170 Saving time with Outsourcing with Michelle Fernandez
Do you run your own business? Outsourcing can come in many shapes and sizes. Today, I have Michelle Fernandez here to talk about the differences between using an agency vs. an independent contractor when you're ready to outsource tasks. She digs into how both can save you time and how to think about when to use each type.
Michelle Fernandez is the founder of a boutique marketing agency specializing in fractional CMO, Facebook ads, and funnel building to create predictable growth for businesses. She is also a mom of adult twins and understands the importance of managing time to create Work + Life Harmony.
Listen in as we discuss:
1. What are the pros and cons of hiring an agency versus an independent contractor?
2. What questions should you ask when looking for an agency to outsource tasks?
3. What are the time-saving benefits of working with an agency?
Michelle also has a podcast called The Traffic & Conversions Show and you can find her hanging out on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/themichellefernandez/
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Hey, everyone. I'm really excited to bring Michelle Fernandez on the show here today. Whether you are a business owner or not, I still want you to listen to the conversation because a lot of what we're going to talk about relates to personal as well. So really going to be talking about when you get to a point in life where you're needing to outsource some stuff, right? And I don't care if it's personal or business.
Some strategies and thoughts around when you might want to go with an individual versus a company or an agency, pros and cons of both and really to open your eyes on the time savings that you can have with this as well. So let's go ahead and get started.
Welcome to the Work Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner, teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife, and just like you juggling hashtags all the things while running multiple businesses and a family, guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out.
There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning and organizations to skyrocket your productivity so you can have Work Life Harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you. And if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my Work Life Harmony assessment.
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Hey, everyone. Welcome back to work life. Harmony. I have a repeat guest on. It has been a hot minute since we've had a conversation, and I am thrilled to welcome Michelle Fernandez.
And we're going to have a really interesting conversation today about when you get to a point where you know you need to delegate, right. And we need to outsource some tasks, what those options might look like and some pros and cons there. So first, Michelle, I'd love you to introduce yourself, tell everyone about how amazing you are and then we will get this party started. Well, hi. Thank you.
I am excited to be here always in your presence. I always learn something from you, even if I'm the one doing that asking, because you always ask such great questions that it really kind of gets me thinking or like, oh, yeah, because other people don't always either know what questions to ask or never think of things from the perspective that you think of it. So it's always great. Yeah, I know. Well, I am Michelle Fernandez and I have a boutique marketing agency where I do factional, CMO, Facebook ads, funnel building, all the things that have to do with marketing to really create predictable growth in your business.
So it's exciting. I love what I do. And I think one of your that I think is like unicorn superpowers that has nothing to do with your business is that you are a mom of twins. Yes. And they are now out of the house, each doing amazing things.
But I just like to highlight that because I think our listeners need to hear, like, anytime I have conversations about time and managing time and the struggles, like, you parented twins, so you've been in the trenches. Yes. I did not mention that, I guess because I'm an empty nesterish. But let me tell you, it's no joke. And even when I first started, like, the whole reason why I wanted to start my business and leave my nine to five was to spend more time with them and have that flexibility and things like that.
And honestly, even now, it's all about, okay. Especially when they went to college, it was like, how can I go see them more? Whether they wanted me to go visit them or not, it was like, I'm going. Right? And even now, they're both in two different states, so it's not even like at college, they were at the same place.
So having that flexibility of really managing my time that I can, okay, get this done to go leave and really spend quality time with each of them is amazing. Yeah. And it's funny, I hear from other women in my program as well who are transitioning to the empty nester stage. This is why I always tell people, like, if you're waiting till the next, quote, stage of life for things to get less busy, it's never going to happen, because they're even discovering. I thought I was going to have all this time as an empty nester, but now there's always other things just in the queue waiting to come in and snatch it up.
Because the other thing that you have to consider is that now they're adulting. So they have adult things that they can't leave work from or they can't do certain things, and now you're on their schedule. Exactly. So then it really becomes really a time management thing. And honestly, sometimes right now, everything is like family, right?
You take family vacations and it's all about that. Well, now that they're adults, it's like, oh, they're going to go with their friends or their work trips or whatever. So now even their time off is limited for family time. So you really got to hone in on and get everybody on the same page so you can have that time. All right, so I want to pick your brain a little bit today.
