Episode 373:

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’re thinking, “I’m doing too much,” or “I don’t have time to be creative anymore,” get comfortable because this episode is for you. Today, we’re talking about optimizing your agency workflow through outsourcing and hiring so that you can get your hands out of everything and get back to doing more of the work you love.

Manish Dudharejia of E2M Solutions is an expert in white-label outsourcing, agency workflow optimization, and hiring the right people to do the tasks you don’t need to be completing. In this episode, we’ll discuss what a white-label agency is and the value it can bring you, how to find the right mix of experience and trainability in new hires, project management, niching, and why you must find more free time as an agency owner.

Don’t be an obstacle to your growth. Instead, outsource and hire people who want to scale with you. You’ll quickly find that your time finally becomes yours again.

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 workflow

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why agency owners are frequently stretched too thin
  • The right combination of experience, value, and trainability to look for in new hires
  • What can white-label outsourcing do to ease your workload?
  • The importance of having solid processes and workflows
  • Why niching matters when scaling your agency
  • The do’s and don’ts of niching and scaling
  • Why you should be obsessed with freeing up your own time

“You start getting into trouble where you are running short of time because you want to accomplish more, but you can’t because you are doing many things that can be done easily by someone else.” @Manish_Analyst Click To Tweet “Not everyone can afford highly experienced. If possible, you want to go after moderate-level experience, so you don't end up paying a lot and don’t have someone to train from scratch.” @Manish_Analyst Click To Tweet “Running as an agency owner and leader, your job is to find order in the chaos.” @Manish_Analyst Click To Tweet “You want to introduce new services that are most beneficial to your clients, but at the same time, it should not dilute your profit or your attention from your primary offering.” @Manish_Analyst Click To Tweet “Be obsessed with freeing up your time. People think if they get free, they’ll get bored. It's okay to be bored because boredom will lead to creativity.” @Manish_Analyst Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Manish:

Resources:

Manish Dudharejia:

It doesn’t matter what kind of an agency you run. Traditional digital media buying, web dev, PR, whatever your focus, you still need to run a profitable business. The Build A Better Agency podcast presented by White Label IQ, will show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. Let us help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want down the road sellable. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey everybody. Drew McClellan here from Agency Management Institute. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. We have been on a six-week travel JAG for peer group meetings and some consulting and I have to tell you, it’s pretty good to be back in the home office back in Denver and back with the beast. It feels good to not be traveling. Okay, granted we’re getting on a plane tomorrow, but we’ve been home for a couple weeks and that feels good.

It is a busy season for us always at AMI, that’s October, November, run up to Thanksgiving and then things slow down, but I just do want to remind you that we have a couple seats left for Money Matters, which is December 5th and sixth in Orlando, Florida. And, we are teaching the other two workshops, Build and Nurture your Agency Sales Funnel and Mercer Island Group is back with a brand-new workshop all about the written tools that we use to secure an opportunity to pitch for a piece of business. Case studies, cover letters, RFP responses, proposals, how do we write all of those in a way that earns us the opportunity to sit in the conference room as a finalist if it’s a formal shootout kind of a thing or how does our proposal earn us the right to have the business?

They’re going to take real life examples and show us what is and isn’t good about them and help us improve. So in fact, if you are an attendee, one of the options you have is to have some of your materials critiqued potentially by Mercer Island Group, which would be a super added value for you. It’s absolutely free, when normally obviously they charge for that. So if you are interested in that, head over to the Agency Management Institute website and under how we help find workshops and you’ve got Money Matters, you’ve got Build and Nurture your Agency’s Sales Funnel and you’ve got Get It Right, which is the Mercer Island Group workshop. Check those out.

All right, so let me tell you a little bit about our guests. So his name is Manish Dudharejia and he runs a company called E2M. And what they are is they are a full stack, white label digital agency that serves mostly agencies. What I want to talk to him about today is not the work that they do, but I want to talk to him about his observations because he works with, I think it’s over 150 agencies, and we’re going to talk a little bit about what agencies do well when they outsource and what they struggle with. Particularly some of the places where he observes, it’s interesting, an agency owner observing other agency owners that he observes that agencies get themselves into trouble. I think it’s going to be a really interesting conversation and I am anxious for you to meet him. He’s a delightful human being. So, let’s jump over to him and get started.

Welcome to the podcast, thanks for joining us today.

