At first blush, the key to becoming an astute consultant in any line of business is the ability to relate decades’ worth of experience and perspective to clients in search of a better path, whether it’s through the sale of an enterprise or business optimization guidance in sales and service, among a plethora of other tactics. But even if one considers the role of a consultant to be that of a teacher, it also holds true that the most accomplished consultants are also adept students.
That comes as no surprise to Jim Kahrs. The president and founder of Prosperity Plus Management Consulting invested a considerable amount of time and energy during 2020 into learning the ins and outs of the federal Paycheck Protection Program—along with other government stimulus programs—when they were unveiled after the onset of the pandemic. After all, how else could Kahrs provide guidance to his own clients but study how and when they would be able to leverage the programs during a period when business answers were required pronto?
“The programs were badly needed and very confusing,” noted Kahrs, a 2021 ENX Magazine Difference Maker. “My goal was to put the time into learning them so that our clients could get the benefit while focusing on their business, not studying hundreds and hundreds of pages of legislation.”
Both Sides of Aisle
Clearly, the role of a consultant is one of following a moving target, which includes trends in business, industry and the economy. A University of Maine graduate, with a degree in business administration, he targeted sales positions upon leaving school and was introduced to the office technology space by a recruiter. Kahrs plied his craft with Mita Copystar on the OEM side and Carr Business Systems on the dealer end before founding Prosperity Plus.
In his position, Kahrs’ goal is highly focused—enabling clients to achieve their objectives. Still, the road to that end can be somewhat complex.
“It is very rewarding, whether it’s assisting someone with the sale of the business where our client needs to navigate a process he or she has never been through, or helping handle nagging business issues to get the company on track,” he said. “Knowing that I’ve made a difference in the life of the business owner and their team is a great feeling.”
What helps foster success for Kahrs and his clients is the ability to view the circumstances of the other party, the walk-a-mile-in-their-shoes philosophy, so to speak. Kahrs learned long ago that when he puts the needs and desires of other people first, it’s to the benefit of all—himself included.
“Doing the right thing by people is the best way to succeed in life,” he noted.
Kahrs has also cast a wide net. He’s been tabbed by the Association of Independent Mailing Equipment Dealers (AIMED) and the International Systems Dealers Association (ISDA) to craft a series of financial benchmarks for group members. He is also a popular guest speaker on the office dealer show/conference tour, when he’s not penning authoritative pieces for industry publications such as ENX Magazine.
Kahrs has reaped the wisdom of many industry experts along the way, including Bill Imbesi, who hired him into the industry in 1987 and provided great insight into sales success. Another mentor, the late Ed Bialecki, had the keen ability to find a win-win solution in every situation, and could always maintain his sense of humor in the process.
While business conditions continue to evolve, Kahrs will continue down the path of providing programs and services that will benefit dealer clients and enable them to achieve their goals. “I believe improvement comes from continuing to learn and continuing to serve,” he noted. “I intend to stay focused on both.”
Kahrs and his wife, Mary, have been married for 33 years and have two daughters (Alice and Sarah) and four grandchildren. When he’s not making a difference with clients, he enjoys boating, hiking, spending time with the family and traveling. Maine and the Florida Keys are two of their favorite vacation spots, but they also love to explore new destinations.