Consultant vs. Coach: Similarities and Differences
by Jennifer Radkey
At some point in your journey as a business owner it’s inevitable that you’ll come up against a challenge that you struggle to overcome on your own; you may need to reach out for advice or guidance.
There are countless reasons why you may seek an expert’s help. Perhaps you’ve come up against a roadblock trying to reach a goal. Maybe you’re unexpectedly forced into a major transition. You may decide you’re ready to take your business to the next level but are unsure how to proceed.
The situation you find yourself in could be as big as the opening of a new restaurant or bar, or as vague as a general sense of something not being “right.”
Whatever the reason may be, you’ve exhausted your own pool of resources and are ready to seek outside help. So, who do you turn to?
Most likely you’ll be looking to hire either a consultant or a coach. Of course, this begs the question: Which do you choose?
I’m both the vice president of KRG Hospitality and a certified life coach. My husband Doug Radkey is the president of KRG Hospitality and our agency’s lead consultant. “Do I need a consultant or coach” is a question people ask of us quite often.
The answer is simple once you understand the similarities and differences between the two.
Coaches and consultants are both third parties who provide an outsider’s clarity while maintaining an unbiased point of view.
They’re both knowledgeable and have their own unique approaches and expertise. Coaches and consultants come with the intention of helping you achieve your goals. While the majority of coaching and consulting is done one-on-one, team consulting and coaching are also options.
The differences between coaching and consulting can be found in the approaches used to help you achieve your goals.
The easiest way to learn the differences between a coach and a consultant is to take a closer look at how each one approaches how they help you. It’s an understanding of these differences that provide the clarity needed for you to choose the best solution.
Consultants are industry-specific experts. When presented with a challenge you want to overcome or a goal you want to achieve, a consultant finds the solution using their knowledge and experience. They also diagnose any problems that are evident in your business and then make recommendations to correct them.
A consultant is someone you can turn to for technical and professional advice.
Once the consultant has determined the root of the problem or determined the best path forward to achieve your goal, the answers will be provided to you. And along with the answers come the steps necessary to solve the problem or reach the goal. You’ll be given a clear, detailed plan.
Consultants listen carefully to what’s going on. They ask specific questions, watch how your team interacts with your guests, and study your steps of service. Additionally, consultants analyze data and conduct research, and then communicate their findings clearly with you. Again, consultants give you the tools you need to execute a plan—including processes and proven methods—to achieve success.
If you’re in need of specific industry advice and expertise, a consultant is who you need to hire.
Coaches are experts in placing the power in your hands to discover your own solutions and answers. You hire a coach to discover yourself, inspire confidence, explore possibilities, and find your own clarity. Entrepreneurs turn to coaches to help them transform into great leaders.
Through sincere and thoughtful inquiry, coaches will pull answers out of you that you didn’t know that you already had. They’ll also help you become aware of self-imposed limitations so you can overcome them. Rather than just giving you a plan, coaches help you develop your own strategies for uncovering your truth, and then help you understand how to move forward.
Coaches are sounding boards for discussing both personal and professional issues, providing a safe, judgment-free place for you to be heard. They’re interested in long-term results and the overall well-being of their client.
If you’re looking for overall growth and a better understanding of how you can reach your own goals and potential, a coach is who you need to hire.
Hiring a consultant or a coach is a positive step towards achieving both short-term and long-term goals. Knowing the difference between the two now empowers you to choose the best person to help you where you want to go.
Cheers to personal and professional growth!
Image: Robert Linder on Unsplash