Role of the Business Consultant Purpose Statement The purpose of this module is to provide a foundation for the Business Consultant to understand their responsibilities to both the state licensing agency and the blind entrepreneurs with whom they work. Learning Objectives The consultant will be able to understand his/her responsibilities to the SLA.
The consultant will be able to understand his/her responsibilities to the blind entrepreneur. The consultant will be able to understand how to balance the responsibilities to both the SLA and the blind entrepreneur. Introduction There are 49 states that have a business enterprise program, as well as three of the U.S. territories. Even though the states may have different rules, policies, and procedures, the basic role of the business consultant is the same. Who Am I?
Counselor? Consultant? Specialist? Agent? Administrator vs. Consultant Administrator Am I an administrator / regulator making sure all policies and procedures are followed?
Consultant Am I a consultant who helps the blind entrepreneur improve his/her business? BOTH! As a Business Consultant, you have to balance your role as an administrator/regulator with that of a consultant. We will start by discussing your role
as an administrator. Administrator Role There are numerous administrative responsibilities. These include: Ensuring the blind entrepreneur is following the policies and procedures as set forth in your state Ensuring the blind entrepreneur is abiding by the permit Ensuring compliance with other regulatory agencies such as the Health Department and Department of Revenue Conducting inspections of the vending facility Conducting facility financial reviews Serving as liaison with property management
Maintaining effective working relationship with other staff, managers, customers, suppliers, etc. Marketing Lets look at these responsibilities in a bit more detail. Ensure the blind entrepreneur is following policies and procedures Each state has their own rules which blind entrepreneurs are required to follow and there are consequences if the blind entrepreneur does not follow the rules. You need to know these rules and be able to explain them clearly to your blind entrepreneurs. You also need to be familiar with your
SLAs disciplinary policy if a manager is not in compliance with the rules. Ensure the blind entrepreneur is abiding by the permit The permit is the agreement between the SLA and property management which allows the SLA to operate the vending facility on the property. It outlines any specific requirements for the operation of the facility such as hours of operation, type of facility (snack bar, cafeteria, vending, etc.), products that can be sold, insurance required, etc. When a blind entrepreneur accepts a vending facility, they are agreeing to adhere to the terms of the permit. It is your
responsibility to be sure the entrepreneur is doing so. Ensure compliance with other regulatory agencies such as the Health Department and Department of Revenue It is your responsibility to ensure that your blind entrepreneurs are providing and maintaining food at the correct temperatures and in a clean and safe environment. In order to do that, you need to know the health and sanitation requirements of your state and county Health Departments. State and county requirements can sometimes vary. You should also know the filing requirements for the Department of Revenue in your state. You need to provide
technical assistance to your entrepreneurs on these filing requirements and verify that they are filing on time and paying sales tax as required. Facility Inspections Even though the Health Department does facility inspections, you should also be doing inspections. The Health Department inspections are more focused on what could cause a food borne illness. That is extremely important and you should focus on that as well.
However, as a business consultant, you should also look at the overall appearance of the facility. Ask yourself the following questions.
Is it meeting the required health codes? Is the facility neat or cluttered? Are the walls and floors clean? Are the vending machines clean inside and out? Are the shelves/machines well stocked with a good variety of fresh merchandise? Are the manager and their employees well groomed and dressed appropriately? If I were a customer would I want to come here to eat or get product from the
machine? How does the appearance affect the image of not only this facility/manager but the program as a whole? General cleanliness of the facility and equipment The facility should be clean and inviting. Floors, walls, tables, chairs, counters and shelving should be clean and in good repair. All food service equipment should be clean and sanitary both food and nonfood contact services. Vending Equipment should be clean and in good repair.
o Glass should be free of fingerprints and smudges. o Shelves should be clean and free of crumbs and residue. o Delivery areas should be clean and free of crumbs and spillage. o Outside of machines should be clean including the tops of machines. o Inside of machines should be clean and free of crumbs and spillage. Appearance of the blind entrepreneurs and employees Blind entrepreneurs and employees should be dressed professionally. Blind entrepreneurs and employees should maintain a high
level of personal hygiene. All equipment is functioning All equipment should be functioning properly. Review vs. Audit Why They Are Important o Ensure that blind entrepreneurs are aware of areas that may be impacting profits. o Ensure that blind entrepreneurs are paying the appropriate amount of set aside fees if your state requires them.
o Ensure that the RSA-15 federal report submitted to the U. S. Rehabilitation Services Administration is accurate. Your Focus on Reviews Pricing Is the vendor marking up his products appropriately to ensure a fair return? Food Costs What are the food cost percentages and how are these affecting the vendors net profit? Labor Costs What percentage of sales does labor represent? Are the vendors labor cost
negatively affecting the bottom line? Back to Basics Sometimes it starts with the very basics and that is making sure your licensed blind vendors know how to submit reports based on the requirements of your state. You should also be sure licensed blind vendors are documenting all sales and expenditures correcting by reviewing their documentation. When you discover deficiencies in any of the above areas, you should:
Discuss immediately with the blind entrepreneur, preferably in private. Discuss actions the entrepreneur can take to correct the problem. Follow your SLAs policy if disciplinary action is required. Document the violation and the discussion with the blind entrepreneur.
