Bad Vendors

Often I am hired by clients that have had horrendous experiences with other companies.  By the time they hire me they feel helpless, frustrated, and in some cases like they were ripped off.  It’s understandable when I hear what they’ve been through.  I am kind of surprised that some of these vendors are still in business or don’t have a slew of legal cases against them.  But I also understand why they don’t and remain open; they prey on small business.

Small business owners have a lot on their plate, and when they turn to a vendor be it a web design firm, SEO service, or IT firm they have certain expectations.  The biggest expectation is the one of Trust.  Businesses are built on relationships and trust plays a big part of that.  But these vendors often violate that trust and end up holding that small business hostage by withholding information or blocking them from accessing information.

Small business owners need to be more careful.  Often they hire these vendors and because of that expectation of trust, believe the vendor is doing what is in their best interest.  The problem is these vendors aren’t; they are doing what’s best for them and not the client.  They will set things up to protect themselves in order to ensure payment from the small business.

Is what they’re doing illegal?  That is open for debate.  Is what they’re doing unethical?  Absolutely.  But there are some things a small business owner can do to help prevent headaches down the road:

Get Passwords for EVERYTHING.

Whether they are setting up a Social Media account, email account, registering a domain, or Server Administrator account, get the user-names and passwords. I know I’m stating the obvious. But I can’t tell you how many small businesses owners I’ve worked for or talked to that don’t have a clue what the user-name and password are for some if not all of these.[/toggle_framed]

Get copies of EVERYTHING

If they are sending emails, letters, or any other form of communication on your behalf; make sure they are giving you a copy or copying you in. With so many embarrassing things happening to large companies on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and others. You can’t be too careful. If you are allowing them to represent you then make sure they are doing so based on your standards.

Make sure it’s done in YOUR NAME

I was working for a client to transfer their domain names to a new registrar. They forwarded me an email from their previous vendor who apparently had 2 other domains of this client’s registered to the vendor’s account. My client was panic stricken; this was one of the reasons they replaced them. The former vendor was willing to transfer the domains to my client for a “nominal fee.” When I got a hold of them the vendor was not as willing, attorneys were called and it became a legal mess. Needless to say the former vendor had to release those domains at no charge. But it didn’t stop them from making life difficult. So the lesson is: Make sure it’s in your name and verify that by two items above.

Get the Original files for EVERYTHING

It doesn’t matter if they are building a website, a print advertisement, or a Graphic. Get the original working file not the final product. What I mean by that is; if they did a graphic get the Photoshop PSD or Illustrator file. If they did a print advertisement get the Quark, PhotoShop or other program file. Don’t settle for the final PDF. Why? Because whomever you hire to replace that company will have an easier job of taking over. Otherwise you will spend more money having the new company re-create it.[/toggle_framed][toggle_framed title=”Ask Around.” variation=”teal”]Stating the obvious again I know.  Referral business is the cornerstone of small business.  If you belong to a networking group, chamber of commerce, or business association, ask them.  They will always know someone or have a member that does what you need, and if they don’t they can point you in the right direction.

However, please, please, PLEASE try to stay away from a person’s “brother’s, wife’s, cousin’s (twice removed), girlfriend’s, sister’s boyfriend who is really good with computers.”  If something like that comes your way…runrun very fast.  The havoc I’ve seen those kinds of situations create is really, shall we say…unique.