Episode 307:

As we continue the push into a post-pandemic world, many agencies are taking a hard look at how they approach business and what they want this new future to look like. Many are implementing long-term changes inspired by what the last 18+ months has taught them. Others have been inspired to make changes toward a more focused vision. Success with these changes starts with becoming crystal clear on what kind of agency you want to be.

In over 300 podcasts, I have never repeated or reposted an episode. Until now. Episode #100 entitled “Are You A Wonderbread Factory or An Artisanal Bakery?” is probably the single most common episode people mention when they bring up past episodes. The response has been so positive and consistent that it felt like a perfect episode to revisit as a guiding light toward defining your agency’s next chapter.

In this solocast, I discuss the spectrum of how agencies can do business, from the creative-driven, custom-designed artisan way to the numbers-driven, one-size-fits-all factory approach. There are pros and cons of both sides, and many agencies live somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. But having agency clarity about where you are and where you want to be is the surest way to ensure the kind of success you are striving for.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Agency Clarity

Agency Clarity

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why this topic seems more relevant today than when originally recorded
  • How agency focus sets up agency success
  • Defining the two ends of the spectrum of how agencies can approach business
  • The pros and cons of running a wonderbread style agency or an artisanal bakery
  • How to approach shifting your agency’s focus
“When you are super-efficient and super-effective, it is easy for you to make money by doing the same thing over and over and over again. So there is nothing wrong with that model. ” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “Have you really weighed the pros and cons of the spectrum of how agencies are structured, and are you in the right place?” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “You just have to decide why you’re in business and what you want to get out of your business.” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “For those of you that really want to sit at the C-Suite and have a strategic conversation with clients, the artisan bakery is a better place for you to do that.” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “If you aspire to not be as involved in the day to day, or to not be on site every day, maybe you want to have a winter home or side business, then for you, it may make more sense to go to the wonder bread side of the spectrum.” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “You cannot be so much of a generalist that you serve all of the people all of the time.” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “You don’t get to custom order if you’re building the wonder bread factory.” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

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About the Author: Drew McLellan

For 30+ years, Drew McLellan has been in the advertising industry. He started his career at Y&R, worked in boutique-sized agencies, and then started his own (which he still owns and runs) agency in 1995. Additionally, Drew owns and leads the Agency Management Institute, which advises hundreds of small to mid-sized agencies on how to grow their agency and its profitability through agency owner peer groups, consulting, coaching, workshops, and more.

  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for agency owners and their leadership teams
  • Offering AE Bootcamps
  • Conducting individual agency owner coaching
  • Doing on-site consulting
  • Offering online courses in agency new business and account service

Because he works with over 250+ agencies every year, Drew has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written several books, including Sell With Authority (2020) and been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal called his blog “One of 10 blogs every entrepreneur should read.”

Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency Podcast, present by White Label IQ. Tune in every week for insights on how small to mid-size agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money, and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want, down the road sellable. With 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. Thanks for coming back. Episode 305. So first of all, for many of you, if you listen to episode 300, which was my last solo cast, I just want to tell you that your feedback and your response to that episode, because I was a little anxious about sharing it with you. It was kind of personal for me. I just want to tell you that your reaction was really a great gift. So I’m glad that it resonated with so many of you. I’m glad that you were feeling some of the same things I was feeling, and that it felt like we were having a great conversation. So thanks for letting me do that, and thanks for responding as well as you did. So I’m super grateful.

This is another solo cast. So this is just you and me, no guest. Just want to talk to you about something that’s sort of on my mind. But before I do that, I want to tell you about some really killer workshops that we have coming up. So this is the start of workshop cycle for me, and we just have some great things coming up. So in a couple of weeks, August 17th and 18th, we’ll be in Chicago for the advanced AE bootcamp. So that’s for your AEs that have four years or more of experience. And we’ve had people there with 25 and 30 years of experience, and they walk away with some new learnings, some new skills, some new takeaways. So I promise there’s something for everybody.

