First of all, a contract. It will outline what you expect from a genealogist. Most contracts come with a disclaimer – “results not guaranteed.” We do our best, but we cannot always come up with an answer to your question or we will find an answer you do not like. The contract will also outline how many hours of work you are contracting for and the question the genealogist expects to answer. Pay close attention to both. Hours are usually just a starting point. A “small” project will take about four hours; I recently heard from Ancestry.com’s CFO that the average 42 minute Who Do You Think You Are? takes 1000 hours to research. Things do not happen quickly. The question is what the genealogist will focus on answering their research. If you want them to be researching something else, you need to let them know immediately. Finally, it will outline the genealogist’s expectations for you and your expectations for the genealogist.
Second, emails during the research period. Most of us will attempt to keep in regular contact with your clients. Treat your genealogist as you would any other business professional. If you have a question you need answered, feel free to email. However, much as you would not expect your attorney to respond in five minutes or answer your question in fifteen, do not expect your genealogist to do the same.
Finally, a final report. Discuss with your genealogist the form you would like that report to take. Most of us have a standard research report we will use to give you information, analyze what we have found, and identify where it came from. If you are interested in additional forms, such as a framable tree, we might be able to point you in the right direction. Do realize that may require hiring someone else.