What to look for when buying services

8 months ago

You need a job doing. We've all been there. It doesn't matter if you need a website building, if you've got a blocked toilet and wouldn't know your U-bend from your elbow, or if you are looking for an accountant to help you get your books in check, you're going to have to find somebody to do it, but how do you find the right person?

Thankfully, there's usually a huge array of businesses and individuals who can help you solve whatever your issue is, especially when it comes to business services. That in itself can be nerve-wracking though, because how can you be sure that you'll get the right the person for the job?

Nobody wants to give their money to somebody who isn't going to live up to expectations or, worse, someone who turns out to be a total chancer. If you're looking for help in an area or sector that you have no experience in, then finding the right business service provider can be especially fraught. 

Thankfully, there are some really easy ways that you can take the fear out of the search, and find the perfect partner.

Ready? Let's take a look.

Use Companies House 

A good first step to take is to make sure that whoever you're scoping out is a real, registered company by using the Companies House service. All you have to do is put the business name into the site and it will come back with results to show that the company is indeed registered in the UK. 

You won't get a whole lot else from the Companies House, but at least you'll know that you're dealing w

Take a look at their website

Not every business service provider will have a top-notch website, it's true, but you can still glean some useful information. 

For example, do they have client testimonials on their site? The majority of creative industry types use testimonials as they rely on third-party endorsement and word of mouth to bring the next round of clients in, but it's not a feature that's exclusive to the worlds of media and marketing. 

Another thing to look out for is membership of any professional bodies, or even award wins. Logos and graphics identifying these groups and accolades are usually found in the footer of a site, so be sure to take a look there.  

Do a Google and news search

If you're after a more general look at a business or sole trader then you can't go wrong with a traditional, old-fashioned Google search. It's an easy way to find their social media profiles, which should give you a good opportunity to get a grip on their style of business – the subjects they discuss will give you an insight into their priorities and services, while the tone of voice used can tell you a lot about the brand. You can also see any praise or complaints in the comments and interaction under a post. 

Selecting news results from your Google search will throw out any stories that have been written about the business, both good and bad, which will also help you to make a decision.

Check reputation aggregator sites

Because reputation and consumer trust is such a vital commodity, we now have several independent websites where businesses can set up an account and ask users to leave a review. Trustpilot and Feefo are two of the most used sentiment aggregators, so be sure to search for the business name there. Alternatively, any such pages should come up in your Google search, and some businesses proudly display a widget showing their rating on their website. 

Reviews on these sites often come with comments too, so you can browse through them to get an idea of h

Ask to speak to a referee

Now this one definitely does feel a touch on the old-fashioned side, but if you want to speak to someone directly and hear their first-hand experience of working with a service provider, then why not ask to be put in touch with a previous client as a referee? 

The big benefit here is that you'll be able to get answers to specific questions, instead of just relying on comments that may have been written at any point over the last few years. Sometimes you can't beat a personal approach, so speaking to a referee is definitely an option to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to work with someone.

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