As your business grows, so does your to do list. You may find yourself in the tricky situation of having an expanded client base without having the hours, employees, or expertise to serve all their needs. If you’re not ready to hire on another full-time employee – or don’t have the budget at this point – hiring a contractor can be a great move.
Contractors can take on small projects and tasks, freeing you up to focus on other aspects of your business. You get the talent you need at an affordable rate, which allows you to grow while keeping your overhead down. It’s a great way to keep things lean and efficient while still being able to meet the needs of your clients
If you’re working with a range of clients, working with skilled contractors can be your secret weapon to fill specialized skills gaps. That means the next time a client comes to you with a new type of project your answer can be “No problem, we can do that.”
A great contractor can make or break a project – particularly if he or she is in a client-facing role. Along with hiring the best professionals you can find, you’ll need to provide them with support, keep the lines of communication open, and manage them well. Keep these seven tips in mind.
1. Ask for recommendations
Before diving into a Google search, talk to your clients, colleagues, friends, and business association members to get recommendations. Contractors come in a range of skill levels and dependability, and having a solid recommendation will help take the guesswork out of finding a good fit.
2. Clarify your agreement
Start your relationship off on the right foot with a crystal-clear agreement. Be precise about what the project (and the contractor’s fee) will and will not include, and spell out the rights and responsibilities of each party. This protects you from unexpected charges, and your contractor from “scope creep,” when a project spirals beyond the originally agreed-upon scope. Many freelancers have standard contracts, but it’s a good idea to create one of your own, too.
3. Define the workflow
Be sure your expectations are aligned. If you have a project that only requires a few hours a month, say so. The same goes for if you’re hoping for someone to be constantly available. Some contractors prefer to schedule out projects months in advance, while others thrive on being on call and offering quick results – but if your work expectations clash it could lead to frustrations on both sides.
4. Start with a small project
Before handing off your top client’s project to a contractor, work together on smaller tasks to make certain the contractor is a good fit. They may require a bit more management at first, but once they prove themselves you can start to assign bigger, more important projects with less oversight.
5. Give them what they need to succeed
Even the most professional contractor can only be as good as the materials he or she is given. Send needed documents in advance, make sure the project’s deliverables and milestones are clearly outlined, and be clear about what materials you’ll provide and what the contractor needs to bring. If you plan to work with contractors regularly, you may even create a FAQ or standard brief to help them get up to speed quickly.
6. Communicate clearly
Whether you’re meeting by phone, email, or in person, clear and consistent communication is crucial to keep a project going. Set expectations about how frequently you want to receive updates, and check in regularly to see how things are going.
7. Build your relationship
A trustworthy, reliable contractor can be a fantastic resource for your company. When you find one, invest the time and energy into building a sustainable relationship. Not only will this save you having to train a new contractor for each new project, but often contractors will go the extra mile for recurring clients since they’re not having to constantly hunt for new work. Treat your contractor with respect, communicate well, and you’ll have a great relationship on your hands.
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About Tara Benedict
A former retailer (and unabashed nerd) who daydreamed about integrated POS software, Tara now delightedly recruits, promotes, and enables Vend's wonderful channel of add-ons and partners. An ardent sharer of Vend news and events, connect with Tara on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ and never miss an opportunity to meet up with the affable Vend team.