Manish Dudharejia:

Thank you Drew. Thank you for having me. Excited to speak with you today.

Drew McClellan:

Tell everybody a little bit about your background, what you do today, how you got there, so they can of understand how so much about agencies.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, I run E2M, I’m the founder and CEO of E2M. I started E2M 10 years back, in 2012, with a clear problem to solve. Helping agencies solve bandwidth and capacity problems. I think regardless of the business you do, you really want to understand your strong position in the ecosystem. What real world problem are you solving, right? I was observing the space, the entire internet space 10 years back, and then I realized that there is this agency ecosystem where there are so many agency owners who really want to scale and grow their agency business, but they do not want to run into operations related pain and problems, and that’s where I thought to start E2M and started this agency. The rest is history. It’s been 10 years. As we speak, we work with 150 plus digital agencies all across the US ranging from all different sizes. From solar agency owners to enterprise level agencies as well. We mainly help them solve the bandwidth and capacity problems with our wide level services.

Drew McClellan:

Okay and you’ve got about, I think you said before we hit the record button, about 160 employees?

Manish Dudharejia:

That’s correct. As I speak, we are a team size of 160 plus experts. That includes WordPress experts, software experts, SCO experts and content experts.

Drew McClellan:

Okay. All right, awesome. You have a unique vantage point where you are seeing hundreds of agencies every year and you’re watching them work from afar, but then you’re also having to work with them. Let’s talk about some of the observations you’ve made of where agencies get themselves into trouble and how you interact with that. I know one of the things you talked about was that, and this is something as you know as a podcast listener, that I talk about all the time, but one of the things you mentioned to me is that agency owners try to do too much of the work themselves and they’re stretched too thin. So can you talk a little bit about your observations there?

Manish Dudharejia:

Sure. I think what happens with the agency owners, and I’ll speak specifically about solar to small midsize agency owners where they try to accomplish a lot by themselves. I’ll go a little bit on the deeper side why it happens. Generally what happens, the kind of role we are into, we get that role into our head very quickly. So it kind of happened with me as well. A few years back I got that CEO role into my head and when your role is starting to take over your personality, a lot of time it happens that you stop thinking about what is your true potential. As a CEO I used to get involved into literally everything. I wasn’t doing purely micromanagement, but some sort of, and then you realize that this is something you start getting into trouble where you are running short of time because you really want to accomplish more but you cannot just because you are doing a lot of things which can be done easily by someone else.

I follow a lot of creative and smart people on Twitter and then Noel is my favorite guy. I don’t know, you might be reading about it, his Twitter handle is Noel [inaudible 00:07:47], he always speaks to ask a simple question to yourself. If you are doing any job, is that something, can you get it done by someone else? If answer is yes, just outsource, otherwise do it. You should be doing all the creative stuff and just get everything else outsourced and get it done by someone else so you can use your potential to do that most creative things.

One of the most common observations I have seen over the last 10 years, like agency owners, if their background is design, they will still be involved into design, which is fine, right? But you still have to get away from that in order to scale your agency. To give you my example, my story is my core background is in SEO, purely [inaudible 00:08:38]. Which I’ve been doing since 2007, it’s been 16 years and I used to do it since last few years, still 15 or 16 and at one point I had to decide to move away from that. I was still getting involved into clients project strategy, which is fine, I still love doing it, but at some point you have to get away from that. So then you can enroll into something which you are meant to do as an agency owner. Because there are a lot of things on a strategy side, on a marketing side, defining on a processes side, on a branding site. So at one point few years back I decided okay, I really want to decrease my involvement and started building a team. Since then, we have never looked back in terms of growing our company. Often it happens that agency owners themselves become an obstacle to growth.

Drew McClellan:

That’s right. Yeah, we talk about this a lot that agency owners, with all good intentions become the bottleneck in the workflow, and that’s because they’re not doing just their job. One of the things that I talk about a lot is that an agency owner’s job is very unique. There are things that an agency owner has to do that no one else can do.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yes.

Drew McClellan:

And if they’re too busy doing design or account service or whatever it is, then the reality is the agency owner’s job doesn’t get done. Nobody does it.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yep.

Drew McClellan:

Right? So, talk about how when you, were still in the sitting at your desk doing SEO for clients, and when you decided to stop doing that, what happened to your growth potential? What happened to the speed at which you grew?