I'm just going to call a spade a spade. I know there are out there in the world, there is sometimes a lot of negative press or just negative connotations around. If you are looking to outsource something in life, whether it's business or not. And we can bring up examples of both today that people say agencies is not the way to go. And I think that the reason why people do that is, typically speaking, agencies are going to have a higher fee than if you go with an independent contractor.
So first and foremost, just to set the stage here for everyone listening, I would love to hear your explanation because you are in the weeds a bit more than I am of what is the difference between an agency. So if you're going to outsource something, whether it's, hey, you're going to hire a cleaning service, right? Are they a company with multiple teams or an independent cleaning service or in your case, someone running your marketing, what is the difference between an agency versus an independent contractor? Yes, this is such a good question and I do have a personal example for that. The agency you're thinking about, it is basically more than one person.
So the reason why their fees are a little bit higher is because they're now responsible for this team. So the beauty of it or one of the pros is what we discussed is that you don't just get one person like you do with a contractor or a freelancer of some sort because it's like they're just one person doing all the things, right? So if they get sick or if their book of business is booked out, then now you got to wait however long to get your stuff done. Or with an agency, it's like you come and then now it's like, okay, well, Michelle is sick, so then Mary is going to be next in line and there Jenny will do this. I would say the main difference is that it's one person versus a company of people, I would say is a difference between the two.
Yeah. And that's exactly the way I think about it. And I mean, even something I think everyone can relate to. Well, not everyone. I'm new to the whole, like, having a hairstylist thing in my life, but let's say I have an appointment.
Like you have an appointment with your hairstylist, right. And they get sick that day. Nine times out of ten you got to reschedule and wait till they're back. Unless you just want to be like, I'll just see whoever it is, anybody available? Not the best.
And I know one of the things I really had my first experience in deciding between agency or independent contractor back when my daughter was born and we were looking for in home child care because I was still working full time corporate. And it was that decision of if I go as like a nanny agency, their rules mean that if my nanny gets sick, they have someone on the ready to come in versus do I just go find a person who hire and then I run the risk of it. We ended up choosing the non agency only because we found someone we fell in love with. But I tell you what, there were some hiccups like she broke her foot and we had no options and we felt the pain of that sometimes. So when someone is looking at and let's talk specifically about your business, because I do have a lot of women that listen to this, that do own businesses, let's say you are looking to outsource something in your business.
So maybe you need help with marketing, maybe it's social media, maybe it's Facebook ads, which is 100% in your zone of genius. What are some good first questions that people should think about when looking at agencies? What are things they should look for or things to avoid? Because let's face it, not all agencies are created equal, right? And then to the person who's never even thought of it, what are the benefits to them from a time savings perspective?
Because there's a lot there. Yes, time and money in my opinion. So some of the questions I would be asking is how many clients are they working with? Right? Because you want to know like clients versus who do I have access to?
Right? Who else on your team would I be communicating and what are their specific zone of geniuses? Right? That is most important because just with anything that you do, you don't want to get into someone where they're overwhelmed with their book of business. You don't want them to be booked and burned out.
You want them to be booked but still prioritize you. I can't tell how many horror stories in my mind where they come to me because they're like, oh, I was just with so and so and I had this launch and they totally missed it because they overlooked that. And I'm thinking what that's like your business? You're not getting revenue and things like that. So I would definitely be looking to ask them like, who else is working on also?
What's the communication? To me, communication is everything. How are you communicating with me? Whether that be daily, weekly, that type of thing. So you're in the know with what they're working on, what stage they're at.
That's big for me for the customer to know, like, feel comforting that their thing has started, what's missing? There's nothing worse than it being something for two weeks and then it's like, oh, by the way, I need to log in for this. It's like, wait, you haven't even logged in like that type of thing. Those, I would say, are the two biggest questions. Then it just comes down to specifics of what you're hiring this agency to do.
So you want to know whether it be a process or like if it's someone coming into your house. It's kind of like when are you coming? What are your referrals? Like that type of thing where you feel comfortable with somebody in your home, that type of thing, I would say those are the three biggest questions that I would ask. I love that you brought up referrals because I always feel like I don't know why.