We talk a lot about how to grow their book of business, how to serve many masters, because AEs do that. Right? They serve the clients, they serve the agency, they serve their internal team. So we talk about how to manage all of that. But at the advanced AE boot camp we talk a lot about delegation, and building teams, and sort of the financial responsibilities of being an account person. So that is August 17th and 18th. And then our entry-level AE bootcamp is September 14th and 15th. So that’s for folks who have less than four years of experience.

So we see a lot of project managers, account coordinators, junior AEs, AEs with a few years of experience. And we focus on some of the more basic things that go along with being a good account person. So we still talk about money. We still talk about responsibilities. We just talk about them at a less advanced level, as you might imagine, than the advanced one. Then December 9th and 10th, probably one of my very favorite workshops to teach is Money Matters. So for two days, all we do is talk about money. We talk about money in terms of agency math and the metrics that you need to run your business, so you know how to make decisions objectively.

Which, honestly, for many agency owners, even if you’ve been doing this 20 or 30 years, that section of the workshop is sort of mind blowing for a lot of agency owners who have been making decisions as best they can by the seat of their pants, and by gut, and now you can actually do that with data, and it’s pretty clear what you should or shouldn’t do. So love teaching that workshop. We talk about proposals. We talk about pricing. We talk a biz dev. We talk about your salary. We talk about how to make more money as an agency owner in a very tax friendly way. We talk about tax strategies. So every aspect of money we cover in that workshop. And what I love about teaching that workshop is that everybody walks away knowing that they can make more money, and keep more of the money they make. So super gratifying for me to teach.

Then in the turn of the new year, January 20th and 21st, my coauthor to the book, Sell with Authority, Stephen Woessner and I are teaching a workshop that basically helps you take the concepts of that book and put it into practice. This is a very different workshop for us, because it’s very hands-on. You are doing a lot of the work. We’re actually making you do the work while we’re together, which some folks think are great, and other people are like, “Oh my gosh. This is a lot of work.” And you’re right, it absolutely is a lot of work. But I know that if we show you philosophically or in theory how to build out a biz dev, a marketing and sales funnel for your agency, because that’s in essence what we’re doing, you leave that workshop with a complete funnel, exactly what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, who on your team’s going to do it, how are you going to resource it. You leave with all of that.

And I know if we walked you through the theory of it, and we didn’t actually make you do it, you would never go back to the office and do it. We’ve been teaching this workshop now for, gosh, I think three years now. And when I look back at the graduates of that workshop, and what’s happened to their business, and how they’ve grown their business, how the plan that we put together pre COVID helped them survive COVID, super gratifying to me the power of that workshop. So again, that’s January 20th and 21st. If you are frustrated with your biz dev efforts, and you are living off the feast and famine of referrals, and you want to actually attract, both go after and attract the perfect fit clients, this is the workshop you.

And then January 25th and 26th, our good friends from Mercer Island Group, Robin and Steve Boehler and Lindsay O’Neil will be back with us again to teach a workshop called Winning Business with Strategic Insights. In this workshop I play a very small role. I’m sort of the color man in the back of the room, so I can tell you without bias and without bragging, because it’s not me, this workshop is spectacular. So we’ve taught it now three times. We cap the attendance at 50 people, because it’s a very hands-on workshop. You’re going to be doing a lot of actual work, small group work, together with a team.

So we’ve [inaudible 00:06:38] three times. And I would say maybe 70 agencies have gone through the workshop in the three times, because a lot of times people will bring more than one person. So we’ve had 150 people go through, but I’m going to say that in most cases it’s about half of that is independent or unique agencies. Those agencies that have applied what they learned in that workshop have won over $50 million dollars in new AGI. And they all credit that workshop for the change in their win rate, for the size of their wins, for the significance of their wins. So I’m telling you, this workshop is a must do. If it’s not this January, then whenever we offer it again, you need to make sure you get there.

