Jacqui Frost

3 Reasons Why Outsourcing Fails

Thumbelina ...

Posted on: 19/09/2013   By: Jacqui Frost

In the last seven years The Office Genie has carefully and successfully cultivated outsource relationships with over 200 business owners, lots of them have become long term relationships but some of them have not quite been as successful ...

do you flit from pillar to post looking for the perfect relationship?

do you flit from pillar to post looking for the perfect relationship?

Some of our clients have been a bit like Thumbelina flitting from pillar to post looking for the perfect relationship, suffering some serious setbacks and having some frightening experiences along the way.

In our experience outsource relationships fail for one or a combination of three reasons:

  1. Expectations

    At the beginning there are expectations on both sides that don't always match. Both business owner and outsource agency need to lay down their expectations of the other. Often the relationship crumbles because expectations are not being met. Even if they are discovered to be unrealistic, once the expectation is not met it is difficult for the relationship to be recovered. The elements that you should pay particular attention to are time frames, accuracy, delivery, and overall what success looks/feels like.

  2. Communication

    In some ways this one controls the other two, however, if the communication between the business owner and the outsource agency is poor then the relationship will fall down. There should be an open line of communication between the account manager and the business owner to discuss the day to day issues, but there should also be an open line between the person doing the work and the business owner. It is unrealistic to expect the account manager to know the intimate details of the work if they are not doing it themselves. So always make sure that in the event of a complaint both the account manager and the person completing the work sit down with the business owner to resolve the issues.

  3. Control

    The biggest problem for business owners is actually relinquishing control to someone else, it is, however, something that must be done in order for the relationship to work well. The business owner must give over control to the outsource agency whilst they are completing the work. That means minimal checking up on them, no interfering, or getting involved in a conversation they might be having with someone via email! And the outsource agency needs to know that when they give the control back having completed the work that the business owner has the right to change things.

Our advice would be to go with your gut, if you are like Thumbelina and take an instant dislike then don't marry yourself to an outsource agency as it won't work out for either of you. But if you do hire an outsource agency then you need to remember to communicate with them, share your expectations and then let them do their job! I'd also recommend learning to let go of all the mistakes made on both sides - it will never be a comfortable relationship if you keep beating each other over the head with the things that didn't quite work. A relationship is a fluid thing and you will both learn about each other as time goes on.

We must thank all our clients, current and not, for we have learnt something from each of them which we can then implement for all the others. Sometimes it takes an unsuccessful relationship to teach us the biggest lessons, and lessons are always worth learning.

If you are looking to outsource your telephone answering service or need some admin support, then call me on +44 (0) 845 901 1803 or click here to ping over an email and we'll get right back to you. We know the difficulties faced by small businesses and understand the mindset of a small business owner.

Until next time ...


More about Jacqui Frost ...


I had a successful 20-year career as an office manager and personal assistant; however, my job was no longer focused on the customers and became all about the numbers. My customer-focused background began when I was 12 in my father's independent carpet showroom. I had a spell with Marks & Spencer before I moved into office-based jobs. I have worked as a training administrator, a PA and PA/office manager in a variety of industries from manufacturing to the IT education sector.

Meanwhile, my husband Ian, a successful Northampton based Master Decorator and owner of Rainbow Frost, was losing out on work due to missed phone calls. When he was busy, callers were getting his voicemail but weren't leaving messages. I knew how to fix that problem!

I quit my job and took on Ian as the first client of The Office Genie in November 2005. Word quickly spread with the second client coming on board just one week later. The majority of our clients since have come to us through word of mouth recommendations and networking referrals. Over the years, I have become well connected in Northampton and Milton Keynes.

Outside of work I enjoy swimming, roller skating, the theatre and my cats and dogs!


+44 (0) 1604 529170



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