Outsourcing: The Question Isn’t “Should I?” But “How Do I?”
The debate over whether or not outsourcing is a good thing is never going to go away. There are always going to be people who insist that, whatever you decide, you’re wrong. What matters isn’t what they think. What matters is what works best for you and for your business. And, if you do decide that you should be outsourcing, that you choose the right professionals for those jobs. Here is how you do that.
There are five major areas in which most small businesses struggle when it comes to outsourcing: shipping, web needs, accounting and billing, and customer service. Let’s take a look at three of them:
Outsourcing Your Shipping.
One of the hardest things about outsourcing your shipping needs—especially while your business is still small(ish) is finding a shipping logistics company that will not just help you facilitate delivery of your products but will allow you to facilitate delivery of your products even when your order quantities are small (comparatively speaking). 3PL Logistics, a shipping and delivery logistics company, says that finding a company that offers “Less-than-truckload transportation arrangements to provide cost-efficient options for smaller shipments” is important. Why?
Because if you can’t ship orders until your order quantity fills a whole truck, your customers are going to have to wait longer to get what they paid for. Customers are not known for having endless amounts of patience and are more likely to choose a company that will deliver within a few days over a company that makes them wait a few weeks or even a couple of months.
Outsourcing Your Web Needs.
Your biggest choice here is whether you want to outsource the individual components of your web presence to separate companies or hire a one-stop-shop operation to manage everything for you under the same room. The latter is definitely the easier way to go. When you outsource to several companies, it increases the amount of coordination that goes into managing even tiny details. A “do it all” shop can manage the coordination in house. You need only make a single phone call or write a single email.
Be prepared to pay for this service. Even the cheapest services aren’t going to be cheap. It’s also a good idea to choose a local company. That way you can meet with them in person when you need to and you can keep a closer eye on how things are going. A great overview of the process is laid out in Computer Weekly’s post “Managing Web Development; Does Outsourcing Pay?”
Outsourcing Your Customer Service.
This is going to be the hardest area of your business to outsource, and with good reason. It is hard to hand your company’s “face” over to an offsite group of people—most of whom you will likely never meet. One of the most important things you can do, writes Siobhain Goodall on CallCentreHelper.com, is to “Look for an outsourcer that offers bureau agents and not just dedicated teams. A bureau service, especially at the beginning of your project, allows for higher volumes of simple enquiries to be managed effectively and more cost effectively. As you pass more complex tasks to your outsourcer, you will have a base of experienced agents ready to form your dedicated team.”
In addition to that detail, you’ll also want to choose a call center with flexible pricing options, a company that has worked with other small businesses in your niche (so the representatives will already have at least a baseline knowledge of your industry) and the ability to move from a pay-per-call fee structure to something more retainer-like if the customer service volume grows enough to warrant it.
Remember: outsourcing doesn’t have to be a negative thing. It frees you up to work on the parts of your business you’re good at while giving you the peace of mind that comes from knowing skilled professionals are handling everything
Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.