Why a Consultant?Over our 15+ years as a Civil Construction Expert, we have had many people ask “Why do we need a Consultant? Our Community or Property Manager should have enough experience to address our needs?” While this may be the case in some instances, most times, it is not.
We like using the comparison of road and related infrastructure maintenance to your own vehicle maintenance. Early in the product life of either, maintenance is fairly routine and minimal. With a car, keeping the oil changed, the tires inflated, and filters cleaned are generally common and rational ongoing preventative maintenance practices. The same can be said for the early stages of road life. In the early stages of road life, crack cleaning and filling, and seal coats, are common and routine for “preventative maintenance.” At this stage, a basic understanding of preventative maintenance is reasonable for the performance of either your car or your roads.
However, as your car or your roads age, the complexity of the products requires a greater level of expertise than a simple basic understanding. With today’s vehicles, one must almost be a computer technician to work on them. Vehicles now have on board computers that are continually evaluating product performance. When something goes wrong, your vehicle simply tells you to take your car to the dealer. You now must “rely” on the dealer and the mechanic to provide an accurate report of the problem, the solution, and the cost to repair. That can be a huge risk; one that can cost you a considerable amount of money.
Today, the term “Consultant” is overused and watered down. Many vendors today use the term “sales consultant” for their salesman that is paid commission to get you to buy their product and services. The goal here is to express to the client that they have the “knowledge” to make sure the client gets what is needed to accomplish the task. We have personally spoken to some of these “sales consultants” as part of our vetting process and have learned many have, at best, limited technical knowledge in the industry. We actually had one “sales consultant” tell me that he was selling pharmaceuticals just the year before! This is not to say that all vendors want to deceive the client. To be sure, there are many that care about their reputation in the industry. Many are just trying to successfully sell the product or service they are representing.
So then, "why a consultant?"
A Consultant should have extensive knowledge and technical expertise in the industry in which they serve. We like to use the term “education” to provide my clients the most information possible, enabling them to make an informed decision. In addition, but equally important, the Consultant should have no agenda (meaning no personal benefit from their recommendations). As such, your Consultant should be able to make a complete and thorough evaluation, honest and appropriate recommendations, and inspections that make sense for the client while providing no bias related to product or service.
We have had many experiences where we were able to develop a different, less costly strategy that was appropriate for a client’s pavement surfaces, which resulted in significant cost savings and a better final product for our client. A good “Consultant” should not cost you money. They should save you money by insuring that the appropriate means and methods are being specified and applied. By providing a uniform solution to your road issues, and insuring that all vendors are proposing on the same scope of work, the client will receive the most competitive prices from the vending community.
Which brings us to the final item. There should be no question about the motives, integrity, or ethics of a good Consultant. This is very important when representing your client. A Consultant should be transparent and insure both the client and the vending community that there is no agenda or benefit to the Consultant by their participation in this endeavor. The role of all good Consultants should be to make certain that the appropriate information is conveyed so that the client received maximum benefit from their participation.
We pride ourselves in this endeavor, take our role as a Consultant very seriously, and will continue to educate our clients regarding their pavement and related component needs well into the future.