Entrepreneurship

How to evaluate your service providers

Goldwyn & Sons - Evaluating service providers

When you decide to work with any service providers (contractors, lawyers, accountants, etc), you need a way to evaluate them. Here is the information I look at when determining who I work with.

How skilled are they?

You want to make sure you’re working with people that are as highly skilled as possible given the budget you have to work with. If you can get referrals from successful people, those referrals will be invaluable. But if you can’t, for all your service providers, check their:

  • Google Maps and Yelp! reviews
  • LinkedIn profiles to see if they have a blog or any recommendations
  • Website to see if they have an up to date site (bonus if they have an updated blog)
  • Any social media accounts such as Instagram and Facebook pages to check the number of followers and positive reviews
  • Any online profiles such as Trustpilot, Houzz, BBB or other websites where clients can lodge complaints against providers.

If any of these leave a good impression with you, you might be dealing with a skilled service provider. For any that do not care for their online presence, I evaluate these kinds of service providers as below the bar.

How quickly do they respond to you?

Quick responses show they care. Period.

Based on their industry, if you were to contact them, approximate (based on your gut instinct) how long a response should be. Now, when you contact them, check if they are faster or slower than your approximation. If they’re slower, try other vendors. As you call more vendors, your gut approximation will update itself. After calling a few, you’ll know which one is the fastest.

For example, say you’re trying to reach a small business lawyer. I’d say their response time should be less than a day. If they respond faster, that’s great. If they take a few days, move on. In moments where you need them in a pinch, you don’t want to wait around for them.

Now say we’re trying to reach a supplier of luxury watches. I’d expect their response time to be less than 10 days. If they’re within 3 days, that’s fast.

It’s also important to ensure they remain in contact with you. Find out what their preferred method of contact is (phone, email or text) and ensure they respond back to you in time.

How do they talk?

Do they sound accusatory? Are they saying things like, “Oh, I said that because you told me so and so” or “See, if your service provider was any good, he would’ve so and so”. If so, move on. People like this may end up pinning the blame on you if things go wrong at your business and you need help.

Do they interrupt you constantly? Move on, because they think they know more than you about your question.

Do they sound angry or moody? Move on, because their patience level is probably pretty low.

How do they show they care?

Do they pay consideration to what’s around you (your property, your colleagues)? If they don’t, move on.

For example, one of the contractors I work with keeps the work site clean at the end of every shift. Another contractor had the courtesy of always bringing shoe covers when coming into my house. However, I’ve dealt with others who have left massive foot stains all over the floor, saying it wasn’t their fault.

How do they dress?

Do they have uniforms or dress professionally for their work? If so, that’s a positive sign, as someone willing to spend money on looking sharp actually cares about how others see their business.

How early do they show up for meetings?

If they show up early at all, you have a candidate. If they show up early all the time, you have a winner. If they show up late, be slightly concerned. You have to note the kind of industry you’re dealing with. Contractors may be late to meetings because of emergencies at other appointments (but if they give you a heads up, that’s an excellent sign of their service). That being said, if you believe they should be a bit more professional about meeting times, then only consider them if they’re on time or early.

What does your gut tell you?

Putting all this together may seem too methodical. However, the best advice I can give is to trust your gut after having considered everything above. Your gut will automatically take in all the information I laid out to you and give you a feeling as to the legitimacy of the person you’re planning on working with. With that, you can quickly evaluate any and all service providers that are candidates for your business. Based on that, your gut will usually be right. If it’s wrong, you’ll learn an invaluable lesson and your gut will be updated.

For more, follow us on LinkedIn.