Frequently Asked Questions
What does Sakas & Company do?
I help agency owners take control of their agency by eliminating growing pains. I do this via management consulting, executive coaching, and training services.
My work tends to involve agency strategy, operations, and leadership. This includes advice about agency strategy, client service, project management, recruiting, time management, team management, marketing, sales, and new business development.
I work with clients anywhere in the world—33 countries so far, on every inhabited continent.
What’s your agency background?
I’ve been in digital marketing since 1997, originally as a freelance web designer. More recently, I ran the business operations side of two digital marketing agencies. My titles included Project Manager, Operations Manager, Director of Client Services, and Director of Operations.
In those roles, I oversaw PM, AM, recruiting, accounting, and the agencies’ own self-marketing. See my LinkedIn profile for more on my background.
As an agency consultant and executive coach, I’ve advised nearly 400 agencies on six continents. They’ve ranged from startup agencies to 700 employees; most have had fewer than 100 employees.
My colleague Diane Stadlen has served in leadership roles at both independent and holding company agencies, including serving as COO and partner at an independent agency.
Why do you do this?
Earlier in my career, I helped save an agency from bankruptcy—they did great creative work, but the business fundamentals weren’t there.
Since then, I’ve vowed to help agency owners make better decisions about their agency—typically their biggest financial asset—and to help agency owners thrive rather than merely survive.
And I really like my clients—agency owners tend to be fun, thoughtful, interesting people. When it’s your own business, you should really like your clients—and if you don’t, let’s fix that.
What are the options for you to help me?
The right option depends on your desired scope and your budget.
1) Want a comprehensive, strategic plan to help you propel your agency forward? You should do an in-depth Agency Roadmap™ consulting project. I analyze your data and make results-oriented recommendations. You get a strategy, plus an implementation plan and support going forward.
2) Want a mix of “DIY” plus ongoing structure? Do an Executive Coaching program. I’ve designed the process to help you make faster and smoother progress than on your own. You get a mix of phone and email support, plus proprietary tools to help you stay on track. Coaching is month-to-month; I recommend planning on 6-18 months to start.
3) Want quick advice? Do a by-the-minute call. You still have to implement the advice, but it’s often what you need to move forward to do it yourself (DIY).
If you’re considering consulting or coaching, I’m glad to do a free call to recommend the right match for you—or recommend a competitor if they’re a better fit for you. Contact me to set up that free, confidential call.
How much do you charge?
For comprehensive support, most clients typically invest at least US$30,000 annually. Engagements fit into two categories, focused on solving your six- and seven-figure problems:
- Agency Roadmap consulting project: $25,000 to $50,000 plus travel (2-4 months)
- Executive Coaching: $4,000 per month (6-18 months), plus an additional $2,000 in the first month
Most clients pay via ACH bank debit or credit card. I also accept PayPal and U.S. checks. There’s a deposit and then ongoing installment payments.
Not in your budget, or trying to solve a smaller problem? Schedule permitting, we can do a one-off call for $750 to $1,000 via Clarity.fm. And my Agency Profitability Toolkit —50+ tools and templates designed to save you 50-200 hours of work—starts at $997. There’s also Free Digital Agency Coaching, as a 90-day email program.
How long have you been helping agencies?
I’ve been in digital marketing for 20+ years—since 1997. My first freelance web design client was a small agency in the Washington, D.C., area.
I’ve focused 100% on agencies since 2010, and I launched Sakas & Company (previously known as Agency Firebox) in 2013.
Do we work directly with you?
Yes, you work directly with me on executive coaching and strategy consulting projects. This ensures you get great advice while also getting attentive client service.
Prospective clients often speak with my Director of Agency Services (Diane Stadlen) as we sort out if there’s a mutual fit, and Diane contributes to some consulting engagements from her experience as an agency COO.
My team helps me on admin and marketing, to give me more time to focus on taking care of you.
Can you recommend other consultants?
Yes, I’m glad to recommend other agency consultants and coaches. If you reach out and someone else would be a better match for you, I’ll point you to them quickly. It’s a small industry, and fit is important—I want you to find the right person to help you.
What forms of payment do you take?
Credit cards (including Amex), PayPal, ACH bank debit, and U.S. checks. I don’t charge extra if you use a credit card or PayPal.
Do you charge a surcharge for credit card payments?
No. Professional services firms shouldn’t charge credit card surcharges—in the 21st century, credit card fees are a cost of doing business. My clients enjoy earning points or frequent flier miles on their rewards cards.
Can I pay online?
Yes! I’ll send an invoice email from Intuit and you can click to securely pay online via credit card or ACH bank debit.
If you’re outside the U.S., I’ll send an invoice via PayPal, to pay in U.S. dollars. They’ll automatically handle the currency conversion for you.
Can I pay over time?
Yes. For new clients, the initial payment is due prior to scheduling kickoff (e.g., you’ll pre-pay for the first month of coaching, or pay the deposit for consulting projects).
After that, you’ll pay on a milestone basis (projects) or before each month starts (coaching).
Doing a by-the-minute Clarity call? Clarity has your credit card on file—they’ll charge a deposit when you schedule the call, and then adjust the difference at the end of the call.
How soon can we start?
Due to current client commitments, I’m often running a backlog—but I seek to start helping you as soon as I can.
By-the-minute help: If you need quick answers ASAP, request a by-the-minute Clarity call. I confirm most Clarity requests within 1 business day, and seek to do calls within 1-3 business days. Let me know if things are especially urgent.
Coaching: I can share an estimate during our exploratory call. If you’d like to do coaching, we can usually start email support within a week after I receive your first payment, with the first call after that. This allows time for you to complete the proprietary intake process, and for me to create your custom coaching plan.
