When Scott Barr of Southwest Exteriors wanted to make some changes and accomplish certain goals at his San Antonio remodeling company, he turned to a management consultant. He knew what he was getting into: He had first worked with George Black of The Creative Financial Option in 1996 to restructure his company and coordinate cash flow. This time, Barr asked Black to develop a new sales compensation program and improve his job cost process.

“As a small-business owner, it's hard to carve out big chunks of time to do projects like this,” Barr says. For any changes, he says, you have the idea, you write a plan, and you implement the plan. “The outside person assists in the last two steps. The key is being able to implement.”

George Black says his company describes its consultants as “business engineers.” They are practical and bottom-line oriented and want to help companies reach the next level and make more money.

Black's company provided useful business tips and practices, such as improving the spreadsheet that Barr used to track job costs. “He was looking at gross revenue, not gross profit dollars.” Black says. “We also embedded the report with closing ratios,” which helped Barr track his goal to have design consultants generate and close their own leads.

Black adds that most small businesses are losing money on nickels and dimes. “These guys think they are losing money on large items. But it is the small items that add up — such as running out for more paint or being short on concrete and ordering another truck,” he says.

Black begins his work by finding the strengths of the leader. “Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs for a reason. They have forgotten that. What if they could do what they have passion for all day long instead of dealing with extraneous activity?” he says.