Outsourcing tasks to outside contractors is a smart move. There are endless tasks you can outsource to save time and money, but you need to proceed with caution. Outsourcing to get something off your plate is a strategy that will inevitably end in disaster.
Choosing contractors carefully is as important as hiring the right employees. When you’re overwhelmed with work, it’s difficult to think clearly, and you might make the wrong choice.
Temporary contractors are like substitute employees.
The only differences between a contractor and an employee are legalities. The work you assign to a contractor is the same work you’d assign to an employee. Contractors are treated differently on the paperwork side, but should be hired, briefed, trained, and followed up with as you would an employee.
For instance, say you hire a marketing agency to handle your SEO strategy, PPC ads, and copywriting needs. You’ll need to brief them on your company’s brand, so the final products (ads, copy, etc.) are in alignment with your brand. Marketers can get creative with their ads and ideas. If your company doesn’t want to be associated with holidays, specific keywords, or types of sales, your contractors need to know.
Many businesses are reluctant to train contractors because they’ll take that training with them to other companies. That’s true, but it’s also true that training your contractors will add value to your company. Your organization (and ROI) will benefit from training them.
Always conduct interviews before hiring a contractor.
Even when a contractor comes highly recommended by somebody you trust, it’s smart to conduct a thorough interview. You need to know what the contractor has to offer relative to your priorities.
Often, people make recommendations based on personal preferences that may not be important to you. For instance, sometimes people highly recommend a contractor who works fast, but speed isn’t always the most important factor. Businesses in the software industry love speedy work, but are happy to work with slower programmers who can intricately capture the end vision.
When outsourcing work to long-term contractors, it’s worth investing the time to train them as you would an employee. You’ll need to pay them for their time at their current rate, and it’s worth every penny because they’re going to be representing your brand.
For example, say you hire an outside company to handle your customer call center. That’s an opportunity for contractors to be your brand ambassador. A brand ambassador embodies all the values, beliefs, and attitudes of the company they work for. AnswerFirst describes the traits of a brand ambassador to include solving customer issues quickly, going above and beyond, upselling, promoting special offers, and providing after-sale support. All of these actions work to build trust.
They’ll need to know how to solve customer issues by your rules. You need to train them on the details as you would your employees. Contractors know their field, but they need the nuances that set your business apart. If you don’t train your call center contractors on how to represent your brand, you’re losing the opportunity to have natural brand ambassadors.
Your contractors might outsource the work to other contractors.
It’s frustrating to know that many contractors don’t do the work and outsource it instead, all to make quick cash. This practice is more common than believed.
You should also be aware that marketing agencies sometimes outsource minor tasks to other contractors – with or without your permission.
Contractors tend to be less engaged with the company’s mission.
Contractors are used to being treated as disposable workers because many businesses don’t take the time to check in with them. They hand off an assignment and the only time they make contact is when the project is due. When the contract expires, they go separate ways.
Contractors take pride in their work, but some don’t make a full commitment to the company. As non-employees, they don’t see a reason to. This point goes back to training and following up with contractors as you would your employees. Hiring contractors who want to be engaged regularly to stay on target is a good move. They’ll be open to regular check-ins, feedback, and guidance.
Some contractors don’t accept restrictive feedback well, or they ignore it. Being selective with who you hire will give you the opportunity to make sure the contractor is willing to follow your instructions. Contractors willing to have their work shaped to meet company standards are the contractors who will produce the best work.