Consulting projects: We’d do an exploratory call, I’d share an estimated start date, and you’d pay a deposit to reserve the next spot on the calendar.
How long do things take?
I work quickly—growing up as the oldest of five kids in a military family, I have a high sense of urgency. My clients like that.
Consulting projects are typically 2-4 months long. I can complete smaller projects in a couple weeks, and larger projects can take longer. A key driver is how fast you can share the data I’ll analyze. Agency owners see faster results when they delegate data-sharing to team members.
Executive Coaching runs for at least six months, although you’ll see the best results over 12-18 months. Some clients are several years into coaching.
By-the-minute calls tend to run between 45 minutes and 60 minutes. The key driver is how much you’d like to cover, but I always focus on answering your top-priority questions first.
The free agency coaching program (via email) runs 90 days, and you can repeat it as many times as you like.
Do you work remotely or onsite at my office?
I work with most clients on a remote basis—by phone, email, G Suite, Zoom, and other remote collaboration tools.
I do some on-site work as a part of large consulting projects, which will be a mix of remote and on-site. If this makes sense for you, I’m glad to share an estimate on both approaches so you can choose.
Do you have any free resources?
Yes, lots of free resources!
1. Start by signing up for my weekly email tips. You’ll get free advice each week, plus an instant, free copy of my 20-page eBook: Don’t Just Make the Logo Bigger: Taking Clients from Painful to Profitable. It’s a quick read with some powerful advice to make your life easier.
2. Sign up for my free digital agency coaching program. The 90-day email program is based on my accountability process in Executive Coaching, to help you make faster progress than on your own.
3. See my roundup of top agency posts. Organized by topic, these are my top recommendations out of the 350+ articles on the site.
4. I do monthly Office Hours virtually via Zoom—your opportunity to get free consulting advice from me.
5. When I speak, I’m always glad to share free advice during Q&A and after my talk. See a list of upcoming events.
6. Want training you can share with your team? Visit the Sakas & Company online store for recorded trainings and other information products. Trainings are free for current and past clients—and otherwise, a fraction of the cost of custom help.
Do you work with clients outside the U.S.?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve helped clients in 33 countries so far, on every inhabited continent. (Sorry, Antarctica!)
How would we do calls if I’m outside the U.S.?
We can talk via the phone, Zoom, or FaceTime. I’m in the same time zone as New York City.
For clients in the Asia-Pacific region, I’m glad to schedule morning calls your time (my late-afternoon or early evening).
For clients in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), I’m glad to schedule afternoon calls your time (my morning).
What times can we do calls?
I typically do calls between 10:00am and 6:00pm Eastern Time (the same time zone as New York City).
For clients outside the U.S., I’ll typically adjust to do the call during your business hours (your morning or late afternoon).
If you’re already a client and you’re having an emergency, I’ll make time to help you ASAP. I’ve occasionally done emergency calls at 11pm—that’s not the norm, but if it’s critical and you need me, I will be there for you.
Can I text you?
Yes, once you become a coaching or consulting client—it’s part of your boutique client experience. All of my clients get my mobile number (which also allows iMessage texting from your Apple devices).
Texting isn’t the right method for ongoing advice, but it helps if you need to get my attention in an emergency, or if you need to let me know you’re running a few minutes late for a call. I’ll do the same for you.
Is all of your work in English?
Yes. I’ve worked with clients who are native English speakers as well as people for whom English is their second (or third) language. Unfortunately, my former German and Italian skills have faded.
Do you guarantee the results I’ll get?
No consultant or coach can guarantee specific results—so much depends on implementation, luck, and other factors beyond my control.
That said, you’ll always get the best advice I can give you. My approach focuses on sharing the advice I’d give myself if I were in your situation, with your values, goals, and resources (VGR).
How do you maintain confidentiality?
I’m glad to sign your NDA—or use mine—but my approach to confidentiality goes beyond any paperwork. How so? We’re in a small industry—I’d go out of business if I developed a reputation as someone who shared confidential information with other people.
Have you worked with any of my competitors?
Perhaps. That’s where my confidentiality policy comes in—you and they wouldn’t know it.
How do you handle conflicts of interest?
Since 2013, I’ve run into only two direct conflicts of interest.
- In one case, Agency B reached out for help, and I knew they were Agency A’s biggest whitelabel client. I referred the new agency owners to one of my competitors.
- In the other case, Agency C recommended me to Agency D—so they both knew we were working together. But I didn’t share anything the other told me, and vice versa.
I don’t accept referral fees, commissions, or other payments for my recommendations—so if I recommend someone or something, you can be confident that there’s no conflict. (Disclosure: SharpSpring has hired me to create articles and webinars with agency advice.)
Can I speak with client references?
Yes—I’m glad to share references once we get to end of the sales process. Typically, this is once I’m the single finalist in your decision process, and you want to go from “95% sure” to “99% sure.”
Once we get to that point, let me know what info you’re seeking and I can connect you to references who’d be a good match to answer your questions. It’s important for me to respect my clients’ time.
I don’t share references for one-off calls, but you’re welcome to check out the satisfied-client reviews in my Clarity.fm profile.
Are you available for speaking engagements?
Yes, I speak 10-20 times a year at industry conferences, marketing associations, and universities—including INBOUND, Traffic & Conversion, the Bureau of Digital, AAF, AMA, and AgencyCon. Here’s more about my upcoming and past events, including in-person and virtual events.
What if I have a different question?
Contact me! If you haven’t heard back within 2 business days, email me again (or call +1-919-410-6224) since your first message may have gone into my spam filter.
Looking forward to helping you take control of your agency!