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, the speed was obviously not which I was anticipating, which I was hoping for obviously, because like you said, I was the bottleneck for a good intention. The challenge was that you still want to solve your clients in the best way and still want to free up your time. Your intentions are good. Whenever you do this transition, you want to make sure that your clients should not feel any difference. Obviously when you move away from your job, main primary role, you’ll obviously get it done by your team member. So you want to make sure you hire the right people and one of the mistakes, which I always made is, I was trying to find people who are exactly like me and that was the biggest mistake I made and I failed terribly. Then I switched the mindset where I was like I’ll have to find the people who have the right traits, and skills is something I can still train.

I hired a person who wasn’t having too much experience in SEO, but he was exactly able to think like me. When you want to free up your time you want to look for people who can do that job where the right mindset, where the mindset like you, the rest you can still train because obviously they need to know the basics. You don’t want to hire someone who is just a grad from a college or university or school. The most important thing you want to find is the right traits the person should have and rest you can train, and then you start delegating gradual.

One of the things which I would advise agency owners is, let’s say right now you are doing a customer service or a project management. Let’s consider a customer service. You are handling an account manager. Now, when you are hiring someone and you want to delegate that team, you have to start speaking highly about your account manager to your clients from-

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, right. You have to talk them up so they don’t feel like they’re getting the B team, right?

Manish Dudharejia:

That’s correct, yeah.

Drew McClellan:

Absolutely. And again, I think that is A, part of hiring somebody that you can talk up, that you’re proud of, that you’re excited about all of that. And one of the things that a lot of agency owners are talking about right now is we used to hire kids right out of college. They had very little experience but they were inexpensive, we could afford them and then our whole plan was we were going to train them up. I think one of the things that has shifted in this post COVID world where everybody’s not in the office every day, where your people are hybrid, is that it’s much more difficult.

We counted on the fact that the young employee was going to hang out with some of our senior people or us and they were going to learn by observing. Now the way many agencies are working, that becomes much more challenging. It’s hard to put a 23-year-old in front of a client and say you know what, she’s got this, she’s awesome, you’re going to love her. Now there are some 23-year-olds where they come ready to put out in front of clients, but a lot of them need a lot of grooming.

So to your point, part of an agency owner’s ability to get out of the day to day, to get back to actually doing their job, is going to be thinking about at what level they hire. Do they have to hire somebody with a little more experience, with a little more client service savvy, if you will? If they’re going to put them in front of the client without a lot of training and without somebody else with them. Which is the whole goal, is that you don’t want to double up your team.

So you’re right, I think being mindful of A, what am I doing? That’s a great question to ask. What am I doing that somebody else could do?

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah.

Drew McClellan:

I think the other part of that is they don’t have to do it exactly how you do it. They just have to get the outcome that you would’ve gotten if you had done it. So, what am I doing that somebody else could do? How do I actually focus on what my job is versus what everybody else’s job is? And three, who can I hire to take out some of these tasks? I think most agency owners grew up in the agency business. So they were an account service person or a writer or a designer or they were in the code or whatever, but they grew up in the agency business. The one thing that they are absolutely confident they’re good at is what they’ve done for decades before they own their agency. I think it’s a natural achilles heel, if you will, to lean in and do the things you’re really good at that you can do really efficiently and fast because you think this is great, I’m fast, we can bill more, we’ll make more money. But again, that means nobody’s doing your job. Right?

Manish Dudharejia:

Here is from my experience, few things I can share. First when you want to hire someone, I understand a lot of agencies are going after hiring kids who are just getting out of school, which is fine. So, it’s okay to hire highly experienced or moderate level experience or just someone like kids passing out from the school. All you just have to … obviously everyone have a different budget. Not everyone can afford highly experienced. If possible, you want to go after moderate level experience so you don’t end up paying a lot and you do not have someone to train from the scratch. However, that is nothing like that you cannot hire highly experienced people. If you want to hire a highly experienced people, this is an exercise which I do, you want to make sure they are very open to the change. A lot of times what happens, people who are highly experienced, they’re resistant to change. When you are specifically hiring highly experienced people, you want to ask them the one question, how many times did you have to change into your previous jobs in order to be successful? Right?

Drew McClellan:

Right. And what did you have to change?

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, what did you have to change?

Drew McClellan:

I mean you want to know that they were adaptive to their employers methodologies-

Manish Dudharejia:

That’s correct.

Drew McClellan:

… and systems and process, right?

