Marine consultants provide a valuable, and sometimes painfully expensive, service. Like any valuable service, you want to comparison shop and ensure you get the best deal. But with consultants scattered across the country, you can’t just open the Yellow Pages. There are no comprehensive directories that list every marine consultant. Instead, you will need to compile you own list from multiple sources. In my video, I discuss many of the options for locating your consultant. The most important thing to understand: each of the different search options will bias your results in some way. You must understand these biases to develop a comprehensive list of possible consultants.
1.0 Internet Options
I suggest starting with an internet search. But you need to go further, beyond the minimum of typing “Naval Architect” into your favorite search engine. There are three main internet resources.
1.1 Web search (Google, Bing, etc.)
This will be disappointing. Search engines rank their results based on local geographic location, and popularity of the website. Marine consultants are a small industry. We are so small that you may need to check the 2nd or 3rd page of search results to find any listings. Actually, this is one case where the paid advertising may be more relevant than the actual search results.
LinkedIn is a social networking site (https://www.linkedin.com) for professionals and companies. No pictures of cute cats. A LinkedIn profile is the online equivalent of a professional resume. This allows much better focus when searching for marine consultants and returns an extensive list of relevant companies. Even better, it also lists the people who work at those companies. You learn about their staff before you even speak to the company.
1.3 Software Vendors
In the video, I reveal a hidden gem of the internet. Software vendors sometimes publish lists of clients who use their software. One particular software vendor has a list that includes almost all the marine consultants in North America.
2.0 The Personal Touch
Many prefer the personal touch. You want to speak with a human and ask detailed questions. Good for you! There are two main options for this.
2.1 Consultant Conventions
I describe multiple conventions where you can find talented marine consultants hawking their services. Of course, you have to pay an entrance fee, and an airline ticket, and a hotel stay. It does require some money on your part. But don’t feel bad. The vendors presenting at these conventions pay monumentally more than you do. Don’t expect to find many of the smaller, lower cost, firms at these conventions. The high cost of presenting at a convention limits your options to the larger firms with ample marketing budgets.
Referrals are the best source ever. Call a friend and ask who they use for their marine consultant. Even better, call a competitor! But remember that whomever you call will color your opinion with their own biases. Ask focused questions to tease opinion from fact. No one will be perfect, and you don’t need perfection. You need a consultant that complements your needs and works well with you.
I provide more valuable insights in the video. For example, have you considered the geographic scope of your search? Should you only consider firms in your city? Or maybe go international? Before you even start the search, arm yourself with the necessary knowledge to find the right consultant that matches your needs.