Choosing an app development agency is tough. But so is working out what we look for in a client when you are an app development agency. Here at Apptaura we select our clients carefully. We have a list of requirements and everything.
There are thousands of posts out there about things to look out for when you are choosing an app development agency. Some of the advice is solid stuff. Seriously. Don’t ignore it. You do need to find a good app developer. One that can do multi-platform products across different OS. An app development agency with a great track record. One that can provide ongoing support for your app. Or even better, a development agency that can provide lifetime support and updates for your app. An app agency that can build products that integrate into your databases. Provide real time reporting. Bluetooth connectivity. The whole hog.
That’s vital. It’s incredibly important. And Apptaura do all that. Seriously. And we do it bloody well. But you’re not here for a sales pitch… are you?
Here at Apptaura we do things a bit differently. We pride ourselves on being an app development agency that really cares about what we do and what we build for our customers. We love writing great code. But we want that great code to be doing things to improve our world. So when it comes to deciding whether we’re going to pitch for your business… or even work with you… we run through a short checklist of our own.
That’s right. We’ve got a list of things that we look for in a client. Who we want to work with. In some cases, if the potential client fails to tick just one of these boxes we’ll thank them for their interest and walk away. In some cases it takes more than one fail for us to walk away. It’s very rare for us to work with someone who fails some of these checks. Rules are made to be broken of course. But we use this checklist of the six things that we look for in a client to guide us.
Wanna see it?
1) What we look for in a client: They have a problem
We can’t stress this enough. We’re looking for clients who have a problem. We don’t want problem clients.
That’s a whole different kettle of fish. What we are looking for is a client who actually has a problem in their business. We’re not going to sell ourselves to a client with a solution to a non-existent problem. Or create a ridiculously complex app that isn’t going to do anything that actually benefits the client. We sit down with our clients right at the start and establish whether an app is actually the way forward. How is building an app going to solve their problem. Is the app they have in mind technically possible? Will it be commercially viable. Can they support and maintain it.
Most of the time an app is the way forward. Sometimes they just need to buy a better printer. Or replace the hamster in the server room. Or update the sales packs they send their agents out with. We step in with our app consultancy hat on and work through the challenge with you before we pick up our tools or write a single solitary line of code.
2) What we look for in a client: They want to use technology to solve the problem
Ok, so this one sounds a little bit obvious right? A client only approaches an app development agency like Apptaura when they want to use technology to solve their problem.
However there is a difference between a client that wants to use an app to solve a problem and one that thinks that an app will solve all of their problems.
We pride ourselves on being able to tell the difference. What we look for in a client is a business or individual who wants to use technology to solve a problem that technology can actually solve. Look, we’re not going to build you an app that integrates into your home heating system when what you want is to be able to boil the kettle whilst sitting on the throne.
If your technological approach is fatally flawed, we’re going to point it out to you. Of course we’ll work with you to try to find a solution that works. You’ve got to be prepared to be told that it’s time to walk into the kitchen and boil the kettle yourself. If the solution to your problem should be an analogue one rather than a digital one we will let you know. We don’t want to build an app that is redundant before it even goes live.
We don’t claim to be experts on your business or what you do. But we’re good at apps. So trust us when we start talking about them.
3) What we look for in a client: They have a budget assigned to fix the problem
We do need to feed our developers from time to time. And pay the rent. Feed the electricity meter. Top up our coffee addiction. All of which means that we do need to get paid from time to time. So what we look for in a client is that they have a budget in mind for the project. When a client approaches us with an app idea, one of our first questions always is ‘what’s the budget looking like’.
Every now and then an app goes absolute gangbusters, raises billions in angel funding and is installed on hundreds of millions of phones. That accounts for less than 1% of 1% of all the apps that have been built and pushed to the app store. Hens teeth. Lottery winning odds. Getting struck by lightning whilst holding a winning lottery ticket odds.
It doesn’t often happen.
So when you pitch your idea as a profit share based on your future world dominance… well we’re probably going to decline. We do want your idea to succeed, we really do. We’re happy to give you some advice and could even point you in the right direction if you are still looking for an app developer. We know a few people in the industry who might be interested.
Look – we offer great value for money. We’re a lean mean team. You’re hard earned cash isn’t going to be splashed out on swanky Shoreditch offices packed with ping pong tables and arcade cabinets. (Okay, okay… we sometimes hook an N64 up to the telly in the office for a quick round of Goldeneye at lunchtime.) We’ll not be spending your hard earned dosh on fabulous parties, insane stunts or pricey advertising agencies. So when we quote you a price we are not padding it. Building an app isn’t cheap.
The more complexity there is in an app the more expensive it gets. Even if your idea is a blinding winner, if it’s going to take us 20 development days to build it, we’re not going to knock it together for 2 grand and a couple of boxes of AI and bluetooth connected inflatable dartboards. Sorry.
Actually… Not Sorry.
4) What we look for in a client: We can help them to change our world.
For the better.
Thought we’d better point that out. Cos you know. Do no evil and all that. Yeah, yeah, I know… everyone says that. Huge megacorps always say that they want to make life better when really it’s about making sure their CEO can build a summerhouse on Mars.
