As a small business owner, you're expected to cover every base. One minute you're meeting clients and dealing with customers face-to-face, and the next you're taking care of IT glitches. The problem is your lack of expertise – you're a leader, not a jack of all trades. The boss's job is to overlook the company's processes, not to micromanage them.
Outsourcing is an excellent tool because it helps to save time and money. Plus, reviews show businesses are likely to receive a boost in standards as a result of their specialist skills. Of course, you only reap the rewards if you choose correctly, and it's easy to pick poorly because there are so many options on the table. And, cowboys aren't above lying and bending the truth to secure your custom.
If you don't get it right, you can expect productivity levels to drop and stress levels to rise while customer service hits an all-time low. No business can afford for their brand name to get dragged through the mud, which is why it's essential to understand the markers. Here are five of them for your information.
Narrow Down The Jobs
The first thing to point out is that you shouldn't outsource every process for the sake of it. Choosing which tasks to offload is the key to outsourcing success because some are necessary and others are better left in-house. Take marketing as an example. As you're an SME that targets the local community, you should have control over the content as it's more likely to be full of character and less corporate.
However, the likes of IT and phone services are fair game. As long as the business's connection is stable and malfunctions are fixed quickly, there is no need to bother with DIY IT. From a customer's point of view, they only want to be treated with respect and politeness, which is something an outsourcer should offer with their most basic services.
How do you choose? You need to consider wastage. If you feel as if your employees are wasting their time and energy on something important but not essential, outsource it.
Gaze Into Your Crystal Ball
The length of the contract is the next consideration on your to-do list. Remember that you might not need their help forever. Sometimes, small and medium-sized companies only outsource for six months to a year to get the firm off the ground. Once specific targets are hit, they sign off and move on. Some use the partnership to study the outsourcer's methods so that they copy them and create their own service.
On the flip side, you might want the contract to last for a couple of years, especially if they have an excellent pedigree. Always review your objectives to decide if the partnership is going to be a long or short-term one so that you can figure out what you need. A great tip is to start with a short agreement and extend it further down the line.
Committing to a service that you are unsure of is a dangerous move because it will be iron-clad. If it's not up to scratch, you have to pay for it regardless and rue your impulsiveness.
Set Your Targets
Objectives are imperative before and during the partnership. It's one thing to understand the length of the agreement, but it's another to ensure it goes smoothly for the entire duration. A rocky relationship will only hurt your business and reflect poorly on the brand as your customers will lose out in the long run.
Setting targets means you can relay them to the outsourcer and communicate effectively. Without your goals, they won't be able to tell if they can provide a quality service, and, if they don't know, then how can you? You must start on the right foot, and talking openly about what you expect is the perfect beginning.
Also, you can read a lot into their answers. Companies that guarantee results are not to be trusted, especially if your goals are purposely unrealistic. An outsourcer that is confident yet aware of the roadblocks, however, is more professional and transparent.
Go For A Test Drive
You never know how the outsourcer will perform until you sign on the dotted line. Business owners know this but it doesn't mean they're happy with, and you shouldn't be either. It's a leap of faith, one that can turn sour if your research isn't solid. Let's face it – there's an element of luck involved, too.
Taking your number choice for a spin, then, is a smart move. The likes of Virtual Headquarters offer their new customers a seven-day trial so that they can prove their worth. A week might not be a long time, but it's a fantastic chance to preview their working processes and how they communicate. There isn't a better safety blanket than a free trial because you can't lose out if you decide not to continue after it ends.
It's easy to let the deadline slip past, so you should use this Vice post to your advantage. These tips will ensure you never have to pay for a free trial ever again.
Look Past Resumes
Resumes are the gold standard for recruiters. When everything looks good on paper, it's as it will be fine and dandy in the office too. Unfortunately, a resume isn't a great indicator of success because they are easy to tweak if you know the tricks of the trade. Plenty of companies have mis-recruited and paid the price.
To avoid falling into this category, you should focus on the people in the interview room. Do they speak with confidence on their specialist subject? Are they excellent communicators? Are they everything they say they are? Be sure to match their words with the people who are offering the service to read between the lines.
Body language is vital too, which is why you should read into more, and you can thanks to Talent Smart. Their advice is perfect for beginners who want to be the next mentalist.