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Ask the right questions of your management consultant

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Here are five questions to ask before hiring a management adviser


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Merle Good Photo: Supplied

Farmers can go online and get 10 different quotes for the same model of tractor — but that’s not so with hiring a farm business management consultant.


“Farmers get frustrated when they look on the soft side of business — the management or consulting side — because they don’t know if they’re getting fair value,” said consultant Merle Good.


“There’s no definitive market out there for what you should be paying for this stuff.”


Choosing the right consultant can be tricky for farmers, but ultimately, “in a consultant, I want credibility and experience,” said Good, a popular speaker who had a lengthy career as a tax specialist with the provincial Agriculture Ministry before becoming a consultant. 


Here are five questions he recommends asking before hiring an adviser:


Related: Get off to a better start with farm succession

1. What are you famous for?

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“If they can’t tell you what they’re really good at, that gives you an idea of what they’re about. If I’m trying to buy your service, you better know what you’re doing.”

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2. Do you have any references you’re willing to share?

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“If you can’t give me some clients to talk to about what you do, that’s a pretty big red flag.”

Related: A new way to pass on the farm that may let you sleep easier

3. Do you have any examples of your work?

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“Take out the guys’ names and show me your work.”

Related: Farm debt at record highs — but top lender not worried

4. Are you good enough to actually train the trainers?

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“The top four tax lawyers I work with all do public speaking because they’re specialists.”

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5. Are you a member of any professional associations?

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“The one big one for us is the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors.”

Related: More than good enough

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