7 tips for finding and hiring a business expert.

By Nancy E. Hassel, American Pet Professionals

Very often I get the question from pet professionals about the need to hire an expert or someone to help them with XY&Z of their business.  Nancy "Who would you suggest to hire for _______" or "What product do you use for ______"  or "I need to hire someone to do _____."  You get the picture.  Often I can easily suggest someone based on what their need is - but if I don't have a direct contact for our members, I give them the following advice.

First I would say, don't be influenced by a lot of fluff - and not the kind we like on our furry pets.  You want substance, real expertise and fantastic results by those you hire.  7 tips to help you get that are:

1.) Get a referral.  Referrals from other pet professionals and business owners are great way to do business with someone who they really liked, were happy with and gave great results in a timely manner.

2.) Request References.  You may have a great referral from a friend or business owner you know - but you want to make sure they are the right fit for what your business needs are.  Ask the person you are seeking to hire for at least 3 business references of people they have worked for in the past 6-months to a year.  Ask for a portfolio of their work, (if it applies), so you can see what they have done for others and anything else they can provide to show their work to you.

3.) Interview them.  Just like you would do hiring an employee, you want to do an interview in person, over the phone, or even on Zoom.  Present to them what you are looking for and what you want done.  They should be happy to answer any questions you have and provide you with information, and tell you if they can or cannot provide what you need.

4.) Google search.  Once you have a referral make sure you google the person or business you are thinking of hiring.  Go beyond page 1 on your google search and make sure the person your are hiring is the real deal, has great reviews, and that nothing bad about their business comes up.

5.) Red Flags.  We have heard this a lot - but listen to your gut.  If something doesn't feel right or maybe you have been burned in the past by someone - look back and remember what those red flags were you should have listened too.  With the internet a flutter of experts in everything, make sure you are really vetting the person you're hiring: do they really have the experience they say they have; why are they an expert in what they do; how long have they been offering their services; etc.  If something doesn't feel right - it usually isn't.

6.) Get it in writing.  Whenever you are hiring someone for anything request a contract.  I can not stress this enough.  I have heard horror stories from business owners on people they hired to help them with their business, and my first question is, "did you have a written contract that was signed between both parties on what was to be provided?"  More than not the anwers is no, or worse yes but they didn't read or fully understand the contract.   Even if there is no money exchange, perhaps your doing a barter - you have to write up a contract. This will save you any misunderstandings, time and money and heartache.  (Have the terms of services they are providing and payment method and schedule, or at the very least something in an email - but that is not a contract!)

7.) Last but not least: Don't waste their time - now you found someone you really, really want to hire, but you do not have the budget at the moment.   Maybe you're hoping that setting up a meeting or asking them to provide a contract when you know full well you're not going to hire them, yet you just want to 'pick their brain.'  Be honest in the beginning telling them that you don't have the budget right now, but would love to hire them in the future for XY&Z.  It will help you build trust and the person your are reaching out to will appreciate it - and you never know where that business relationship can end up because you were up front from the beginning!

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