Emily Aborn Content Copywriting and Consulting Services

How to Choose the Right Service Provider

Service providers are to snags in your business like Ghostbusters are to strange things in your neighborhood… 

“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood…”

“If there’s something weird and it don’t look good…” 

“If you’re seeing things running through your head…” 

You could call Ghostbusters, but more than likely you’ll call a service provider to jump in and come to your rescue. 

It’s probably time for help in your business. 

At some point or another… even if we aren’t seeing things in our heads or invisible men sleeping in our beds, most of us will need to employ the assistance of a service provider in our business. 

Even if you CAN do everything yourself in your business, you probably shouldn’t. 

Examples of Service Providers that entrepreneurs often find themselves in search of include: 

When considering bringing in a service provider for their skills and expertise, how do you know who would make a good fit? How do you choose the right service provider for you? The right business advisor? Graphic designer? Copywriter? CPA?

My hope is that this blog will help you to evaluate some important factors when making your decision and choosing the right service provider for YOU and your business. 

Does reading blogs bore you to tears? 

Check out this episode of the She Built This podcast where I break down this exact topic!

I help you evaluate some of the important factors when making your decision and guide you to choosing the right service provider for you:

  • How to navigate all the choices
  • What can go wrong 
  • The benefits of making a decision
  • Red flags to avoid in choosing a service provider
  • How to use this to set yourself apart as a service provider

And if you came here for the blog, read on! 

Ever been in a Facebook Group and seen a post something like this: 

  • “Anyone know of a good commercial interior designer?” 
  • “ISO a photographer in the Newton area.”
  • “Looking for recommendations for a content writer. Thanks in advance!” 

If you’re a part of entrepreneurial Facebook groups, I’m sure you have. And if you’re not part of any entrepreneurial Facebook groups,  you’re invited to join me in She Built This HERE. 

What exactly constitutes a “good” designer? 

What if there are thirty photographers in the Newton area? 

What type of content will the writer be writing? 

As much as I love these posts to connect us to service providers (and I participate in them regularly), it can be hard as the one searching to weed through the many, many suggestions and figure out which is the best one for YOU. 

How do you choose amongst the 30 people that dropped their websites and email addresses into the comments? 

While I can’t make any guarantees, I think I can help you with your decision-making when it comes to choosing and hiring the right service provider for you.

Three Benefits to Making a Decision

If you’re like me, you can teeter on the edge of diving in and straddling the line for a long time. Being indecisive means you can’t make a mistake, right? Doesn’t it prevent you from getting hurt and choosing wrong? In actuality, not making a decision can be worse than making a bad one, because rather than move you forward in any sort of direction, it just keeps you (and others stuck). Here are three reasons I think making a decision is better than just staying undecided:

  1. Making a decision starts propelling you forward. When you’re sitting there in indecision or in constant weighing-out mode, you’re not moving forward. No decision is still a decision- it’s just a decision not to take any sort of definitive action. Sometimes this may be exactly what you intend to do, but it can really slow you down in growth and momentum!
  2. Making a decision helps you to be more present to the rest of your work and life. When you make a choice that eliminates other options, your brain is no longer going back and forth between where you are now and where you COULD be. Once you’ve drawn a line in the sand and decided, it helps you to move into that place more fully.
  3. Making a decision helps others move on. If you’re a service provider waiting on someone else to make a decision, it can be excruciating. Whatever your decision is – either to work with someone or not, let them know so they can carry on and go find their next client or get excited that they get to work with you! 

So that’s my argument for why, even if you’re feeling back and forth about it, it benefits you and everyone else around you to make a clear choice. 

What Can Go Wrong in Working with Service Providers

First off, there’s no such thing as mistakes and wrong decisions in my opinion. There’s information-gathering and pivoting when we veer off down a path that perhaps wasn’t the best. Sometimes we pay money to learn lessons we wish we’d avoided. But there’s no “wrong choice” per se. 

I do however want to touch on what happens when we choose service providers that aren’t a great fit for us, and what I often see happening in the entrepreneurial space when it comes to service providers. 

If you choose someone that you just like, or because the price is low, or without much thought, you might end up being dissatisfied, especially if you were expecting something else as a result. 

If either party isn’t clear on the expectations going in, someone might end up being dissatisfied. 

What I sometimes see on the service provider’s end is overpromising and underdelivering. Promising the world and dropping the ball. These types of decisions do come at a price as a business owner. And frankly, when business owners get let down, it can ruin relationships, referrals, and future experiences. 

From the business owner’s side of things, I see two things: 

  • Overexpecting or overestimating what you’re getting for what you’re paying. Some people expect the moon or assume they’re getting the sun and stars, but they only want to pay a song and a dance for it. They want speed and price, they want an amazing price and luxurious high quality.  Now, I’m not saying everything needs to be expensive in order to be good. I’m simply saying the expectations need to be set appropriately upfront. And they need to be realistic.  
  • The other thing I see business owners doing is not holding up their end of the bargain as a client. They may not return things, reply to things, take action when they need to, implement, or be a part of the process, and in the end… they end up dissatisfied. 

These are all things you can help to avoid by asking the right questions and gaining clarity and understanding at the beginning of the relationship. 

Alright, now let’s get to how we actually choose service providers that are the right fit!  

Step One: First and foremost you need clarity on your direction and desired outcome. 

What are you struggling with that you’re trying to find a solution to? And what’s most important to you? 

