Subcontractors How Tos and How Not Tos, Pt 1: Hiring a Subcontractor [Video]

Ever wonder the best way to hire a subcontractor for your FileMaker Business? Have no fear! In the first of this three-part series, Susan, Don Clark from FileMaker Pro Gurus and Brandon Hayes from Kalos Consulting team up to discuss hiring the right subcontractor for your business – FileMaker or any type of software development work.

Please find the full video transcript below:

Don:  Hi, this is Don Clark with FileMakerProGurus.com and FM Database Consulting. Today I’m here with Susan Fennema of Beyond the Chaos and she’s the Chaos Eradicated Officer, CEO. I love that one.

Susan:  Hey, Don. How are ya?

Don:  I’m doing great. How are you today, Susan?

Susan:  Great.

Don:  We also have with us today Brandon Hayes, he’s the director of business relations for Kalos Consulting, because our first in this series of seminars on project management and managing your business and hiring subcontractors and growing your business, that type of thing, it has to do with finding qualified subcontractors. And so Brandon is an expert in that area, he finds subcontractors for people all over the country, and I don’t know if I’ll go further than that. Do you, Brandon? Go ahead.

Brandon:  Yeah, great to be with you, Don, thanks so much, and yeah, we’re actually launching international next year.

Don:  Oh, wow. Okay.

Brandon:  Coast to coast for full-time and contract developers, and going international next year.

Don:  Okay.

Susan: Awesome.

Don:  Now that we got that there, welcome aboard. We’re glad to have you here. What is the first step? If I’m a guy who’s got a business, a consulting business like I do have, and I wanna get some subcontractors on board, what’s the first step that you think I should take, and what are some of the guidelines I should use?

Brandon:  Great question, Don. What we do is we take, it needs analysis with somebody, and it’s surprising if you’re a small to mid-sized business, your thought is projects and deadlines, and how do I keep the ball rolling, and so thoughts of what type person am I looking for, what’s their personality look like, how accessible are they, do I need them remote or outside. These are questions you don’t necessarily think of off the bat. Usually, you’re thinking how quickly can I get someone up to speed and start building. So what we try to do for folks is help them do an analysis of who is the ideal person you’re looking for. You can look at the 80-20 rule where 20 percent of the work produces 80 percent of the results. And so what you wanna focus on is your preparation on the front end of who am I actually looking for, and what am I looking for them to accomplish, ’cause there’s, especially in the FileMaker community, a vast array of contractors for all sorts of different things, with all sorts of different rates and skillsets.

And so for you to really narrow your playing field with a couple of strategic questions is the best way to then identify the best person you’re working with.

Don:  Okay. And so you vet these people. You do, you find out what their qualifications are?

Brandon:  Yeah. So what we particularly do is we’ll talk with a client of ours and figure out who exactly do you need. We go from how many hours do you need them for, what’s their billing rate, are they remote or on-site, what is your moonlighting policy, are there any other types of programming or language skills that you need them to have, are they interacting with clients, are they just a backend programmer. Take all that, and then weed out and vet out anyone that doesn’t fit that kind of five-start inspection or checkpoint. So that way, if you utilize us, you’re only seeing someone who has checked all the boxes. What you run into a lot of times is you’ll have an interview with someone, or you’re talking to them, and you only find out until the end they either can’t be on-site or they’re out of your price range, and so those are things we try to get rid of or vet out on the front end, so you’re only talking with relevant  people.

Don:  Okay. Question that pops up into my mind when I listen to all this is how can somebody like me be confident that somebody you recommend is reliable? That’s one of the biggest, somebody that says they will, I mean they’re gonna be there two weeks from now, two months from now, six months from now, or they’re just gonna, “I just found a full-time or job” or “I got a great big contract and I’m outta here” type of thing.

Brandon:  Yeah, that’s a really good question. So a couple things we do, first off, is we’ve started to categorize, I believe in the industry, there are really two types of people. There are people who are actual independent contractors, that this is their business, and they are used to billable hours, client demands, and projects, and then there’s kind of another group of people that are looking for some contract side work on the side here and there. And so I think the first thing is, is this person used to doing this type of work? Are they a contractor, are they used to managing their time and managing multiple clients and projects well? And so that’s one way I think to start to assure that will happen. But secondly, we really try to work with people that seem to be integrous, that we’ve worked through and done reference checks with clients, deadlines, and make sure that they seem to fit the right criteria for the client that they’re looking for.

In addition, we partner up with Molly Connolly as far as technical vetting, and we’ll have her kind of do a once-over on someone just to make sure that they seem to have that particular skill set as far as client projects…

Don:  Ah, okay. I didn’t know that.

Susan:  Brandon, you’re pulling people in from Molly’s jumpstart program too, aren’t you, for junior level developers?