And maybe it's a woman thing. Like we feel like we shouldn't ask. Right. But even if, and I've gotten more comfortable with this, even when someone will point me to a website where I can see the referrals, I will still go one step further. If it's a big ticket item and say, is there someone I can get on the phone with?
Is there a past or current client? And I'm to the point of my business now, if the answer is like, well, no, and I'm like, that's a red flag. If you're doing a really good job, there should be people really happy wanting to be able to share that out there. Yeah, definitely. And then you ask the benefits.
Right. From a time perspective, what does this mean when we hire an agency? Because I think for some of us, there's always that concern of how much time is it going to take me upfront to get them up and running? The reason I'm hiring them is because I'm so busy, how the heck am I supposed to get them up and running? One of the things for me, big on time wise, is that the company has some sort of an onboarding process.
Because if you know that they have processes, thumbs, then you know there's some sort of schedule. So in that way, you know, like, here's my checkpoint, here's this, this is going to save me time because I already know what they want or need. And it's kind of like the process of them getting it to you is before, let's say, even your first meeting, right? So you can prepare all this stuff. And here you go.
Now that's going to save time in the long run. Another big benefit on time is that these agencies are in the note, they are the experts at whatever you're trying to do. So if it's something that you're trying to outsource, then you're not having to learn all of this yourself to become the master at it. Right. And one of the benefits, I think, to work with an agency versus an independent contractor is that most of the time the agencies have specialists or know exactly good people to refer you to.
So, like, in my case, let's say it's on building the funnel. So it's all the tech stuff. But then let's say you needed to write copy for that funnel. I have a copywriter on staff too, right? So it's not like, well wait, where do I go to find out this copywriter?
Right? So they have those resources available for you where it's almost like a one stop shop and you don't have to be thinking of all these other things because then the overwhelming sets in. It's the time of making all these calls, budgeting, it all and all that good stuff. And I want to give everyone a little time saving tip. Anytime you are setting out to maybe go get on board with an agency of any type.
I did this back when we were looking for a nanny for my daughter, and I do it now in my business as well. The first time you hire someone and you're given that if it's a good agency and sometimes they'll even do it pre hiring, they will send you usually a pretty long questionnaire, and it can be overwhelming. It's like, oh, my God, I got to pull together all this information. Here's what you want to do. Make a copy of it because usually it's in some form system that they're sending you, right?
And you'll submit your information and it's gone. Make a copy of the form and fill it out yourself in like a Google Doc or a Word Doc first so that you have the copy of all the answers that you've sent them. So that like, when we were doing this with the nanny, there was all these things I had to fill out, right? But then when I went to go interview at another agency and they sent me their form, guess what? 85% of it was already done.
Because I copy and pasted my answers. So don't just submit answers blankly into a form. Write them out on a document that you have so that for future use, that whole application or onboarding or whatever can go a lot quicker. That was a tip I wished I'd done sooner. I think it was the third time I was writing the same information out.
I'm like, what the heck, man? Like, make a copy of this. Megan well, and you know, that's a good point because let's just talk about child care or now my mother in law is with me. And even like medications that they take when they take the medications, because when you have to call the doctor or the 911 to come over here, the first thing they ask is, what is she taking? Right?
Because they don't want to push any medication. So depending on what you're in. So it's good to just okay, what are they asking me? These are things probably like, caretakers are going to need, so I'm going to need it, too. So it kind of puts it in for you to save time than to be in the panic mode of something, god forbid that you're scrambling trying to find these things.
So I love that tip that you have because it helps you in more ways than one, right? Yeah. And like, if you're a business owner and you're hiring anybody, agency or contract, they're usually going to be what's your branding, what's your images? Exactly. Get all that in one place, but then you can even just maybe even you put it in a Google folder that you are happy to share with the world because there's nothing proprietary in there.
You can say, here's my Google folder, it has all the stuff that you need in there. So just keep note of that when you're first time you're working with, whether interviewing or hiring an agency to have that stuff in there. Yes. Now, one more question on the as I'm thinking through it and I've worked with both and I continue to work with both. There are times in my life and I do have people on my team that are independent contractors.
I have also worked with agencies and I think there is real beauty in both. I am not going to say always do one versus always do the other. I kind of want to share my thoughts on when you might lean towards an agency versus a contractor and then I'd love for you to share your thoughts on that as well. Okay. I have been burned in business with contractor, no longer on my team, who, even though the contract said, hey, we need to give each other X number of weeks before whatever, I got kind of, hey, I'm out.
