When we outsource, we often talk about the non-core jobs that we outsource, and how to use them to free up your ability to provide the core services that you do. However, for service teams, like electricians, plumbers, and construction crews, outsourcing is often done with contractors who bring the core skills that you need to rely on. As such, people in these industries typically have a much closer relationship with their contractors. Here, we’re going to look at how you can better manage these relationships, specifically through the pitfalls that you want to avoid with them to help you succeed in business.
Not making your expectations clear with them
You should ensure that your contractors know precisely what role they’re going to be filling in the team and what they’re going to be doing. Ensure that you define clear job roles for any contractors that you work with, make them keenly aware of their responsibilities, and what results you expect from their work. You can’t blame any freelancers for going off-track when they’re not aware of what track they’re supposed to be sticking to. Don’t just make it clear at the start of the working relationship either. While you should include any duties you expect them to fulfill in a contract, you should also maintain weekly or monthly meetings with them to reiterate their responsibilities. But we’ll cover that more a little later.
Not defining who they report to
Another clear mistake often made when running with multiple contractors is failing to make it clear who they report to. If they aren’t given clear instructions on who to report to or to go to when they have needs to address, then it’s likely they’re going to default to whoever was there when they were hired. This lack of clarity in communication can lead to a lack of direction, as well as confusion over what work they should be making their priority. If you make it not only clear who they report to, but also how they should be communicating with them, whether it’s with a team communication app, through email, or through some workforce management system, then it can introduce a ton of delays to their work.
Not managing them centrally
The question of how you communicate with your contractors and how you manage them like the assets and resources they can be is worth addressing as well. If you work with multiple contractors, or you work with them alongside a number of employees, then having a central point of contact and organization can be a huge help. For contractors in the construction, electrical, or plumbing business, tools such as field service management software can be greatly helpful. You can stay in control of dispatching, scheduling, and tracking which jobs each worker is assigned to so that you quickly know who to get in touch with to update them with new work orders or to clear any bottlenecks or backlogs.
Hiring too many contractors
Some businesses have a level of flexible demand, especially for specific skills, that may see them needing to rely on contractors more for one period of time and less for the next. However, if you start to notice that you consistently need to hire contractors on a regular basis to take care of a fairly predictable need, then it might be time to hire someone to fill that role internally in the business, instead. Hiring is more cost-effective, in the long run than repeatedly hiring the same contractor for months or even years on end.
Failing to ensure they stay in touch
One clear mistake that a lot of business owners make when hiring contractors is failing to keep in touch with them every so often. Many of the tips above address how you can manage your workers and their productivity, but you have to make sure that you actively do it every so often. For one, you should set expectations of reporting, and know what metrics and KPIs you can use to measure their performance. Have them report back on a consistent basis, whether it’s every week, fortnight, month, or otherwise. A monthly meeting to recap what they have done, and what they might need to prioritize next can ensure that you’re always aware of precisely what your contractors are providing, too.
The contractor-client relationship can be a tricky one to stay on top of, so taking steps to formalize and systematize it is usually your best bet when it comes to maintaining consistency. The steps above can help you start to do that.