Vetting professionals

Vetting Professionals 101

Building a team of trusted professionals is essential to running a successful business. From lawyers to graphic designers you’ll want to make sure the people you bring into your circle are the right fit and have the experience you need. Your team fills the gaps in your knowledge and skill set which can make knowing who’s the right person for each job tough. You likely don’t have much experience in the industries you need support in, so when it comes to vetting these professionals you might feel unsure about how to bring on the best people for the job. To make this process easier we have 3 tips for vetting professionals along with advice from industry experts on hiring professionals.

Ask for references or portfolios 

When it comes to lawyers and accountants they won’t have “portfolios”, but you want to know they’ve worked with business owners. If possible it’s ideal to get a referral from someone that has used them before.  If you don’t have access to an already vetted list of professionals, you can ask the lawyer or accountant what types of clients they have worked with and in what capacity. This will help you understand their experience and knowledge.

On the other hand, when picking professionals in the marketing industry you should ask to see a portfolio or examples of their work.  Depending on the specialist (graphic designer, copywriter, web designer or developer), it’s mandatory they provide proof of their skills and experience.  Don’t hire a marketing or creative professional without seeing their work.  A website designer without a website or examples of client websites is a red flag.

Have a consultation

All industry professionals should offer a new client consultation, often this is free but sometimes it comes with a fee. You need to sit down with this person to assess if your personalities work together, they listen to your needs, and they ask questions about your business to learn more.  

Here’s some general questions to ask during a consultation:

  1. What type of clients do you work with (industries, business size, etc)?
  2. How long have you been a _____?
  3. Do you have success stories, reviews, testimonials you can share?
  4. What are your policies on frequency and method of communication?
  5. How hands-off or hands-on are you with clients?

Shop around

If possible consult with 2-3 professionals in each industry.  This will help you get a better feel for who’s the best fit as well as learn what you do and don’t want. As the saying goes “hire slow and fire quick”.  This is true for bringing professionals onto your team too.  Take your time to find the person that has the experience and knowledge your business needs.  And worst case scenario if you work with someone that turns out to not be a great fit, you can always part ways and find a new professional in that industry.  Business is business and sometimes it takes working with someone to find out they aren’t serving your business in a way you need.

Vetting Advice from Industry Experts

We asked some of our favorite local professionals to share the questions you should ask when vetting a professional in their respective industries.  Here’s their expert vetting advice.

Vetting an Accountant

Tiffany Crabree, CPA and owner of Crabree Public Accounting, shared 5 must ask questions for helping you find the right accountant for your business.

  1. Who will actually be working on my account?

Many times a CPA will have someone else help with data entry. That can be ok, but you need to know if you will have a dedicated bookkeeper or if your books will be passed around.

  1. How much turnover do you have in your office?

You want an accountant who is consistent. Constant turnover hurts that consistency.

  1. Do you have other clients similar to my business?

You want someone who knows your field. You also want someone who isn’t going to divulge confidential information about their clients. Which leads to the next question…

  1. And, how were you able to help them?

You want someone who has success stories with their clients. And, again, you want someone who is able to keep their client’s information confidential. If they name drop, that is a bad sign. 

  1. What is your preferred method of communication?

The correct answer here depends on what you prefer. If you only want to meet them in person, but they hate in person meetings, you aren’t likely to have a good working relationship.

Vetting an Lawyer

Local lawyer Kent Moore, had this to share about finding the right lawyer for your company…

“One of THE best questions to ask a professional you are vetting for your team (in my opinion): “What questions do you have for me?”

Answering that question ahead of time in anticipation for a meeting with a potential client is invaluable.

If you have done some basic research about the person/company, then you should have a TON of questions. Asking those questions to the person vetting you, will show that you know what you’re doing, without having to ever say it, brag about it, or trot out a resume ahead of time.  Talking about your experience should be the LAST thing you have to do in a vetting process, if it becomes necessary.”

Vetting an Design Agency

Andi Dunn, Graphic Designer and owner of Honey Creative in Nashville shared these 5 mandatory questions for vetting a design agency:

1. Could you share your experience with a project or business that was similar to mine?

2. What makes your service unique?

3. What’s your typical timeframe and process?

4. In what ways will I be kept up to date throughout our project? 

5. What is your favorite type of client to work with?

Do your homework

As a business owner you have to wear a lot of hats and know a lot of things, but you can’t do it all. You will need professionals to help launch and grow a healthy, thriving business. In order to create your dream team, the key is to do your due diligence and take your time with hiring industry professionals. 

The Biz Foundry is here to help if you need referrals to vetted industry experts. We are also always looking to expand our network of resources, so if you are a someone that works with business owners we invite you to submit an application to be added to our resource list.

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