As I was looking for an electrician to come and fix something in my house, I started thinking about outsourcing – why we do it and how we find the right people. As a PR, marketing and events agency, outsourcing is what we do, and I realised that we are often asked the same questions when first discussing a project with someone, whether that is offering our No Headcount Required marketing manager service or organising an event. Here are the key questions that you can use when looking for suppliers.
Why should I change our current provider?
Are they making you happy? Are they getting you the results that you want and are paying for? Are they giving you any ‘wow’ moments where they have gone over and above for you or your company? Our travel agent recently did this by keeping an eye on NAB flights – he found that a seat had become available on the direct flight home, making me a very happy person. He didn’t have to do this, but I won’t be changing them any time soon. If the answer to any of the above is no, then look at changing. Start making enquiries – recommendations are always the best route in my mind – and speak to a handful of potential suppliers. See who you gel with and will provide you with what you want for your budget.
Is it going to be difficult to change our current provider?
Sometimes it is ‘better the devil you know’ but the new potential provider should make switching as easy as possible for you. Depending on what it is they are doing, they should be investing the time and their money on getting to know you and your company, providing you with the contracts, instructing you on how the teams will work together and who is responsible for what – they should be the ones doing the legwork here, so all you are seeing are the benefits of moving.
How much is it going to cost me?
Everyone has a budget in mind, whether they say they have or not. I feel it is always best to ask that question to a potential client, and the potential client should be honest so that from the start you know what price range you are in. We would also be stressing the benefits of spending that money at that time, by showing expected results or some KPIs. Then start negotiating and come up with a price and list of activities that you are both happy with (and in the case of the electrician, make her a cup of tea and a biscuit).
Do you know what you are doing, or do you know the industry we work in?
Well, I hope that my electrician knows what she is doing, but is she used to doing large corporate buildings or can she fix something in my house that can avoid damaging some lovely wallpaper?? My recommendation here is to find specialists – find out who other people you know are using, whether they work with the major industry players, and find out about their set-up – do they have the in-house capabilities that you need?
There are plenty more questions to ask, but my biggest advice is: don’t be scared! Outsourcing and changing your current provider could bring major benefits to your company, and also to you personally. And feel free to ask me any of these questions…