Hiring a third party company as an entrepreneur is tough, especially when the work is difficult to quantify. You don’t always know if they’re doing what they say they’re doing. You also don’t know if they’re getting results ethically.

Outsourcing certain aspects of your business leads to efficiency and productivity, although it may not be right for everyone. If you do outsource, treat it like a professional partnership. They’re probably not going to be tipping the scales in your favor, so here are five major pitfalls to avoid:

1. Accepting Reports Without Quantifiable Results

This pitfall is often seen in the SEO/SEM industry and runs rampant when hiring contractors from websites like Fiverr and Craigslist. They’re legitimate industry services; however, the results are reported in such a way that gives shady companies an opportunity to run scams.

Data is easy to manipulate, and fraudulent companies count on you not knowing how the data is sourced or what it means. According to this Search Engine Land article, Tips For Avoiding Shady SEO Providers ,some SEO companies only provide quarterly reports, and others only show keyword rankings as results.

Search is personalized today, so keyword ranking can’t be considered a metric of success. The numbers in an SEO report that best indicate success are organic traffic and lead trends.

If you’ve hired a company to perform tasks you don’t have time for, don’t just glance at your invoice, pay your monthly bill, and go on with your day. You need to know if the company is actually doing its job or just good at producing shiny reports.

Always insist on going over the numbers in every report so you know what’s being reported, and why it’s important.

2. Hidden Fees Buried in The Language of Your Contract

Property investment is a common pursuit for entrepreneurs because the potential for returns is huge. It’s also hard work. When you contract with third parties to work on your behalf, you need to be diligent when negotiating those contracts.

Contracts are often full of fees that are carefully hidden by sneaky language.

For instance, here’s a guide to property management fees that dissects the validity and fairness of various fees. For instance, every property owner pays a general service fee to the management company. If you’ve invested property, you know how this works – you’re paying the company to fill your vacancies and collect your rent.

The guide advises checking the wording in your contract because some companies use sneaky wording to collect unnecessary fees. For example, if a contract specifies your monthly fee is based on “due” or “scheduled” rent, you’ll always be obligated to pay a monthly fee, even when the unit is vacant or the tenant hasn’t paid their rent.

Paying a fee based on rent collected is fair; paying based on expected rent is not. For all you know, the property management company may not be trying to collect rent or fill the vacancy. They could just be relaxing and collecting your monthly fee.

Providing your fee only when rent is collected gives the property management company a reason to pursue collecting rent and filling vacancies, which is what you pay them for in the first place.

3. Hiring an SEO Company That Uses Unethical Practices

Did your SEO company say they boosted your local ranking on Google, and send you a surge of traffic and sales? Before getting caught up in the excitement, you need to investigate. Even when you’re certain the company is legitimate, make it a habit to do your due diligence.

Marketwatch conducted a thorough investigation called “Operation Clean Turf” and found that businesses are paying overseas contractors to write fake reviews. Twenty percent of Yelp reviews have been discovered to be fake. Unlike Amazon, the system can’t verify a transaction took place between the business and reviewer.

The content in online directories is factored into local search, making fake reviews a tempting strategy for devious SEO companies. So, check your online reviews to make sure they’re real.

4. Not Negotiating Your Contract

Most third party companies want you to sign their contract, which puts you in a vulnerable position. Their contracts will always be written heavily in their favor, and you need to be ready to negotiate mutual fairness.

5. Companies That Say You Won’t See Results For Months

If a company claims you won’t see any results for months, they’re probably not legitimate. Even in industries that take time to produce the end result, there are always indicators of progress along the way. Even growing a tree takes time for the seed to germinate, but once it does, progress can be measured long before it produces flowers or fruit.