At the end of 2021, we sent out a survey asking all of our members what the most important thing was for their business this year … and you know what they unanimously replied?
“BUILD MY TEAM!”
So, we spoke to 4 different business owners, all experts in their field, to give you 4 different perspectives on building your team by hiring or outsourcing.
For this first perspective, we spoke to Paul Leach from GSE Business Consultants. Paul grew up in his parent’s successful restaurants before launching his own cafe in his 20’s. He went on to build up and sell 9 hospitality businesses and now uses his skills to help others in the industry do the same. Paul has not only managed frontline staff for many many years, he has built his consulting business up using contractors, freelancers, VAs and employees. To say he has seriously broad experience in hiring and outsourcing is an understatement!
Here’s Paul’s take on hiring vs outsourcing …
BCW: How do you know when it’s time to bring someone else into your business?
When your time is stretched. You can’t do everything all the time and you certainly can’t take holidays or exit your business if you’re the one doing everything.
BCW: You have always employed a variety of contractors, but you’ve recently employed 3 people – what created the shift?
Honestly, I could be earning much more money today if i did everything by myself. But, I want a self-managed business that I can step away from to go on holidays and eventually, I’d like to exit the business completely. So I have made a conscious decision to hire employees who are invested in growing the business with me and are here for the long run.
BCW: How do you know whether you need a contractor or an employee?
It depends on both your goals and the roles you’re recruiting for. If you have a senior level role or you want to grow the business or build company culture employees are the way to go. The right employees are committed to and invested in your business for the long run. When you have contractors, it’s hard to create culture as they’re not invested in the business outcome. Contractors are also working for others, so they’re not always available when you need them. On the flipside, if you have some one-off tasks, projects or jobs that require specific skill sets (eg: design, admin, etc), contractors are a great, cost-effective way to get the job done. You do also need to have the systems set up for training and onboarding them.
BCW: Is there a role for both contractors and employees in the one business?
Absolutely. The advantage of having a mix of contractors & employees in the business is that I get the work done by the best people for the job. For example, I don’t have enough work to employ a full time, or even part time, bookkeeper, but I do have a few hours a week for her. She works on various client’s books to create a full time role for herself and I get an expert to do my accounting for me. It’s the same for design, marketing execution and admin tasks in my business. On the other hand, my consultants and brokers are employed full time because they need to be 100% committed to achieve the results I expect. There is a lot of specific training involved for them to be able to do the job too.
BCW: Have you ever started someone off as a contractor and then transitioned them into an employee?
Well, actually I’ve done the opposite! I needed a sales superstar and I found one, but the role was as a commission-based contractor. He was used to working as an employee on a retainer, so it was a big leap of faith to take a role without a guaranteed income each month. He started working with us on a retainer and once he saw the opportunity, it gave him the confidence to take the high commission only structure. He’s one of our best brokers now, so it was worth being flexible in the beginning.
BCW: What advice would you give to other business owners around hiring & outsourcing:
For contractors: Respect that they don’t work just for you, so their time is finite. You also need to change your management style and lower your expectations of them. You need to communicate clearly and have strong systems in place to manage them virtually. Setting realistic boundaries around what can/cannot be achieved is essential as they may have jobs that are more urgent than yours.
For employees: Spend time training them up properly and remember that they’re in for the long haul. It may take some time to get them up to your standards, but if you invest in them, you’ll have a hard working, loyal employee for many years to come.
BCW: How have you found the right people to hire/outsource to in the past?
For employees, I look for people who have been in hospitality for a long time, have had their own business and have sold at least one business. They need to have sales experience, be good communicators and fit with the role and our company culture.
For contractors, I rely on their current jobs/portfolio and referrals and I usually hire them for smaller jobs to see their work first hand, before I give them big projects to work on. I also look for people with niche specialties. For example, instead of someone who can create websites in wix, squarespace and wordpress, I look for people who are wordpress experts.
BCW: Can you share some great resources for outsourcing/hiring?
I’m a bit of a tech geek, so I love Spark Hire. It’s one-way video interview software and it was a game changer for my most recent hire. Essentially, potential candidates filled out my Facebook lead form to get the full job description. If they fit the role, they got an invitation for a one-way interview. I set up all the questions with parameters and they recorded their responses. It asks them questions, gives them thinking time and they can re-record their answer if they’re not happy with it before they submit it. I got 66 applications for 1 role and it filtered them down to 5 face-to-face interviews.
The next The Kolbe system, which is the most accurate profiling system I have found. It’s based on how people instinctively take action, which helps you to figure out how you can manage them and how they will best interact with other people within the business. There is also an index for the role so you can work out how suitable candidates are for the role they’ve applied for.
And finally, I recommend every business owner reads ‘The Prosperous Coach’ by Rich Litvin and Steve Chandler. It’s a great reminder not to get caught up in the marketing, but to rather over-deliver on your promises and over-service your customers, and your customers will do the work for you. There are lots of great insights into hiring and outsourcing too.