5 steps to a successful client/agency relationship

Not many serious entrepreneurs worth their grain in salt can deny the importance of client agency relationships when it comes to growing a business. New figures from Drexler Fajen & Partners estimate the average working relationship between a client and their agency to be no more than three to four years with most not lasting anymore than two. Reasons for this are varied and diverse, however we have developed a number steps to both maximise the chances of ensuring a successful working relationship with your clientele and to get you on the right track!

Step 1: Set clear expectations

As with any kind of relationship, whether it be a casual fling or a long term partnership, if one wants babies, a mortgage and a suitable date for the wedding whilst the other is only interested in a few short term meetups so to speak, both sides are going to end up bitter, resentful and wishing they hadn’t bothered. Therefore, it is important to take the time to sit together and discuss your long term aims, your goals (realistic and attainable ones of course) and your plans for the future. Never be tempted to promise more than you can deliver. Remember a successful agency under promises and over delivers.  

Step 2: Establish effective communication

Communication is the foundation for all successful relationships. It not only needs to be regular but also clear and concise, the kind where both parties assume that the other is not all there upstairs and needs everything explained as simply as possible (without coming across insulting or patronising!). Gone are the days where agencies could throw out a few fancy words and mumbo jumbo jargon in order to impress clients. An effective agency will clearly communicate all facets of their strategy and offer honest advice when projects or subject topics begin to shift beyond their area of expertise. A few key steps to consider:

  • Always try to respond to emails within 24 hours
  • Send follow up emails to reiterate points made in meetings
  • Conduct regular check ins for feedback and opportunities for enhancing performance (Fun fact: Did you know that human contact releases hormones that act as neurotransmitters in the brain that establish trust and bond? There's something you won’t find in science class 101!)

Step 3:  Be honest/transparent

Building on what we’ve already said about communication, transparency and honesty is a beautiful thing when entering the crazy world of negotiating relationships. I believe it was our friend John Lennon who said “being honest won’t always get you a lot of friends but it will get you the right ones.” End the madness of being restricted by your fears, insecurities or doubts about what your partners may think about your new business proposal or your desire to expand into a new area of project management. Being open and honest will not only gain you respect, it will show your clients that what you produce is not the result of some sort of special super power but rather the result of endless hours of hard work, dedication and effort. It will remove the faceless aspect that most modern branding is guilty of maintaining and promote a better bond between you and your clients.

Step 4: Get comfortable with the possibility of friction  

Ask any long term married couple and they’ll tell you that disagreements and friction is a natural process of forming an a strong and effective bond. There will be bumps along the road however this is no reason to be discouraged. Be open to challenges and never let your ego get the better of you.

Step 5: Establish a budget

No one likes talking about money (except when it involves discussions about how much your getting). In order to avoid the dreaded “let's talk about money” conversation, establish a formal, written contract at the beginning of the working relationship outlining a specified fee with the understanding that as the project expands and clients needsgrow, so to will the budget and required fee. Understanding the value of your work is essential and don’t be tempted to throw in a few extra freebies just to keep the client on side. Establishing a formal fee outline and sticking to it will earn you respect and demonstrate professionalism and quality care of the work you are undertaking.  

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