Nervous about outsourcing to a white-label web agency? Here are my top 5 tips on how to reduce the risk of working with a white-label team.
Have you been thinking about outsourcing some projects to a white-label team?
With 31% of businesses regularly outsourcing work, there has never been a better time to see how white-label agencies can help grow and scale your business.
That said, we at NO LABEL Studios know that outsourcing can be a daunting prospect. Putting your project into the hands of strangers can trigger a long list of fears, such as “Can they do the job properly?”, “Will they deliver the work on time?” and “Can I afford it?”.
In truth, all forms of outsourcing come with concerns – but there are ways to reduce the risks and keep control. This article is going to talk about the 5 main dangers of outsourcing to white-label agencies, and how to cultivate the best possible relationship between you and the team.
We will cover:
- What does “white-label” mean?
- How to develop a genuine relationship with a white-label team (before any money is involved!)
- How to agree and be flexible with your quote
- Why you should outsource small projects first
- Why and how you should ask for an initial discount
- How to communicate effectively with a white-label agency
What Does “White-Label” Mean? (With an Example)
For those of you who are unfamiliar, a “white-label agency” is an outsourcing organisation that will provide a product or service under your company name, logo and branding. They are your silent partner.
For example, a digital marketing agency may need help – in full or in part – designing and building a new website for their client. If they lack the in-house talent or the time, they can outsource that work to a white-label agency. The white-label agency will help to deliver the results as agreed with their client.
A white-label agency operates like a regular agency, except that any work they produce isn’t showcased in their portfolio. From time to time, they may release a case study. The client will agree to this and, often, the end client (original business requiring a service) will be hidden. Here’s a diagram to show you how it works.
Here are 5 ways to avoid some of the pitfalls we mentioned in our last article, Top 5 Reasons Why Outsourcing Will End In Disaster, and how to come out with a fantastic partnership for all involved.
1. Develop a Genuine Relationship Before Money is Involved
Today, white-label teams form the backbone of many digital-marketing, design and web-based agencies. They are a crucial component when scaling an operation, or for reducing high workloads.
When you begin this relationship, avoid doing so only because of an upcoming project. Many money-driven partnerships can sour the dynamic before the project even begins. This can cause problems throughout.
If you establish a healthy relationship first, you’ll get to know the team. The more you learn about the team, the more you’ll trust them. This will relieve a lot of stress and anxiety about outsourcing work as a whole.
Building such relationships will take some time and energy, but no more than the usual catch-ups with overseas friends and family. Fire up Skype or Zoom and have a meeting.
However, even if the initial meeting has been successful, you’ll still need to keep some relationship-building advice in mind.
Here are some of my top tips:
A White-Label Agency Can Be An Extension Of Your Team
If you’re looking to outsource a project, chances are you’ll need to do it again.
The services of a white-label team shouldn’t be treated like a “one-off” purchase, or as if they’re just there to solve any problem you happen to have today. They bring a whole host of skills to the table and, if they have the experience you lack in a particular area, they can be an invaluable long-term investment.
Reduce the risk of outsourcing by treating a white-label team the same as you would your in-house employees. In doing so, you can keep hold of all the skills they bring for the long-haul. And, if you start scaling your business, you can leverage their experience for your benefit.
They don’t need to be the best men at your wedding. Just keep the white-label team in the loop when it comes to your long-term strategy and the role they play in your agency. If they’ve done some excellent work for you, ask them if they’d be willing to expand their role in your business along the way.
Don’t Be “That” Client.
If you’ve been your own boss for a long time, you’ve probably forgotten about the more miserable bouts in your career.
Everyone’s had them: the boss that’s impossible to please, the one that finds something to criticise even if you’ve done a great job overall.
In fact, a whopping 50% of people have quit their job because of a bad boss.
If you don’t want to become the bully in the adult-playground, don’t be the end-client you’d hate to work for. Appreciate the jobs well done, listen to any advice the white-label team gives you (it doesn’t mean you have to take action on it), and respect their time. They’re people running a business just like you, so treat them how you’d want to be treated.
Little things like “please” and “thank you” also go a long way. People will work harder for people they like, so you’re likely to get more bang for your buck if you cultivate a good relationship.
Be Fair With Your Deadlines
Web-design or marketing agencies usually outsource work when they don’t have time to do it themselves.
They’ve got the big picture in their heads for the final project. They also want to get to the end result as soon as possible. This is so they can satisfy their client and move on to the next project in the pipeline.
As a result, the agency outsourcing the work can easily forget that a deadline isn’t always going to fit into a white-label teams calendar. Also the white-label team have deadlines to meet for other agencies who also outsource work to them.
