Doing Some Due Diligence

You’ve heard the saying “walk the talk” but unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen in business.  Think about the mechanic with the broken car.  For most of our purchases, we like to read reviews or test run the item first, touch it, feel it and know exactly what you are buying. Whether that purchase is a new car or simply just a new T-shirt, we want to know about the product or service before we purchase. But I am astounded how many times I see people making impulsive purchases or mislead to purchase a product or service without truly doing their due diligence. Why do we do that to ourselves?Due

Impulse buying is a trait that many of us are guilty of and without that, we’d never have chocolate in our shopping trolleys. Long live good quality chocolate! Or try walking around a local weekend market and not buy that impulse product. But what about when you want to engage another business for a service? What are the risks and what is the purpose?

There are many businesses out there with varying qualifications, skills, and experience, so how do you know which one to work with?  Good question! Are you always engaging the right contractor for the job? With a little due diligence, you may be better able to source the right fit for the job rather than just the first one that jumps out at you, or the one flapping their arms around for attention. Here’s a few examples:

  1.  If you were to engage web developer to build you a new website, why wouldn’t you check out their website first? Is that the example you would want for your business?  Have they made doing business with them easy – look for the contact points. Can you be directed to the product or service you are seeking from their front page? Or is it a minefield to work it out? Because you would want a web developer to build a website for your business that has all those critical features.
    Are there any social media links? Can you call them? How long did their website take to load?
    I like to do a sneaky right click with my mouse and read “view page source” to understand what is going on behind the website. Then I can read their keywords – right click, “ctrl + F” then key in “keyword”. If they have done some SEO, you should see the words.
  2. If you were to engage a social media expert, what do their social pages look like? Again, if they can’t walk the talk, then would you really want that for your business? How many followers do they have? How often do they interact with others on social media? How often do they post? If they are not actively working on their own social media, then are they truly the right fit for your business. I would suggest anything less than 3 posts per week is insufficient on most social media pages, except LinkedIn where that is a more professional platform where less is more – keep it relevant to the platform. Facebook is super sociable, so engage with your page regularly, Instagram is the same. But are they being social or trying to sell their product and services by ramming it down the funnel at every opportunity. Do they understand the difference between boosting and paid advertising? I also like to note the quality of posts – not just sharing from other pages (and preferring some comments as well) but do they brand their images or format them to ensure they are sized to fit the platform. Do they use hashtags in their posts?
  3. If you were to engage a marketing expert, then what examples can they show you? What is the return on investment? Are they aligned with your proposed goals? It is easier to reach the goal when the goal is clear. Is your budget adequate to enable that goal to be reached? Who is your target market or are you just depending on the marketing expert to find a target? What is their line of specialty – radio, print, email, digital, social media or other? One of my pet hates is seeing some, especially if they are into marketing, still using a generic email address i.e. Hotmail or BigPond etc. If you have a domain (being the website), then use the email address with the domain name. Simple really.
  4. If you were to engage a virtual assistant, then ask them the tough questions before you start. Again, are they aligned with your goals or at least have a clear understanding of what they are? Do they make it easy to contact them? Are they in the same time zone to contact them when you are working? If you want them to talk to your clients, how is their English? What are their strengths in their skill set? They may be industry-specific and understand what you want. Can they give you some examples in a portfolio? Do they have reviews or testimonials on their Facebook or LinkedIn pages or website? Will they allow you to talk to one of their current clients? It’s a trusting position so you need to have trust with each other.

This is a simple and far the from a conclusive list of examples but I am surprised (and seriously stunned) when a colleague or fellow business person has failed to find the truly right fit for their business and swayed by the sweet talk or taken a price-driven decision. It’s part of your own risk management. So next time you are considering engaging a contractor and outsourcing some works, then run a little due diligence test on their services first.