Guidelines to the Consultant Selection Process
The key to success is finding the right match for you and your project: selecting a consultant who meets the criteria of
your project’s needs, can fulfill deliverables according to your timeline, has impeccable client references, and the “right
fit” or chemistry with key management or stakeholders.
1) Frame the Situation
- With your management team, specify your needs and goals.
- For an existing business, avoid self-diagnosis of any issues.
- How will you determine if the consulting engagement has been successful?
- Explain your knowledge of the spa segment of the business. A good consultant will be able to direct you based on your
specific experience, and the experience of your team.
- Be able to clearly explain your business vision, needs, and goals to the prospective consultant
2) The Selection Process
- Be prepared to do your research to find a consultant that has relevant knowledge and
- experience required for the specific needs of your project; do you need a consultant with general knowledge, or expertise
in a specific area?
- Have a list of pertinent, standardized interview questions to ask in your interviews with consultants, much as you would
in hiring a management level staff member
- Be aware that spa consultants have varying levels of experience, including some who have “hung out a shingle” without any
experience in developing, operating or managing a spa
- Be aware that spa consultants may specialize and excel in different aspects of the development,
- operations or management process (Finance; Design & Planning; Operations Development; Customer Service; Menu Development;
Training; etc.). Ask questions to probe around the areas of expertise of any candidates.
- Request a list of client references and perform the necessary due diligence
- After you have interviewed several candidates, evaluate them based on:
- Competence and experience to complete the work
- Cultural compatibility with your existing team
- Demonstrated understanding of your needs and expectations
- Proof of Professional Liability Insurance
- Willingness to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreement)
- Previous Client References
- Willingness to share “in the trenches” stories, both good and bad (and keeping confidentiality of course)
Typical Financial Arrangements
Many professional spa consultants price their services on a “project basis” based on a detailed scope of work with clearly defined deliverables, rather than charging by the hour. Some consultants are also available by the hour for smaller or more specific engagements. The scope of work is often broken out into phases in the case of longer, more involved engagements. An advance retainer is typically required for the consultant to commence work, and payment becomes due for each phase as the work is completed. You should receive a written proposal or agreement detailing scope of work tasks and associated work deliverables for each phase. Travel, accommodations, and miscellaneous expenses such as copying, binding, and phone calls are the main reimbursable expenses which are not typically included in consulting fees. Some consulting firms charge a small percentage for administrative fees and travel time, at a fraction of their hourly rates.
As with many consumer goods and services, the highest price doesn’t always ensure the best quality, nor does a low price necessarily indicate inferior capabilities. It is never wise to make a choice based upon price alone. When comparing consultant’s proposals, do make sure that you are comparing “apples to apples” in terms of knowledge, expertise and scope of work. Synergy also plays a role in the selection process. Clients should make sure that their chosen consultant understands ownership goals, and when working on a larger design team can play the role of an advocate. This is especially true when budgets, design and equipment are considered. There is no set format for proposals and consultants may offer a range of services with varying amounts of detail included in the work.