Once in a while I’m asked to do something I’ve never done before. This probably happens to a lot of people, but I think it’s especially common with virtual assistants. Since, as an industry, we offer such a wide range of services, there are always going to be new software programs and online services, and it’s next to impossible to have training and experience in all of them. One way to handle this situation is to subcontract the work.
By subcontracting, not only do you save the client the time and trouble of locating another service provider, but you have the opportunity to earn some income. This can work well if you already know someone with the necessary skills, particularly if you’ve worked with them before and have an existing subcontractor agreement in place.
On the other hand, if you need to find someone with the required level of expertise, it may be more trouble than it’s worth. If there aren’t many people with that particular skill, how long will it take you to find someone who is willing to take on a subcontract? Will you be able to make enough money from the arrangement to make it worth your while? What is the likelihood that you’ll need to call upon this person again in the future?
I rarely work with subcontractors myself, preferring to refer clients to service providers they can deal with directly. However, when the person requesting the service is an existing client, or a potential new client who also requires services which I can provide, I will tap into my network and contact someone with whom I already have a working relationship, or who is recommended by someone I know and trust, to discuss the possibility of a subcontract.
It’s important to remember that your subcontractor’s work, good or bad, will reflect on you, so you want to be absolutely confident that they can complete it on time and according to your quality standards. When you’re not familiar with the required task, it may be difficult for you to assess this, which is another factor to consider.
Do you use subcontractors? Why or why not?