Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
Outsourcing–Maintaining | Extraordinary Business
How to maintain highly profitable relationships with your outsourcing partners
Anyone who has purchased anything in the past probably has experienced buyer’s remorse – the sense of regret after making a purchase. When working with your outsourcing partner, that is the last thing you want. Therefore, you must set and manage expectations, and like you would with your employees, review their work, praise them for their accomplishments or take the appropriate action for not meeting your expectations.
Keep in mind – your outsourced partners are to bring their expertise to your business to enable your businesses to achieve some success or factors of success that you could not achieve otherwise. Therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure that they live up to it. Here are five ways to ensure you are managing your partners appropriately.
- Managing Expectations – you set your expectations before hiring your outsourced partner. When you begin to “let things slide” or have to make their problems your problems, you are beginning to lose hold of your outsourced partners. Good outsourced partners won’t make their problems yours, and will ensure that whatever needs to be done is done consistently. The more vague your expectations are, the more leeway there will be with your outsourcing partner.
- Regular review – your outsourcing partner should be very interested in getting feedback from you. If you provide them with feedback, and do so using the expectations list you’ve created, there will be no surprises. By scheduling them regularly, perhaps quarterly, you will ensure that the regular reviews are done, and that your outsourcing partner is well engrained into your company and company culture.
- “Praise and Pinch!” – Like you and your company, companies benefit from recognition of great service. It typically encourages more of the same or higher level of work or service. At the same time, you need to be very clear about the areas that aren’t meeting your expectations and what you intend to do about it. If you feel that the relationship must be terminated, do so. You will probably find that avoiding ending the relationship will cause you greater stress and your business greater harm.
- Financial Review – Your outsourced partner is a firm whose goal should be to help your business achieve some success or factors of success. Therefore, you have to look at the return on your investment. Certainly, some efforts take longer to present themselves financially, such as marketing or sweeping the parking lot. However, part of the review would be to work out what the alternative might look like. How NOT having that partner would impact your business, or how having a different partner would impact your business.
- Strategic Review – Consider how long or what indicators exist that tell you how long the partner should be involved in your company. Is it for a short term project? IOs it managing through growth stages? Is it until your company has enough volume to hire your own person or team to take over for that outsourcing partner? Understand where your company is in that dynamic and don’t end up so “needy” that you cannot make the right decision at the right time.
Maintaining a strong relationship with an outsourcing partner should be taken no less lightly than you would take that of an employee. As the company leadership, it is your responsibility to set your expectations, manage them and take the appropriate response as necessary. When you don’t, you could ultimately hurt the entire company and all of its stakeholders.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN| CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses. We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth. We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.
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