Outsourcing parts of your business is nothing new. Many organizations outsource work like accounting, HR and marketing. However, maintaining productive communication with your outsourced businesses can be tricky if there are no clearly set expectations.
How can a business ensure the best possible results from outsourcing? We asked 13 thought leaders to share their best tips for maintaining a positive relationship with an outsourced business.
Systemise your operations
Having a rock-solid system for how each aspect of your business operates is vital for maintaining consistency and setting expectations for your outsourced teams. At MailNinja, we have system flows for sales, customer onboarding, customer management and email campaign creation. Doing so means that at any point we introduce a new freelancer to the company, there is a clear and documented step-by-step process for them to follow from day one.
Doug Dennison, MailNinja, email marketing agenc
Setting realistic expectations on both ends of an outsourced relationship will help alleviate stress and anxiety if things don’t go according to plan. It is imperative to the relationship that you understand your contractor or agency’s turnaround time and capacity so you know exactly what and when to expect deliverables.
Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center
The Beginning is the Most Important
At day zero, you should set certain metrics, preferably ones that are directly tied to your primary goal. Then, monitor these metrics closely and their impact on your overarching goal. This is how you get an idea of whether what they’re doing is worth the expense.
Jakub Kliszczak, Channels
Hire a Law Professional
A contract should be drafted up by a legal professional before doing any kind of outsourced business. Additions or addendums can always be made to contracts, but always make sure you have the agreement between the two parties in writing.
Court Will, Will & Will
Maintain a Communication Schedule
When dealing with an outsourced relationship, contact communication is key. Calls or email exchanges should happen at least once a week so you can ensure that that relationship is providing you with the outcome you are looking for.
Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional
Communicate Expectations Upfront
Don’t assume they are going to be doing something; make sure it is in your agreement or contract before you ever start working with them. Once you start with your new outsourced company, make sure you communicate a lot with them, even if you don’t have any work for them that month. Check-in and say hello in order to stay top of their mind and let them know your status. You’re gonna want to keep them updated and in-the-know so that when you do need them, they can be ready.
Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
Get The Data
Whether it is your email list, your open rate or your historical P&L, you need to own the data. Owning the data is only one step removed from doing it yourself, which means you have more insight and control on what your third party does.
Layton Cox, Marketing Consultant
Have a Set Plan
The most important best practice for managing outside agencies is to establish a roadmap before formally starting work. This roadmap should detail all major deliverables, with corresponding completion dates and success metrics. Without such a roadmap, it’s almost impossible to hold the agency accountable for its promises and work product.
Bruce Hogan, SoftwarePundit
Provide Ample Feedback
Outsourcing with an agency requires a disciplined approach. You need to manage them closely, as they receive the direction they need from you, the client. Provide them with ample feedback, as well as a plan for upcoming assignments. I suggest meeting with them once a week to discuss any questions, current projects as well as future projects. It is a collaborative relationship, so what you put in, is what you will get out of it.
Larry Drago, Independent Marketing Consultant
Help Each Other Out
Maintaining transparency with a clearly defined goal and expectations with the agency will maintain a good relationship. Also, the relationship should be more like a knowledge sharing medium which can help both and thus helps in growing both businesses.
Pranay Anumula, Keka HR
Get Everything in Writing
Make sure both parties know the terms of the agreement before it starts because misunderstandings about verbal agreements can end in disaster. It’s much easier to tell someone to reference an earlier email (writing) or a written contract to settle a dispute. It also helps to keep you both accountable.
James Pollard, The Advisor Coach LLC
Make Attainable Goals
Set goals on deliverables in combination with a budget so you can cross-reference any quotes you obtain easily. For example, if outsourcing email marketing, ask them how many emails they will send and what else they will set up. Will they also do automated flows like welcome emails or abandoned cart flows? By doing this, you can talk to ten potential outsource partners and compare apples for apples versus only looking at how much they charge without knowing the bang for your buck.
Ahmed Mir, Nature and Bloom
Ensure There Is Little Room for Confusion
The best way to ensure a smooth relationship with an agency or contractor is transparency and a line of open communication. It is always difficult to change expectations later on down the road, but if you lay out the rules and intentions from the beginning, there will be little room for confusion. Let them know that you want to work with them because you trust them and the only thing you want in return is respect and honesty.
Emily Bosak, Digital Marketing Company