What to Ask When Interviewing Vendors for Your Firm


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Are you a business owner who needs to hire a vendor? In this episode of the Maximum Lawyer Podcast, Tyson discusses what to do when you are ready to hire vendors for your business.

Choosing the right vendor can really make or break a business. It is important to think about a few different things when considering a vendor. Tyson shares how it is important to ask the right questions. One of these questions is to ask about a trial period, so you can test and see if the vendor is the right fit and meets all of your business needs. Another question is to ask if their product or service works with the systems of your business. This will allow you to find out if the vendor is compatible and has everything your business needs. Questions like this will ensure you are not wasting money on a vendor that is not a right fit. If you plan on working with a vendor for a long time, it is crucial that you are covering all of your bases and getting all your questions and concerns addressed.

Researching a vendor is another important thing to consider before signing a contract. Ask the vendor for their annual reports or data to show their results. Reach out to individuals or other companies who have worked with them and who have provided good and bad reviews. This will give you a first hand account of how the vendor has worked with other companies. If you are hiring vendors for copywriting or research, find out if you can get samples of their work as part of the research to see if they are telling the truth when it comes to how good they claim to be.

Take a listen.

Episode Highlights:

  • 00:24 Ask the right questions when interviewing vendors
  • 4:00 The importance of insisting on a trial period
  • 5:52 The significance of doing thorough research for potential vendors
  • 7:55 Importance of ensuring that vendors have experience in the specific niche


Transcripts: What to Ask When Interviewing Vendors for Your Firm

Hey, it's Tyson. I'm back with another Byte Size episode that is with this one, hopefully packs a punch, we're going to be talking about something that might save you tens of thousands of dollars and lots of headaches and time and what to ask when interviewing vendors for your firm. And so I'm going to get into some things to ask and some topics to delve into. And whether you're talking about an SEO expert to boost your online presence or a bookkeeper to manage your books.

As many of you know, and some of you have probably experienced, choosing the right vendor can make or break you, can make you a lot of money, it can cost you a lot of money. And that's why I want to talk about this. Before I dive into this episode though, before I dive into this episode though, I just want to remind you, check out Maximum Layer Minimum Time. It's something that Jim and I put together. We're really proud of it. It's a unique roadmap that we put together for law firm owners. We're giving stage one.

absolutely free to our listeners. Just text stage one to 314-501-9260. When you join the guild, you get all three stages for free and we'll be adding on to those as we go. But stage one, absolutely free for you. Cost you absolutely nothing. All you have to do is text us and you will get that absolutely free. Okay, so let's talk about the topic for today. And before I get into that, I'm gonna talk about an experience I had with a vendor. I won't use the vendor's name or…

even what category they're in. But, um, last year, early last year, we, we paid them as about 20, or just over $20,000 upfront. Okay. We gave them a lot of money and we thought that they were going to do a lot of good for us. They had a nice little slide presentation that they went through and they were, um, we thought it was going to be great. We thought it was going to be good. We, we had seen some other people, other law firm owners that I trust using them and

We thought for sure it was going to work out. And we'd asked a lot of questions. Um, our CTO, Kashif was on all of our calls. We asked lots of good questions and, um, what, where we went wrong, we had two things that we, we wanted that we did not get before we paid them. One was we wanted, we wanted a demo. We wanted not just a demo, but we wanted to be able to

Tyson (02:38.462)
have a trial period and we just asked for like a week. Okay, we didn't ask for like, you know, months and months of trial. We asked for a week so we could test it out because we wanted to make sure that we could test it out and that would work with what we, for what we needed it for. The other thing is, is that we wanted to make sure that it worked with our systems and we let them know, we showed them all the APIs that we were using and let them know that we needed to make sure that it did the specific things. And again, I'm not going to get into too many more details so it doesn't reveal who it is,

We told them all of our specifications and they promised us, they assured us that those things would happen. That would all work. Well, we got nine months down the road after we had gone back over and over and over again, we just pulled the plug. We said, this just isn't going to work. This is absurd.

long story short, they've refused to give us the money back. And so we're out of the time, but I care less about the money than the time that we've wasted on it. And it's just one of those things where it's very frustrating. And if we had stuck to our guns, I wouldn't be talking about this right now, but we had not stuck to our guns. So that's my first topic I want to talk about is if you have specifications that you have, first of all, especially if it's a software.

demand and don't budge on this and forever we won't budge on this. I talk about this in another episode when it comes to software. You got to have a trial. You got to have a trial period of it that you can use it to make sure it works with your systems just because some sales rep says that it does, doesn't mean that it does. We'd even had, what's interesting is we had conversations with not just the sales team, but we'd had with conversations with their developers, everyone that works on the backend and they all made all these promises. So.

Insist on a trial period, stick to your guns. The other thing with this too is though, just because they promise it, make sure it's in writing. Okay, make sure it's in writing. And we have emails back and forth where they do say things that it's in writing, but make it a part of your agreement. And that's something we probably should have done. We probably should have said, I want to, okay, I understand you're saying this via email, but we should have this in writing. That battle's not over with by the way, but you know, that's not the topic of today.

Tyson (05:00.542)
So make sure that though you're sticking to your gun. So if you have specific requirements, you need to ensure that those things with your vendors, whatever the vendor is, many of us are using many, many softwares these days. And so many of the software, many of the vendors are softwares, but it doesn't matter, make sure whatever your requirements are, ensure that those things can be met, do your homework too. And we, what's interesting is we've done our homework. We've done a lot of homework with this company.