If you feel concerned about timelines, engage with your white-label team early on and negotiate an achievable delivery date together. Please don’t expect a white-label team to give you special treatment. It’ll only raise your expectations to an unrealistic standard, leading to disappointment when deadlines aren’t met.
Remember that finding and keeping an excellent white-label team is an investment that can help you scale long-term. Walk the team through all the project details step-by-step and be reasonable with deadlines.
But if the white-label team can’t meet you in the middle, don’t be afraid to outsource the work to someone else in the meantime. Don’t force the relationship to work if it simply can’t.
Communication is Important, So Do It Often
Poor communication can ruin a relationship with a white-label agency, especially if either side is distant and silent for any length of time.
You can reduce this outsourcing risk by holding regular and detailed catch-ups about goals, schedules and objectives. This could be about active projects or about the relationship in general. The latter is crucial for keeping the partnership running smoothly, now and in the future.
If you have a busy calendar (and don’t we all!), share it with the white-label agency, to find “communication timeslots” that suits both parties. If you can’t find a suitable time, you’ll have to make room in your schedule and be prepared to give and take.
Lastly, if you have any good news, share it! Even if the project finished months ago, I guarantee any white-label team will be over-the-moon to know their efforts helped your business.
Communication can cover a plethora of issues, such as language barriers, time zone differences and communication styles. I’ve written about this topic here, in more detail. Be respectful of those differences and find a groove that suits you both. Early days can be tough, but with time comes experience.
2. Agree On A Quote – But Be Flexible
As mentioned previously, money can cause many problems when it comes to outsourcing.
Hopefully, you’ll follow our earlier advice and avoid talking about money when first prospecting a white-label team. That said, at some point, a project will come knocking, and you’ll need to approach the subject.
A mistake that can cost you dearly is underestimating the scope of the end client’s project or neglecting to define it in the first place. The white-label team will have to deal with the additional drafts and extra work that wasn’t accounted for in the original quote.
The end client may even refuse to pay more, as they could argue that the extras are “a part of the open agreement”. This argument wouldn’t stand up in court, but it’s an issue to avoid nonetheless. It could even destroy a perfectly good relationship with your white-label team.
To avoid problems like these, make allowances for small delays. You should also set aside a buffer for any unforeseen changes to the project’s scope. If you don’t use this buffer, then there’s no harm done.
At the end of the day, everyone wants a cut of the money. Careful planning and preparation of money-matters will reduce the risk of arguments between you and the white-label team, as well as you and the end client.
3. Outsource a small project at first
If you’ve never outsourced work before, it’s natural to feel apprehensive.
The main concern is that the white-label team you work with won’t achieve the standard you and your end-client expect.
Luckily, you can reduce the risk of an outsourcing disaster, and hugely dissatisfying an important client, with a smaller project designed to invalidate your concerns.
Some ideas of small projects are:
- Landing page for a regular client.
- Homepage mockup for a new site build.
- Branding guide where the brand is well defined, and it just needs putting together.
- Simple logo for a client you know well.
- Elementor template for an Archive or Single Post (i.e. blog post).
- 404 template.
- Style kit for an Elementor project, so branding is inherited during the build process.
- Optimise columns and typography for tablet and mobile devices.
If the white-label team completes smaller projects to your satisfaction, then you can build trust with them and move forward with meatier projects. It all starts with baby steps!
This is a particularly good idea if the white-label agency is new to the game. Give them the chance to prove themselves (and get experience!) with a standard task first.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount first time around
I can’t talk for other white-label agencies, but it’s customary for NO LABEL Studios to offer new agency partners a discount on their first project. We’re eager to prove ourselves, and reduce any anxiety you may feel when you outsource.
The idea isn’t to under-charge and make a loss; we don’t do that. We know that the health and stability of our company keep our agency partners secure too.
We want to accommodate and understand the needs of our partners. It’s a small, but appreciated, gesture that is a precursor to many stable, enjoyable partnerships with our awesome clients.
5. Setting clear expectations and boundaries
To get the outsourcing results you want, you need to make sure that you and the white-label agency are on the same page.
Here are two tips for a seamless partnership with your white-label team:
- Avoid assumptions by setting clear expectations. Assumptions are the mother of all … (I think you know the rest of that sentence!). By avoiding assumptions and discussing your expectations, the partnership can start on the right foot and remain that way for many projects to come.
- Set communication rules and boundaries. No one is available 24/7, so you must set boundaries for when you expect to hear from the white-label team. This is particularly important if the white-label agency is in a different time zone. Go through your calendars and mark when both parties are available for telephone calls or answering emails.
With the right mindset and approach, outsourcing to a white-label team can be a great move for your company. The investment of time is well worth the results. You’ll get some excellent work from the external team, and you’ll accomplish the work-life balance you’ve always dreamed of.
However, if you still don’t know where to start, NO LABEL Studios will gladly help.