These days, countless business functions that have traditionally been kept as in-house jobs are being outsourced more and more. We all know it’s tough for business owners to wear all the hats they need to at once, and certain outsourced services can save a fledgling company from disaster. However, it’s still important to make the right choice when you’re choosing to outsource any given task. Here are some handy research tips before you commit to outsourcing…
Just like if you were looking for any other service, you should always start your search for an outsourcing solution by simply Googling the company you’re thinking of hiring. When the results come up, ignore their website and social profiles for the time being. Instead, look for mentions of the business on niche industry journals. For example, if you needed a service to assist with golf course management, search the most prominent golf journals for any mention of them. References like this will show you that the company isn’t just talking the talk, but is actively involved in their niche as well.
If you’ve screened them for press references, or you haven’t found anything but you’re still impressed by the company’s own materials, your next port of call should be sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. What does their LinkedIn page tell you about the brand? Do they have many recommendations from third parties? Are they proactively sharing content? This is important for any kind of service, but even more so if you’re hiring a social media agency or similar company. After all, if they’re not taking a proactive approach to sharing their own social content, what are the chances they’ll do a good job of sharing yours?
If the company you’re considering charge by the hour, will they be providing you with a time sheet or a similar material for recording the number of hours they’ve worked? If you’re allocated tens of hours per month on various different tasks, how is the company splitting up the time? More importantly, what are they doing in that stretch of time every month? Maintaining good time management is absolutely essential to outsourcing, and will help you keep track of just how beneficial the company’s services are to you.
Finally, make sure you’re crystal clear on the way you’ll be invoiced, and the kinds of payment terms the company uses. This can vary greatly from business to business, even if they’re providing the same service in the same niche. If you open up negotiations, and they talk you through their service without mentioning how payments work, you should bring it up yourself. Don’t make any assumptions, like you’ll be invoiced every 30 days or that their fees will remain at one inflexible rate. This is a recipe for disaster. Get the payment terms clear from the very start, and both businesses will know exactly where they stand.
Whenever you’re considering outsourcing a task, put the business through these important checks.