In business, it’s essential to control costs. That’s an easy way to expand profits without having to find more market share or change pricing strategies. One very common way to reduce costs is to find ways to do work in-house rather than hiring someone to do it.
But like many cost-cutting moves, this is one that can backfire if it isn’t carefully thought out. There are a lot of things that can go wrong if you try to do work yourself, so it’s worth the time to think about each problem you encounter and decide whether you should really let your own personnel do it, or if you should simply call a professional. There are several factors involved in this process.
Depending on the type of work your business does, you probably don’t have people on staff who not only know how to do the repairs but also have the credentials to back it up. When you’re dealing with dangerous elements like electricity, it’s often far better to hand the work over to an electrical contractor than to take chances with a self-appointed “expert” inside the company.
The same is true with many potential contracted services, such as IT installation. The home hacker who has set up four wifi networks in her neighborhood is not necessarily able to put in a reliable, secure network for essential business functions, the way a quality IT contractor can.
Warranties and Insurance
Even if Tom in accounting holds an electrician’s certification, he still may not be the guy for the job. Not because he’s not competent, but because he’s not covered. Unless Tom is still employed by an electrical contractor, his work won’t be insured or guaranteed (and does the work on the clock for them, not you).
Losses from incorrect installation, such as damage to computer equipment or even a fire caused by Tom’s handiwork, will not be covered and will lead to a huge financial hit for the company.
Let’s continue with Tom. His job description is to crunch numbers, not to paint the vaulted ceiling in the entryway. Should a few drops of paint land on the top rung of the ladder and lead to a painful fall for Tom, worker’s compensation is unlikely to cover it because painting is not in his job description.
You aren’t doing the company any favors to have someone overstep the scope of a job description just to save a few bucks, and you can rest assured that Tom’s lawyer will explain exactly why.
Skills are one reason why we hire contractors, but time is another. If you hire someone to mow your grass at home or clean the house itself, it’s not necessarily because you don’t know how. More than likely, it’s because you would rather spend that time doing something else.
A project that will take a contractor a few days to do will string out for weeks if you try to do it yourself. This is for a variety of reasons, including your in-house crew’s lack of experience, the constant trips to the supply store (or days spent waiting for items to ship to you), and trying to do work during the day when everyone is in the business trying to do other things. A contractor who slips in at day’s end and leaves late at night will cover more ground in less time.
Anytime you can control costs for the business, you are doing something good. Cutting corners is something altogether different, and it’s a strategy that is bound to backfire and eventually to cost far more money than it saves. It’s not necessary to call someone in for every blown lightbulb or spilled cup of coffee, but it’s also not beneficial to be penny wise and pound foolish. Learning how to balance the use of contractors is a key competency for any manager.