This is another in a seven-post series on how to choose the right creative service provider (writer, designer, photographer, etc.) for your business or organization. This advice is based on what I’ve seen companies do the wrong way over the years. Hope you enjoy and find it useful!

A prospective creative services provider may not need an office address in an expensive downtown tower, but he or she should still follow practices that demonstrate they take their business – and yours – very seriously.

First impressions are often remarkably accurate. Look for professionally designed, easy-to-navigate websites and business cards, instead of something the provider whipped up five minutes ago at the office supply store. A separate address, email address, and phone number are good signs.

Evaluate the provider just as you would an employee. How does he or she dress for the initial meeting? Was there good eye contact? Did the provider seem to have confidence? What were his or her phone manners like? Don’t underestimate the importance of factors like these, because the provider you choose may have a profound impact on your business. Make sure they’ll have the right kind of impact before you decide to choose them.

While, it’s literally possible to run a business from the palm of your hand these days, there’s a big difference between someone who invests in a small piece of technology and does most of his or her work on the fly in coffee shops, and someone who actually has an office equipped with a suite of technology. Making an investment in a physical location — even if it’s a spare bedroom at home — and in business technology requires more of a commitment. It also sends a message that the creative services provider is serious about running a company by the standards expected in the larger business community.

Learn more in our free report, The Smarter Strategy for Selecting Suppliers, which offers practical, proven advice for choosing the right creative service providers. Get your free copy!