So the workshops in August and September are in Chicago. The workshops in December and January are in Orlando at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Resort, so not a bad place to be in December and January. It’s also Disney’s 50th anniversary, Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, if you care about that, or you’re inclined to enjoy that. So stick around for an extra couple of days. But anyway, those workshops, I’m proud of the content. I’m proud of the outcomes that people get from them. And I would really love for you to enjoy them as well. So I hope you can join us.

Also before I get started on my solo cast, as you know, I keep asking you to put your name in the hat, if you will, for a drawing for a free workshop, live workshop, or one of our on-demand workshops. And all you have to do is you have to go wherever you get your podcasts, wherever you download this podcast from, and leave us a rating and review, take a screenshot of it, and email it to me at [email protected] Because when I go and read the reviews… Which I do, and thank you all very much for your kind words. When I go to read those reviews, I can’t tell if your username is Hello Kitty 107. I don’t really know who that is. So you need to take a screenshot of it and send it to me, so I know it’s you. And then we throw your name in a hat for the drawing, and then every solo cast, so every fifth episode, I give away a free workshop or a free on demand course.

So this month’s winner is Abby Carey from Huebner Marketing. So congratulations, Abby, super excited for you. I will reach out to you and let you know that you won, but thanks for the great review, and let me know which workshop or on demand course you want to take. All right, here’s what I want to talk to you about today. So if you’re watching the video version of this, you can see that I’m wearing a t-shirt that says, “Be good to people.” It’s a black t-shirt. It’s got tiny little white writing. This is my flying t-shirt. I own four of these. So that one, even if I’m flying from city to city, to city, and I don’t have time to have the hotel do laundry, I can wear this t-shirt every time I get on a plane.

And the reason I started doing it was because, and this was actually pre COVID, people are snotty on planes. They’re mean to the flight attendants, they’re rude to each other. So it was just sort of my way of reminding everybody to chill out a little bit. And honestly, it reminds me too. When I’m wearing this shirt, I can’t really be a jerk, because people will be like, “Hello, read your own shirt.” So it just reminds me to stay calm. I hope that it reminds other people to stay calm, but this shirt has this bizarre impact on people. I’ve never worn this shirt where people don’t stop me and say, “Love your shirt, man,” or, “Great shirt,” or, “Great message,” or whatever.

But even more bizarre than that, because I have a lot of shirts that say a lot of things, and most people don’t comment on them. So there’s something about this shirt, but anyway, even more bizarre than people commenting on my shirt, this shirt makes people want to touch me, physically touch me. So I’ll be sitting on a plane, and I always get an aisle seat, and people will be walking by me to get to their seat, and they literally will tap my shoulder, or some guy the other day pumped my chest with his palm, “Good shirt, man.” It’s crazy.

Flight attendants are constantly like, “Oh, I love your shirt,” and touch my shoulder. Keep in mind this is in COVID, and when we’re not supposed to be touching each other, but there’s something about this message. There’s something about this shirt that just gets people talking and apparently touching. So I was on an elevator about a month ago, and wearing the shirt, because I had just flown in somewhere. And this elderly woman got on the elevator with me, and she said, “I love your shirt.” And I said, “Thank you.” And she reached out to touch my arm, and she said, “That’s a message everybody needs to remember.” And I said, “I don’t disagree.”

So that was coming back down elevator, and we were way at the top of the hotel. So every time we stopped, and this hotel only had a couple of elevators, and every time we stopped, which was pretty much every floor, and somebody would come on, she would go, “Do you like his shirt?” And then she would engage these people in this conversation about how it’s important for us to be good to people. By the time we got off the elevator, there were probably 10 or 15 of us on the elevator, it was packed. And she had talked to everyone on the elevator about my shirt. Everybody was engaging with each other. Everybody was laughing. Everybody felt connected all because of a message on a t-shirt.

