By Kevin Flaherty, CEO, BLM Technologies
If part of your channel sales strategy is working with companies who supply contractors to handle installation, maintenance and repair, then you’re familiar with the benefits the contractor model offers your customers. You’re likely also very aware of the challenges.
Contract workers are integral to a number of industries. And that’s a good thing, since there’s a growing number of freelance/contract workers in the marketplace. By some estimates, close to 50% of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of freelancers by 2020. In parallel, there’s a millennial component in this equation. A story in Inc. recently noted that estimates suggest by 2025, 75% of the U.S. workforce will be millennials. A separate set of considerations accompanies this age group.
Add to these factors the current strong economy, and it’s easy to understand the challenges behind keeping millennial-skewing contractors happy. If they’re not, they will quickly — and easily — move to another opportunity. Outsourcing that successfully balances completing and keeping workers happy is something of a daunting task, but it can be done. We’ve needed thousands of contractors over the years, created a division to manage large and long-term project needs, and learned critical lessons along the path of perfecting the practice. Here are four themes to keep in mind when your goal is to hire contractors to keep, not inspire them to leave.
1. Prepare as though your customer’s success depends on it. Does the contractor you’re considering have the right qualifications, certifications, skills, and training for the job? This may seem like an obvious point, but you might be surprised at the number of contractors in jobs who aren’t a fit primarily because they don’t have the knowledge and experience needed. Some contractors become masters at being able to skirt questions related to specific skills and qualifications — and you may not know they did so until you hear from your customer that the contract worker isn’t competent. Ask direct, closed-ended questions that leave less doubt that your potential worker has what it takes to successfully do the job.
Preparation is also key because when you send contractors into a customer’s office or even the field, they represent you, even if they don’t work directly for you. You’re often “letting them into the vault” — they may be granted access to sensitive information, data and technology systems, and they must be trusted with all of it. In addition, as with all employees who interface directly with your customers, you need to feel confident that contractors will serve as a positive and trustworthy extension of your brand. If you can achieve this delicate balance, your customer, your contract worker and you will all feel successful.
2. Communicate — and know there’s no such thing as “overcommunication.” From the outset of working with a contractor, you can expect the good, the bad and the ugly. To lessen the chances of the “bad” and “ugly” overshadowing an otherwise good contractor experience, treat communication as job number one. And just as…