Stop! Don’t Hire Any Supplier or Contractor until You’ve Asked These 5 Questions!
Starting and running a business involves a great deal of trial and error. Next time you are hiring a supplier or contractor use these 5 questions to avoid the frustration that often comes with outsourcing.
Especially in the beginning, small business owners, like myself, often need to wear several hats all the way from CEO to accountant to human resources to local marketing, etc. The small and local business owner has to do it all and somehow figure out how to make it all work. But there does come a time when we realize our time is better served focusing on the base business that we know—and do—best and outsourcing the other positions that you need to run your business is key to business survival.
In the world of small and local business, one of the most important while time consuming tasks involves seeking the assistance of outside suppliers and vendors. But all too often, I hear stories where colleagues and clients of mine are disgruntled about the service they’re getting from outside vendors, or even worse, they’ve invested thousands of dollars on project specific support to find they wasted their money on unreliable individuals.
As a small local business, we can’t afford to waste our money even a penny, so before you go out and hire any company to support your business, be sure to ask the following 5 questions, and make sure you’re absolutely comfortable with the answers you receive! The information provided here can—and should—be applied regardless of the type of outside expertise you’re looking for to support your local business.
How many years have you been in business? You want expertise on your side, so if the outside vendor or local business has not been around for that long, at least make sure the key people you’ll be working with have 8-10+ years of experience.
Do you have a project plan or process map you will share with me? You want a business that will share info with you on a regular basis so you can see results and know that expectations are being met.
Do you have a list of testimonials and referrals I can contact? If they don’t, then run. Any reputable business should be able to provide you a long list of happy customers and testimonials. Even better, do your own research online and see what types of reviews come up. If something negative comes up, ask them about it.
How do you define success? Listen to the answer to this question carefully. Their definition of success should have something to do with how well they work for you and their other clients as well as how dedicated they are to making your (and their) businesses work.
Do you have a contract cancellation clause? If it does not work out, or expectations are not being met, you want to know what the criteria are to walk away from the contract.
Be smart anytime you’re outsourcing. Know the company and individuals you are hiring. Always get referrals and do your own due diligence so you don’t get burnt or waste money you don’t have to waste. Outsourcing can do wonders to help a local business grow and prosper, but only if the right suppliers and vendors are found.
Learn more about the author, Chris Marentis.
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