Before you start to do any work, you must understand what exactly representation means. Representation in business can be broken down into two parts, the client and the agency. The client will be your business or organization, while the agency will represent your interests to ensure they are upheld when working with an external party. For example, if a company were to hire an advertising agency to create a campaign for them in terms of content creation, branding, and social media marketing, the company would want assurance that their brand will be protected throughout this process.
Several steps should be taken when engaging an agency for representation. In business, every single party involved must be represented well throughout all work being done. If done incorrectly, it could lead to poor results or even legal issues later down the line. Here are some important guidelines on how to ensure you are getting proper representation for your business:
Meeting Face to Face
When you decide on an agency to work with, many types of agencies may be available. Some of these include independent contractors, boutique firms, and larger corporations. When deciding what type of agency is best for you, it is important to consider the size of your company or organization and the services you are looking for representation. In some of the services may require different professionals, such as business tax accountants or business lawyers.
One way to ensure positive representation is by meeting face to face with multiple agencies beforehand so you can make a judgment call on who would fit most successfully into your business. Depending on their availability and location preference, this could entail several meetings at their office or even hosting them in yours. Furthermore, if possible, it may be beneficial to video conference instead of just phone calls to engage with the agency more directly.
Ensuring Legal Representation
Ensuring your chosen third party adheres to typical legal agreements and understandings will be one of the best ways to ensure proper representation for both parties involved. This is important because if an agency were to break any laws or regulations, this could leave your business open to liability and damages in the future. Legal representation consists of publishing terms and conditions on your website and any other media where it would be problematic in the scenario that they were breached. Some platforms used for the publication of this information are social media accounts, company newsletters, and even private emails between yourself and another individual within their firm.
While these should already be present when working with a typical business, those used to working with agencies may overlook this step as they are used to a more formal process.
Always be prepared before hiring any business representative. Any reputable attorney or business accountant should ask you a series of probing questions about your business or case, so they can determine how best to represent you. In return, if you hesitate when answering these questions or cannot clearly explain what type of help you need, then perhaps legal assistance is not the answer.
Be certain that your business needs legal representation. If your company only needs help with a specific legal matter, hiring an attorney may not be the best idea. Many types of companies can successfully resolve their concerns without adding another high-cost member to their staff. These include sole proprietorships or small corporations that want to manage everything on their own without bringing in outside counsel.
Research Your Lawyer and Firm Thoroughly
Determine whether or not the attorney is actively seeking clients. When meeting with local lawyers for potential work, they ask about their advertising budget and how they attract new customers. Even if they do not spend anything on marketing, consider that a red flag because most attorneys need to acquire new business to stay afloat. If they claim not to do any marketing at all, be skeptical, as this is often untrue.
You may think that this should come before anything else on this list when considering how important legal advice is. Still, it comes second because if you do not put yourself in a position where you can hire one legitimately, it does not much matter who they are or what they know, does it?
It is important, especially if you are hiring a law firm with multiple lawyers working there, to spend some time researching their background and qualifications: you may need various types of lawyers. For instance, there are probate lawyers; you may also be seeking a bankruptcy lawyer or an accident attorney.
If they specialize in law, it affects your business, then so much the better. You want an attorney or team of attorneys who know what they are talking about and those who have experience with businesses like yours. That way, they can give you solid advice without having to guess at any of it because they have seen it all before.
Check online reviews before selecting an attorney: whether you are looking for a bankruptcy attorney or a small business administrative lawyer. A Google search can reveal plenty of information about attorneys, but it does not always paint an accurate picture of who they truly are. Several online sites publish reviews written by people with personal experience of the legal representatives they name. The more reviews you read, the easier it will be to gauge whether or not this attorney appears trustworthy.
Carefully consider whether or not an attorney is right for your company. Some small businesses can successfully handle their legal matters without adding another high-paid member to their payrolls. They do not need a lawyer’s help to incorporate, cannot afford one, or want to keep things simple. On the surface, these types of companies may look like they would benefit from legal representation, but in reality, it can be advantageous for them to ‘go it alone.’ Avoid phone book advertisements. Nearly every profession has its share of positive and negative aspects, and lawyers are no exception. While many talented attorneys do exemplary work, others make false claims about their abilities to drum up more business. Avoiding telephone book ads is usually your best bet because you will never know what type of attorney is hiding behind them until you hire them.
