The overlooked secret to cutting your outsourcing costs
11 Nov, 2015

The idea of paying someone else to handle your affairs can be a scary thing for small business owners. But today I’ll share a secret to getting quality design work at an affordable price.


Avoid this tragic mistake

I’m an infrequent viewer of The People’s Court. It’s a predecessor of Judge Judy, featuring Americans bickering in small claims court in front of a bemused judge.

The show’s current judge, Marilyn Milian, is known for quoting Cuban proverbs learned from her grandparents. The most common one to escape her lips is “Lo barato sale caro”.

Or for those of us who don’t speak Spanish: “The cheap comes out expensive”.

This is an applicable lesson for small business: In the end, the cost of fixing up cheap-and-nasty workmanship can be higher than the cost of doing it right the first time.

I understand your cashflow is tight, and it’s common sense to avoid spending more than you can afford. But beware of short-term savings that may create a problem down the track.


Do it once, do it right

‘Lo barato sale caro’ is a phrase that resonates with me, because I am often called in to fix up the messes left by designers who have cut and run without finishing a job.

From time to time, business owners trust me (and pay me) to fix up their websites.  Their layouts look bad, the scripts don’t work and the stylesheets are so mixed up that the formatting changes from page to page.

I am sympathetic towards these people. They thought that they were getting a good deal, but over time things have fallen apart and they realise that they’ve been sold a beautiful exterior site without the correct internal structure to hold it together.

The cheap comes out expensive when they have to pay for their website twice – once to build it, then again to renovate it.

And when I say renovate, I’m being generous. In my experience it is rarely a simple matter to “fix up” a faulty website. It is far quicker to simply bulldoze and rebuild from scratch.


Finding the right person

Let’s imagine that you’re looking to hire a someone to make design promotional materials for your business. You want the best possible quality without going over your (somewhat restrictive) budget.

The cheapest options aren’t necessarily the worst, just as the most expensive aren’t guaranteed to be superior.

When seeking services to help your business, it pays to research. You should obviously assess whether your contractor has the skills to do the job, but you should also ask yourself these oft-ignored questions:

  • Does this contractor communicate clearly? (Particularly if you aren’t transacting face to face)
  • Does this contractor have a personal style or flair to their portfolio? If so, does it match my business?
  • Is this contractor a person with whom I will enjoy doing business?

I would argue that favourable answers to these questions can be far more important than finding the lowest price.


The secret to saving money

So how can you cut your outsourcing costs if you’re hiring a more expensive contractor? It all comes down to doing things right the first time.

My experience has shown that the leading reason a website falls apart is lack of planning.

As I’ve shared previously, getting your business online is essential in the current marketplace. But if you want cost effectiveness in the long-term, you need to plan ahead. The sites that I have seen crumble have fallen apart because their owners have tried to add bits and pieces along the way. Just like in architecture, cobbling on a variety of extensions without constructing adequate foundations can cause structural issues.

So the secret to saving money is to allow yourself enough time to plan and write a complete brief. Let your contractor know exactly what you need from the outset. When the designer can work to a thorough brief there will be fewer revisions and alterations, saving time and therefore money (particularly if they’re billing by the hour). Plus, if you’ve planned ahead correctly, you can add pages and functionality in the future without a full re-write.

Get the details right before you start, and you can slice your outsourcing budget. Plus, graphic designers love clients with clear goals!

This isn’t to say your relationship with your designer is a one-off thing; they may continue to work with you, but you will save money by helping them to work efficiently.

Of course a good designer should take the time to talk through everything at the start of your project. Unfortunately, not every designer is like me. Some will send a thoroughly inadequate questionnaire and then try to work for you with only a shallow understanding of what you actually need.

There are some important questions to ask yourself before outsourcing a project. If you’d like to know what they are and how Scribble Graphic Design can save you money in the long term, why not flick me an email?