When Should Apartment Owners/Managers Use a Consultant?

It has been my experience that managers and owners are unsure how to react when approached with a solution to an issue that they know a little about, but are unsure whether or not they should believe me (a consultant) or just show me the door? If you are like most apartment managers or business owners, the question of using a consultant is not easily answered. Please allow me to try.

The main reasons why a multifamily housing company should use a consultant are to increase revenue, reduce expenses and/or save valuable time and other resources. Most of you are extremely busy, working on a tight budget and, for the most part, have never really used a consultant. If you can immediately rule out the possibility of this person helping you in any of these categories, then do so. However, there is a possibility that you may miss out on a great opportunity. If you suspect this may be the case, accept a business card and when you have time, perform a little Internet research on them and their company. Make sure you verify and confirm what they said they could do has been done.

Once it is decided that the consultant may be able to help your operations, seek references, ask for more literature if needed, and most importantly, ask how much? Lastly, check to see if they are members of professional organizations, such as the National Apartment Association. Do they have articles written in journals or trade publications?  If so, which ones? Call all references and verify all information.

Other than the main reasons of saving time and money, I still glossed over when you should consider the use of a consultant. Below are 10 detailed examples of when a consultant may be needed. 

  1. To Supply Added Technical or Professional Expertise
  2. To Provide an Impartial Independent Evaluation
  3. To Avoid Increasing Headcount or Expenses
  4. To Further Identify, Clarify and Quantify a Project or Situation
  5. The consultants experience leads you to believe that they know where to look for opportunity and analysis when you don’t or haven’t had the time
  6. The environment or technology is rapidly changing or is volatile
  7. A resource is provided for less money with a much higher degree of knowledge and experience than what your company could provide it for
  8. When there is zero or minimum risk for added costs or time with a potential benefit or gain
  9. Overworked Staff with Low Morale
  10. Lack of or incomplete information about competition, technology, or a specific and unique situation.

Consultants are well-suited for mean and nasty projects like writing and negotiating contracts, among other things. A consultant should be considered when they can reduce headaches and stress in your operations. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. Remember to always ask how the consultant would like to be compensated. This is what scares most people away. However, if you have done your research on the consultant and their company, you should have already asked their references if the expense outweighed the risk of not using them at all. Overall, if your organization has always ruled out consultants, maybe now is the time to rethink the benefits and potential success a consultant may be able to provide your organization.