Many CI firms are smaller shops—anywhere from one to 10 people. But just because we are small, doesn’t mean we have to act or look small. There are plenty of ways to have a professional appearance and not risk seeming like a fly-by-night company to a new or potential client. The key is to have the services of a larger company, without incurring the in-house expense. And here is where the new economy is your friend. There are many companies out there to whom you can outsource any number of roles for your business. Here are some of the four responsibilities to outsource to make your small CI company look like a bigger one:
1) Call Answering Service. How many times does your cell phone ring but you’re with a client and you let it go to voicemail, but the person doesn’t leave a voicemail? That’s a possible lost opportunity. For not much money, there are call answering services out there that will answer the phone with a human and take a message. We have a sister company that just started using AnswerAmerica, and it is only $1 per minute (so basically $1 per call answered). It appears to the caller as if you have a receptionist taking calls in your office, when in fact it is someone sitting in a call center somewhere else in the U.S. You then get an email and/or text with the caller’s name, number, and message, and you can return the call. You can customize the message given to callers at any time, so if you are on vacation, they can let the caller know that you won’t call back until the following Monday. Same as voicemail, but makes your company seem like a real player
2. Marketing Firms. Stop sending your own direct mail in an envelope or using that template web builder software from your ISP or using VIstaPrint for your business cards. Play with the big boys and find a smaller marketing firm that specializes in small businesses. They can design a great website; develop and print brochures, business cards and other marketing material; and manage SEO and paid search marketing. Not only will your company appear more polished, but a lot of minutia will be taken off of your plate so you can focus on selling more work and making sure the work you do sell is done to your standards. And your marketing materials will be better for it, so you can get more leads.
3. Proposals/Drawings. There are specialty firms for the CI channel that allow you to outsource proposal writing and even shop drawings. So stop doing proposals in Microsoft Word and let someone who does it day in and day out handle it. They’ll do a better job, anyway! And forget about hiring an in-house engineer to do drawings or spending countless nights yourself struggling with AutoCAD. Let the pro handle it and look like a pro in that meeting with the client, architect, and contractor. Just google something like “AV CAD outsourcing” and you’ll find a bunch of options and reviews.
4. Accounting/Bookkeeping. While this won’t be client facing, outsourcing your bookkeeping will free up so much of your time. No more entering expenses into Quickbooks at 10 p.m. or balancing your accounts on April 14. Find a great bookkeeper either locally or online and offload this tedious work so you can focus on your business, not your taxes.
Those are some of the functions we have either outsourced in my company or seen some of our partners have success with. What other functions have you found success paying others to do for you?