strategists…

  1. The business owner who is aware that he or she needs to be surrounded by smart people. This person hires a retail strategist in the very beginning.
  2. The business owner who took his or her company as far as they could, before hitting a wall. This person has been in business for some time and is running out of fresh ideas. Their company may need to pivot or it just needs help to get to the next stage, to scale up.

Anyone you work with will be advising you on where and how to allocate and invest your finances. If you don’t have the money, hiring  fashion business consulting help is the last thing you should do. We share free articles and videos for this very reason. Our free content can be very helpful to new businesses that aren’t ready to invest in strategic consulting.

If you do have the resources, hiring a strategist is an excellent first step. You’ll save a lot of time and money as you fast track your way through the industry.

You may not be ready if you don’t want to hear opinions that conflict with yours. The same applies if you’re very protective of your ideas or insist on doing things your way.

Finally, know what you want to get out of a retail consultant before you sign. If you don’t know what you want, you’re not ready to hire.

Who Should You Hire?

Do your due diligence. Thoroughly vet potential strategist partners before bringing them aboard.

How credible are they? Are they respected in the industry? Who trusts their strategies and their fashion business consulting? What have they done and what is on their resumé? It’s easy to be romanced by fancy language and great promises, however, you should be focused on results.

Also be sure to watch out for discount prices which equate to “discounted services”. You get what you pay for- and part of what you pay for is experience, credibility and results.

Figure out what prospects excel in most. Many people will say they can do a lot of different things; it’s your job to ensure they truly can. Others say they’re retail consultants when they’re really social media experts. Gain a full understanding of their capabilities and get to know their philosophies. In fact, when you hire a strategist, you’re actually buying into their philosophy. It’s the way they approach the business, how they problem solve, and what discerns one strategist from another.

Professional retail strategists regularly attend industry conferences. They read all of the right publications. They have fresh insights and connections. A good strategist should be able to say “this works and this doesn’t work”, “we see this coming up as a market trend”…. They don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach that they want you to hire them for and they have fresh thoughts and ideas.

Once the criteria above has been met, narrow things down with personality fit, candor and dynamics. Does the retail consultant or strategist have a personality type that suits yours, one you respect and will listen to? Do you feel comfortable together and have a good dynamic? Does this person tell you the truth or do they sugarcoat things for you? One of the reasons clients come to Scaling Retail is because we share our real thoughts which bring them real results.

Hiring fashion business consulting support should make you feel confident and more secure. You should feel as if you have a plan and feel assured you’re investing your money wisely.

If you’re ready to take on fashion business consulting and strategy, let’s start with a 30 minute session. We’ll determine if we’re truly the right fit and get the initial impressions of your needs. If we decide to work together, we’ll have additional sessions to understand the unique ins and outs, history and goals of your business. We’ll develop custom strategies and recommendations and work with you through execution. Give us a call at 310-957-5264 or email us at hello@scalingretail.com.

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