(For the sake of this article to express a similar idea, the terms ‘agency’ and ‘ independent contractor’ will be used interchangeably.)   

It may be challenging for an employer to adapt to an independent contractor or agency, but they can be a very useful asset to a business. With their expertise, contractors fill in gaps on subjects that fully-onboard employees can not. But it can be difficult to find a happy medium between trusting the completion of the job while not directing their every move, but still ensuring that the contractor isn’t drifting away from your needs.

To establish a situation where you feel comfortable with a contractor, take note of the following suggestions.  

Hiring an Independent Contractor…

Here are some good rules of thumb:

  • Evaluate the agency beforehand and look at it with a critical eye. Would you be comfortable utilizing the contractor’s services based on work done for past clients?
  • Consider allowing the contractor to lead the project. Odds are, they have done this type of work more often than you have. Trust their experience. Do you direct employees on how to do their jobs?
  • After hiring and some progress on the job is complete, a good practice is to reevaluate and compare this progress to the work examples you saw during prehire. If it is not meeting original expectations, discuss this with the contractor. If satisfaction is still not reached, it might be time to consider changing professionals.
  • Expect timely communication. The agency should be meeting deadlines and updating you if there are changes to those deadlines, as well as reaching out quickly when a problem or a question/concern arises. As much as a client needs to provide their customers a great user experience, an agency needs to provide their clients with a positive experience as well. 

Many agencies offer a free consultation: don’t be afraid to ‘shop around’ and take stock to ensure they will be a proper fit, that their previous projects are appropriate and relevant, and that they can be trusted to fulfill the assignment. If these prerequisites are met, trust in the hired professional and you shall not be disappointed. Not only are external hires less expensive than onboarding a full-time employee, but they can bring a broader perspective from their experience since they continuously contract with other companies for various projects.

Following is a starting point for an owner or employee of  any size business as they navigate and evaluate sessions with contractors.

Building Blocks of Trust

When working with an agency, it’s essential for clients to outline expectations for the contractor in regards to the project/job. Before contractors meet with a client, they should already understand the client’s conversion funnel and their pipeline concepts and have foundational knowledge about the company before beginning their work. This is because projects are (ideally) custom tailored to each client. Nothing is a ‘one size fits all’. After discussing the project, employers should trust their hired professional’s opinions and let them achieve results.

An honest contractor wants to supply a candid service and sometimes this requires exposing how making certain decisions has consequences. To demonstrate this concept, you call a plumber when your sink is backed up, and it turns out that there’s a tree root invading a pipe rather than just something clogging the sink drain. They know how to solve the issue and you trust them to make the necessary repairs. Perhaps you will be told a few other problems exist than what was originally thought. A client might know they need to update their conversion funnel, but not know how to go about it, so they hire someone who does. They might be hired to boost organic leads to a website, but if the website is outdated, there’s more underlying issues than needing to draw in new customers! Be willing to listen to the hired agency when they have found unexpected problems.

When a contractor is hired it is because they know their field and how to do their job. Someone hires a contractor to fill a gap and complete a project because they’re experienced, not to tell them how to do the job.  (Consider: if the client has the knowledge to do the assignment themselves, there would be no need to hire a contractor in the first place.) The employer must communicate what they need accomplished, not necessarily instruct the contractor on how to do it. Micromanaging rather than relying on a contractor’s experience will likely waste the client’s time and resources, and perhaps lead to the loss of a great contractor. Contractors are hired for their proficiency in a specific field. They often run their own business and understand how difficult it is to entrust putting a piece of your business in someone’s hands who isn’t an employee. Remember, the client will be included in the contractor’s portfolio – their own business is on the line as well and want to do a good job.

Keep these Tips and You’ll have Better Success when Working with an Agency. Let’s be Successful Together!

Want to learn more about benefits of trust in the workplace? Check out these references!

  1. The Balance Small Business
  2. Behler-Young Company
  3. Smarp
  4. Aespire

© Melinda O’Connor 2023