Every small business will find themselves with needs that are best met by outsourcing or hiring virtual employees. Whether you need to hire a web design company for your company’s rebranding efforts or ramp up on sales staff by hiring an independent sales consultancy, partnering with vendors is status quo.
So much so that your initial interactions with a rogue outsourcing vendor can follow (more or less) the same route as discussions with a more reputable service provider. Calls and emails are promptly answered, the pilot project goes off like a dream, the overseas virtual employee you hired converses in English, flawlessly. Everything is seamless.
However, let’s fast forward to a few weeks down the line.Something is definitely wrong and looks to be getting worse as the days progress. The work output isn’t coming along as smoothly as it was promised. The cheery-voiced, helpful project coordinator seems to have morphed into a rather surly and evasive entity, who doesn’t call back as promised.
New (and much higher) service rates are suddenly replacing the older agreed-upon pricing and the delivery dates are continuously pushed beyond initial deadlines.At this point, alarm bells have begun to ring, but you can’t afford to pull put since you have already invested quite a bit of time and resources into working with your new vendor. Most importantly, you cannot afford to miss your go-to-market deadline.It is at this point that most small businesses are hopeful, choking and panicking––all at the same time.
Hiring the wrong vendor is like having a fish bone stuck in your throat – you can’t swallow and you can’t spit it out. Sounds scary, doesn’t it?
This is merely an example of what can happen if you partner up with a rogue outsourcing company and fail to pay attention to the early red flags. But foresight is better than hindsight and there are at least five warning signs that can help you separate rogue vendors from reliable ones.
Stay away from vendors who do the following:
1. Make tall and unbelievable promises
You have contacted several web design and development consultants and a majority of them indicated that your eCommerce website would take a minimum of two months to be completed. Eager to save costs and boost efficiency, you decide to outsource the entire project to one of them.
The outsourcing company you hired then informs you of even better news––your eCommerce site will be ready in a month’s time. But, if your gut reaction is “this is too good to be true,” then it probably is! Make sure that the service provider’s commitments to deadlines are realistic and not merely a bait to trap you and ultimately deliver sub-standard, or worse, no work at all.
2. Don’t have verifiable and up-to-date contact information
Professional vendors will have (at least) a domain-linked email address (e.g. [email protected]), a telephone number, other forms of contact (Skype) and a robust social media presence (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). When obvious and commonly used contact points are absent, it is wise to question the reliability and authenticity of such a vendor.
3. Lacks visible reviews and testimonials
Has anyone vouched for this vendor? Are there positive client references or client testimonials on the website? What about Google Reviews? Nothing speaks more for the quality of a remote staffing company’s service than recommendations from past clients. If you don’t see any names of clients and companies who have used the vendor’s services in the past, then maybe you need to look elsewhere.
4. Has poor communication technology
How do you communicate with your vendors and suppliers? Is it only through emails or are there other forms of communication like telephone, Skype, video conferencing, etc.? The last takes the anonymity factor out of outsourcing by enabling a client to both, see and hear their outsourcing partners and remote resources. Remember, a strong and effective communication system is the backbone of successful outsourcing.
5. Doesn’t have recognition, certificates, affiliations, or awards
Such accolades merely help to confirm a service provider’s genuineness and reinforces the positive impact a vendor makes on a prospective client. The absence of awards and certificates may not seem like a big reason to look for other options, but in cyberspace, it does count for a lot. Awards add value to a website’s online presence and are another pointer towards the credibility and authenticity of a particular service provider.
After all, if they are good enough to have bagged certificates and recognition, then they are probably deserving of your trust as well.
Don’t overlook vendor red flags
Other factors to look out for include constantly changing promises, excuses for failure to meet deadlines, rescheduling appointments, and no direct access to the person who is actually working on your project.
Small businesses and startups typically make outsourcing decisions based almost solely on the cost factor. But when it comes to outsourcing, remember, cheap is not necessarily the best. And you may badly burn your fingers.
Daya Mukherjee is Head – Content at a remote staffing outsourcing company in India, that helps clients set up their own offshore office in India at zero investment cost. Learn more about how virtual employees are an alternative to local hiring and expensive offshore outsourcing.
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