Brandon:  Yes. So because of our partnership, we’ve helped steer young people in the direction, or people that maybe been in-house doing FileMaker work, or web work that are not familiar with client demands and so we’ll put them through her program, and then vice versa. Once someone has graduated from his jumpstart, we then help place them and put them with the right kind of person, depending on their level and skillset, of course, but we’ve had some great success, obviously with Molly’s stamp of approval and her course. Good news travels fast after that.

Don:  Well, that’s great. Other things that you mentioned, where you wanted to talk about, was finding out what’s provided. Should you have an NDA, like a nondisclosure agreement with these people? What do you do about that? What do you do about things like, could you work for somebody else? Not just the moonlighting, but could you work for the same client that I brought to the table? And you work through the subcontracting, but we do have two years, maybe, or three years, or what do you guys recommend or do you have anything along those lines?

Brandon:  Yeah, good question. I try to approach each client in each situation as an individual process. We have folks that have a particular setup that they run. They have their own terms, they already know what their client restrictions are, and they’re looking for someone 30 hours a week. That’s much different from someone who, their business took off, or they’re behind on a project and they just need someone to come in, and they’ve used those types of people before as contractors, and so on a case-by-case basis, we really vet towards the client’s needs, and then that’s part of our process then. If someone is looking for someone with a non-competer, non-disclosure, or they’re looking for some sort of commitment, we’ll make sure the contractors are comfortable with that and agree to those terms before they actually go through the interview process.

Don:  Okay.

Susan:  So, I’m sorry, Brandon. So you know, obviously, we can find the people through you, but are there other places that people can look for subcontractors, ’cause now we know we need one, what are all our options?

Brandon:   Yeah, of course. So I would say as far as the resources that are available within the FileMaker community, obviously nothing goes farther than word of mouth, and networking, I’ll make a shameless plug for the Devcon. If you’re looking to grow a business, and you’re not there, even if some of the sessions aren’t necessarily applicable, the breakouts and the lunches and the meeting people there I think is invaluable. So any time there’s an event like that, having those connections and developing those relationships is key. You obviously have your FMP, your PUG user groups and your meetup groups. Again, looking locally is usually the point of least resistance. Even if someone’s remote, the ability to meet with coffee for someone if there are particular things that need to be discussed is great. And so I think looking local first at some of the groups or meetups that are happening which are pretty much in every major city at this point, is a great place to look. There’s always the social media and job boards, and Indeed postings.

I have my own personal thoughts about those, but posting a position out there is great, but you’re only attracting people who aren’t necessarily looking for a job or for work, and sometimes, the best person is wrapping up a project or is not necessarily clicking the refresh button every single day on Indeed or LinkedIn looking for a job posting to do work. And so those are out there. I have not found, in my experience of recruiting and helping source for 12+ years, that Job World  and social media should be your first go-to. I look it as almost as a last ditch effort, to be honest.

Susan:  I always find that you also get way too much, and so you have to actually allocate a lot of time to go through everything that you receive from people to even weed out who you wanna talk to, and if you’re already on a deadline, and you’re already desperate for someone, sometimes I think that method is, it just adds more work than helping you. Does that make sense?

Brandon:  Yeah, we had a client reach out, and I think it was four-and-a-half days, they had 143 resumes, and that’s a full-time job in and of itself. So they basically were like, they gave us access to their dbase, said, “Please just shut this down or make it stop. We don’t know what to d0.” And we’re wading through Starbucks, baristas, and carpenters, and all kinds of people who are not bad people, they’re just not qualified for this job. So I think in that situation, 143, we got it down to three that were even remotely qualified and even one that was worth talking to. So I would fully agree with what you’re saying. Sometimes I’m creating more work for myself.

Don:  One thing I wanted to ask you, you talk about, talked to you about before communications and setting expectations and things like that. What do you feel about that type of thing for when you’re trying to vet these people?

Brandon:  Honestly, our statement is communication, and then re-communicate, and then over-communicate if necessary, because I think when you’re dealing with deadlines and client projects, there are certain expectations that a business owner or someone who has the pressure from the deadlines on them, and sometimes steps get skipped or explanations get skipped, and the theory is 90 percent of prep work will overall save you 10 percent minimum on the overall project or expenditure of time. And so taking the time to clearly communicate expectations and having systems and structures in place with check-ins, which obviously a chaos-eradicating officer would be able to speak to it as well. How to eradicate those miscommunications and missteps and having some of these project management tools in place is by far the biggest challenge we run into, is someone jumps the gun, bringing a contractor because they feel pressure, and they don’t have the procedures and processes in place to onboard them successfully, and it ends up, they do more, and then they’re behind even more because they didn’t take that extra time from the get-go to get them on-boarded properly.

Don:  Yeah. And make sure that the guy could do what, the person could do what they want done.

