By Stanley Block

As a business owner for more than 50 years, I have seen a lot of changes come and go—the fax machine, the Internet, and of course, outsourcing. Large companies often outsource to call centers or overseas companies to decrease cost and delegate duties away from the home office. But is this really best for the business, and is it best for a small business owner like me? My simple yet complex answer is yes and no. Here’s why.

I am a firm believer in the old adage if you want something done right do it yourself. When you outsource your workload to someone other than yourself you risk the chance of mixed messages and unhappy customers. In my opinion, nothing beats good customer service and your clients will reward you for that extra level of kindness and commitment to them. For instance, at my small tax law practice calls are forwarded to my cellphone on nights and weekends. Most business owners would not dream of working nights and weekends, but for me it has proven invaluable. Clients call on weekends and know they can talk to someone in the office rather than an answering service, or even worse, an overseas call center. The downside of course is you are prisoner to your cell phone and must have it on you at all times. For me, I would rather provide that personal touch for my clients, than outsource my calls.

In terms of time savers in the office, I am definitely open to experimenting with online platforms and different softwares. By reducing the time spent on menial tasks, there’s more opportunity to complete the projects you want to see through to the end.

Certain things just can’t be duplicated without hands on training and a knowledge of your specific business. This is why I shy away from call centers, automated assistants and auto dialers. Some outsourcing I can recommend: companies that produce handwritten letters sent to your clients, lead delivery systems and video production.

I can personally speak to the time and money saved by outsourcing video production to Hong Kong. We were looking for explainer videos and whiteboard videos to be produced for our tax resolution services. If I hired someone local to help with this project, I would have spent between $2-5k on the campaign. Instead, I hired an overseas company and for $97 I received a great whiteboard video. No one in my office had to spend time overseeing a marketing staff or organizing meetings. A few simple emails were exchanged and a marketing machine spit out just what I needed. Now this was my first time using the company and with such small financial risk I was willing to let them “wing it” and hope they understood my message. In the end it worked out great, saved a tremendous amount of time and man power, and I continue to use this company today.

The bottom line is you have to weigh the pros and cons when entering into any business campaign. If you have a strong mission and direction, it shouldn’t be hard to see what areas you can compromise on that personal touch and when you need to pull the trigger and implement some outsourced automation. If it can save you time and money and won’t sacrifice your image or customer approval, I say take a chance. My last words of wisdom from my many years in business is don’t let yourself get locked into lengthy contracts. There are many companies out there willing to work to earn your business—let them do it!