When you are performing your administrative responsibilities within a facility, you do not want the blind entrepreneur to view you as the Business Enterprise Police, trying to find something wrong. You want to go into facilities with a positive attitude. If you do have to address deficiencies, do so in a positive manner. Explain how the problem is negatively affecting the business
and how correcting the problem will improve their business. Liaison with Property Management You are the liaison between property management and the SLA. It is up to you to build a good working relationship with your property managers. You should always go into meetings with a positive attitude and willingness to work together to resolve any issues. There may be times when disagreements arise between the blind entrepreneur and property management. You must have the ability to act as mediator to resolve the conflict. You should not make the mistake of believing it is up to you to
fix all problems or that property management should come to you with all issues. Property management should be encouraged to discuss issues with the blind entrepreneur and resolve Maintain effective working relationship with other staff , managers, customers, suppliers, etc. Maintaining effective working relationships is vital as a business consultant. You will work with all types of individuals with all types of personalities. You cannot allow personal feelings or opinions to interfere with maintaining a professional relationship. It is important to treat each individual with respect.
You should be honest and fair with everyone. Marketing Another responsibility you may have in your state is marketing the BE program. Marketing to vocational rehabilitation Marketing to government locations Marketing to private businesses Business Consultant Role Now lets talk about your role as a consultant/advisor. Websters defines a consultant as one who gives professional advice or services.
The most important responsibility you have is to provide consultation to your blind entrepreneurs that will help them to operate their businesses effectively and profitably. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Many Roles Teacher Coach Good Listener
Advisor Cheerleader Advocate Facility Site Visits You should be visiting your facilities on a regular basis. There are several things you should look at each time you are at the facility and provide feedback to the blind entrepreneur as appropriate. Quantity and variety of merchandise Overall appearance of the facility
Appearance of the manager and employees All equipment is functioning Facility Equipment It is your responsibility to: Ensure your facilities have the equipment needed to meet the requirements of the permit and the demands of the customers Ensure blind entrepreneurs are properly trained on all equipment Stay abreast of equipment updates
through regular contact with equipment suppliers Ensure that equipment is maintained and in working order Financial Information Reviewing the financial information for the facility can provide valuable insight into how the facility is operating. Lets look at some of the areas you should review and what they can tell you. 5 4 3
2 1 0 Net Profit Column3 Sales Identify trends Identify problems if sales are declining yet other factors are consistent
Gross Profit Abnormal fluctuations could mean issues with inventory control, pricing, or theft Net Profit Abnormal fluctuations could mean issues with labor costs, fixed expenses, or variable expenses Purchases
Purchases should be reported accurately Purchases should be proportionate to sales 8 6 4 2 0 Expenses Expenses should be
reported accurately Variable expenses should be monitored to be proportionate to sales Employee Earnings Manager Net Profit Labor The manager needs enough employees to
meet the demands of the business, however costs should be monitored to be sure salaries are not excessive, overtime is only being used when absolutely necessary, and there are not too many employees Remember You look at the
numbers to help the blind entrepreneurs make more money. It is not a gotcha exercise. Merchandising Be aware of current trends in the vending and food service industry Maintain contact with
food providers to know what products are best sellers Advise your managers on ways to best display their product to increase sales Advise your managers on marketing and sales techniques Customer Service
Good customer service is crucial for the success of any business. When you are visiting your facilities, you need to observe how your managers and their employees interact with customers. Some of the things to look for are: Are they smiling and friendly?
Are they respectful? Are they positive? Are they responding to the customer tactfully and pleasantly? Are they focusing on the customer? Do they handle complaints professionally? Do they resolve problems to the satisfaction of the customer? Your Roles as an Advocate Expanding the business Renovating (upgrading facilities) Resolve complaints BEP Management
Balancing the Administrator and Consultant Roles Have you ever walked a tight rope? In a sense, that is what it seems like at times when working as a BE Consultant. Although these are two aspects of the job that you have to perform, many of the responsibilities overlap. For instance, on the site visits you will be performing not only the role of consultant but also as administrator ensuring compliance to the rules, permit, health regulations, etc.
When consulting with your entrepreneurs, you will be addressing not only issues regarding facility operations but also issues relating to compliance. Most of the administrative areas are not just about following rules and regulations; they can also have a positive or negative impact on their business and ultimately their profitability. Therefore, you will want to relate everything back to the effect it has on their business. You always want to praise the entrepreneurs for the things they are doing well. If you have to address deficiencies, explain the effect the deficiency is having on their business and the financial loss they could incur if it is not corrected. The ability to make more
money is generally a good motivator! Action Plan All efforts should be made to avoid disciplinary action. Corrective Action Plans are a way to guide the entrepreneur to the right course of action. It would state the area that needs improvement, action steps to make the improvement, time frame for completion, and signature of manager and consultant.
Goal: Date to Complete: Action Steps: By Manager By Consultant ___________ __________ Manager Consultant Hopefully, with your coaching, the blind entrepreneur
will make the changes necessary to resolve any problems. There are times, however, when the situation is not resolved and you have to be the enforcer of the rules. Be sure you know the disciplinary action procedures for your state and be sure you have documentation to back up the decision to take action. What You Are Not: Supervisor Will Blindness Play a Role?
How Does It Matter? The blind entrepreneur must: Possess basic travel skills Have a written form of communication Be able to take care of basic personal needs How Does It Not Matter? The blind entrepreneur must: Same expectations Not an excuse There is a lot to learn as you begin your career as a BEP consultant and it will take some time
before you have it all mastered. Although it can take awhile to learn everything, the variety is also what keeps the job interesting. It can be very rewarding, especially when you are able to help someone become successful and to provide for their family. You are helping people live the American Dream. Take the Online Quiz To take the online quiz associated with this course, please click on the Online Quiz button on the course page, or follow this link, https://www.classmarker.com/online-test/start/?quiz=b3m55e5c4 598b45c
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