In today’s ROI-driven business world, keeping expenses down is critical to a company’s bottom line. This is especially true when the global economy is in turmoil. Professional services agencies often bear a double burden. First and foremost, we have to provide maximum benefit for the monies clients spend for our services; and second – and less obvious – we have to be good stewards of expenses we incur on a client’s behalf.
It is not uncommon for advertising or public relations agencies to include a markup – often upwards of 18 percent – to cover the cost of items purchased for clients to conduct day-to-day business. And, whether or not the agency enforces a markup policy or simply passes the cost along to the client, the negotiated rate the agency pays its vendors for those services or products translates directly to what the client pays.
For instance, just a few years ago it wasn’t uncommon to pay $.20 per minute for a long distance telephone call. A month of heavy media pitching for a client could result in an enormous telephone bill for the agency and therefore the client. Given the cost is either marked up or “passed through” to the client, why should the agency waste time negotiating a better rate for those services? The answer: because doing so would make the agency a good steward of its clients’ money.
Examples like this are endless and have been demonstrated throughout our agency from operations to design. In fact, our creative team rarely moves forward with a print project without soliciting multiple bids from printers—something done by choice, not necessity. This approach to client service is a win-win for the agency, since we all know they ultimately have to protect their budgets, as well.
Before entering into a professional services contract, consider not only the fees related to the services the agency is providing, but also read the fine print … what will it cost to have 80 boxes shipped overnight to a trade show you’re attending or how about that last-minute set of brochures that need printing?
The bottom line on the bottom line: Make sure the agency is looking out for your best interests.