In a perfect world, your trained, experienced office employees would never quit. When they go on vacation, someone else would seamlessly step into their job and handle it effectively and efficiently. When you want to outdo the competition, your customer service reps would be ready at the phones at night, weekends and holidays. And of course, you’d have top-notch bookkeepers and someone with CFO-level experience to help you track your company’s key performance indicators and spot the challenges and opportunities that lie inside the numbers.

In an even more perfect world, all this happens and you spend less time and money on the operations side of your business. That means more time and money to spend on the employees and services that generate the lifeblood of any company – revenue.

The way I look at it, savvy owners of home service businesses gain a competitive advantage when they focus on what they do best, whether it’s plumbing, electrical or HVAC – and generating the sales to drive their company.  Answering phones and keeping books are vital, but they are cost centers that can take your attention and resources away from what matters. Factor in the time determining the skills to search for when hiring financial or customer service positions. Don’t forget to add the expense of training, office space, desk and computers for your new employees, not to mention benefits packages that add 10 to 15 percent to payroll cost.  Did I mention taxes and insurance?

Outsourcing some or all of your back-office operations helps you alleviate problems with keeping them in house – the problems of losing trained employees, being short-staffed during vacations or illness, or wishing your financial folks could contribute better information. Outsourcing works because it offers teams of trained and ready resources that cost a fraction of what those capabilities would cost in house.

To get the biggest bang for your buck, it’s important to choose the right kind of outsourcing service. For example, general answering services are designed to simply take messages, and call centers are designed to handle high volumes of calls. Neither does what the home service business owner wants, having your calls answered professionally and knowledgeably, with customer appointments booked in your service software.

If you’re looking at outsourcing, here are some questions and tips for choosing the right service:

  • Does the service know and understand how to use your scheduling software?
  • Are their customer service representatives familiar with the types of calls your business gets, and do they understand the business well enough to ask questions that help you and your customer pinpoint the problem?
  • How can you contact the agent who took your customer’s call? When your technician needs to clarify the customer’s problem, or when you need to reschedule, you should be able to talk to that specific agent.
  • Does the service get paid for performance? Services whose pay is boosted when they turn calls into scheduled appointments have an incentive to do so.
  • Do they know and understand accounting? Knowing QuickBooks isn’t enough to give you the overall financial picture of your business. A service with an experienced accounting team can help you track your key performance indicators and provide insight into your challenges and opportunities.

Whether you are looking for improved efficiencies or your business is going through big changes, such as growing, downsizing or selling, now is a good time to analyze if it’s the right time to outsource operations or keep them in house.