Apptaura exists to build apps that improve our world. Seriously. We’ve done the big evil corporate world. It sucked. We didn’t like it. Or what we built. That’s why we got together to create Apptaura. We want to write great code. Great code that actually does something to improve our world.
Now we’re not necessarily talking about solving the climate crisis or triggering world peace.
I mean we’d love to build an app that would do that. That’s a bit, umm, pie in the sky. Yes, we’ve built apps that help hard of hearing customers interact with their banks more smoothly and keep elderly and at-risk members of our community in touch with their families. That’s given us a nice warm feeling.
We love doing work like that, but get as much of a buzz from creating an app that improves the way a business works. An example? Say integrating an app into a sensor array in a hard to reach location. To provide real time feedback and monitor equipment in harsh environments. It’s not going to solve world hunger. It will make things a helluva lot better for the sensor manufacturers who can identify issues and run maintenance quickly and remotely.
See what we’re getting at?
5) What we look for in a client: We can make a real commercial difference to them.
Every now and then a client turns up with bags full of cash, eager to splurge on the app that will take their business to the next level. These clients have usually already built themselves a successful business, sometimes in their own little niche, perhaps in a wider function. In a lot of cases they are coming off a brilliant year and have cash to burn.
And they’ve heard that the future is digital. That everyone out there has an app these days. That to be successful you need to have an app of your own.
Now back when we worked in other agencies, that’s the type of client we’d dream of. We’d upsell the hell out of them. We’d pitch them projects so padded out that we’d use their budget to fund the six overrunning projects we’ve had on the backburners. Our account managers would sandbag it to deliver their target for the following quarter. They’d end up with an overpriced, overengineered product doomed never to break even let alone make a profit. And the thing is that we’d often know that right at the start. And we’d feel rotten.
Didn’t matter that the client didn’t actually need an app. Or that if they really did they could probably buy an off-the-shelf product. Or that really what they needed was a decent website.
Sometimes they even had a brilliant idea. But one that just wouldn’t turn a profit, or wouldn’t help their business grow. It could even end up becoming one of those money-sucking black holes that would damage their business.
When we meet those clients we usually have a pretty frank conversation with them. We don’t want to burn through a client’s budget and deliver a product we know isn’t going to make them any money. We’ll explain why we think it’s a no-goer and put them in touch with some other agencies if that’s really, really what they want. Or we’ll send them on their way with some solid advice, But we’ll likely pass on that project ourselves. It’s not that we couldn’t build it. We could. We just choose not to, because we believe it isn’t in the best interests of our client.
Are we wrong sometimes? Of course we are. Some of the projects we’ve not been sure about have gone on to be successful. Though none of those clients are planning on colonising Mars or buying their own private jets. Most of the time we’re able to talk the clients down. And every now and then we even manage to pitch them an idea for an app that will improve their business. Which makes us feel all warm and happy.
6) What we look for in a client: We gotta like you. (And you’ve gotta like us)
Ok, like not on a “let’s go out on a date and start planning a wedding” kinda way. Weird. No, we mean that we’ve got to want to work with you and build an app with you. We want to enjoy working with you because when we do we always find that the app we’re developing benefits. And the feeling has to be mutual.
I’m sure you’ve all been in one of those pitch meetings where the potential client is a bit of an… arse. You’ve sat there throwing glances at colleagues while a cold sense of foreboding settles into your gut. This is going to be a rough ride. And you know it.
The client departs and the room is silent. You’re all thinking it. This project is going to be a nightmare. People start finding ways to duck out. They have other projects to work on, holiday booked, dentist appointments. The money might be right. The development project is interesting. But if the client is a demonic megalomanic who’ll take pleasure in torturing you for the next six months… well we’d rather pass.
We’ve left this right to the end, because this is the one rule that is hardest to call.
Everyone has off days. We get that. Hell we have off-weeks when we’re total grumps. And if you catch us before our morning coffee we’re hard to stomach. First impressions can be way off. Once you get to know who you’re working with you’ll ‘get’ them, or discover that they were just having an off-day when you first met. Sure, they might be a hard taskmaster, but one who is genuinely passionate about their product. That’s great. We don’t mind being challenged. And it’s awesome when we can build a truly collaborative relationship with a client. Similarly we don’t mind when we’re handed an app project and don’t hear anything from the client until we deliver it. We’d prefer to work together, but you’ve chosen us because we know what we’re doing, so if you trust us, then that’s great.
However, there are those clients out there who for any number of reasons we’d prefer to walk away from. Look, we’re not going to turn you down simply because you’re a Man Utd fan, or because you think that Barbie Girl by Aqua is the greatest song ever created. Start off our conversation with a misogynistic or racist joke? Treat our developers badly? Just plain rude? Thanks for thinking of us. Sorry we can’t help.
No. Offering to pay us more won’t make us change our mind. Standing by our beliefs will probably mean we won’t get that private jet. But it’ll mean we stay who we are.
Are you a great person? With a great idea? And an awesome business that needs an app developed? Striving to make the world a better place? Perfect. Let’s grab a coffee and have a chat.