Determine the Scope of Work
Before beginning any work or delegating tasks, both parties need to understand what exactly is being done and what will be expected from one another afterward. This means all information should be presented in written format rather than spoken, so there is no room for misinterpretation later down the line. If possible, try presenting your agency with a project plan that involves timetables, costs involved, and milestones that must be achieved before moving onto other stages within the project.
Furthermore, having a set framework can help you determine whether an agency’s skill set matches your needs. If they cannot produce a product as specified, it may signify an issue with the representative you have chosen.
Getting Proof of Insurance/Licenses
Suppose something were to happen during the process of a project, and a third party was not insured or licensed for a task. In that case, this could result in severe damages being done to your business and your agency should they choose to take responsibility following an incident. This step is important because if anything was to go wrong during their work, having proof that they are covered can help protect you from liability later on down the line.
Furthermore, it also makes sense to make sure your representative adheres to state or federal laws within their scope of work, so both parties involved understand what is and is not allowed. For example, if a business were to produce illegal products, your agency could be liable if the proper authorities catch them.
Ask About Invoicing and Billing
Another one of the best ways to ensure you are receiving proper representation is by having invoices for any work that an agency has completed. This step will help verify that the product(s) provided match those discussed in your contract and keep track of how far along into a project you are. Furthermore, invoices should detail individual costs such as travel time, website design, or office supplies used throughout a project, so there is less confusion later on down the line.
Discuss on Payments
If your agency requires payment(s) to be made before starting work on any project or task, all fees must be discussed beforehand. If you cannot afford the full cost upfront, this should be discussed with the representative at hand so both parties can agree as to how payments will be processed. There may also be a need for retainer fees depending on what services you require from the agency in question, which means one-off payments will not suffice.
Instead, regular deposits must be made to maintain your business’s profile within their firm. Furthermore, having invoices allows you to determine whether or not your representative is meeting payment terms by tracking these milestones within the project itself.
Consider Means of Communication
As a general rule, agencies should be reachable by phone and email and other means such as instant messaging and video calling to accommodate the needs of their client base. This step ensures that if any work is not complete or questions arise during a project, the presentation will still be available for clients to discuss options with those directly involved in the tasks at hand.
Furthermore, this allows you to determine whether or not your representative has what it takes to communicate with your business on its at. This is important because they often lack an understanding of how your company functions simply because they work from home or in an office space separate from yours.
Ensure There Are Contracts
The most important aspect when choosing an agency is getting everything in writing because it ensures that both parties are on the same page for deliverables within a project. This means having a contract will specify deadlines and every task required for every portion of work. Suppose your representative neglects to provide you with a contractor who is not provided upon signing up. In that case, your business should consider this a red flag because it could mean they are attempting to take advantage of their clients.
Agree on a fee structure in advance. When you sign a contract, make sure the language is clear about how much money your lawyer will take from your settlement or verdict. It would help if you also discussed what you would pay for before any work gets done, such as filing fees and miscellaneous expenses like photocopies and postage. Furthermore, having contracts will help streamline processes later on down the line because there are no questions about what has been agreed upon between the parties involved.
Ensure There Is Accountability in Your Representation
Finally, if, at any point while working together, something goes wrong, an agency should hold their client’s accounts and work to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. This means that they will be held responsible for any mistakes they make throughout a project and also keep your business’s best interests in mind at all times. While it is important to hold your feet to the fire, you should also be willing to work together to resolve any issues that may arise between your company and theirs rather than ‘shooting the messenger’ by demanding they take all the blame.
Your business is no different from a child who depends on the parents to ensure that their needs are met. Businesses have complex needs that their leaders must address to succeed, and this is where a legal representative can become invaluable. By following these steps, businesses can ensure they receive representation from agencies that add value instead of merely taking advantage of them for projects that will not benefit either party.
Furthermore, this knowledge will enable small business owners to find an agency that they feel comfortable working with so their brand does not suffer because of faulty representation. Everyone involved in a project can thrive when they know what is expected and agreed upon beforehand.