Manish Dudharejia:

That’s correct. If the answer is no, they did not have to change at all, you don’t want to hire that person, right?

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s such a great point. I mean, if somebody’s five or 10 years into their career, they think they’ve got it, they know how to do it. They do, but they may not do it the way you want them to do it.

Manish Dudharejia:

Exactly.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Manish Dudharejia:

In order to do that task, specifically with hiring the highly experienced people and if you identify they have not had to change in their previous jobs, they are definitely not the right hire because they will be very resistant to changes which you will be producing to them.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Manish Dudharejia:

For a moderate level you just want to see traits. Do they got the right traits. So I always give this example of my classic example is, let’s say if you are hiring a project manager, essentially the project manager is the person who should be really good at dealing with people. Now, if you take an example of any PMP certification courses that are happening outside, they only talk to you, they only teach you about how to manage the projects, different types of project management methodology like a child, but they don’t talk about how to deal with people. How to build a rapport with people, some of the leadership qualities. So, those are the things you really want to test with people when you are hiring some moderate level. Then now, exactly they should be really good at observation that should be curious. One of the good things I read recently is a product managers or project managers without curiosity become a liability to the company all the time.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Well, the reality of a project manager is they have to be good with people because they’re trying to get the entire agency to do things that they may or may not want to do in a timeframe they may or may not want to do them in. So you’re right, and I think the other part of that is the curiosity is an interesting point because every day they’re presented with problems. We have too much work here, we don’t have enough work here, this person’s overloaded, this person doesn’t have anything to do. And if they’re not curious about how did we get in this position, how do we avoid doing this again, filling in all those blanks, they can’t actually solve the bigger problems that cause the issues inside the project management system. So you’re right, a curiosity about how do we get here and how do I fix it this time? But also, how do I prevent it from happening again is an absolute must in that kind of a position.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, that is very important because not at any organization … when someone is getting on board as an agency owner, you should not be able to train them and provide them every possible information. A lot of things they have to figure themselves out and figuring things out that those are the common things like where they need observation and curiosity. They really have to observe, so if you’re hiring a project manager, an account manager, you want to make sure that you provide them all your previous call recordings, at least 10, 20 call recordings that how you talk to your client, right?

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, but remember, most agencies do not record their calls.

Manish Dudharejia:

So that is the most important thing. You want to record your sales calls. This is what we do at our end. Whenever we have someone joining in a project management, account management or sales team, first few days at least for a week, we just ask them to observe how we speak. Exactly how we talk to our customers, what are some of the etiquette we follow. That is super, super important that you have to record the calls and pass those recordings to them and then ask them to come up with the questions. What did you observe? What are the things you learned from that? What at least come up with the five questions. If they are not coming up with any questions, which means they are not curious. They haven’t paid attention to that. After that, get them on the call, take them with you on the call and you lead the call.

Drew McClellan:

Well as you know, many agencies have abandoned the telephone. They don’t talk to their clients very much anymore. It’s all email now, which I think is a problem. So A, they don’t record their calls, which is an interesting comment from you. But B, it raises the issue of a lot of times there’s not very much to record. I will say this, I think that one of the plus sides of COVID was the moving meetings to some sort of a recorded video meeting, like a Zoom or a Teams or something like that. So I do think there is the equivalent of that probably from the agency perspective, which is if the agency is keeping the recordings of their status meetings or things like that with clients, they would be able to observe those and watch how the interaction happens.

In some ways maybe that’s even more valuable because it’s not just audio, but how are you engaging with the client visually? What are all of that. So a point well taken.

The second thing when you and I were chatting that you said you observed that keeps agencies from being able to scale and be as successful as they want to is that they lack a strong process. As a partner to agencies, I can imagine you often have to plug into their work process or workflow, so project management software, whatever that may be, to be of service to them. Is that accurate?

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah. So what happens when you really want to scale, you have to ask yourself, what are the things am I doing manually right now? What are the things which is creating a back and forth? What are the things which is increasing the project cycle in terms of delivery? You have to literally check out that a lot of agencies we work with, when they start, we tell them … they are like we’ll be talking over emails or Slack or mainly and we explain to them that these are just the communication tools, they are not the project collaboration tool.

Drew McClellan:

Right, right, right. Yeah, Slack is not a project management software. Yes.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yes, so when we talk to some of our agency partners, when we get them on board, we ask them because we have a process where we become a part of their collaboration tool to make their life easy. We ask them, “What tool do you guys use?” And they’re like, “No, we are using Slack.” And we have to educate them. That’s not a collaboration tool, it’s a communication tool.