So I know that’s crazy, and you’re like, “Okay, where’s the agency ownership lesson in all of this, Drew? And maybe you need to dress better on planes.” But I do have a point to all of this. I think the message is critical. And I think the message is critical all of the time. Being good to people I think is something we should all aspire to do. But I think it’s particularly important right now. I’m recording this in August of 2021, if you’re not listening to this in chronological order or in real time. So we have been “out of the pandemic” for several months. We’ve been out and about. We’ve been without masks everywhere but planes. Right now the Delta variant is causing some trouble, and we’re going to start seeing some more mask mandates, I think, for a period of time until we reach herd immunity.

But nonetheless, we feel like we are sort of out of it for the most part. Some people more than others, no doubt. I know everybody reacts differently to all of this. It’s been a heck of a year and a half, almost a year and three quarters now. Heck of a year and a half. And we went from crisis mode of the second quarter of 2020 with many of you losing a lot of clients, a lot of revenue, a lot of AGI, to climbing our way back out, but staying really in panic mode all through the end of 2020, where we were just scrambling to survive, and then to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us.

For some of you, you thrived by the end of 2020. You had one of your best years ever. Pre federal funding, or PPP if you’re in the US, or other federal funding if you’re outside of the US, but then we hit 2021 hard. And I think we feel like we have to make up for lost ground. I think we are feeling like we have to outpace, outrun whatever the next twist in this pandemic is. Right now we’re battling a huge employee shortage. So those of you that are growing, you’re struggling to find the people to help you grow. You’re being asked for ginormous raises from the people that you already have on staff. So it is in its own way a trying time.

And when I talk to you, and I talk to you often, I talk to you seven days a week some of you, not the same people, but what I’m saying is I’m talking to agents seven days a week. When I talk to you, here’s what I hear, “I’m exhausted. I’m so tired,” or, “I can’t find my mojo,” or fill in the blank, but you are feeling the weight of the last 18, 19, 20 months. And so I think my shirt has a message for us. I promise I’m not going to become a t-shirt philosopher, but I do think there is a message here that we need to hear.

So this idea of being good to people, I think it starts with us honestly being good to ourselves. I think you need to take better care of yourself. I know you feel like you have to keep pushing and running, and a lot of you are working short-staffed, so you’re working extra hours to try and fill in the gaps, but you’ve got to cut yourself a break. You have got to disengage. You have got to get away. You’ve got to indulge yourself in the family activities that fuel you, or being with friends, or sitting on a beach and reading a book, whatever it is that fills up your bucket, you have to make time for it. You have to be good to yourself.

And by the way, I don’t think this is about the big vacation. I don’t think this is a one and done sort of thing. And in fact, if you have to forgo the big vacation, then what I really care about is how are you taking care of yourself every day? So a lot of agency owners I’ve been talking to have sort of let their routines fade away. You were in such crisis mode in 2020 that your getting up early, or your exercising, or your meditating, or your praying, or your journaling, or whatever it was that you did that sort of helped you keep your head on straight, odds are, if you’re like a lot of other agency owners, that went away during the pandemic, and you haven’t really gotten back in the groove of it.

So step number one I think is for you to think about what did you used to do to center yourself, to ground yourself, to give yourself energy and focus? And how do you put that back into your schedule? Because a lot of you are still running like we’re in the middle of the pandemic, and we’re not. We need to get back to the things that fueled us. The things that helped us stay focused and grounded. And so, again, that might be a morning routine for you. It might be a mid day walk, or a couple of you that I know swim at the Y over the lunch hour. So whatever it is that gave you that continuity, that predictability, that faith, that feeling that you could accomplish whatever you wanted to accomplish, whatever sort of helped you get into that head space, it’s time to get back to it.

It’s also time to get back to connecting with people that you have not connected with for a while. It is time for you to reengage with the world. It’s time for you to go golfing with your buddies, or planning a spa day with your friends, or whatever it is. But for most of us, most of us agency owners, one of the reasons why we love the agency life is because we love people. And so figuring out who your people are, and again, it might be friends, it might be family, it might be your coworkers, figuring out who your people are, and making sure that you’re spending the time with them that you should is important.

