As you are doing your homework, your first decision is which software company you are going to use to operate your business(LMS Loan management system).
Some programs provide you with a Total turn-key solution that includes a website template. Some programs provide an interface that you can use to LINK your website directly into your LMS.
Before you sign the contract get the technical and interface specifications. With these specifications, you can interview different web contractors and determine IF they can make the interface WORK. If the LMS is using .NET (Microsoft based internet structure), then you need to find a .NET guy.
If you’re in a store front, it’s nice to have a website that can gather leads for you, and looks professional. If you’re ONLINE? Having that interface working perfectly is critical.
The LMS vendor will blame the web guy, and the web guy will blame the LMS company.
This is a long standing tradition in the tech industry. But it leaves you out in the cold. Whatever gets built for you, make sure that YOU test it. You want to enter clients into the website and see how they turn up. You want to try it on a fancy computer, Apple, Ipad, phone, etc. You want to make certain that it works. You can always make it pretty later.
Hire somebody that’s experienced. Preferably a person that has done this type of job before. Many computer guys “learn as they go”. That’s awesome for them, but you don’t want to pay for somebody’s education.
For a small project, I hired a guy out of college. He looked great on paper, and at only $40/hr a total bargain! Can you guess what happened? He spent 4 weeks doing a 2 day project, and when it was done, it was a steaming pile of crap.
Before you hire ANYBODY for any technical work, you have to understand and create a very specific and detailed project. If YOU don’t know exactly what you want, then how will they know?
They’re going to nod politely, and promise the world to get the contract, but if what you need is OUTSIDE their ability? You have to know.
This detail should include the programming language, the LMS information, as well as other interfaces that may be required.
AS a Title loan operator, you’re going to want to:
Interface to you LMS system
Capture client information
Have a window that clients can use to estimate their cars value
Have videos for marketing and client education
Have interactive maps for locations
Perhaps have a client interface where the client can view/change payment structures.
Send receive SMS messages.
I HIGHLY recommend that you view competitors’ websites. At least 20-30 different sites. Make notes of common elements. What’s important. Simplicity is beautiful.
When you write the text, write clearly. Don’t expect the web design company to write the copy, and legal disclosures for you. That’s not their job. You want them focused on making your website work.
By the time you create a RFQ (request for quotation), you should have your entire website, and work flow mapped out on paper. If you’re not organized, your website won’t be either.
You’re creating a technical, marketing and operations funnel for your business. Make it good.
You want as few surprises and changes as possible. Because any changes or issues are going to cost you extra $$$ and time. If you’re building an online organization, you don’t want the whole project sitting while some computer guy is messing with code.
Should you use an offshore web design company? That entirely depends on how capable and patient you are with project management. If you’ve created a comprehensive plan, then your project won’t be that hard.
I’ve had mixed results with offshore. Very capable and skilled programmers, but they are more interested in the money transfer than in completion of your project. In any venture or business, the last 5% of a project is the hardest to get completed. This happens most of all with this type of work. Most will get you 95% of the way there, and then lose interest and wander off.
My suggestion is to find somebody that’s done these before, and if you can, find somebody local. If you have to go to their house and pound on the door? Then you can.
I use: Tino Sebastiani
954 529 7633
As a funny side note, Tino’s web page makes you answer a math question as part of the verification process. I suspect he’s using this as a way to filter out potential clients that are very bad at math.
Final note: Don’t pay until everything is 100%. Keep at least HALF the money until you get that final 5% done.