In Times of Crisis, Hiring an External Consultant Can Help
Life today looks much different than it did a year ago – and that includes our economic environment and the parking business. However, at the time of writing this article, things do not look nearly as bleak as those darkest days of March and April 2020.
External consultants can offer organizations the opportunity to supplement their existing team members with additional support and an outside perspective.
While there are reasons for optimism, our reality, for at least the foreseeable future, does look different than it did pre-COVID. Learning to survive, and ultimately to thrive, during this pandemic will have long-term implications for all in parking.
This is why is it more important now than ever to find ways to stand out to customers, mitigate risks and vulnerabilities, optimize operations, and capitalize on disruptive opportunities all while keeping expenses low.
Simple… just like parking, right?
For many professionals in parking, day-to-day operations are more than enough to keep busy, especially for smaller teams where employees must wear many hats. External consultants can offer organizations the opportunity to supplement their existing team members with additional support and an outside perspective. Choosing to hire a consultant is a solution that can help cities make sound decisions, organizations implement relevant technologies, and businesses compete or grow.
When you say consultant, you mean what exactly?
The term consultant is vague and often misused. In a nutshell, consultants provide expert analysis, opinions, and recommendations to individuals or organizations within a particular field. Consultants will generally have extensive knowledge and experience in certain aspects of a business, industry, or subject matter.
Consultants come in many forms and specializations. They can be a solo practitioner or part of a firm. They can provide different kinds of advice in different areas of expertise. Common types of consultants include:
Strategy and Management – Hired for their deep understanding of a specific market or knowledge of industry best practices, Strategy and Management consultants are often brought on board to help organizations adopt new business models, enter new markets, or extend product portfolios.
Information Technology – These experts are in increasingly high demand as technology can make all the difference between a parking operation’s success and failure today. IT consultants are used to assist managers in choosing appropriate software solutions, training employees to use software, or ensuring IT systems are secure.
Operations – These firms or individuals focus on enhancing operational efficiencies and improving quality controls. That may include re-engineering processes and procedures and optimizing various aspects of an operation including sourcing, procurement, manufacturing, and logistics.
Human Resources – HR consultants handle matters dealing with a company’s employees. Most frequently, they are used to recruit top talent for strategic or specialized roles, improve employee retention, or develop competitive compensation plans.
Sales and Marketing – Sales and marketing consultants focus on developing strategies to increase sales and brand recognition. They may be hired to work on projects ranging from website design and rebranding to sales process development and improvement.
In the parking industry, you can find all types of consultants and many offer services and expertise that span multiple categories.
How Consultants Can Help You Navigate COVID
The following are several ways hiring a consultant can boost your organization’s pandemic response.
Enhance Customer Service – Businesses have the basic duty to ensure that their customers are well served despite the current crisis. Parking organizations may find real value in working with a consultant to develop ways to better serve clients and customers that ensure retention and loyalty.
Rejuvenate branding and marketing – A strong online presence is a must-have for organizations during this moment of crisis. Digital marketing that aligns with customer needs can achieve huge gains in awareness and brand loyalty. Using external resources for these projects can be a wise move as the effectiveness of these efforts hinges on working with a marketing expert that stays on top of the trends in the always-changing digital marketing space.
Snap up top talent – Unfortunately, many parking employers had to make a business decision to lay off employees and, in some cases, a significant number of employees. This might lead many to follow the logic that hiring must be a cinch today. But so many people on the market all at the same time has complicated the hiring situation for many parking employers. Many parking employers have experienced a huge influx of applications or inquiries from candidates and do not have enough resources to process and match up professionals with the best fit. Using an outside HR or recruitment consultant with access and experience working with professionals specifically within the parking niche can enable an organization to find talent that truly fits their needs.
2020 will go down in the books as the worst year ever for many of us. While 2021 looks like it will be no walk in the park, this crisis, too, shall pass. Consultants can provide a significant amount of value for parking organizations to emerge from the current crisis successfully.
Kathleen Laney is President of Laney Solutions – She can be reached at Kathleen@laneysolutions.com.