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, and sales/bizdev.
I work with clients anywhere in the world—30 countries so far, on six continents.
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 300+ agencies on six continents. They’ve ranged from 1 employee 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 of a 25-person 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 consulting project. I dive in to 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. This includes monthly calls to keep you on track, plus email support. Coaching is month-to-month; I recommend planning on 6-12 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?
Most clients invest US$20,000+ annually. Engagements fit into two categories, focused on solving your six- and seven-figure problems:
- Agency Roadmap consulting project: $15,000 to $35,000 plus travel (2-4 months)
- Executive Coaching: $2,500 to $3,500 per month (6-12 months)
Most clients pay via credit card. I also accept PayPal, ACH bank draft, TransferWise, 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 Resource Library —50+ tools and templates designed to save you 50-200 hours of work—starts at $997.
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 specifically 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.
My team helps me on admin and marketing, to give me more time to focus on taking care of you. Prospective clients often speak with my PM (Diane) as we sort out if there’s a mutual fit.
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’m glad to recommend them. 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).
For returning clients doing on-demand (Agile) consulting, I’ll share estimates beforehand and then email you an invoice once a week. Invoices are due Net 7.
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 strong demand and current client commitments, I’m running a backlog—see my Contact page for my latest availability.
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 1-5 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 DiSC assessment and proprietary intake questionnaire, and for me to create your custom coaching curriculum.
Consulting projects: See the Contact page for my current backlog. 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. To reduce scoping turnaround, I do on-demand (Agile) consulting instead of traditional milestones—this lets us start faster.
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.
Coaching typically runs for at least six months, although you’ll see the best results over 12+ months.
State of Your Agency reports take 2-3 months, between the initial report and your first of three followup calls.
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.
Do you work remotely or onsite at my office?
I work with most clients on a remote basis—by phone, email, Google Docs, Zoom, Skype, and other tools.
I do some on-site work as a part of large consulting projects, which will be a mix of remote and on-site. There’s value to my visiting your office and speaking with your team in-person, but you’ll need to weigh whether the travel costs are worth it. I’m glad to share an estimate on both approaches.
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. See my roundup of top posts. Organized by topic, these are my top recommendations out of the 250+ articles on the site.
4. When I speak, I’m always glad to share free advice during Q&A and after my talk. See a list of upcoming events.
5. Want training you can share with your team? Visit the Sakas & Company online store for recorded trainings and other information products—not free, but a fraction of the cost of custom help.
Do you work with clients outside the U.S.?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve helped clients in 30 countries so far, on six continents. (Sorry, Antarctica!)
How would we do calls if I’m outside the U.S.?
We can talk via the phone, Zoom, Skype (karl.sakas), or FaceTime. I’m in the same time zone as New York City.
For clients in Australia, New Zealand, and southeast Asia, I’m glad to schedule morning calls your time (my late-afternoon).
For clients in Europe, I’m glad to schedule afternoon calls your time (my morning).
What times can we do calls?
I typically do calls between 9:30am 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 client. 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.
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, you’ve weighed my proposal, 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—so I expect the same from you if and when you reach out to them.
Are you available for speaking engagements?
Yes, I speak 20+ times a year at industry conferences, marketing associations, and universities—including INBOUND, Content Marketing World, the Bureua of Digital, AAF, AMA, and AgencyCon. Here’s more about my upcoming and past 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) since your first message have gone into my spam filter.
Looking forward to helping you take control of your agency!