When Should a PRO Request Help From an Expert?

Sometimes it’s practical to stick to your skills in driving a truck and servicing restrooms, while leaving other specialized tasks to professionals in their fields.

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Question: What specific areas of their business could PROs outsource to others?  

Answer: We all cannot be experts in every aspect that is required to run a company. Seeking outside help for your company is a sound business practice. We have heard it said that as PROs “we should focus our energy and strength on what we do best — portable sanitation — and let others help us with their strengths in their areas.”

Here are some business functions to consider outsourcing as well as suggestions as to how to identify, locate and successfully retain the experts who can best help you succeed.

Some business functions are almost universally outsourced by small- and medium-sized companies. We consider these as “basic” services, and they include:

1. Accounting/CPA

2. Insurance – Vehicle and Property

3. Insurance – Health

4. Legal    

Other “common” tasks primarily performed outside of the company would include:

1. Fleet Maintenance 

2. Facility Maintenance and Repair

Areas which should possibly be considered as “worth consideration” include:

1. Human Resources

2. Collections Agency

3. Tech Support

4. Digital Marketing

These areas of outsourcing are each covered below: 

BASIC SERVICES

Accounting/CPA

Maintaining, organizing and measuring the financial condition of a company is one of the most important keys to success. From receiving payments to paying bills to payroll to taxes, successful and accurate accounting is required.

Some PROs will elect to have a bookkeeper “in house” for day-to-day transactions such as preparing checks for signature and making deposits. An accountant, either an employee or an independent party, would then categorize revenue and expenses in order to compile monthly reports. Some PROs also employ an outside CPA to provide checks and balances with the accountant as well as to produce quarterly, half-year and annual financial reports. In addition, a CPA has the responsibility to compile and to assist in filing company taxes.     

Insurance – Vehicle and Property

It has been said that “insurance is a relationship business” and we found that to be true in the many years that we owned our company. Developing a good business relationship with an agent is another key to business success. Work with your agent to customize your insurance plan to the meet the needs of your business and your budget. Annual meetings, at a minimum, are suggested by most in the insurance industry. A specialized agent for these important areas of the business and then a separate agent for health insurance is highly recommended.    

Insurance – Health

The only constant in health insurance is change. If this is a company benefit, finding an agent that specializes in this area is the best means of providing effective coverage for everyone in your organization. A mid-policy renewal meeting (either by phone or in-person) as well as a prior to renewal meeting are sound business practices in working this aspect of insurance.

Legal

A lawyer with a specialty in working with small businesses is ideal. This outsourced professional is needed to ensure that company legal registration filings are accurate and current with state government and other agencies. Having a lawyer annually review company policies, employee handbooks and customer contracts are important safeguards.     

COMMON SERVICES

Fleet Maintenance 

Service vehicles as well as pickup and delivery vehicles are the foundation of our industry. Proper maintenance and care of trucks ensures service schedules continue without interruption. While some PROs have in-house mechanics, most companies outsource this vital function. 

A certified mechanic or company is important so federal annual inspections can be properly performed, regularly scheduled maintenance can be done, and service records can be maintained. PROs should not be totally dependent on their mechanics as route service technicians have the responsibility of pre-trip and post-trip inspections, which can indicate possible mechanical issues.

Facility Maintenance and Repair

When the facilities and amenities are properly maintained both in and around the office, employees are more comfortable and thereby more productive. Electrical, plumbing and other needs of the office need to be addressed and repaired or upgraded as needed. 

Yard maintenance and repair is also important. Ensuring that the yard is properly lit, that security or property fences are properly maintained and that the warehouse is in good repair are important to both employees and management. Consider “experts” in these areas to keep the company’s infrastructure in excellent condition.

SERVICES WORTH CONSIDERING

Human Resources

Payroll, job recruitment, hiring and firing of employees, performance standards and group discount rates on benefits such as health insurance and workers compensation policies are a few of the tasks a PRO is expected to perform. Some companies have found hiring either a payroll-only company or a complete payroll and benefits company provides financial savings as well as allows for more time to spend on working with employees and customers to provide top-notch service. 

Collections Agency

Prompt and consistent payment of all your company invoices is the allure to using collection agencies. The PRO pays a percentage of billed revenue to the collection’s agency in return for payment of invoices and thereby eliminating the need for intensive accounts receivable work by office personnel.

Tech Support 

Technology is constantly changing, and it changes at a rapid rate. Using the philosophy as described above — where we are experts in portable sanitation, and we employ experts in other areas — technology outsourcing is worthy of consideration.

Having computers that meet the needs of your company in terms of speed, storage capacity, reliability and function benefit both employees and customers. As with service vehicles, routine inspection and maintenance are vital in keeping your company’s data safe and secure. Any new hardware, software or data needs that you have can be properly and accurately researched by these technology support individuals. Finally, if any technical issues arise on a day-to-day basis you'll have a contact for immediate expert assistance. 

Digital Marketing

With phone book advertising an ancient artifact in terms of advertising and information, the digital age is where the world now resides. In the early days of online advertising, search engine optimization was the focus of getting the company’s name out to potential customers. A PRO had a website and attempted to refer the public to that site. 

Today, digital marketing is more complex and more successful in securing new business. While some PROs opt to buy “ad words” to direct customers in an internet search, social media channels and other innovations have been developed, and many more will come.

Consider consulting a digital marketing company to explore economical ways to keep your name and services in front of consumers in a more effective and creative fashion. Increased sales can definitely offset this expense as well as secure your company as a leader in your market.

FINDNG OUTSOURCE RESOURCES

How do PROs investigate, and potentially hire these outsourcing groups?

Mutual business relationships – Companies you interact with are excellent resources for both recommendations and referrals. With the wide range of customers that use our services, consider companies in other areas of the waste industry, companies that roughly mirror the size of your company, and even other groups that you already work with as an outsourcing partner. Our experience shows that CPAs and insurance agents can provide numerous referrals as they also deal with the public in a wide variety of professions.

Organizations

Memberships in your local Chamber of Commerce or homebuilding associations are also excellent referral resources. Personal recommendations based on experience in the marketplace are the type of outsourcing contacts that PROs should seek.

Employees, Friends and Family

Similar to the previous recommendations but on a more personal level. These individuals can shoot straight with you and will give you very direct and frank feedback.  

Small Business Development Centers

Local colleges and universities that are funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration and offer free training and guidance to small businesses. Your local SBDC can provide names of companies specializing in working with small businesses in your area. Free consultation is a benefit that all PROs should utilize. With over 900 locations, the services that this organization provides are local and convenient. For the vast array of services offered, consult www.sba.gov

We believe in the value of these SBDC organizations so much that our column next month will be dedicated to the question, “What is the SBDC and how can it benefit my company?”   

FINAL THOUGHTS:

“Surround yourself with good people” is a phrase that has accurately described successful leaders and companies over the years. Outsourcing is a business strategy that allows you to concentrate on your business while having other individuals outside of your company work for you and contribute their areas of expertise to you and to your company. 



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