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5 Common Agency Issues (And How You Can Solve Them)

With the advancements in technology affecting the way we do business, you might be forgiven in thinking it's easier than ever for agencies to succeed. However, the market is extremely competitive, and when an agencies experiences cashflow problems, issues with their staff andbreakdowns in client communication, that agency can quickly find itself in troubled waters.

Often, the solutions to our problems are simpler than we realise. In this article we look at five common scenarios affecting modern agencies, and offer some solutions.

1. Help! I'm Not Making any Profit!


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

You just don't understand what's happening. You and your team are insanely busy with client work – your books are filled for the next six months, and you appear to be a vibrant and successful agency … but the numbers just don't add up. You're not making enough money, and you don't understand why.

The Problem: This problem is all too common, and usually occurs when an agency is undercharging based on the time taken to complete a job. If you're charging a client for 30 hours of work, and the project takes 45 hours, then you're going to be losing money every month.

The Solution: You need to properly track the time spent on each job – and each stage of a job, in order to gain an accurate picture of what you're actually being paid for. You need to know exactly how many hours your team has worked on a job to figure out if you're undercharging. Use Workflow Max for time tracking and project management to get your finances under control.

2. Help! Clients Expect a Million Changes for Free!



Image courtesy of pakorn at

Your creative team has just finished the website campaign for your newest client. You are really pleased with it and call the client into a meeting – but they want changes. Lots of changes. And they want you to add more pages, re-do their logo, and turn the layout into a print ad. Suddenly, it's not just a redesign anymore, you are undertaking a whole rebranding – and the client has no intention of paying extra for it!

The Problem: The client may be taking the piss, or they may be genuinely unaware of the difference between revisions and changing the scope of an entire project. As the agency, you've set poor client expectations – you haven't given the client the information they needed at the beginning to understand what exactly is included in the package they paid for.

The Solution: You need to take another look at both your contracts and your client relations. Clients need to understand from the onset exactly what constitutes revisions. Contract clauses need to be clear on these matters, and you should probably sit down with the client, go through the contract, and make sure they understand what they get for their money.

Perhaps you can create a document that illustrates the revision process – you can share this with new clients when they first sign up.

3. Help! I can't seem to turn a prospect into a new client!

prospects into clients

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

You're great at talking to people. You're doing all the networking, handing out hundreds of business cards, and reaching out to potential clients with great information about your agency. Everyone says they love what you do, but they are just not ready to commit. You offer discounts, special offers if they sign up right now, but nothing works. You just can't seem to close the deal.

The Problem: One of the biggest mistakes agencies make when pursuing new business is making it all about themselves. You boast about your successes, show off your awesome projects, and explain repeatedly how much you'd enjoy the prospect's creative challenge. But to the prospect – this is obnoxious and off-putting. They feel as if you're giving them the hard sell – it's not friendly, they don't feel comfortable, and so they look elsewhere.

The Solution: Start focusing on the prospect. Do more listening than you do talking. Get to the heart of their problem, break down the issues for the client, and then ask them if you can contact them with a proposed solution. Chances are they'll be interested in having a look.

4. Help! I Keep Losing Clients and I Don't Understand Why!

envelope key


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

You've got a great team who work very closely with clients on all their needs. Each team member takes responsibility for contacting the client to discuss his or her specific part in the process. It's very hands on, and clients love it. Yet, you're getting a lot of clients cancelling their contracts when their job gets to the third stage in the process, and they cite "communication issues" as the reason. What are they talking about? What communication issues?

The Problem: Eeep! You have a huge communication problem! It sounds as if you're making a classic agency mistake – not having a single point of contact.

While having each individual team member contact the client may seem like a good idea, the client doesn't have any idea who is responsible for what. Often, information has to be repeated and the separate parts in the chain don't communicate as well as they should. The client loses confidence in the agency and feels as though they're being passed around the office, even if that's not the case at all.

The Solution: Establish a clear, central point of communication. The client wants to deal with one central contact who they can liaise with throughout the whole process. Appoint a project manager or account manager for each client project, and have that person oversee the entire process and ensure communication remains consistent.

5. Help! My creative team are slacking off!

lazy staff


Image courtesy of kibsri at

Within the agency team, there seem to be some people doing a lot more work than others. Projects get stuck at certain stages, and when you ask the team members about it, they explain it away by saying they need time for "creative thinking". Which is all well and good, but you've seen them on Facebook a lot, and you're worried they are "creatively" thinking away our profit!

The Problem: Without an established system for tracking time on specific tasks, it's easy for some team members to fall behind or goof off. And without a record of time spent, you are unable to identify the problematic links in the chain.

The Solution: Install the WorkflowMax Adobe Extension widget - your staff can track their time from within the Adobe Creative Suite itself. Collecting data from the time tracking will show you who is pulling their weight and who might need to learn some better time-management skills. See this article on Educating Your Agency Staff About Time Tracking for tips on establishing a system in your office.

What are the common problems faced in your agency? How have you managed to solve them? What tips can you offer other agency owners?