Successful, experienced small business owners and non-profit leader know they can’t do everything themselves. And most can’t afford all the employees needed to get the job done, especially for jobs requiring specialized skills or for special projects. Outsourcing is often the answer.
Great; outsourcing it is! So how do you find a vendor to meet your needs? How much will it cost? Will you know if the job was done as expected?
The best source of qualified and trusted vendors is your network. Getting a referral from a satisfied customer you personally know speaks volumes. Also look for vendors with certifications or other credentials that demonstrate they have the knowledge and expertise to meet your needs. Website recommendations are a good sign, too.
Even with referrals, credentials, and references, you must be sure that vendors deliver or perform as promised. Monitoring your vendor’s performance can be simple and cost-effective if you remember these priorities:
Define Expectations Up-Front
Avoid surprises and misunderstandings. Capture expectations in a documented agreement. Address performance measures for what you need them to do – deliver on time, meet quantity and quality specifications, price specifications.
For goods that you purchase, verify that you received, in usable condition, the quantity that was ordered and invoiced. Verify that services were provided: “Was the class taught?” “Was the grant written?” “Was the landscaping manicured?” Make sure you got what’s been billed.
Spot Check Price and Quantity
Billing errors happen, often unintentionally. You could pay too much if you don’t find those errors and bring them to the vendor’s attention.
Know your vendors and communicate regularly. Establishing a relationship is important, especially for key vendors. If something doesn’t seem right, ask why and follow-up if the answer doesn’t make sense. Don’t ignore red flags.
Outsourcing can help your business or non-profit meet its needs and grow. Selecting the right vendor and overseeing performance helps meets your needs and expands your opportunities.