Consultant Selection Tips – Outsourced Contractor Vetting Part 2

Big Companies are using safety audit companies like Avetta, Browz, Complyworks, ISNetworld®, and Veriforce to vet their contractors – If you’ve been faced with an audit by one of these companies – You need to read this article

 

Part 1 Recap

In the first part of this article, we looked at some of the reasons why big companies outsource the contractor and supplier vetting process.

We touched briefly on the cost savings associated, and the enormous benefit for the hiring client.

For those of you who did not catch the first part, you can catch up here.

In a nutshell, big companies need to verify the legitimacy of their contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers.

Contractor vetting can be time consuming and expensive. Consequently, many large companies are beginning to use third party safety auditors such as Avetta, Browz, Complyworks, ISNetworld®, and Veriforce to make sure the companies coming onto their property have a safety program, employee safety training, insurance, worker’s compensation and an acceptable safety record.

 

What About Contractors?

This all sounds wonderful for the big companies vetting their contractors, because they save money, and have access to pre-qualified contractors.

The contractor, however is not so fortunate. Like I mentioned in Part 1, a single contractor may be required to subscribe to multiple safety audit databases at once – depending on who they are working for, and what those companies require.

My company consults for some contractors who are subscribed to over ten safety audit databases.

If you are thinking this doesn’t sound cost effective for contractors – you’re right.

Imagine yourself as the owner of a small business where, in addition to your responsibilities as a business owner – you have to stay compliant with multiple audit databases, just to keep working.

Similar to their clients’ outsourcing contractor vetting, many contractors are seeking help as well.

Contractors are beginning to see the value in hiring a consulting company to help them prepare the documentation for various safety audits.

 

Consultant Selection Tips

Consultant vs. Template SalespersonWhen searching for a company to hire for helping you become compliant with a safety audit, be sure to ask a lot of questions. Ask questions that require a very specific answer, and watch out for vague, or ambiguous answers that make the “consultant” sound unsure.

Open up a web-browser, and type ISNetworld® Compliance into Google – four companies should be displayed near the top of the page in the “Ad” section, but keep scrolling past these paid ads, and more service providers will be listed.

Contractor safety audit compliance is a growing industry. You will be lucky to find even one consultant of a professional caliber displayed within the paid ads. Most companies offering this service only really specialize in sales.

Yep. You read it correctly. Most companies who claim to be professional safety consultants, specializing in ISNetworld® Compliance, Avetta Compliance, Browz Compliance and (insert audit company here) Compliance – are nothing more than professional swindlers. In fact, many of these companies do not even write the templates that they sell to satisfy the audits. They either buy them from another provider, or they slightly modify their competitor’s templates – and sell them illegally.

It is common to receive frequent calls from these companies while you are engaged in the sales process, and right when they get your cash – you don’t hear from them again – until it is time to renew the annual “maintenance plan” the following year.

 

Insurance

Some safety audit companies are set up to integrate with your insurance agent. For example, ISNetworld® has an ideal setup – your insurance agent can link directly to your ISNetworld® account, to view requirements and submit certificates. However, it has been my experience that some insurance agents are just plain lazy, and they are simply not willing to go the extra mile, to log into your account to submit documents.

When shopping for a consultant to help with safety audit compliance – be sure to ask them about their process for satisfying insurance requirements.

Some “consultants” claim to offer 100% account compliance, but they have no idea how to interpret insurance requirements, much less negotiate with the safety auditor on your behalf to have unnecessary requirements waived.

Insurance requirements are typically dictated by the trade, or work-type(s) you’ve selected, or by the way you’ve answered the safety questionnaire, or the insurance pre-questionnaire.

If the insurance requirements listed in your account seem to be excessive for the work or service you’re performing, you may need to take a closer look at one of these areas of your account. Additionally, some of these safety audit databases, are designed with code written for “if-then” statements. For example, whether you climb ladders or not, if you select drywall installation as your trade, the safety audit database may automatically determine that you must have a ladder safety program, or additional umbrella limits on your general liability policy.

In many cases a good consultant can work on your behalf, to have these unnecessary requirements waived.

Be sure to make sure the “consultant” understands corporate insurance requirements, and these audit processes before hiring them.

 

Customer Service Process (Proactive or Reactive)

What approach do you prefer as a customer? Would you rather monitor your own safety audit database, and call the “consultant” when you need help, or would a more proactive solution make more sense?

Let’s face it – people are busier now than any other time in history. Without lists and reminders set on our calendars – we forget. Heck, my credit score increased by 100 points, just by setting reminders on my phone calendar for paying the bills.

