A prospective client recently contacted me and asked a good question. Here’s how I responded:
If we work together, will you be outsourcing any of my work? Do you subcontract to other Administrative Consultants? —LA
Just as clients shouldn’t be doing everything themselves in their business, neither should Administrative Consultants. We are business owners/solopreneurs just as our clients are.
However, I know why you are asking.
There is a trend lately where a certain segment of people (often those with no experience or expertise themselves) starting businesses in our industry where all they are doing is farming the work out to third parties.
That is not administrative support. It’s an attempt to exploit an industry and mine it for whatever money they can get any way they can.
That is most definitely NOT what we as Administrative Consultants are in business to do.
There’s no personal one-on-one dynamic involved in working like that, which is precisely what defines ongoing administrative support: that deeply collaborative, personal relationship.
There are all kinds of pitfalls when working with a company that treats the work transactionally like that. I hear about them all the time from clients and from colleagues who are being farmed out or taking on subcontracted work.
The chief complaints I hear are that clients don’t like having their work sent out to people they don’t know. (If they wanted to hire someone else, they would have done that in the first place).
They frequently complain of problems with consistency in service and poor work quality in these arrangements as well.
And for the colleagues working for these companies, they simply don’t make much money and often have to deal with issues of late or non-payment.
It sounds like you have encountered your own negative experiences with that type of arrangement as well.
My business model is not one where I do the marketing and then spread out and rely on non-employees to do the work.
I am the craftsman in my business. When clients hire me, it’s my brain and my skills and my expertise they get.
That said, I do have my own small panel of long-time support administrators who help me in my business.
I have this help not only so that I can create the same kind of smooth-running business and life of freedom that clients are seeking to create themselves, but also, ultimately, because it allows me to provide my clients with vastly superior support and attention.
It does my neither me nor my clients any good whatsoever if I’m frazzled, overworked and spread too thin from trying to do everything all by myself.
But here’s the difference:
My relationship with clients is never outsourced.
When clients hire me, it’s me they work with directly.
Mainly, my panel of support help me with things related to the running of my business.
There are also some instances when I might delegate certain tasks or non-critical, non-confidential, non-sensitive parts of my work. However, my responsibility and control over the proper completion, quality and accuracy of the work is never abdicated or outsourced.
I don’t farm out or subcontract anything to any stable of third parties I may or may not know well (which is what happens in those subcontracting farms, often to other countries that are rife with identify thieves and credit card hackers).
I only work with my small, consistent, long-time support administrators who are colleagues I’ve known and worked with for many years.
In answer to your question, No (emphatically), I never subcontract your work. Your business, information and trust is too important to me to ever betray that.
What I do have is my own Administrative Consultant whom I monthly retainer for a body of support in the same way you retain me. Huge difference.
If there’s something additionally a client needs that is outside the scope of administrative support (e.g., they need a bookkeeper or a web designer, etc.), I can refer them or help them find the proper professional whom they can hire directly.
If a one-on-one partnering solution is what you are seeking, there is no place for a middleman in the equation.