Posts Tagged ‘Outsourcing’

Saturday Sidecar: Client interviews – Getting the Scoop

Written by Gina Blitstein on September 8, 2012. Posted in Saturday Sidecar

Sidecar drivers often need to conduct interviews with clients before they begin working on a personalized project. Collecting enough of the “right” information from clients is paramount to fulfilling their needs; it also makes it easier for you to do your best work on their behalf. This sort of interview usually occurs when embarking on a new project and is intended to establish what needs to be done, when, how and for how much.

Here are some ways to make the most out of a client interview? 

Saturday Sidecar: Finding Help

Written by Katie Elzer-Peters on February 5, 2011. Posted in Saturday Sidecar

How Much Does It Cost To Start An Online Business?

“Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody! Helllllelllleeeeellllpppppp!”

As a new sidecar driver, help might be the furthest thing from your mind. You will need help sooner than you think, though.

Here are some signs that you need help:

  • You sleep five hours a night (That’s not enough, PEOPLE!)
  • You can’t get all of your work done
  • Your invoicing/billing is suffering
  • You’re working all of the time, but still not making ends meet
  • You have new potential and better paying clients contacting you about work, but you don’t have time to take them on
  • You’re turning work away because you don’t offer all of the services that the client needs

If any of those criteria describe you, let’s talk.

Four Kinds of Help

Let’s talk about four kinds of help that can help your sidecar go faster.

Professional Help

No, not a therapist, though one of those can be useful, too. The kind of professional help I’m referencing is for your business: accountants, bookkeepers, mail houses, payroll services, etc. When you’re first starting out, you will probably not need any of these. However, if you’re finding that taxes (organization, finding, understanding) are a problem, an accountant and bookkeeper to help keep yourself straight can be helpful.

Other professional help might include a web designer for your website (more on that later), a graphic designer for business cards, advertisements, email templates, or a logo design. As I wrote last week, I’m in huge favor of professional help with graphics. I’m graphically challenged. Luckily, I’ve found a good partner to do the heavy lifting on that front.

Project Management Help

Depending on the nature of your sidecar, you might end up with large projects that have many moving parts. If the project involves sending out lots of work orders, receiving the work back, and keeping track of a lot of pieces, a project manager can help with that. You can pay per hour or per piece handled. I have a project like this right now, and my project manager is my right-hand. There is no way I could do this without her. She sends work orders, receives documents, sends them for editing, collects images, and bundles everything neatly for me to follow up.

Good jobs for Project Managers (or Virtual Assistants):

  • Following up
  • Data entry
  • Organization
  • Planning
  • Systematization
  • Scheduling

Subcontracting Help

If your problem is one of older, poorly paying clients holding you back from picking up work from new, potentially well paying clients, subcontracting might be an option. When subcontracting, keep these key points in mind:

  • You are still, ultimately, responsible for the work. If the client is paying YOU, than YOU answer to the client.
  • You can’t pay all of the money for the project to your subcontractor. You have to keep some for yourself.  That is your “client management fee.”
  • Let your subcontractors know that you could always take back the work from them. That is why you are subcontracting. That isn’t your plan, but if one of the clients that you service goes away, you might have to start doing the work that you subcontracted in order to keep the money.

Partner Help

Involving partners (either formal or informal) can help you expand your business and services. If you could get more clients by having a graphic artist or web designer, than try to form a relationship with one. If you could sell more landscaping design work if you had an installation team, form a partnership. If you could sell more widgets if industries that use the widgets you sell knew more about them, form a relationship or partnership with people in that industry who can be your “inside voice.”

That sounds vague. The type of partner you have depends on your business or service. Here are some matches made in heaven (if they’re carefully orchestrated):

  • Photographer-event florist-wedding planner
  • Landscape designer-retail nursery-landscape contracting business
  • Freelance writer-web/graphic designer
  • Caterer-cake baker
  • Baby store-diaper service

I’m sure you can think of others! Not only will you be able to confidently provide more services if you partner up or build relationships, but you’re more likely to get more work, too. Referred customers are almost always easier to convert to existing customers than cold leads.

Sidecar Tuneup Tip: Look at your business. Where are you struggling to keep up? Does it make sense to find someone to help? If so, go get it!

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