How to outsource business operations to cut costs

With many businesses pivoting in order to stay relevant during Covid, others are cutting costs to keep their doors open.      

According to founder and CEO of Accuratus Business Advisors, Roslyn Newbound, while cutting costs may form part of the solution, there are other ways businesses can survive and thrive during a recessionary market without cutting the guts out of a business and putting key activities like marketing on hold.    

“Strategic outsourcing is one of the key ways businesses can cut costs while also ramping up marketing, sales and operations,” Newbound says.

“A lot of people think that outsourcing means you just send your call centre or IT work offshore like the banks have done, but in fact, it means a lot more and is more relevant to small and medium sized businesses than ever before. We speak to our business owners every day and the ability to understand and deliver on their vision is what makes us great partners. It is like having their entire business team in the office next door.

“Today, strategic outsourcing is more about doing things on demand when those things need to be done. If an activity such as marketing only requires three hours of work on a particular day, then this is the only time that is billed to the business for the work.

“If a business is paying a person full- time wages to undertake marketing work, then efficiencies can be achieved by outsourcing the work. Same applies for management, HR, financial management and every other non-technical function in the business. It really is about prioritising time and money within a business on the things that really need to be done in order to grow the business.”

Newbound believes that many businesses will need to look at outsourcing as a means of growing over the next 12 to 24 months. She has put together five key tips to assist small to medium sized businesses make the outsourcing leap.

1 Talk to a business that specialises in outsourcing for small to medium sized businesses

“Like anything, there are different types of outsourcing services in the market. Some outsourcers specialise in helping large businesses and government, while others focus on telephony services,” Newbound says.

“Find a business that is experienced in working with small to medium sized businesses.   

“Ask them questions to determine how they can help you and what type of services they provide.  Explore whether they have the capacity to support your business as it grows and scales up. Do your homework, check their reviews and get references where you can.”

It is important to align yourself with an outsourcing company that understands your vision. What makes your business important and different to your customer base. It is imperative that any outsourcing partner incorporates this information into their delivery approach.

2 Work out what you can outsource

“While outsourcing definitely helps you to cut costs in a business, it also helps you to grow by focusing on the key activities that build the business and generate revenue,” Newbound adds.

“Outsourcing tends to cut through wastage very quickly. It forces you to identify what activities are essential to operations, service delivery and customer retention. Anything else that doesn’t fit under this banner, is parked.

“Usually activities such as social media, website management, SEO, live chat, customer enquiries, online business development, marketing, administration, and accounts are areas that can be outsourced very easily and for much less cost than undertaking them inhouse.”

3 Select an outsourcing partner that provides a broad range of services under one roof locally

“Once you have decided on which services to outsource, ensure your preferred outsource partner is able to deliver on as many of the services as possible, if not all,” Newbound says.

“Working with one provider is easier than working with three or more. A good outsourcing partner will be able to meet all of your requirements. Outsourcing needs to save the business money, but you are also looking for a solution that will give you extra time. Small business owners are busy. The last thing you need is to be running from appointment to appointment with different providers on a weekly basis.

“Most importantly, outsourcing is successful when it aligns to an overarching business strategy. One-off outsourcing companies promise the world but in our experience we see clients who are left disillusioned when their expectations and financial results are left unfulfilled.

“Avoid the temptation to outsource overseas. Working with an outsource provider in Australia is easier, highly cost effective and means you are keeping jobs in Australia. Your customers will thank you for it.”

4 Fine tune your messaging and product offerings

“For most businesses, outsourcing results in growth and new customers, but only when the product offerings are simplified and well explained.  In effect, outsourcing forces you to really think about what offerings will achieve the best results and the best way to market and sell them,” Newbound emphasises.

“Once these things are sorted, you are on your way. Again, a good outsourcing partner will work with you to address these things. They will bring their experience to the table and use this to help you get the best outcomes for your business.”

5 Invest in the partnership

“Outsourcing is a process and involves handing over your business activities to a service partner. Make sure you invest the time, energy and focus to set things up as well as you can. All outsourcing relationships evolve over time as the partnership grows,” Newbound says.

“Working through things such as escalations, approvals, feedback, scripts, content, budget and processes is all part of the process.

“A good partner understands your business and delivers results. Giving the partnership the time it needs at the outset will help you to achieve great results over time.”