And this is another habit that we allowed COVID to break for us. And I want you to put it back. I want you to put it back in place, because it’s part of how you take care of yourself. You know what? A lot of you are not sleeping well. A lot of you got in the habit of maybe one, or two, or three, or four more glasses of wine than normal a night or a week. So I just want you to sort of do a self assessment of how good are you doing at taking care of yourself? And what do you need to do different to really allow yourself to replenish and restore so you can come back to the office, and be at the office, literally or figuratively, depending on what you’ve decided to do, whole, and strong, and happy, and healthy?

And so I want you to be good to people. You being a person that you should be good to. So that’s number one. Number two is I want you to think about your team. Your team is tired. Your team is stretched. Your team is feeling a lot of pressure. Odds are you’re short staffed right now, if you’re like most agencies. So your team is really being called upon to go above and beyond. They’re also hearing from other friends how everybody is getting raises, and better jobs, and all the other stuff that’s happening out in the world. They’re watching their friends go back to college, or move in closer with mom and dad, or whatever it is. They’re just seeing the shifts.

And so not only are they tired, but they’re asking themselves, “Maybe I should be doing something different too? Maybe I should be doing something more significant? Maybe I should join the Peace Corps? Maybe I should work for a nonprofit?” So I think COVID just triggers a lot of those thoughts. And on top of that, your team is really feeling the demands of the work. So you’ve got to be good to your people. And so, for example, go through your roster, and see who has not taking a day off for a while, and gently encourage them to take some time off. Remind them that that’s why they have the vacation time or the PTO time, and really encourage them to take off and to unplug.

So a lot of your employees when they go on vacation, they’re kind of like you, they don’t actually go on vacation. They just work from a different location. That is not healthy. And for both you and for your team, they need time away. They too need to replenish, and hang out with people that they love, doing things that they love. And if they don’t do that, in the short run you’re like, “Oh, thank God that they’re not going anywhere on vacation, because we have so much work.” In the short run I totally get that, but in the long run, that does not serve you well, does not help you grow the business, because they’re too wiped out to do that. And so, number one, make sure they are taking vacation.

Number two, right now people need someone to listen to them more often, and with more depth, and compassion than they have in the past. So for the team members that you have one-on-ones with, checking in with them personally and talking about personal things, that’s not bad business. That’s really smart business. That’s I care about you, and you’re a part of my team, so I want to invest this time in you to understand how you’re doing, and what you need from me, not as a boss necessarily, but as a person. So I think number one, vacations, number two, checking in on them, and just checking their mental health status. It’s astonishing how candid people will be when you actually ask.

But just say, “You know what? On a scale of one to 10, where are you sort of emotionally right now? Where are you mental health wise?” And just see what they say. And if you have people who are not doing well in that arena, then having resources for them, whether it’s through your health insurance, or some other local resource, whatever it may be, but being able to point them in the right direction, and encourage them to make an appointment, if they haven’t, and really just encouraged them to take care of themselves better. Right? I think another thing you can do to take care of your people and to be good to your people is you’ve got to get better at calling out when somebody does something great.

We’re pretty quick and pretty good at noticing when somebody does something wrong, but maybe we could go out of our way to really encourage and lift up our team by recognizing when they’ve gone above and beyond, or they’ve done something spectacularly well, or they’ve done something for the first time, and it went well. We have lots of opportunity to celebrate inside our agency. And yet for most agencies, we don’t make this a priority. And I’m not sure why that is. What I do know is that it’s not healthy for your culture. Your culture needs to know that for the most part we’re getting it right. And one of the easiest ways to sort of reinforce that is this idea of thanking them and celebrating the work that they do, and the importance, and the contributions. So that’s another way for you to take care of your team.

