Running a business has and always will be multi-faceted. That being said, there will come a time where aspects of your business will require the hiring of a third-party vendor – contractors, printers, bookkeeping services, photography, and so on.

Now, choosing your vendor should require more than a simple click of a button, quick face-to-face meeting, or elevator pitch. Due diligence is needed here in order to find out if A) they can meet your needs and B) do so while fitting into your business’s procedures and processes.

Some tips or things to keep in mind before pressing go:

  1. Know what you want.

If you have a vague idea of what your needs are, odds are you will get vague results. Always describe the products or services you need and the goals you are looking to achieve as accurately as possible. In doing so, you will be able to set your expectations accordingly.

  1. Know where to look for your ideal vendor.

Your search can be formal or informal. For a more informal approach, ask your friends, family, colleagues, or peers. People generally have strong opinions and are happy to share if asked.

As for a more formal approach, you may ask for written proposals or bids (RFP) from interested vendors. Your post should include the following:

  • Background information about your company and the challenge you are trying to address
  • The purpose of the RFP
  • A description of what you want the vendor to do
  • Your goals for this partnership
  • How the vendor will be evaluated

P.S. Don’t forget to Google them! Check their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever they may be using. You want to get the best idea of who they are as you can.

  1. Portfolio, Portfolio, Portfolio

If applicable to the job, always ask your vendor for case studies or a portfolio of their work. It is a great way to see if their skills and style not only fit your needs but are adaptable to your brand and business processes.

  1. Ask for references

Whether you discovered your vendor by word-of-mouth or through a more formal platform, always, always, always ask for references. You want to make sure the local business, sole professional, or major corporation acts with integrity. Remember, they are essentially becoming another team member and should be put through the same interview process you would put a new employee through.