“We could have done that ourselves…”

We’ve all heard the story about what consultants do – “they take your watch and tell you the time!” I guess there’s another part that often gets added – “they charge you a fortune for it too”. I’m not going to comment on how other consultants work, but wanted to share an experience from a couple of years ago with one of my clients which puts a slightly different slant on this.
I was engaged by a director of the company (I’ll call him Dave – not his real name) who ran the business day-to-day with his sister. The business had been started by his parents some 48 years earlier and Mum & Dad were still helping out and ready and willing to offer advice to Dave and his sister. Our project was to help them improve customer retention, cross sell other products and services to existing customers and create a new business development strategy.
All went well with the project – delivered on time, on budget etc. and Dave was very pleased with what we had done and was quickly getting positive results. A few months after the end of the project I went to see Dave again to check how everything was progressing and he told me he had had a very interesting conversation with his Dad about the work we had done. Dave had explained to his Dad what we had done and how we had done it, a large part of which involved interrogating their data, talking to their customers and then applying some robust thinking (albeit not ‘rocket science’!).
At the end of his explanation Dave’s Dad said “I’m really pleased with the results son, but not sure why we paid Chris all that money – I think we could have done that ourselves.” Dave’s reply was “Yes Dad, we probably could have done it ourselves… but for 48 years we didn’t!”