I’ve been burned sooooo many times, hiring the wrong agencies.

Many of them sell crap for the price of gold.

Initially, all things looked great on the honeymoon, and then…

I realized that they were incentivized to make me pay more on that stupid budget, not to be more profitable and grow. 

After a few months, I was trying to make them responsible, but the ugly truth is that I was the one that said yes without understanding the full picture.

So, here are some things to ask (them, yourself, their employees, their clients, and your mentors) when you hire an agency again:

1. Have they done what you’re looking for? For how many times? In what industries?

2. Have they got good or great results?

What real clients say about them – do the background check

3. Who will you actually work with?

Many agencies have talented client-facing people, but the actual job is suboptimally made by cheap newbies that they hire to scale fast and brag on social media.

4. How mature are they? How does their process look like?

If there’s no clear and easy to understand process, they have not documented it, that’s a red flag

5. How will you measure the progress?

What kind of data they will collect to show you the progress?

What are the consequences if they don’t stay on track?

6. After how much time will it be clear that this is not going to work? When do they usually give up? How much money do they need to validate it?

7. What kind of questions do they ask? Are they trying to understand the full picture? Are they connecting the dots about the other pieces of your puzzle?

An agency doesn’t deliver results in a vacuum. It’s an extension of your own company, that needs to sync with your team and other agencies, as well.

8. What was the biggest f#%-up? What did they learn from it?

9. How do they assure themselves that they have resources for all their customers? They sell hours, how do they make sure that their inventory is big enough?

10. How do they learn? You need them to be as updated and connected to the future as possible.

11. What’s their own YOY growth? Too big? There’s a risk that they can’t attract talent and face demand.

Too low? They either have a lifestyle business and learn too slow, either learn too much and are not focused.

12. How focused are they? Are they building sites, doing email, SEO, and CRO?

How do they pass the knowledge internally? Is this a standardized process?

Beware of getting a mediocre agency so that you have a single point of contact.

But also beware of too specific agencies that don’t get the whole context.

I’d always give extra points to agencies that ask me about our CLV.

PS: If you’re an agency that’s on the lookout to level up your game, check our CVO academy and our partnership program.

There’s a shift happening: many eCommerce companies wake up to the reality that they need an integrated service. 

So my prediction is that:

The best agencies will be the full-service ones. Or a syndicate of boutique agencies that are highly specialized, but in sync.