I need to find a compatible environmental consultant. We hear it all the time. A client has hired an environmental consultant and has made a horrible mistake. It may be that you’ve hired a large consulting company and the key players that met with you initially are now nowhere to be found. Sure, they may still work for the same company. However, once they did the “dog and pony show” and got your authorization to proceed, the firm assigned a lower-level project manager. And you got saddled up with junior-level personnel executing the work.

Or, maybe you elected to go with a smaller, boutique firm and they’ve overcommitted. They’re months behind on the work, and the regulatory agency is leaning on you hard for some answers.

Whatever the situation may be, you would be well served to know the five keys to finding a compatible environmental consultant. Without further ado, here they are!

1. Who will be working on my project?

As we mentioned in the example above, there are countless insights into how big consulting firms work. The senior-level professional typically has a pack of juniors under his wing. He or she is required to keep them busy!

You should always ask this question: Who will be working on my project? Look over THEIR resumes and experience. Just because the firm may have the ability to complete the project doesn’t mean that the individuals working on the job do. Remember, this is about experience.

2. Recognize cost vs. value.

Large consulting firms have a lot of moving parts, and typically some of the most talented professionals that work for these firms learn the ropes there and move on. To where? If they’re well rounded, many hang out their own shingle. Astute clients are becoming more and more aware of this and are leaning towards a smaller firm with key personnel for each specific need.

Hey, I’ll be the first to tell you that Wellspring Consulting isn’t always the cheapest. We have lost competitive bids to other firms. But, the fact of the matter is that our overhead is much lower than a big firm. So, generally, our services are typically more cost-effective than the big boys.

Recognize the keyword here: cost-effective. It’s producing good results without costing a lot of money. We rarely lose a competitive bid to a big firm. It’s typically a small firm, like us, that either underbid the project knowingly (what we call a loss leader, to get a foot in the door) or not. Either way, this is a recipe for disaster.


3. Does the firm have the experience to complete my project successfully?

Maybe if you’re dealing with a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, like the Deepwater Horizon (LINK), sure you want to go with the giant consulting firm. They’ve got the horsepower to handle it. But I’ll let you in on a little secret; there are many like-minded “lone rangers” in our business. On the surface, you’re thinking, well, this consultant is just a one-man-band. The wise ones have many connections.

Remember the old saying in investing; the bulls make money, the bears make money, and the pigs get slaughtered. Old Wall Street maxim that warns investors about excessive greed.

Well, the same is true in environmental consulting. If you were to approach us with a potential project and we didn’t have the experience to successfully complete it we would be the first to let you know. And, we would refer you to the right firm. At the same time, through our network of experienced connections, we can pull in additional personnel to precisely match your project needs, if necessary. Yep, let’s not get greedy about it!

4. Does the firm have the resources to complete my project on time?

Determining if the company has the available resources can be challenging to ascertain. But be sure to ask the company this question! Peaks and valleys are the norms for every consulting firm, large or small.

We often put our reputation on the line when we take on a new project. It would be rather foolish to overcommit to the point of missing a deadline. Especially knowingly doing so just to wrangle in another project. That doesn’t make sense in the long run. Oh, yeah, that’s what we’re in this for, the long term!

To find out more about the firm and its people ask for references. I remember once early on in my career; I supplied some references to a prospective client. He checked them out, and when he called me again, he asked, “so what did you do, marry the one guy’s daughter?” Apparently, I got such a glowing review that the new client was flabbergasted!

5. What similar projects have the environmental consultant performed in the past?

This is another question to determine if the consultant has the right experience. Find out about these projects, and ask for these references. And, make sure the individuals working on the project are familiar with your industry.

Ok, ready for another story?

I once visited a power plant site in the Caribbean that had a long history of oil spills. There was significant free product leaching into the surficial water table aquifer. Well, as you may know, power plants require large quantities of water to feed boilers and cooling towers. So, they’re typically are located on major rivers or the coast. This one was discharging a plume of free product directly into the turquoise, clear ocean. Yikes!

They had a consultant already on the job. Doing what, we asked. We were lead to a single, passive rope skimmer operating in a pit. Sure, there was also some booming at the shoreline. They had completed little assessment work. We were shocked!

We prepared an extensive proposal to assess the extent of the impacts and actively remove the free product. They chose to go with another consultant, one of the big boys.

Fast forward ten years later. The site still has free product leaching into the ocean. Wait; what? Yep, and the power company has spent three times the amount of our original proposal.

Finding a compatible environmental consultant: Conclusion

If we could sum all of this up in one word, it would be COMPATIBILITY. Find the right specialist for your needs. It’s not a one size fits all decision.

The takeaway should be that you’ll need to select the right company to handle the project by carefully considering the options. It all starts with asking the right questions. 

Please contact us if we can be of service or provide additional information about our firm.

When you find the right, compatible environmental consultant… Booyah!