It’s a trust issue…

Sep 14, 2010 by

A comment I come across often on the internet in respect of outsourcing is that people couldn’t possibly outsource as they couldn’t trust the individual they were outsourcing to.

I can understand this in a way.  It is a form of long-distance delegation.   Delegating takes courage and the more you do it the more comfortable with it you become over time. Delegation is also a key skill you’ll need to learn if you want your business to grow.

Trust is not something that should be given lightly however; and we understand it is something that has to be earned, but if you inherently don’t trust someone should you be working with them?

Clients pass work to us in stages.  To start with they may send us a bank statement to help us with credit control.  Eventually, once they know us and trust us, they may give us access to download the bank statements ourselves, pay their bills and even issue us with debit or credit cards.  Clearly they wouldn’t  do this if we hadn’t earned their trust.  Some clients just give us one or two tasks to start with and  then build these over time when they realise we can accommodate the work, carry it out to their standards and return it on time.

You should treat outsourcing work in the same way you would hire an employee, so before you make the decision to work with them  ask them  for:

  • details of their experience
  • are they registered under the Money Laundering Regulations if they are handling your bookkeeping
  • do they hold liability and indemnity insurance
  • are they registered with the Information Commissioner for Data Protection
  • will they sign a non disclosure agreement if you are concerned over confidentiality
  • seek references
  • have a telephone interview with them, do you feel you could work together

You’re not entering into a marriage, but if you get it right then this could be a useful long term partnership you will really benefit from.

Just because you employ someone to work in your office doesn’t mean they deserve your trust any more than someone you outsource to.  Take the same care, time and attention to detail in both cases.

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8 Comments

  1. All good business relationships, whether face to face or virtually, are based on trust from both sides. Helen’s advice on building that trust in small steps is exactly how good relationships are made. Initially, your gut instinct will tell you whether someone is right for you and your business, follow it.

  2. Great article, love when consultants supply a “how to”, very important. I would add to the above that it is very important to do business with companies that have a shared value system in line with yours.

  3. When I meet accountants at networking events, most of their talk passes me by.
    I don’t choose them on price
    I don’t give two hoots about their company unless it has a brand
    I do choose them if they take the time to talk to me and identify some common themes upon which to build a relationship….
    …otherwise known as building trust.
    Even better if their non work interests align with mine.

  4. An excellent article Helen, and what immediately struck me is the similarity between your role as a VA and my role as an accountant.

    Clients need to have the kind of relationship with us that allows us to deliver the proactive and exceptional service we know we’re capable of. That relationship only ever grows as we earn, and continue to maintain, the trust of our client.

    Unfortunately, there are many examples of outsource providers who don’t understand that it’s they that have to earn the trust, rather than client automatically gaining it. As a result, our services are often judged on other providers shortcomings.

  5. There are a lot of parallels here to the relationships we aim to form with our clients, too – even though as a development agency, we offer different services.

    We are also tarred with a number of brushes based on peoples previous experiences with outsourcing. Plainly put, there are a lot of business functions which many companies can outsources successfully – and with good reason / where there are tangible benefits.

    Trust is, always has been and always will be an issue – but that doesn’t mean none of us are trust-worthy. 🙂

  6. Brian Barnes

    Good blog, I have to agree that trust is important, but I feel a relationship is much stronger when the trust is two way rather than one way.

    I find I work more closely with clients when we trust each other, and I try to make it a more personable service by getting to know the client.

  7. Spot on blog post, thanks.

    Jumped into the VA arena some time ago and my first experience was beyond horrible. My big mistake was not treating them like a face-to-face employee. Didn’t give up though, kept moving forward.

    Now my hires are vetted much better and my expectations and trust are built over time. I give my hires small bits of responsibility at a time and build from there when I’m happy with their results.

  8. Spot on Helen. Trust is key whether it is brand or finances. 🙂

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