Consultants: Betraying My So-Called “Tribe”


Youre-just-not-making-any-fucking-sense-so-for-that-reason-Im-out-Mark-CubanSomeone sent me a link to an article about consultants, and I have to say, I completely agree and sympathize with this guy. When conversing with other consultants, I have to fight the urge to pull a Mark Cuban on them.

Many so-called “consultants” have a tendency to deliver more bullshit than results. The buzzwords and made-up language are intentionally crafted to inflate their abilities while simultaneously obscuring the exact results they’re capable of delivering. I’m not talking about “big words,” here. I use big words. That’s just how I speak.

Don’t confuse a broad vocabulary with contrived idiocy.

I’m talking about ridiculous terminology that sparkles like glittering diamonds to a salon owner–“super-charge,” “productivize!,” “synergy!,” and my personal most-hated term, “tribe.” I seriously hate that word with every fiber of my being. Coming in at a close second would be any nonsensical (and yet somehow still obnoxiously motivational) saying, for example: “Let’s step forward together and challenge the future!” Third most hated? Meaningless analogies, for example: “To be successful, we need to eat our own dog food before we have our pudding.” …ugh. Nauseating on several levels.

These consultants aren’t consultants, they’re bullshit artists. I can play along too. “The competition may be fierce, but the potential profit pools are substantial! If our tribe can synthesize and streamline our internal processes and protocols, we can establish a harmonized landscape and slice that elephant into small pieces…now pay my $15,000, non-refundable retainer so we can build your Jenga tower with multiple core efficiencies.

These cretins are so embarrassing, I actually hate telling people what I do for a living.

In my capacity as a consultant, I act as a partner, educator, and helper. I’m an extra brain, basically, and an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands. I see myself as more of a time-saver for salon owners than anything, because if they were to commit the time and effort into educating themselves daily on business, law, marketing, or management practices, they would be just as capable as I am at performing their duties. In the real world, most salon owners don’t have time to devote hours of every day to learning these topics and keeping informed about the shifting landscape of the tectonic business–yeah, I can’t even continue joking about it, it’s legitimately pissing me off.

Many salon owners have only worked behind the chair, so they don’t have the depth of experience a career salon manager has. For those owners, it’s easier to hire someone to guide them. I learned a lot of lessons by observing the mistakes of other salon owners (and making several of my own). Owners who hire a consultant gain the wisdom of that experience without the blood, sweat, and tears. A true consultant is a priceless business asset, but it’s hard to determine if they’re legitimate or not. I know a lot of “consultants” who truly act more as coaches–and coaches are not consultants.

A consultant consults. We advise, assist, and educate. We analyze, troubleshoot, provide solutions, and help lead you through the process of implementing those solutions.

A coach acts as a cheerleader. They encourage. They motivate. They help you solve your own problems–they do not solve them for you. People who benefit from coaches are those who need help developing their own critical thinking skills. They need someone to ask them pointed questions and guide them to their own solutions. They may also require a “taskmaster”–someone to hold them accountable to themselves.

The funniest part about these coaches masquerading about as consultants is that they have no clue what their role is. The first question you need to ask a potential consultant after, “Tell me about your experience,” is, “What exactly can you do for me and for my salon?” If you receive any wobbly, evasive, complicated, or BS answers designed to confuse you, flatter you, or paint the consultant as some golden god of business mastery–you’ve got a bullshit artist in your office.

A good consultant is not a bullshit artist. They don’t spout buzzwords to confuse you. They are direct about the kind of results you can expect from them. They’re neutral about your business and they meet you on equal-ground.

We will not worship the ground you walk on and tell you what a special flower you are.

We will not endorse your piss-poor decisions.

We will not enable your laziness.

We’re retained to help you succeed, not stroke your fragile ego. This means getting the hell to work and getting things done.

I’m an extremely ethical person and I hate that I’m associated with a profession that’s widely considered to be unethical.

I recently fixed the “work” of one of these fake “consultants.” I’ve watched them drive salons off cliffs. When someone entrusts you with something as sacred to them as their business, you have a moral obligation to perform well. You’re the lifesaver they grasp onto. For many of my clients, I’m their only hope (sometimes I like to wear a robe and pretend I’m Obi-Wan). To abuse the trust of a desperate person for the purposes of lining your own pockets is so deplorable it makes me nauseous.

So here’s my advice to you: start reading. Read books, read blogs, watch video lectures online. LEARN. If you can’t find a competent, trustworthy consultant, commit yourself to getting thoroughly educated.

Now let’s come up with a better word than “consultant.” It leaves a yucky taste in my mouth.

Previous articleToo Small to Fail: The Lunatic Assumption of the Self-Employed Salon Professional
Next articleAASM: “My employee gave notice. Should I let her go now?”
Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


    • I don’t know what eating dog food has to do with running a business but ” you can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat”. I just had to but at least you can make sense out of that.

      • The funniest thing about this is that I just decided to start an online book club. I’ll be posting the first installment this week. The book I selected was written by another consultant. He has coined the terms “SMARTnership” and “NegoEconomics.”
        …I couldn’t make this crazy shit up if I tried. At least not as well as these people can, lol.

          • Okay, but you promise not to judge me? 🙂

            Currently, I’m reading The Gunslinger by Stephen King (again). I’m also reading House of Leaves and two H.P. Lovecraft biographies (because apparently one isn’t enough).

            Truthfully, I’m having a really hard time finding books on business that aren’t terrible. Once my summer hiatus ends in August, I’ll likely start sharing titles on the blog’s Facebook group, but lately I’ve been getting 35% into business titles before getting irritated and trashing them. I will never understand why so many of these writers feel the need to invent buzzwords, but they’re *everywhere.*

    • LOL! This made my afternoon. I just heard from a client who told me a tech consultant insisted she invest in an app for her salon to fix a completely unrelated management issue. So much truth in that image.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here