I love being productive. In an effort to streamline my business operations and improve profits over the years I’ve cut out all the non-essential parts of my business. (Those things that take up a lot of time but deliver a low return.) I’ve also rationalised how much time I spend on low-value tasks, reviewed third party service agreements and improved systems wherever I could.
Doing these things has served me well, but to go to the next level, I have to do something really hard.
I have to let someone else do some of the things I’ve always really enjoyed doing.
For example, Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. It’s something I’ve done in-house for years and I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved. But PPC is not just something someone else can do for me, it’s something someone else can do better than me. In outsourcing that task I’m not just buying expertise and knowledge, I buying back some time to devote to my particular strengths, and also to be able to focus on those things I can’t outsource.
What I’ve found, however, is if I’m going to outsource something I like doing, something that’s super-important to my business; I don’t want to hand it over to someone who can simply ‘do the job’. I need to know they really ‘get it’ – that they share my beliefs and truly understand my vision.
Here are the criteria I used to select an agency when I handed over my PPC to someone else. It might also be useful to those of you who are trying to get people to outsource their much-loved jobs to you!
1. Face-to-face contact
I didn’t think that being in close proximity to an agency would be that important. Surely everything can be done over Skype these days? Maybe I’m old school, but I after I met my agency I liked the idea of being able to meet face-to-face with my account team. I also appreciate when an agency takes the time to come and meet with me personally, get to know me and find out what I want to achieve. You can always pick up the phone or deal with the client over email, but putting a face to a name cements the relationship and builds trust.
2. Two-way, open and clear communication
Consultants that really listen and understand your unique challenges make a difference. I like to know that my ideas and challenges are being considered and I’m not just receiving cookie-cutter solutions. Communication should be two-way, transparent and professional. Communicate your expectations and targets in a way that motivates and provides clear directions. But also don’t be afraid to question or query what they have done and why they done that. After all you are paying them money.
3. Agreeing to a timeframe
Having a project or contract timeframe and trial period makes a lot of sense. We all hope to have long, productive relationships, but setting an initial timeframe gives everyone a clear point of focus. I’ve worked with other agencies before and found this the best way to form positive working relationships and get great outcomes.
Of course this is important but shouldn’t be the only factor. Like many things in life you get what you pay for!
5. The nitty gritty
Here’s where you can ask all the sensible questions but most probably you have already made your mind up. Find out about their history, how long have they been in business for, who have they worked with, who are their clients, have they had experience with someone in your field, will you be exclusive to them, can you speak to some of their clients for a testimonial? (Let’s face it, however, they are not going to give you a rubbish client to phone!).
6. Lived experience
By pure coincidence two of the directors of the agency I selected had both purchased my product in the past. True! It’s a small world. They experienced my brand first-hand and loved it. This shared ‘lived experience’ made it really easy to connect. I knew they understood my customer’s path to purchase because they had been the customer themselves. It’s pretty rare, but in a world where skills are a dime a dozen and everyone claims to be an expert, finding a stand-out quality that helps form a relationship quickly is a big plus for me.
I know letting go of a part of my job I enjoy will be hard. But I’m confident outsourcing it will add more value and focused attention than I could on my own. It will help me play to my strengths and also learn from the experts.
Have you ever taken the step of outsourcing a job you love doing?