Adapting the old, somewhat overused, adage to “think outside the box” seems appropriate right now. With the renewed growth of our industry comes challenges, some of which are attributable to a loss of expertise within our businesses.

In a number of cases, we’ve seen our senior managers retire, leaving a void. The economic downturn also played a role, as many individuals with years of expertise and hands-on knowledge have departed as well. Some of the expertise we lost was in areas such as customer account management, new sales development, estimating skills, construction management, operations management, profit and loss analysis, and basic day-to-day business management.

The current generation of managers, while highly skilled, is in many cases facing a new set of challenges in business growth and development. You may have experienced managers running the operation but are still not seeing the results you desire and need to really grow a particular segment or market. Maybe you have a particular department that is simply underperforming and you just can’t find the core reason.

How about bringing someone in from the outside—a professional who is experienced in turn-around operations, growth initiatives, and new process implementations; who is dispassionate, professional, and can provide an “outside the store” view. Someone who is not necessarily focused on the entire business, but brought in to deep dive a specific department and provide the needed spark to move it up a notch. This could help you to achieve the desired results sooner.

There are a number of qualified consultants in the industry offering services and expertise in an array of related specialties. IT consulting, sales, installed sales, hard-skills training, financial analysis, purchasing, sales management, account development—any number of experts are available to drive a successful business forward.

One of the prime benefits of using outside assistance is the outside the box thinking that is brought to play. Because they travel so widely, they come across best practices from some of the top-producing LBM operations in the country. And because they’ve spent years teaching all types of LBM people, they have become experts at helping persuade crews to embrace new ideas and then teaching those crews how to put the ideas to good use.

Some outsiders, like lean operations expert Scott Morrison, management guru Ruth Kellick-Grubbs, or sales expert (and ProSales columnist) Rick Davis, provide analysis and advice but don’t take command of the wheel. Other outsiders are called in to run departments in need of a tune-up or lead companies where management wants to prepare the company for a big change, like being sold or reforming the ownership structure.

Whichever route you take, hiring an outsider is a great way to inject new ideas into your company. There will be friction, and if you own or run the company you can expect to hear complaints from people who object to how that interloper is messing with stuff that this outsider supposedly does not understand. But odds are, the grit you’ve put into the oyster ultimately will produce a pearl.