Difficult situations are common in the agency world. These could be anything from dealing with difficult clients, poor individual or team performance, staff or other resource shortages to managing situations that arise as a result of a process breaking.

As a newbie agency owner, you’re gonna need to possess the right skills to deal with these situations whenever they arise at your agency.

So how do you do that? We asked Agency founder Ryan Meo, and here’s how he deals with such situations.

Too busy to read long articles? Listen to the audio version instead.

About Ryan

Ryan’s the director of Operations at Scale Squad, an agency that provides white label services for other digital agencies. They offer SEO packages, web design, WordPress support, and a host of other services for resale by other agencies.

Scale Squad started out working directly with clients on their websites. Ryan excelled at creating processes and operating procedures, and Scale Squad exploited this strength by moving to private label. Their strongest relationships are with sales-focused clients because they play to each other’s strengths.

With over 9 years in the agency game, Ryan has survived client hell, and come out the other side stronger for it.

On one particularly difficult situation that Ryan had to deal with was when Scale Squad’s hosting service went offline a couple of years ago. More than a thousand client websites crashed. The hosting company used had been bought out by a less conscientious company, and Ryan and his company were left hanging.

The websites stayed dead for over a week. Not only were the websites offline, but they also couldn’t even access the servers to switch hosts.

Needless to say, Ryan’s clients weren’t thrilled. And there was absolutely nothing he could do to solve the problem.

Somehow, Scale Squad became a stronger company as a result.

Ryan didn’t just share his story with us. He’s developed a systematic way of approaching bad situations like these and turning them into opportunities.

Below are 5 ways he recommends dealing with bad situations that arise at your agency:

1. Ground yourself in perspective.

Stay calm. Understand that no one’s dying! Faced with a really bad situation – one that could ruin relationships, costing your business forever – you may be tempted to rush into action. This is a mistake. Resist the urge to rush to action or hold people accountable

2. Work out what the problem is in detail before you find the solution.

Figure out what went wrong and why. Sometimes, understanding the problem is sufficient, all on its own. The distressed emails from our client about their website had nothing to do with you – the client caused the crash. This is a different, smaller problem with a known solution.

3. If it’s your fault, take the blame.

Too often, we are unwilling to admit when we are in the wrong. If upon investigation, you are at fault, say so and tell your client how you’re going to fix it.

If you don’t know how, tell them you’re working on figuring it out.

As Ryan says, it is human nature to “mess up” and make mistakes. People can be experiencing problems personally in the workplace or might have a health issue affecting the standard of their work. “It’s about being willing to stand up and say, listen, we messed up here,” summarises Ryan.

4. Respond and communicate.

Fix the problem quickly and effectively, and over-communicate with your client throughout. Silence is the enemy. If you are searching for a solution but haven’t found one, still over communicate. Providing feedback to your clients is key when dealing with difficult situations.

Of course, communication with clients is easier said than done. We have all been in situations when, we have sent an urgent email or text, and have been anxiously waiting for a reply, only to get none. Ryan says the best way of dealing with this is to contact the client in more ways than one so that the client can’t claim that he didn’t receive an email from you.

5. Fix the holes in your process.

Identify where your processes failed, and fireproof them. Then go to your clients and tell them what you’ve done to make sure the problem never happens again.

In other words, assess what has gone wrong and work out ways of preventing the same thing from happening again – tighten up your processes and have good ones in place at all times. That way, when you next make a mistake, it won’t be one you have already made!
Summary/outro (Needs a better outro)
With perspective, the right information, and honest, transparent communication, you will be able to make the best of a bad situation. You’ll know who your clients and team become under pressure, and vice versa.

Wrap up

Ryan knows his stuff. Not only is he experienced, but he’s an excellent teacher. He presents his experience in an organized and systematic way for you to learn from. Do listen to our chat with Ryan, as we covered a lot of ground. Let us know what you think.