In the case of a website designer, what’s most important to you? Do you want functionality or is an aesthetically-pleasing site more important? Or perhaps you want someone who can provide both equally well? When hiring a content writer or a copywriter, do you need someone to be able to write a sales page or social media posts that connect and nurture? Do you need someone to help you find your brand voice and tone or just someone who can jam-pack your copy full of SEO keywords and speak to the robots on Google? Or both? 

With a graphic or brand designer- do you want a speedy logo overnight or do you want someone who really sees you, hears you, and understands your message and mission, do you need the least expensive? Perhaps price isn’t a factor? 

With a coaching type of relationship, do you want clear recommendations and a mapped-out plan and strategy or do you simply need guidance, and then you’ll dance to the beat of your own drum and take it from there? Do you want to focus on your lifestyle and self-care, or are you looking to get marketing help and business know-how?  

Get clear on what you’re looking for going in and what’s most important to you, and it will automatically help you to eliminate some of the options. 

Start by making a list! What are you looking to gain out of this? How do you want to feel after you’re done working with this service provider?  

Step Two: Gather Your List and Data

Sometimes Facebook groups are in fact the best place to create your list of options. Sometimes, the names of service providers come through Google searches, referrals, Instagram, or friends/colleagues. 

I’d highly encourage you to try to nail down your list to no more than four options quickly. Too many can be overwhelming. You can always add more down the road, if need be!

Check out their websites, social media, and anything else that helps you remove people from your list fast so you can narrow down your decision-making.

While you’re weeding out your list, check to see if they have an online presence and that they’re actually offering what you need.

If you have a budget in mind, and their pricing is readily available, you might check that out too. Just remember, not all pricing is straightforward and easy (ie. I go back and forth with putting my pricing on my website, because it’s all very much project-dependent and I want to be sure to give every client the most accurate quote possible) so don’t write them off if there’s no easy-to-find pricing.

Step Three: Time for a More In-Depth Discovery

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to hop on the phone or Zoom and meet with people! Make sure you’re coming with a clear idea of what you want and need, and chances are, they can do the rest during the call! Most service providers know the questions to ask to help you navigate how they can serve you. 

Here are some things She Built This members said they LOVE in working with service providers: 

  • Someone who listens to your needs and understands what you’re looking for.
  • Someone who pays attention to the little details. People who listen for your name, and maybe even ask the name of the cat that walks across the keyboard during the call, and refers to it later. 
  • Someone who goes the extra mile and sends a thank you email or card afterward to let you know they appreciated your time. 
  • Someone who has a clear commitment to communication, getting you answers and information, and has a process in place to keep you informed throughout the project. 

Some additional things you might ask:

For a sample or portfolio of their work. Are you looking for something more templated or something that’s extremely unique to you? Do they work with your type of business?

What’s their communication process like? What are their guidelines and system? What’s the appropriate mode of communication if you have a question, have an additional idea, or need to get on a call after the initial strategy call? 

For client testimonials or reviews 

How long will the project take?

What are the next steps to working together? 

Red Flags of Service Providers:

Jack-of-all-trades. Like I said above, just because you CAN do it all, doesn’t mean you should. The same goes for service providers. I find a lot of value in someone that knows their lane, has proven success in their specialty area is and delivers impeccably within that container.

Overpromising on things they can’t possibly guarantee or deliver. Womp. Womp. Just run.

Making you feel judged or less than. I typically avoid working with people that use too much language around what I “should do”, “need to do” “can never do” or “always do”. Or people that make me feel like I’m doing it all wrong and I’m a hopeless cause. I like positive, solution-minded service providers that can show me the path forward.

You just don’t like them or get along! Many service provider-client relationships are interactive and engaged. It helps if you like the person who’s helping you, especially if they have to work closely with you to help you reach your goals. 

Step Four: Make Your Decision

At the end of the day, price shouldn’t be the only deciding factor when choosing the right service provider for you. It’s about the value of what you’re being provided with, whether or not it meets your needs, and the experience you’re getting along the way. 

Sometimes We Need to Let Certain Things Go. 

As business owners, we sometimes need to let go of doing all the things and delegate and find solutions to problems we’re facing. Remember that when we hire service providers, we’re helping their businesses grow, AND our own because we’re freeing ourselves up to focus more on our client work and the work we love, rather than doing something we hate or don’t do well. 

We have to let go and delegate. 

The other thing we sometimes need to let go of is the “nice-to-haves”. If we’re on a budget, or timeline, or looking to find multiple resources that will all be working together sometimes we need to let go of the nice-to-haves and focus on the “need-to-haves”, for now. 

You can always get the nice-to-haves later. Note: This isn’t the same as not doing it the right way the first time, this is about knowing what you really need right now and working the nice-to-haves into the plan for the future.

Decisions Can Be Easier in Community 

When choosing the right service provider for you, I really encourage you to tap into your resources, ask the community around you for help, support, feedback, and insight and use that to help you make your decision. 

While at the end of the day, the choice is yours and potentially only yours, you don’t have to make it alone. Tapping into an entrepreneurial community can help you prevent costly mistakes, and give you the BEST tools and resources for the job you need help with. 

I encourage you to check us out and join our free Facebook community HERE. 

Remember, you might be able to do it all, but that doesn’t mean you should.

I’d love to hear from you as to whether or not this blog (or episode if you listened) was helpful to you and what you might use as criteria in choosing service providers right now in your own business. You can reach out via email at emily@emilyaborn.com

And if you’re specifically looking to hire a website copywriter or content writer and are looking for someone who’s: