Need the help of a contractor or service provider to help your business?

Whether you work from home or run your business from an office or other premises, at some stage you’re likely to need the services of a contractor to help in areas you either don’t have experience in, or don’t have time to take care of. You might need a new web design, an SEO or digital marketing plan, new signage or even renovations completed at your premises.

There’s a certain amount of business risk involved in hiring the services of any contractor or supplier. With a bit of careful risk assessment, you can find a contractor who will give you a positive experience and – best of all – great results for your business.

Here are our tips to help you find the right contractors to work with in your business.

Shop around for suppliers with a good reputation

Not every supplier will have online reviews or social media pages but it’s always worth finding out what you can. Try not to sign up with the first supplier you see through Facebook or Gumtree advertising.

Ask around within your own business or social network for recommendations of suppliers, then look for a portfolio of work or case study examples on their website. Generally, it’s a good idea to get at least three quotes from different suppliers so you can compare their pricing, expertise, experience and other factors, including:

  • how familiar they are with your industry
  • whether they have insurance coverage
  • how they communicate
  • their compliance with any relevant safety standards or industry practices in relation to the nature of their work
  • their process for notifying you of problems or incidents while carrying out work on your behalf.

Be clear about what you want to achieve

Contract disputes often arise because the parties had different expectations as to what the final ‘product’ would look like.

When you ask any supplier for a quote, you need to let them know what you want to achieve and make sure you get an agreement in writing as to what the final product or service that you are paying for will include.

As an example, if you need a full-service e-commerce website with room to add a blog later, that’s important information for your potential supplier to factor into scoping and quoting your project.

If you’re looking for new signage, it’s important to let your potential supplier know about sizing and the end result you have in mind, or ask them to visit your premises to make recommendations on what you might need.

You also need to be clear about what you expect in terms of communication and timing for the project. Ask for a realistic deadline for them to deliver the work and check how easy it is to get in touch with your potential supplier at any stage of the process.

Understand what is included for the price

Once you have a quote, it’s really important to understand exactly what is included. The cheapest option is not always the best one.

Whether you’re working with web developers, signage professionals, architects, copywriters or other suppliers, confirm if their quote includes changes once you’ve seen the first version of their work. It’s likely that you’ll need to allow for at least a round or two of changes – or even more. Some suppliers will include this in their quote while others might charge by the hour, so you’ll pay extra for ongoing changes.

Beware if you’re asked to pay in full before work has started

Many providers will ask for a deposit before they start working on your project. This is generally to protect themselves in case they spend hours working for you and then don’t get paid – and in most cases that’s understandable.

For services which may be costly or require a longer length of time to complete, consider paying for the project in instalments and linking certain outcomes or ‘milestones’ to those payments. This ensures that you haven’t made full payments to a service provider who then doesn’t provide the services at all, within a reasonable time or to your satisfaction. Ensuring that outcomes are tied to a payment schedule provides you with some scope for negotiation if problems arise with the service provider in the future.

Any supplier who demands full payment in advance before the project has started should set off your alarm bells. Too many business owners have been left out of pocket by suppliers who become impossible to contact or seem to disappear after they have received their full payment in advance.

Follow your instincts

Your business is important to you, so it’s worth working with providers who you feel have your best interests in mind. A good supplier will give you great service, be happy to answer your questions or get in touch at any point and generally make you feel comfortable working with them. You may also like to consider what advice is worth investing in for your business.

More information

To learn more about running your business, take a look at our upcoming workshops.

If you have had an issue working with a supplier, you might like to explore our information on managing disputes or use our free business advisory service.

If you are a contractor or supplier to other business, you may also like to understand the difference between a contractor and an employee and whether personal services income applies to you.

Starting and growing
Legal and risk
22 April 2024