Be sure to ask the “consultant” to explain their customer service process in detail. If it sounds like the representative is a bit unsure, or if it sounds like they need to think about how to respond to your question, perhaps you’re not talking to the right company.

I can tell you every step, and every action that occurs throughout the fulfillment and customer service process at my firm – from the time a new customer signs up – to seven months into the contract.

 

Additionally, ask the “consultant” the following questions prior to hiring them:

  1. How often do you actually log in to review my account? Or, do you wait until the customer asks for help?
  2. How many employees do you have, who are dedicated to nothing other than customer service?
  3. How many total accounts does your company manage?
  4. When do you request quarterly statistical data?
  5. When do you request renewal insurance certificates, when my insurance is coming up for renewal?
  6. Will a dedicated account manager be assigned to my account?
  7. Ask them if you can speak to the person who wrote the safety programs for the company. If this isn’t an option – be alarmed.
  8. Ask them if they will modify your existing safety plan for submitting to the audit – if they say this isn’t an option BE ALARMED.
  9. Ask them if a new policy must be created, a policy that you do not already have, if they can format the policy to match the formatting within your current / existing safety program. – if this isn’t an option be alarmed.
  10. Ask them how often they will call you to discuss account updates.
  11. If I want/need to cancel the maintenance plan before the year is over – will you refund the pro-rated amount of the total annual fee?

 

OSHA Logs / Statistical Reporting

Things are quite different in Canada, than here in the US with regard to statistical reporting. In this article, I will use an example that only applies to companies based in the US.

A record keeping exemption exists for companies with less than ten (10) employees at any point throughout the year.

So, why does ISNetworld® require companies with less than ten employees to submit OSHA logs?

Should you submit OSHA Logs to ISNetworld®, if you have less than ten employees?

These are all questions a real safety audit consultant should be able to answer with confidence.

If you have similar questions, call ProQual Safety.

 

Safety Audit Experience and Knowledge

As I mentioned earlier, a quick Google search will find multiple companies who claim to consult in the field of contractor safety audit compliance.

Be very careful – most of these companies are not what they claim to be. In fact, many of these organizations, do not spend much time consulting, because they do not know how to.

The market is becoming overrun with people with templates, they have learned how to fill in the blanks, and in many cases – they can help you obtain passing scores.

In a real audit however, these companies are not able to offer any real consulting assistance. Tell them that you have too many injuries, that you’ve now received an “F” grade, and ask them for ideas on how to increase their score, despite the injuries.

 

Pricing

Don’t jump at the lowest price. Not all “safety companies” are created equal. In fact, many of the companies who advertise their service on Google, claim to offer pricing that beats the competitor.

Ask them for a list of 25, 50 or 100 of their customers – call them all and find out how happy they are with the ongoing service plan. I’d be surprised to hear that more than twenty percent of their client base is happy with the ongoing service.

Many of these companies offer low pricing, because they do not invest in the backend of the business. They do not spend the time and money necessary to build a professional customer service team.

These companies know their service stinks, but they think in numbers. They know most people do not like to switch service providers, and they gamble on a majority of their current clients to renew with their service, simply to avoid the hassle of switching providers.

 

Reputation

Take a look back at my suggestion in the Pricing section. Don’t ask a company for a “couple of references”.

Of course they are going to give you the two or three happiest customers to call for a reference.

Be Bold – ask them for a list of seventy-five clients, and ask them if they will send them to you within the next ten minutes. Trust me, any company worth your time, should be able to fulfill this request.

Why ask them for 75 client contacts to be sent to you within ten minutes? This method ensures they do not have time to cherry pick the client references. They should be able to log into their CRM, copy and paste the seventy-five clients.

Would I honor this request? Absolutely!

Would you find any unhappy customers – I hope not, but I cannot promise that every single one of my clients are going to be 100% happy all of the time. This is just unrealistic.

What if a competitor gets ahold of my client list? I don’t care – that’s how good we are here at ProQual Safety and JJ Safety. I am confident, if a client leaves for lower pricing – they will be back.

 

Covered Services

Some “consultants” use a slight change in safety auditor requirements as leverage to sell additional safety training kits, written safety and quality programs and other services which are not truly necessary to be in compliance.

Cross-selling and up-selling is a common business model in the “safety consulting” industry.

For example, the company where I got my start in this business, is infamous for hounding their existing customers for more sales.

In fact, they have a number of bad reviews online and the same business practice that has helped them become a $30M company, is the same set of practices that drive away business.

A bad hire can be damaging to your business, and the impact can be far-reaching and long-lasting.

Take the time to ask the right questions before making this very important decision

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