Professional or scammer: red flags to watch for when choosing a service company

Alexei Falco /
 on 4 July 2019

Work with outsourced service companies is great. Such agencies usually have a high level of expertise, reasonable rates, and well-organized processes. The most common examples of such companies would be a software development agency or a web design studio.

But how do you know how to chose one, if you don’t much experience? Throughout our work, we’ve seen many agencies and have noticed a few features that differentiate professional agencies from scammers.

Measurement of result

In the business world, numbers define everything. If you place a task, the result should be formulated with clear numbers: a certain percentage of growth or a certain number of expected customers.

A professional will always give a clear description of the process and result. Compare these two examples:

  1. We managed to achieve high efficiency.
  2. We achieved a 15% growth in traffic for the last month.

Of course, the second example sounds more valid because it’s justified with numbers and you can rely on them when estimating the project status.

If a company says they can help you achieve great growth and massive traffic but no numbers or KPIs are given, it’s a big red flag.

Successful vs unsuccessful cases

Success comes with experience. Experience, in its turn, always includes both positive and negative cases. The saying “learn through errors” is 100% true for any industry and professional company will always admit that.

When you ask for a portfolio, professionals will not hesitate to describe past mistakes and how these mistakes contributed to their professional growth. A scam agency, in its turn, will do its best to persuade you that their professional path consisted of 100% success — not less than that.

Transparent communication and honesty

One of the keys for successful work with any agency is transparent and regular communication.

A professional company will always negotiate with you the preferred means of communication and its frequency. As well, such a company will always provide you with timely and detailed reports on the project status and will promptly reply to you upon request.

Scammers, in turn, tend to avoid direct communication. So if a company is vague about your meetings or fails to provide you with reports, time to think about changing the agency.

Another important thing is honesty and criticism. A professional will outline both the strong and weak sides of your project and will always admit his mistakes.

As for the scam companies, they will do everything to keep you — and that includes lying about the quality of your project and hiding any mistakes.

Price

This issue is a tricky one.

There are professional agencies that are affordable and have reasonable rates — but they will never be surprisingly cheap. Yes, the rates may be negotiable and all but if you see suspiciously low rates, it may be a sign that the agency is a scammer.

The signs of a reliable company

We’ve covered the most obvious signs of a scam agency but how do you recognize a good one? Here are the top things every professional agency should have.

Transparent and available portfolio

The portfolio is a collection of a company’s work and you as a client have full right to request it.

A portfolio can help you see whether the company has already dealt with similar tasks, whether the projects were successful, whether all goals were met. As well, do not hesitate to contact past clients and ask for their feedback. In case the agency is really good, client reviews will justify its reputation and help you make the right decision.

Organized processes

In order to understand your ideas and transform them into understandable tech requests, a company usually has a Project Manager to work on your project. This is also a sign of a good company that knows its business and cares about your project.

Pricing model

The most efficient companies work by Time & Material model which means you pay for the time and materials spent on the project. This flexible approach allows to implement changes at any time and lets you be in control and monitor the progress.

On the other hand, if the company insists on a fixed price and does not show you anything until the project is ready, it’s a warning sign.

Enthusiasm and a proactive approach

Professionals are always passionate about their work. They will be offering you new ideas and solutions and will work independently without micro-management from your side.

Look for a company that is ready to tackle any challenges and is willing to find new and efficient ways to resolve the issues. But if the team does only what you told them to, then your project might be in trouble.

Summing up, a successful collaboration with a service agency depends on the tech skill of the specialists and the human factor aka the quality of communication and the team’s interest in the project. If you have even the slightest hesitation about work with this particular team, you better look for another agency that will 100% satisfy your requirements.

Authored by  Alexei Falco /
Co-founder of Celadon Software House, manager of projects, has over 8 years of business management and entrepreneurship experience.

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