We hear a lot about outsourcing and with our country’s current recession there isn’t much positive media on this subject.
I am a big proponent of outsourcing; not the outsourcing that sends local jobs to other parts of the world due to cost-cutting measures, but outsourcing to enhance my printing and graphic design business.
As an owner of a quick printing shop I’ve built a customer base for the products that I can produce. But I know that my customers are going elsewhere for products they either perceive, or know for certain, that I do not produce. Without a method of seamlessly providing products that I do not produce “in-house,” I am losing customers and money.
There are a few steps to setting up a successful outsourcing program.
Select your vendors – It is important that the quality standards and turnaround time is consistent with your company standards. Not all vendors are created equally so ask for samples of the products that you are outsourcing to them. Redundancy is also very important. Your vendor log should have at least three different vendors for each product or service you are acquiring from them.
Communicate with your vendors – Establish at least one good point of contact with each vendor. Let them know what you expect right up front and then listen carefully when they explain to you what they need to complete the requested process. You are essentially their customer so communicate with them in the same way you would like your customers to communicate with you.
Keep the outsourcing process transparent – When the customer walks into your 100 square foot production facility and you hand them 10,000 presentation folders with foil stamping on the front and business card slits in the pockets… they will probably conclude that you did not do the job yourself. If you reveal your source, the customer may try to contact them and cut you out of the loop. If you refer to your vendors as divisions of your company, i.e. the die-cutting and foil stamping division, then keeping their anonymity is easier.
Keep current with your invoices – We all know that when a customer has a past due balance, and they ask for a special favor, we are reluctant to respond in the most positive manner. If I have difficulty collecting from a customer, your vendor should not have to suffer financially. If the vendor has provided the product and services, then they should be paid.
In future articles I will discuss more in depth how to select vendors and building win-win situations with outsourcing.
Believe me… I’m Lyon