And last but not least, a couple years ago in our agency ad research series, we talked to almost a thousand agency employees, and we asked them, “What was the most important thing, what kept them at the agency the most?” And interestingly it wasn’t money. It was that I get to have learning opportunities, that I get to continue to add skill sets. I get to continue to mature my ability to do my job, and my agency invests in me in that. And by the way, invest in me doesn’t mean you have to pay for everything every time. I think it’s important, kind of like when your kids want to buy a car, even if you’re going to help them, you want them to have to feel the pain of actually putting out some money.

I don’t think training for your team has to always be on your time and your dime. I think it’s a mix. And I think that’s a message that you have to deliver to your employees. Look, we’re super excited to invest in you, and to send you to this workshop, or that thing, or have you watch this webinar, or whatever it is, but this is about your professional development. This is about your professional growth. So you’ve also got to have some skin in the game. So it’s going to be maybe it’s a we buy one, you buy one, or maybe it’s you split the difference, or maybe it’s, well, okay, we’ll pay for two thirds of it, and if you get an A or a B, then we’ll pay for the last third. I do think they should have some skin in the game.

So I do think they should have to understand, and it may not be money, it may just be their time. It’s like, look, professional development is not always on the agency’s time or dime. Sometimes you have to expend some time or some money to keep getting better at your job. So all of that said, the survey, that was the number one thing that they wanted the most, that they would stick around for because of. So odds are you shut all of that down when the pandemic hit, if not before, and it’s time to reinstate that. It’s time to send your people. And I’m not saying this so you send them to our workshops, although we’re always happy to see them. Figure out what they need, and it may be a very tactical skills kind of workshop, and it may be a more philosophical, bigger picture workshop. It may be an AE bootcamp, or Money Matters for your CFO, but maybe it’s not.

I don’t care about where you send them. I care that you’re willing to invest again in them, and that they know you’re willing to invest in them, because that is A, you end up with a better, smarter employee who adds more value, but B, you’re saying to them, “You don’t need to go anywhere else to get this. We’ll help you keep growing in your career. Don’t listen to that recruiter, or that person on LinkedIn, or whatever it is. Be content and happy here.” Right?

Okay. So I think the third place where we can pour into this idea of being good to people is with our clients. So clients are for the most part freaking out right now. They survived COVID and/or or they landed somewhere new because of COVID, but nonetheless, they are gainfully employed. They’re your client contact, and your job is honestly to make them look like rock stars. I mean, really make them look amazing, whether it’s in a sales meeting, or it’s in some big corporate event, or it is just giving them the fodder in an email to put at the bottom of their signature that says something good about themselves.

But it’s our job to help clients get a raise, get a promotion, get a bonus. That’s our job. Yes, we do marketing, but really what we’re helping them do is check the boxes and get to the KPIs that they’re being held responsible for, and so we should care about that. We should care about how they’re evaluated, and what are the incentives. And I remember an agency telling me that when they had this conversation with the client, the client said, “Well, actually, I get a bonus if we don’t spend my whole budget.” Which is sort of odd. Normally clients are hopping to spend their budget, so that they get the same budget the next year.

But anyway, in this organization, for whatever reason, this person was rewarded when they didn’t spend all of the money. And so their agency partner said, “Okay, well, we’re going to make sure that there’s always money at the end of the year in that [Kiddy 00:26:19]. So how much is enough? So the client told them, and they were like, “Okay, well, then that dollar amount that is already in the savings account, if you will, that dollar amount is in your budget. We’re just not going to spend it.” And they don’t. So now this guy gets his bonus every year. So having the conversation with the client of, “Look, how are you rewarded? What metrics are you being measured by? How can we your agency, your partner make sure that we help you hit those metrics?”

Yes, we’re going to look at the bigger picture, and the bigger marketing picture, and the businesses KPIs, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also need to think about yours, and making sure that we help you. So I think that’s one way to be good to people, to clients. I think another way to be good to your clients is by recognizing that they don’t know everything that you think they know, and that they also appreciate professional development and learning opportunities. This is different. You can’t send a client to a workshop, but you can invite them to go with you on a tour of something, or to meet with someone prior to a conference. Think about where they’re going to be, and how they like to learn, and then augment it with your own learning.

