Beware of boomerang billing to retain clients

David Wethey’s recent article “Redefining relationships at a time of constant change” (MW March 16) raises a lot of interesting questions but fails to offer definitive solutions on how to extend the life of the client/agency marriage.

In an industry that measures performance on creative brilliance, many agencies feel they can rest on their laurels. However, in today’s competitive market, agencies cannot rely solely on creative ideas to save the day.

It is no wonder that many client/ agency marriages are destined for divorce, as despite client demands for more efficient management, The Agency ProfitWatch survey 2006 has revealed that 36% of agency time is still unaccounted for via time capture systems. This has led to a “boomerang billing” culture, a worrying new development where invoices are often queried as a result of erroneous information. In my experience, nothing annoys a client more than confusion over budgets, billing and deadlines.

The secret to a happy marriage is a relationship based on trust – agencies must manage their accounts efficiently and operate an open-door culture where financial transparency and operational systems are truly valued. In return, clients must clarify what they expect from their agency, not only in delivering creative campaigns. With creativity and tight management processes coexisting, client and agency can live happily ever after.

Steve Hoddinott UK managing director Maconomy UK

London TW1

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