Then we guide them, we can use Basecamp, Trello, Monday, ClickUp, Sana, and obviously ClickUp has been coming lately as a highly recommended, but that’s something you have to figure out. Every tool has its own pros and cons. You have to make sure what process you really want to have at your agency and accordingly you finalize the tool. Everything, even for proposal, you want to have tool that are like Proposify and there are … you should have a CRN for all the leads. We use Streak, which is inside Gmail and believe me, we started using Streak a couple of years back-

Drew McClellan:

What is it called? Spell it please.

Manish Dudharejia:

It’s called Streak, S-T-R-E-A-K

Drew McClellan:

Okay. Streak. Okay.

Manish Dudharejia:

Streak which is inside Gmail.com.

Drew McClellan:

Got it.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, it’s a really good tool we haven’t lost-

Drew McClellan:

That’s interesting. I have not heard of anybody mention that yet. So that’s a, that’s a CRM inside Gmail?

Manish Dudharejia:

Yes, it’s a plugin of Gmail. It becomes so easy where you can manage all your leads, the status of your leads, even you can manage your … just like clients master list as well.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Manish Dudharejia:

It’s not highly scalable. Now we are in a growth phase so we are also looking for a change, but it’s really good for a small to midsize agencies. The idea is not to miss out any lead. Every lead, when we get every lead we insert into Streak, we assign it to sales people, we keep the tracking of those leads on which phase the lead is. So, you have to have a CRM portal lead, you have to have project management tool for your managing all projects and clients. Nothing should be on email or on a chat. You have to have everything. Obviously for bookkeeping and invoicing we use QuickBooks. So for that also you have to have some sort of-

Drew McClellan:

It’s interesting, most agencies have process and tools for their internal processes like accounting software. But where a lot of agencies struggle is exactly what you’re talking about, they struggle keeping track of leads and they really struggle with just moving work through the agency. If they have a project management software like Wrike or Teamwork and Monday or Trello or whatever it may be, what I often see is that agencies will try a project management tool for about a year. Some group in the agency, it’s either usually the creatives or the account service hate it and so the agency abandons … and so people hate it, they figure out workarounds, they don’t use it, agency owner doesn’t use it, so they can’t really course correct and discipline the team and say no, we have to use this, or they don’t have a project manager in place who’s writing herd over it all.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yes.

Drew McClellan:

And then within a year they’re like, yeah this one stinks. Then they go to the next one and the exact same pattern happens over and over again. You said this early on, the reality is they all have their pros and cons. Some are prettier than others, some have a better interface than others. Some plug into your accounting software, some don’t. But the bottom line is that it is garbage in and garbage out and if you don’t really invest the time to understand it and how to use it and adapt your system and process to it so that you’re not having to do work arounds, you’re going to be unhappy and you are going to change again. You’re just going to spend a ton of money and never get the efficiency of just doubling down and being disciplined.

Then I look at the agencies that we work with that are like, you know what? We’ve done our due diligence, this is the tool and we are painfully together, we are going to use this tool and there’s consequences if you don’t. They really do sort of toe the line, it’s an ugly first year, no doubt about it. But then finally they sort of feel like, okay, we have a handle on what’s going on with us and we can really track projects and we’ve adapted our processing system so it works well in the project management software. And then, they really do start to scale grow, they drop fewer balls, there’s less missed deadlines. So, it is the discipline of just hanging in there long enough to have it become habit.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, and one thing is when you are transitioning to automation phase from a manual phase, you don’t want to think, I wish I could have one tool to solve all the problems. You have to start automation at the capacity where you are able to free up maximum of your time. It’s like when you are launching a product or a new website, you want to launch it with a 100% perfection, but perfection has no end. You don’t want to think, can I have a CRN, project management, invoicing, everything in one tool. Rather you start figuring out that even if you can use Google Sheets to optimize your process, use it, because then later you’ll figure it out. Once you are growing, you change the tool inevitable. You cannot use the same tool forever. But at least for now-