So whether it’s you’re having a half day SEO workshop right before the big trade show of your clients, or whatever it may be. You bring a speaker in that is going to be both inspirational and educational, but think about how you can help your client grow and be better through some education, and how do you subtly have those conversations and extend those invitations to that client? Another thing I think we can do right now with clients to sort of show them that we’re ready to be good to people is being more flexible than usual around billing, and terms, and all of that. Now, I’m not saying go six months without getting paid. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is maybe you go after it a little slower, and maybe you give them a little more breathing room, and maybe you rethink who’s having the conversation with that client. So that you can have it in a really gentle, and respectful, and kind way. And that may be changing up who has the conversation. So be thinking about all of that.

Another way that I think we can be helpful with clients around money is that we can demonstrate to them, and a lot of you do this anyway, but maybe you merchandise it a little better. We demonstrate that we are good stewards of their money, that we are mindful of their budget. We are mindful of working with vendors who sort of follow and respect the client’s point of view and your point of view, that you’re bringing good partners to the party, and that they are cost-effective, and we’re getting multiple bids for any out of pocket expenses. So that the client sees that we are being good to them, and we are watching their money, and we are watching their KPIs. I think that’s super important.

And then I think finally, the last way… I’m sure there are more ways, and I’m sure you can think about them, but just in terms of sort of length, I’m going to wrap this up in terms of the client, but they’re human beings. And whether you know it, or like it, or not, they rely on you and your team a significant amount. Again, when you do your job well, they get to keep their job. When you do your job badly, or something is missed, they lose their job. And so it may not be the same day, but that puts them on the list. So they’re human beings, and they don’t have a lot of people to talk to about work stuff, because their spouse probably doesn’t want to hear about it all day, every day when they get home. And internally, it’s politically not wise to express yourself, or share your worries, or constantly be having the raise or bonus conversation.

So they need some place to vent. They need someplace to create new ideas and imagine what’s possible. And you can be that for them. And they also just need someone to talk to, just like everybody else does. Asking them how they’re doing around COVID, and what habits they’ve broken that maybe they want to reinstate, or what good things came out of COVID? For a lot of people, there were some very significant silver linings to COVID. But my point is, don’t just treat them like a client, treat them like a human being, and treat them like a human being that you like.

So take them out to breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, whatever it is, and just have a really honest human to human conversation, and be ready to share more of yourself, and your sort of backstory, if you will, because that’s what you’re going to be asking them to do as well. All right? So again, start with you, be good to you. And in all the ways that I listed, be good to yourself. If you don’t, if you think back to episode 300, one of the things I said was, “We are the captain of this ship, and our job is to get the ship, which is the agency in the analogy, to get the ship through the rough storm and to calm waters.” And I know that is the case. I’ve watched hundreds of you do it in the last 18 months.

But my point is this, the ship is in a lot of trouble if the captain is down. And so you’ve got to figure out how to take care of yourself, because sooner or later, if you don’t, your body is just going to take over and decide it’s going to take care of itself the way it wants to, which usually has you flat on your back in bed for a week or two, because you just can’t get up and get moving. So preempt your body’s attack on you, and whether it’s a lot of little short durations trips, or it’s a long trip, whatever it is to fill your bucket, do that.

So be good to yourself, take care of yourself. Your team, remember, they’re tired, they are fatigued. That’s a great word for what they are. They are fatigued from the lack of team members, the pace after COVID, which for most of you picked up dramatically. So they need to be taken care of as well, and for you to be good to them. And then last, but certainly not least, are our clients. And we talked about some ways that you can serve them well.

