Many Behavior Analysts are looking into opening their own practices and turning to Business Consultants to provide guidance on how to move forward in this area. Some analysts are already operating ABA practices and need assistance with some areas in order to make processes flow more smoothly within their organizations. Whether you’re just starting out or are experienced. when looking for a business consultant there are some key questions that you want to ask. These questions are:
- How long have you been (or were you) an ABA Business Owner?
Ideally, you should seek to work with an owner who has (or had) 10 or more years of experience in operating an ABA Practice. Owners with longevity in ownership have passed the initial start up stages and have gained knowledge in a variety of areas that impact the health of an organization. Owners with ten or more years of experience have more than likely dealt with situations in HR, accounting, revenue cycle management, payroll, benefits, IT, legal, and just about any other area that you can imagine. Owners with longevity provide you with practical information from experience and not simply theories or ideals.
- Is your practice still open? (and if not, did you sell or close and why?)
Owners who are still operating full time within their practices may not have the capacity to provide consultation services. However, some owners may have built their leadership team up to take on more of the operational responsibilities and they are able to focus on ownership and have the capacity to provide supervision. Discuss this question with your consultant in order to determine if they have the availability and capacity within their schedules to provide proper consultation.If your consultant is no longer an owner, have a conversation about why. Some who are previous owners did an amazing job, took their companies as far as they could, and sold. However, use caution and be weary of consultants who sold their companies because they mismanaged or poorly led their organizations. Their advice may sound great, but it was not something they were able to put into practice within their own organizations.Another question to ask consultants who were previous practice owners is if they operated post-COVID. The Post-COVID job market has impacted service delivery models, employee benefit packages (flex scheduling being one) and the increased need for owners to be more flexible and creative in their operations.
- What areas does your business specialize in?
When seeking a consultant, you want to make sure that their business (or previous business) is compatible with your current business model. If you provide services within a tiered model in a clinic setting, you don’t want a consultant who worked primarily home based and provided parent support and training. Your consultant should be familiar with your organizational structure and be able to provide solutions that work for your business model.
- What other training or certifications have you pursued other than a BCBA?
Business owners in the ABA field need more than just clinical knowledge to be successful. Consultants who have training and certifications in areas outside of ABA are better equipped to give ideas and solutions that provide long term benefits and are not just fad or short term fixes.
- What are your strengths as an ABA Consultant?
When choosing a consultant, ask them about their strengths and ask them in what areas they feel they need to grow as a consultant. Consultants who can openly discuss their wins and their losses as owners are consultants who: (1) are more likely to be transparent throughout the consulting relationship and, (2), are more likely to tell you when they can’t assist you with a problem that you face. You want a consultant who have have transparent and genuine conversations with you.
- Who will I work with directly?
Ask if your consulting relationship will be with them or if they have other people that they work with who may be meeting with you instead. If you will be switched out to another consultant, ask if you will be able to talk to that consultant and ask these same questions prior to signing a contract or paying any fees. It’s important that you know the background and experience of your consultant and that you get to meet with them prior to a consulting agreement is started.
- How do we determine our goals for the consulting relationship and how will we know when they have been met?
Your consultant should assess your consulting needs and establish goals for the consulting relationship to include within your contract. This allows you to see how the consulting relationship is benefiting you and to determine if you are seeing a return on your investment in consultation services.
- Do you have a contract and established rates?
Your consultant should provide you with a contract that has defined goals, a timeline to meet goals, and a fee schedule. This contract should be established prior to starting the consulting relationship.Ask your consultant their hourly consulting fee. This should be pre-established.
- How often will me meet?
Your consultant should provide within the contract how often you will meet (weekly, monthly, etc) and the method that you will communicate (phone, email, texting, video calls, etc).
- Can I contact you outside of our established meeting times?
Your consultant should establish within the contract their hours and and fees associated with contacting them outside of your meeting times.
Practice Ed offers Business Consultation Services from our founder, Nikki Gray. Nikki founded The Indiana Institute for Behavior Analysis in 2011. In addition to being a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Nikki is also an Associate Professional in Human Resources and has a certificate in HR Consultation. Read more about Nikki here.
To schedule a complimentary 15 minute consultation video call, click here.