And this was in a critical role for my business. It was the first time I was kind of trying to get a big chunk of social media stuff off my plate. And because it was this could I have gone and fought things and all that to say, no, you owe me another X number of days? Yes. But at that point is that someone I really wanted my business, he was already on the way out.
So I think for me, when I think about outsourcing a chunk to a contractor versus an agency is really, is this a critical line of business that if it were ripped out from under me and I was suddenly left without that person, what kind of impact are we talking about here? Right? I mean, one example could be, let's say you've hired a bookkeeper. Now I do my own books, but most people don't. Imagine if suddenly one morning you woke up and you just had like a friend, a goodbye doing your books and they're like, yeah, I'm out.
And all of a sudden you're left high and dry. Not knowing how to run your books, not knowing how to pay people any of that. That to me would be ultra scary situation that maybe hiring a CPA firm or a bookkeeping firm would probably be a safer bet and worth the security of having that extra dollars. So curious for you on your thoughts on where it's probably safe for an agency versus contractor. I totally agree with you.
And even to add on that, I feel a little bit more in the independent contractor world that when you have them in, I think that part of your process should be working with them, is for them to set up the systems in your business. So if they walk away, you know the step by step that they are doing in your business to get these results or to get whatever, that's my opinion. Agency is a little different because they usually have their own systems and it's like done for you. Right. However, you can still ask them for, okay, what are these steps?
So, you know, number one and then you're right if it's somebody else. Now the agency can always close. Right? Any business can. Exactly.
However, you can bet that the agency owner is going to put someone else and they have all your stuff ready when someone else can pick up and move forward from there. So that's also the beauty of that. I really love that tip on anybody coming into your life, even because I know, we both know Daniella, she's amazing and she even has documented systems for their Opare and their housekeeper so that if something happened and someone knew her to come in, she can just send them over. Hey, here is what this process is. So I think that that's a really important tip, I think about the amazing team I have.
I feel heartbroken, heartbroken to lose any of them because they're such great people. But we do have everything documented on the back, they're onboarding. Is there all of that and would it ever be the same? Of course not. But at least it's not like someone has walked away and you're left going, I don't even know how they did that.
Oh my gosh, exactly. And you're talking about your team. So how great would it be that you're like, oh, we were going to hire someone else and now this person is moving up. Now they don't have to recreate everything. They can train off of those as well.
And then it kind of gives them the thing of hey, watch this, check in with me. So I just think having systems and processes in place is just beautiful all the way around. And some people are like, really? I need to have it at home for yes you do. You know that we could talk about.
That for about 2 hours. Michelle, thank you for having such an honest conversation about this. I want people listening to know when they're looking to outsource. Just because someone said, oh, don't ever hire a contractor, or just because someone said, oh, don't ever hire an agency, don't let anyone ever just completely throw an entire category of support and help out. Be open to learning what are the pros and cons of each.
And recognize when you are at a stage of outsourcing anything in your life, personal or work to help you free up time. Because let's face it, that's why we outsource, right? Or it's just stuff we don't like to do. But again, ultimately it frees up time. Recognize that there's a lot of good options and to be open to exploring both, whether it's a friend, a contractor, an agency, because there's a ton of value in all of them.
Out there. And if anyone listening has a business and is looking for help on the marketing side, how can they get in touch with you? Because, you guys, I will tell you, Michelle's brain like, holy cow, I am constantly astounded at all that you know. And just your quest for always being on top of the latest and greatest, it's really impressive. Thank you.
Thank you. You can always just send me a DM at the Michelle Fernandez on Instagram. And I just wanted to add one more thing that no matter who, whether it be someone like an employee or independent contractor agency, I think what you really need to go with your gut is to see if this person really cares about your business just as much as you do. It's not like another job, another client to add to their roster. It's like, really, they are just as invested in growing your business with you than they are their own, right or just as you are.
You have to feel that and know that you're not just another number and you'll know it. You can tell. Like, you will know for sure. So important. I love that.
Thank you so much, Michelle. I appreciate everything that you do. Yay. Thank you for having me. Of course, getting on top of all things time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over.
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