Business Owners Be Careful Who You Work With – 509 Designs Review
We weren’t sure if we should share 509 Designs’ review here or not, but we tend to lead pretty public lifestyles with our agency doing marketing, media, and advertising for the last decade. But if this helps someone else, then it was worth it to us.
About a year ago we were contacted by a young guy on Facebook who owns another web design and SEO company here in Spokane named 509 Designs because he said he couldn’t handle one of his leads and passed it along to us. That lead was a local casino requesting a new website design job but also required a million dollar insurance rating, which 509 Designs didn’t have. So we understood why he passed it along.
We tend to help other local business owners when we can, especially those in our industry, and we hoped to create a long term business relationship with 509 Designs. So we ended up submitting bids for a few other larger jobs he passed along over the years. We matched some of the other best bids for these jobs, but in the end only one small $400 homepage redesign job ended up closing from him.
We wanted to help 509 Designs, as that’s who we are. So we shared many of the industry and business secrets we’ve learned over the past 10 years in order to help 509 Designs. After a while we ended up paying him for a couple small jobs at our company’s standard starting wage rate of $50 an hour. We ended up only paying him $900 at that rate, so around 18 hours.
Back in April we decided to expand and test 509 Designs’ skills with some of our company’s own SEO tasks, and after a short while we included one of our smaller existing clients as well to see if he could work multiple projects at the same time. We were very clear if things went well we would bring him on as part of our SEO team.
The very simple goal was to increase search traffic, something that anyone with basic SEO skills should be able to do. This was one of the services listed on 509 Designs website after all.
509 Designs agreed to our terms, including pay rate, before starting any work. We made a small deposit with the clear understanding that we would pay more for the first month and would continue to pay monthly if he met our milestones and goals to increase relevant search traffic.
This never happened unfortunately. After a few weeks with no results, we started checking in more regularly and we knew something was wrong. 509 Designs just stopped communicating.
Later he said the work was done, but he never added it into the websites so it was never really able to be tested. We ended up letting 509 Designs know this wasn’t working and was going to hire someone else.
In hopes of recovering our losses we suggested he could refund our deposit or do some other work for us on credit. 509 Designs originally agreed. But after several weeks, months really, we tried to work things out with him and he would not complete.
He apparently had another full time job and, from our perspective it seemed 509 Designs either didn’t want to work or wasn’t able to. With no other real options left, we again asked for a refund of our deposit. This time he said no.
We told him we should work things out privately and he should refund us the small $100 deposit because 509 Designs never finished that test job and could keep the other $800 in other small tasks he did.
Then, he started accusing us of making a lot of money off of him and not paying him enough. This was untrue, of course.
We even warned him that getting paid to do a job, and not finishing it, was not a good business practice and 509 Designs should be concerned about getting negative reviews and the reputation of ripping people off would follow him around for a long time.
This only made him angry. So he started threatening us (seen screenshots). He logged into our website and deleted our home page, and uploaded inappropriate things. He logged in to our client’s website and removed our admin access. He even created a fake negative review about our company on some of our business pages.
(By the way, if you want to help me out, please flag his review as fake.)
5 Ways Small Businesses Can Protect Themselves When Hiring
In order to share some solutions for protecting yourself when hiring, here are five things small business owners should always do when hiring a new employee or contracting with a freelancer.
- Set clear expectations in the beginning.
In order to suss out whether a potential employee or contract worker is the right person for the job, it is very important that you set clear expectations in the beginning. Think about what kind of skills you need and write a compelling job description that outlines the roles and responsibilities for the person you are looking to hire.
A clear job description should also include the character traits you’re looking for, as well as the skills you’re looking for from the start and the skills you’re willing to train them on. And if there are specific requirements, like software capabilities, remote or in-person work, and the hours per week you expect them to work, those should be laid out up front.
- Conduct a thorough interview.
Look, people often lie about their skills and experience in order to get a job. That’s why you shouldn’t rely on a resume alone to make hiring decisions. Take the time to interview the candidate either over the phone or using a video conferencing service to determine that they are who they say they are and to assess whether they have the background experience and proficiency to be successful working at your small business.
The interview is also an opportunity for you to figure out whether this person matches the character traits and work ethics that you’re looking to add to your team. Ask questions to understand their attitude toward their work, how well they work with others, and their work style. Chances are, you’ll be able to figure out if they’re being authentic or if they’re just blowing smoke
- Get samples of past work.
There is probably no better indicator for the quality and type of work a person will do after you hire them than reviewing samples of their past work. Whether you’re looking for a copywriter, graphic designer, web designer, or even an administrative assistant, it’s always a good idea to get two or three samples of assignments they’ve completed in the past.
- Ask for references.
Ask the job candidate to provide a few professional references for you to contact. Not only does this give you the opportunity to verify that the work they’ve done in the past, but it let’s you have a conversation with a previous employer about the candidate’s work ethic, character traits, and responsiveness. If you’ve got two candidates for a job that seem equal in experience and skill levels, a conversation with their references will most likely make your decision more clear.
- Always have a signed contract.
Once you’ve made the decision on who to hire, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to have a contract with the new employee that clearly delineated the expectations for doing the job. Even if the employee is not technically a contracted-employee, having a work agreement is helpful when evaluating the employee’s job performance later on because you can go line by line with the job responsibilities to determine if they have lived up to their agreement. Without a contract signed by both parties, you as a business owner will have a more difficult time trying to recoup the wages you paid for incomplete or unsatisfactory work, or in the case of a full-time employee, you’ll have an easier time making the case that that employee failed to live up to their agreement.
Don’t just take our word for it, please see for yourselves many screenshots of communications, clear unapproved account changes, threats, etc.