Susan:  Well, and even more, to that point, when are you gonna pay them? How is the, do they have their own FileMaker licenses? All of these kinds of things are things that if you don’t have a process and you’re not being clear, you can get three weeks in, and then all of a sudden, the sub can be saying, “Oh, I’m still waiting for my FileMaker licenses.” You know, like wait! Your deadline’s tomorrow!

Don:  I haven’t been there yet, but I can see it.

Brandon:  There’s a lot of moving parts, and again, I think it becomes one, either lack of information or lack of knowledge on what that looks like to bring a contractor on, especially is you’re not used to, that’s your baby, that’s your project, and bringing in an outsider, you’re not necessarily sure or haven’t done that process, there’s things that pop up that you’re not aware of. That onboarding procedure is critical to a smooth transition and hitting your deadlines.

Don:  Yeah, and once you have them onboard, next things we’ll be talking out now they’re, the segments of this is what communications protocols do you use? Do you have FileMaker databases for project management? Do you have email systems? Is your client involved in this process? I think somebody mentioned earlier, is the sub gonna be talking to the client? Are they allowed to? Are they encouraged to? Sometimes, that’s what I do. Take care of it. You can handle it. But I don’t do that until I know they can talk to a client in a way that I say is professional enough, and they are comfortable enough, have enough people skills to take care of that properly. Not everybody has that. Everybody has different levels of skills in different areas, and developers aren’t known for highly-developed people skills as a rule, and I can think of several, who have that, really good people, great developers, but they don’t know how to do things the right way, or offer up the options up correctly, that kind of thing. So it’s something you have to learn. It’s part of the onboard procedure and the training procedure.

So did you have anything else you wanted to talk about with Kalos Consulting, or letting people know. You’ve talked about the services you offer, now’s the chance to do it.

Brandon:  Certainly. Yeah, a couple quick things I’d mention are one, we’re happy to do free consultation and help you do that needs analysis. Sometimes you just need someone to talk it through, and you’re not sure what kind of questions to ask or help to narrow down what exactly you’re looking for. We’re happy to offer a free consultative chat just to, what we’re really good at is asking questions you’re not thinking about to draw out of, “I didn’t think of that,” or “Right, I do need that.” And so that sometimes, in and of itself, helps someone, and truly, we just wanna give back to the FileMaker community. So they have to do that needs analysis and they say, “Hey, I think I’m gonna run with this and find someone.” You know, godspeed, and good luck. We don’t hold that against anyone, but if this whole webinar has sounded stressful, we do all of the backend and back office work.

We can generate the 10.99s and help set up the pay structure and get some of those processes in place so that if the current key operation where you just gotta help onboard them, and we’ll talk through your process, expectations are clearly communicated, and get you a quick turnaround. If you don’t wanna go through 143 resumes, we’ve got some pre-vetted people that we’ve already run through the gauntlet, we’ve checked word samples, we’ve put them through Molly’s technical vetting, we’ve checked communication skills, and we have hourly rates, so we can provide kind of a pre-vetted list of people to look through as well.

Don:   Alright. Well, that sounds great.

Susan:  Brandon, one more thing. You do full-time as well as subcontractors, right? Either or.

Brandon:  Yeah, I appreciate you bringing that up. Yeah, to be honest, it’s a case-by-case client basis, but I would say a full-time developer, what you’re looking for, especially in that project sometimes make more sense, and so we’ve had that a lot of times, where we’ve done a needs analysis, and someone was bent on saying “I need a subcontractor,” and all of a sudden, they’re like, “I need a full-time person, actually.” Or vice versa, where we’ve talked about what’s entailed in having a full-time employee and they start looking for… Maybe starting someone on a contract, or contract a higher basis makes more sense for where you’re at in your business and on your clients. So we’ve had tremendous success from both sides, both full-time and contract development.

Don:  Okay. Well, that’s good to know. It’s been really helpful, what you’ve explained, and I hope it’ll result in more business being thrown in your way. I certainly like the offerings that you guys have, and I can’t see why anybody else wouldn’t. So if you have anything more to add, Susan or Brandon, or is that it for today?

Susan:  No, I’m glad Brandon joined us. I think that it gives us a good perspective as we start off on our series here on subcontracting.

Don:  Yeah, and this is the first in the series of several videos on project management, subcontracting, that kind of stuff, what you gotta do to take care of the business that you already have or you wanna get, and today, we had Brandon who’s just dropped off.

Susan:  Uh-oh! Oh, he’s back.

Don:  Just a little too soon.

Susan:  What happens when you’re live.

Don:  It does, but those are the technical difficulties we’re used to. So anyway, we’ve had Brandon Hayes from Kalos Consulting. He’s been very helpful today, thank you, Brandon, and for Susan Fennema of Beyond the Chaos, and myself, Don Clark. Thanks for joining us today, and we’ll see you next time.

About Susan Fennema

Susan helps you gain control of your business through process development, organization, and structure of your business operations and projects. From developing processes to coaching project managers, she can help you get beyond the chaos.
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