And we had interviewed people, we'd asked people, we'd interviewed them. And it's one of those things, sometimes you get it wrong, but definitely do your homework though. Make sure you're asking around, get recommendations from people. Sometimes they don't pan out, and that's just how it works sometimes. Whenever you are interviewing them specifically, and I definitely recommend having multiple interviews. And…

especially when you're talking about someone that's like, you know, an SEO company or it's a bookkeeper, someone that you are going to hopefully be working with for several years, that's gonna have a really substantial impact on your company. You need to have multiple conversations with them, sit down them, ask them lots of questions. You're gonna go through all the topics like, you know, the experience, the track record. When I'm dealing with…

Any type of marketing company, I'm looking for data. You show me data. And if they refuse to show you data, run. Okay. You want to see results. If they have the experience and they have the track record, guess what? Their customers are going to be happy to talk about it too. Get recommendations from other customers. I wouldn't, and I also wouldn't just ask for the references because they're obviously going to give you the best references. Go look at…

If they've got Google reviews, look at their Google reviews. See if you can find any other people that they didn't recommend that you know uses the product and they just cold call them or send them an email. Ask for their honest feedback. But figuring that out and looking at the data, data is going to tell you, data doesn't lie, right? Of course you can sort of take data and skew it a little bit, but results are what matters and get the data to show that, especially when it comes to marketing companies.

Tyson (07:17.33)
bookkeepers, get examples of other types of books that they put together. They can give you screenshots, they can do a lot of other things where they're not revealing who their actual clients are when it comes to CPAs and all that, but get examples of their previous work. So whether that's data, or if it's someone that's doing copywriting, whatever it may be, get samples of their previous work. Because that's going to help you.

make a lot of your decisions. I would say also make sure that you understand your niche. That's another part of this. And understand what their niche as well. Just because they work with law firms does not mean that they work with personal injury law firms or criminal defense law firms or trademark attorneys, whatever it may be. The accounting for an injury law firm is substantially different from a criminal defense firm. Okay.

The way we manage our money is just different. We front a lot of expenses. Criminal defense attorneys to my knowledge don't do that. You're not advancing a lot of costs. We're advancing hundreds of thousands of dollars every single year. Sometimes in multiple months, we're putting that much money in just one month. So it's just different. And so make sure that they have worked in your niche before.

Okay. That's a really key part of this. Cause I've heard people say, oh, you know, I'm a bookkeeper for lawyers. Well, are you, cause we've interviewed bookkeepers. Well, have you worked with personal injury attorneys before? Oh yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, tell me how do you manage this situation? I would give them situations. So role play with them. That's another way is like you give them fact-based scenarios that things that have happened to you in the past and ask them how they would work with it. That's how we ruled out a bunch of bookkeepers because we said, okay.

Here's the situation." And then they give us an answer that just is clearly not acceptable. And then we rule them out. That's another way that you could do it. All right, one of the last things I wanna get to is just communication and reporting. And so figure out when you are interviewing them, how are you all gonna communicate? How are you gonna get updates on things? I mean, think about how you…

Tyson (09:36.754)
If you were a client of your firm, how would you want to be dealt with? Right? Same thing with when it comes to you're going to be a customer of these vendors. Okay. So how are you going to be communicating? How are you going to communicate with them? How can you get ahold of them? How are they going to get ahold of you? And then what's the reporting look like? So how are they going to report the results back to you? What is it? What is it that you're going to get out of it? What is it that you want out of it? Okay. What are your goals? Figure out what your goals are. And then how are they going to report back to you?

whether or not they're actually achieving those goals or getting you close to those goals. That's a biggie. Okay. Then the last thing other than trust your gut. So I'll get to the other thing last, but trust your gut here. I did not have the greatest feeling whenever I was dealing with that vendor. And I should have trusted my gut, but what I did was I figured…

Okay, I've got good recommendations from attorneys I trust and they like them. And I just had in my gut, it's like, this just isn't going to work and it didn't work. So trust your gut. And that could have saved me a lot of money. But the other part is pricing. Make sure that you know exactly what the pricing models are. There are many people have heard about the lawyer tax. That is the real thing. Discuss pricing upfront. If you can.

If you can mask what profession you're in, that's really hard to do by the way. It's easier to do when you're talking about VAs. If you, sometimes I'll do this on Upwork, I won't tell people what the business is and the pricing changes drastically. So if you can figure something like that out with vendors and just shield what you actually do, that could be a way to save you money. But no matter what, figure out what the pricing is upfront and make sure that there's nothing that's gonna escalate. What is it, what's it gonna be in five years?

Figure out, okay, this is what I'm charging, being charged now, but does that price go up over time? Figure out things like that. Figure all that up upfront. That way you're not stuck in, especially with bookkeepers, SEO companies, things like that where you're gonna be with them for several years potentially. What you don't want is you're so entrenched with them, right, you're there with them for a year, and all of a sudden your prices go up 20%. That's a problem. Be careful about things like that. All right.

Tyson (11:59.31)
That is all I have for today. Obviously selecting the right vendor. It's an absolutely important decision, especially with many of those that I mentioned, it can have lasting impacts on your firm's trajectory. So be very, very careful. Take your time, ask the hard questions and that way you can make an informed choice. As a reminder, if you have something you want me to cover on the Saturday shows, just shoot me a text, let me know what you want me to cover. 314-501-9260. And I'll get to it if I can.

Until next week, remember that consistent action is the blueprint that turns your goals into reality. Take care.

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