BGC Advises a Peer Consultant to Get There™

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CHALLENGE:
At some point every smart owner needs to reposition, repackage, or refocus his business to grow—even one whose job is to help others reposition, repackage, and refocus their businesses.  After providing consulting services, including a “CFO-for-hire” solution, to small business owners for more than a decade, Phil Symchych of Regina, Saskatchewan, sensed he wasn’t being as productive or as profitable as he could be.  He also knew too much about running a business to try the “Physician, heal thyself” approach.  “You can’t consult to yourself,” he said.  “You can’t simply look in the mirror.  Like any business owner, I needed a fresh outside perspective.”

SITUATION:

Phil Symchych has spent a lifetime knowing what business owners need.  Growing up helping his family run a 22-room seasonal hotel in western Canada—“like the Bob Newhart show but without a restaurant,” he said—he developed a solid work ethic, a knack for customer service, and a conviction that small business owners don’t always get the advice they need.  “Every year when my mom, dad, aunt, and uncle would show up at the accountant’s office to sign the annual financial statements and tax returns,” he said, “they would walk in hoping to get advice about how to run things better and walk out feeling disappointed.”  Because his parents didn’t know what to ask, the accountant provided only basic number crunching; it was, he said, “a missed opportunity all around.”

Motivated to provide the kind of support his family never received, Symchych became a chartered accountant (CA), a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and recently obtained his Master of Business Administration (MBA).  After working as an accountant for a couple of years, he set up shop as a full-time consultant helping owners and managers deal with everything from corporate finance to human resources management to succession planning.  Since 1994 he has developed two brands—CFO.CA, which offers the “virtual CFO” service, and Symchych Consulting—that provide services to companies across western Canada.  When he felt the need to “sharpen the point of the arrow” in the way he developed his services, he initially sought help from consulting strategist Alan Weiss, which in turn led to Phil meeting Andy Birol at one of Weiss’s Mentoring Summits.

What might have turned into a case of too many consultants instead became an effective working relationship which leveraged everyone’s strengths.  Symchych described it this way: “Andy and I both follow the Alan Weiss model of working out of our homes and ‘mobile offices.’  [In Symchych’s case, a BMW.]  Alan continues to help me build my consulting foundation. But Andy has been where I am right now, working solely with entrepreneurs.  He’s qualified to help me get there.”



THE BGC SOLUTION:

While productivity was Symchych’s reason for hiring Andy, communication turned out to be the key to refocusing his business. Early in the process, Andy noted that Phil’s real value was getting lost in all the talk about financial strategies and management solutions. By focusing on functionality rather than on outcomes, Symchych wasn’t giving prospects and referral sources a clear view of the value he was providing—and he wasn’t focusing on this value in his own mind.

Andy challenged him to look closely at his clients, his goals, and the structure of his business. Through a series of exercises, worksheets, and “intense discussions” with Andy, Symchych was able to articulate his Best and Highest Use® through a concise new tagline—Control and Confidence™. “This is Phil’s main value as a consultant,” Andy said. “Owners can’t worry about growth when they’re sweating over today’s cash flow or management problem. Phil Symchych helps them take control over what’s happening today so they can be confident about growing their companies now and in the future.”



CLIENT RESULTS:

The new tagline, which replaced the somewhat fuzzy message of “helping business owners increase performance, improve profits and enhance the quality of their lives”, became the main feature of a slew of new marketing materials, including a press kit and an updated Web site. The result? More efficient, effective communication with clients and bankers, who provide most of Symchych’s referrals. “Owners now have a much clearer picture of the outcomes they can expect when they work with me,” he said. “And bankers have confidently referred new business to me which will help their customer—the business owner—get control and improve profits.”

With Andy’s help, Symchych has also clarified the relationship between his two brands. The CFO.CA area, which accounts for over 80% of the firm’s business, allows him to attract new clients, deliver quick results, and establish good relationships that can pay off over time. With 7 of 10 Canadian business owners set to retire over the next 10 years, succession planning—the focus of Symchych Consulting—represents a huge growth area, but it’s labor intensive because of the time needed to build relationships with outgoing and incoming owner/managers. By attracting new business through CFO.CA, Phil Symchych will be well positioned to help these companies make the eventual transition to new leadership.

Having hired Andy for overall clarification of strategy, Symchych found the relationship to be “very positive, direct, and conducted at full speed—an awesome experience. I went to him looking for focus on entrepreneurs,” he added, “and out of our work came an enormously improved communication and marketing message.” In other words, Symchych gained the very things he can offer his own clients—control and confidence. Said Andy, “Business owners, myself and Phil included, are by nature, controllers who need to dream. And with help from peer experts, they can turn those dreams into practical visions that get results.”



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