In my business timeline, which is seriously due for an update to account for the last year or two, you may recall I talked about the early days with my start-up business BetterEdit. If you check out the Way Back Machine archives for BetterEdit.com you will see the different evolutions of the site, including a period where BetterEdit was more than just an academic proofreading business – I offered book/manuscript proofreading, business editing, language translation and transcribing services.
I was focused on cashflow back then and thought the best way to generate cash was offer as many services as I could. As each job came through I’d search my network of resources for an appropriate freelancer to do the work. Freelancers would provide me with quotes, I’d choose the best, slap on a margin to make a profit and quote that back to the client. It was a time consuming process but I made it work and closed most leads and made some of my first business profits using that model. At one point I had an ongoing business editing client feeding about $2000 worth of work to me each month, but it was always difficult to juggle finding the right people, making sure the jobs were done on time and realizing a profit from the process.
Needless to say things changed, and if you read through the archives of this blog, in particular this article – Pricing Points, Perceived Value And How To Make More Money Per Sale, you will see how my business strategy improved as I learnt more about business from guys like Rich Schefren, Jay Abraham, Perry Marshall and others. The changes flowed through to my business model as well, to the point where it is today – a much tighter focused business that generates a higher profit margin per job, provides a better quality service and I don’t have to run around looking for freelancers for each project like I used to.
I relate my story because just today I received a review request from VendorSeek and it brought back memories of my original business model. Here is my review.
VendorSeek is a business to business services clearing house. Whenever you need a professional service you can go to VendorSeek.com and submit a form for quotes. VendorSeek solicits it’s network of verified vendors, who reply with quotes to complete the project, you just choose which one, if any, to accept.
The VendorSeek website explains the benefits like this:
- Let buyers comparatively shop for services by receiving five competitive price quotes from national and regional pre-approved vendors across the U.S.
- Alleviate the process of searching out the right vendor to work withâ€¦you place the request, we find the right vendors to meet your needs.
- Provide a convenient ‘one-stop-shop’ destination for all business service needs.
You may notice that vendors are sourced for the USA, so I’m inclined to think this is a bit more structured and there is a more extensive pre-qualifiticaion process to become a vendor, say compared to posting a job at Elance where you might find freelancers from all over the world offering their labor at bargain prices. That’s not to say that the vendors at VendorSeek won’t necessarily be sourcing contractors from outside of the USA, but it does mean that the companies providing the quotes are USA based.
VendorSeek certainly provides a range of services and without actually going through the quoting process and completing a job I can’t verify the quality of any of the vendors. I would assume like other services similar to this that in general you can find good providers, but you must be prepared to know exactly what you want and clearly articulate your needs in your quote requests.
When seeking new, untested vendors, you must make your demands crystal clear with as much documentation as you can provide or risk disappointment due to poor communication. In nearly all jobs I’ve outsourced to unknown contractors I’ve suffered because the provider didn’t have a clear understanding of my needs and as a result undelivered. In most cases I could have avoided the outcome if I first entered the relationship knowing exactly what I wanted.
Take a look at the VendorSeek homepage if you want to see a partial list of the services available.
On the flipside, if you are a business to business service provider you can apply to become a registered vendor with VendorSeek and potentially generate a new source of leads. Bear in mind with a service like this more often than not you may find yourself competing on price for contracts, which in my opinion is one of the worst situations to be in. If you are just starting out and cashflow is tight and you are dying for leads this might be a good stop-gap solution for the short term. Again though, without actually becoming a vendor I can’t vouch for the service, it may in fact be a fantastic source of high quality, high paying leads, if you happen to tap into a market that is under serviced currently by VendorSeek.
The vendor application process is available here if you would like to investigate. In case you are curious about costs for becoming a vendor, here is the answer –
There is a $99 annual account fee and a charge per lead based. Charges vary between categories and your selected parameters. You can view our pricing page here. Please note: changes to your vendor profile may result in increased lead request fees and/or a profile change fee.
What I like about a service like VendorSeek is the filtering process I expect the service provides protecting you to a certain point against fraudulent vendors. You at least have some level of protection and you are not obligated to accept any quotes. Since quotes are free there is no reason not to solicit a quote if you find yourself needing a service and you currently don’t have a good provider.
That being said, in my case I’m inclined to follow word of mouth recommendations from friends and colleagues first. I generally do not use service clearinghouses like VendorSeek, but that doesn’t mean I won’t change in the future. As my business grows there is a good chance I will come to rely on services like this more often, since my own network may not be able to provide the talent I need.
I will attempt to exhaust my own network first – for example advertising on my blog for people – before trying avenues like VendorSeek. That’s a personal choice I make because I feel that by sourcing talent from my existing communication channels I locate people who already know me to at least some degree, which helps the communication process. Of course you may not have the advantage of a blog where you can broadcast your requirements, so I’d recommend investigating services like VendorSeek, Elance, Rentacoder and Guru.com whenever necessary.
VendorSeek provides a range of traditional professional services that you won’t find on contract outsourcing sites, so you may find it a good place to recruit more specialized vendors, like legal services, accounting, credit checks, loans, retirement plans, etc – see the full list of vendor services for details.
As I said, I can’t exactly vouch for the service quality of a site like VendorSeek (always an issue with reviews like this), and even if I did sample a few vendors it’s hard to come to a conclusion since you might deal with a different vendor each time. Based on the website presentation and the premise offered, it’s definitely a service worth considering. The site is clear and the process seems simple. There are lots of contact options, which is always comforting, and according to the about page there are already 6000 quotes submitted per month, so there’s some social proofing for you.
If you do have any stories to tell about services like VendorSeek please feel free to leave a comment and let me know your experiences.