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 5 warning signs that can help you separate rogue vendors from reliable ones. For example, the vendor:
1. Makes 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 enhance efficiency, you decide to outsource the entire project to one of them.
The outsourcing company you hired then blithely 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. Does not have a verifiable office (mailing) address and up-to-date contact information.
Professional vendors will have (at least) a domain-linked email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), a telephone number, other forms of contact (Skype) and a robust social media presence (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc). When such obvious and commonly used contact points are absent, it is wise to question the reliability and authenticity of such a vendor.