Budget Transparency & Working with Clients

April 4, 2020

Austeja Ziemba

As a business, being taken advantage of in terms of budget is one of the biggest natural fears that exist when jumping into a new area of potential service. This is no different in digital. But, the truth is that in order to arrive at the right partner for the job, a great sense of awareness and vulnerability must exist by the business coming in to quote. 

Below we talk on the topic of budget transparency, and whether or not being open and honest about budgets is good or bad within this realm of digital agencies. 

Tony: As an agency, we deal with a couple of client-perceived dirty words. One of those would be “budget.” Talk to me on budget transparency and working with clients.

Austeja: Sure. So, in my personal opinion, budget transparency, when you’re dealing with an agency, is very similar to when you’re going to buy a house, right? You are going to go in there, and you’re going to be very clear about your budget. You’re not going to go in and walk through a million dollar house if your budget is only three hundred thousand. So, similar to working with an agency, the goal is to understand your limitations to that way we can address whether tech staff, or the amount of time we’re going to spend designing, or maybe we need a different set of account and project managers to be able to fulfill whatever budget that is. The goal would be more communication rather than less. I’d rather have a client come in and say, “Hey, I want to build a website. I have fifty thousand dollars. What can you get me for that? And here are the non-negotiables that I’d want you to include. Everything else is flexible, right? Those kinds of conversations are healthy conversations to have, that result in something that the client is then very happy with, versus having somebody get in here, you know, they’re being vague about the amount that they’re working with. We end up providing them a scope that’s way beyond what they’re going to work with anyway, and then everybody has wasted time. Right? We still have to shrink it down once we do find out what the amount is. So, I think it saves time and ends in a better service or product for the client if they’re very clear from the beginning, exactly what they’re working with. 

Tony: So, talk to me then. Play devil’s advocate a little bit. How, if I’m the client, and coming in, how do I make sure that I don’t continually get screwed? And what I mean by that is, if I come in and I just lay all my cards out on the table and tell the budget, is it just, should we assume all agencies are going to work on that transparent budget, or work with it, or, how do I stop from being taken advantage of? And I don’t know, if you answered that. I don’t know if there is an answer. But…?

Austeja: It’s a fair question. And I feel like every client that’s ever not been truthful or hid that amount is most likely working with that assumption, that, “If I lay all my cards out on the table, they’re going to take advantage of me.” But the alternative is either a waste of time, or a product that you didn’t want. So it seems like, either you can be honest and take the risk, or you can have things you’re not necessarily wanting anyway. So maybe the best we can do is explain in the beginning of the process, when somebody comes to us, and let them know the consequences, right? You cannot tell us your budget, and here’s what’s going to happen, or you can just let us know and be transparent, and we’re going to make sure we can give you the best that we can offer you right now.

Start a Project