So anyway, that wraps up this episode, my t-shirt philosophy episode we’ll call it. But I want to remind you how important this is that you take care of yourself, that you can take care of your team, you take care of your clients. You are the captain of the ship, if you remember episode 300. You are the captain of the ship, and the ship is your agency. And your job is always to get the ship to back to harbor or to safe waters. And you can’t do that if you’re not at full strength. So take care of yourself, so you can take care of, and you can be good to your team and your clients. That’s the critical thing. Be good to yourself first.

This is, I guess, part of the put the mask on you first before you put it on anyone else from the safety videos and the safety messages in planes. Take good care of yourself. Be good to you. You’re an important person in the people category. So be good to people starts with you, and taking care of you. And then you have enough strength, enough gas in the tank, enough bandwidth, to be good to your employees, and to be good to your clients. And honestly, this isn’t a COVID thing. It’s not a 2021 thing. I think it’s more important because of what we’ve all gone through, but I think this is important all the time. We have to be better at this.

And it’s so easy to run yourself ragged, and to burn the candle on both ends in the middle. And I know that me telling you that I’m recording this at 4:00 in the morning is probably not encouraging you to listen to what I’m saying. I certainly am not perhaps demonstrating it myself today, but I promise, I do take care of myself, and it allows me to take care of you. And it allows me to take care of my team. So invest in yourself, invest in the team, invest in your clients, be good to people. And the cool thing about that is is when you’re good to people… And that’s kind of what this t-shirt has taught me is I wear this goofy t-shirt to try and encourage people, and to try and remind them that we’re capable of being good to one another, and it comes back to me multi-fold with, again, the patting on the shoulder, the guy thumping my chest on a plane, or the lady in the elevator, and all the other people who react to this shirt.

It’s far more. I get far more from it than probably what I give off by wearing it. So enjoy being able to reap the benefits of that as well, but it starts with being good to people, and that starts with being good to yourself. All right. That wraps up this episode. But before you go, a couple of things. One, I want to thank our friends at White Label IQ for being our presenting sponsor. They have a special deal for you as a podcast listener. So head over to whitelabeliq.com/ami, and they have some free hours on a project. So go take full advantage of that. You’ll love them. Yes, they do some offshore work, but the people that you would deal with are all here in the US, mostly in Colorado. And so go check them out. They’re good people. They do great work, and I am grateful for their sponsorship.

And then last but not least, I will say this. We’re coming up on… Again, if you’re listening to this real time, this is going to air on the 9th of August, which is also the day before the Build a Better Agency Summit happens on the 10th and the 11th. We have sold that workshop out or that conference out. We have no more seats, which is amazing given the time of year this is and the craziness of the pandemic. So I’m so grateful to all of you for being a part of this community. This community we’ve built together, whether it’s in the Facebook group, by the way, I hope you join us there. Whether it’s in the Facebook group, or it’s here on the podcast, or it happens in the workshop, or our peer groups, I’m so grateful for the community that I’ve built, and that we’ve built together, and is built in a way that is meaningful because we exchange energy. We exchange help. We exchange information.

So I’m grateful that hopefully a bunch of you listening I’m going to see you at the conference in a day or so. And if you couldn’t make it this year, which I totally understand, we are coming back in May of 2022 for the next version of this conference, but I’m just grateful that you’re a part of this community, and that you draw from it, whether it’s just listening to the podcast, or however you engage with us. Super grateful that you’re here. So thank you so much for that. All right. This wraps it up. I’ll be back next week with a guest. If you’re looking for me, you can reach me at [email protected] If you want to win a seat at a free workshop or an on-demand course, do just what Abby Carey did, which is she just left a rating and review on the website where she downloads this podcast, took a screenshot of it, sent it to me, and voila. Now she’s got a $2,000 workshop seat that is available to her. So it’s all good. I will be back next week. Thanks for listening. I am grateful for you, really grateful.

Speaker 2:

That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build a Better Agency Podcast. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to mid-sized agencies. Don’t forget to subscribe today, so you don’t miss an episode.