Hire a Contractor or Keep Work In-House?

WHEN is the right time to hire outside help?  It could be during a big, accelerated project, where your team doesn't have the labor needed to meet the fast-approaching deadline. Or maybe, it's a project that's more sophisticated than usual, and you need some extra consulting or training in order to achieve the best results for your client. Perhaps your web designer recently left, and you need someone right away to make up their work until you can find the right employee to hire on full-time. Whatever your situation is, bringing on contractors typically happens when you need some extra help getting things done fast and well, whether it's a temporary solution or over a longer term.

Wearing Many HatsOften, employees of small and medium-sized companies will wear many hats; they'll fulfill a multitude of roles. And, it typically works for everyone involved in those companies, so a lot of their work remains in-house. But, one of the great things about hiring contractors is that they can come in with their professional expertise and provide their support to that generalist employee. They can give professional recommendations, train them on new skills, or simply help them with their extra workload. And, once their work is over, the contractors can leave again until you need their help with another project.

So Many Choices!

There isn't just one type of contractor, either. Contract terms can often be flexible, and they can fit the business owners' needs for their particular project. There are many different ways that people can be brought onboard.

First off, there are independent contractors, or freelancers, and then there are companies that provide teams of contractors. In contracting a team, it's possible to get the combined industry knowledge, technical skill, and overall labor for a similar price as it would be to contract a freelancer. Companies don't always advertise contract work in their services, but many are open to it. If you're interested in hiring contractors from a company, simply contact the company and ask if they'd be willing to work with you. 

In addition, you can decide how often you want your contractors to work during their contracted period, whether it's working daily or periodically throughout the week or month. A lot of times, contractors will agree to be on retainer, meaning they'll be ready to jump in and help you whenever you need them to, which is especially valuable for unexpected projects and emergencies. Finally, you can choose to have your contractors work remotely or have them come in to work onsite with you and your team. 

Our Contractor Experiences

At Trail 9, we've been hired out as contractors multiple times. Here are some of the ways we've worked with our contracting parties.

Deadline Catching the Deadline
During one of our contracts, we were hired to help a company finish a project in time for an upcoming conference they were going to. We did the physical work of helping them finish their project, and we also gave them our professional recommendations. Whether they followed those or not was up to them, but, regardless, they were able to make it to their conference on time with their finished project.

Covering Bases
For another company, I was contracted to come in and work as a technical expert and developer. I worked alongside their web designer, who focused on the front-end development while I worked on the back-end. In doing so, my work complimented what he did. I also contributed with skills that they didn't have at the time, like programming and integration work. With both of us working together, we temporarily covered both bases needed for their web design and development.

On-Call Support
During one contract term, we were hired on retainer for a company, and we acted as a secondary support source for them. They had their typical day-to-day work, and then, if they had work overflow, questions, or a need for more technical skills, we would step in and help them complete their goal, whatever it happened to be. So, the combination worked well for them— having their in-house work as well as bringing in a contractor to help out regularly.

Another business we were on retainer with would often have flash sales online or make big announcements on their eCommerce website. During these times, when they pushed the limits of what they could do themselves, we would come in and make sure that they could achieve their goals, whether with their eCommerce website or with their online marketing and sales. Over time, we helped them retune certain things to keep their website's performance up during those intense events.

The best way to find out what you can get from a potential contractor is to ask them. If they're experienced in contract work, then they'll likely be willing to work with you based on your individual needs. Contracting teams can be pricier than hiring a freelancer, but not always. And, with a team, you get combined strengths in every project aspect: research, skills, labor, communication— you name it. So, the next time your business needs extra help, think about hiring a contractor or a team. You could tap into a whole new world of affordable productivity!