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, I think that’s a good point. There are tools that are great if you’re zero to 10 or 15 employees that you’ll outgrow by the time you get to 30, that you’ll outgrow again by the time you get to 75. Yeah, you’re right. I would hope though as agencies are growing they have a much better understanding of their process and systems, so it’s easier I think for them to go from one tool to another than to take on that first tool and actually build the habit of using it.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yep. Yeah, exactly. It’s okay to keep your own different tools for different needs. As well as it is helping you to optimize quickly. Rather than you are holding it back because that will eat up a lot of time. The other thing I would recommend all the agency owners is as an agency owner you do a lot of daily calls, which you cannot get it done by someone or you cannot hire even someone. So one of the advices I would say give is something, hire [inaudible 00:30:45]. So hiring [inaudible 00:30:48] will help you free up a lot of your time. I’m talking from my personal experience, I have hired someone in the office, just two months back, and that person comes with me in all the meetings and he helps me to coordinate and manage a lot of things and which-

Drew McClellan:

Like a personal assistant.

Manish Dudharejia:

Kind of like that.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Manish Dudharejia:

I have given a fancy name, which is like chaos coordinator, because it’s kind of like running as an agency owner … it’s like that, that as a leader your job is to finding an order in the chaos.

Drew McClellan:

That’s right, that’s right. Get control of chaos, right.

Manish Dudharejia:

Agency is a chaos. Business is a chaos.

Drew McClellan:

Agencies are absolutely chaos.

Manish Dudharejia:

Chaos.

Drew McClellan:

The personal assistant, that’s whatever title, that’s a great idea.

Okay. I want to stop here for a quick second, because I have more questions to ask you, but first we need to take a quick break. Okay.

Hey there, just a quick interruption. I want to make sure that you are aware that you are cordially invited, not just invited, but cordially invited to join our Facebook group, our private Facebook group. All you have to do is go to Facebook and search for Build a Better Agency and you’ll find the Facebook group. You have to answer three quick questions, you have to put in the agency URL, you have to talk about what you want to learn from the group and you have to promise to behave yourself. And that’s it. Then we’ll let you in and you can jump into the conversation with over a thousand other agency owners and leaders.

There’s a robust conversation happening every day. People are sharing resources and best practices and discussing everything from work from home policies to maternity and paternity policies, to biz dev strategies. So, come join us and jump into the conversation.

Speaking of conversations, let’s head back.

All right, we are back and we’re talking about … again, you have such interesting observations because on the one hand you are an agency, but on the other hand you serve so many agencies. One of the other things you talked about that agency owners do that gets in the way of them being able to scale is this idea of trying to do everything for everybody. Can you talk a little bit about your observations of where that breaks down?

Manish Dudharejia:

Sure. I think one of the curse of being into this era is having access to too much information.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Manish Dudharejia:

Specifically in the world of social media where the FOMO and [inaudible 00:33:26] is inevitable. So it’s as an aspirant entrepreneur and agency owner, business owners want to try everything out. If the new technology out or anything new is out, which there is a huge demand in the industry market, then they want to try it out. So I give you my example, I lost millions of, I would say millions of [inaudible 00:33:58], or a million dollars in trying new things out. So when I started this 10 years back, we were into only SEO, then we got into websites design and development, then I started other companies, then I started eCommerce Venture, I started a mobile application development agency and then we started diluting our profits. Obviously, unconsciously I started diluting my attention as well, which resulted into a slow growth of the mainstream business.

I think you really want to, as an agency owner, you really want to make sure not to get distracted about this social media noise or technological volumes in noise. Obviously you definitely want to introduce new services which are most beneficial to your clients, but at the same time you really have to see that it should not dilute your profit or should not dilute your attention from your primary offering.

Drew McClellan:

Well, one of my observations around agencies is they are good at some core skills and those are the places where they make money. They’re efficient, they’re good at it, they deliver great results, and then clients say, well I wish I had this. And agency owners go, oh we can do that. Then on the drive home from the meeting they’re like, oh shoot, how the heck are we going to do that?

In many cases they’re not partnering with someone who’s really good at it, they’re trying to figure out how to do it themselves. I find this particularly true of the generalist agencies. There’s niching by what we do for clients and there’s also niching by who we serve. And when you are really judicious about both of those things where you decide, look we are only going to offer these seven things, whatever those things are, to these three kinds of clients, now all of a sudden you can be really good at what you do and stay focused.

I think honestly one of the reasons why agencies are part of the AMI community is they can find partners, other agencies who do the things they’re not awesome at-

Manish Dudharejia:

Exactly.

Drew McClellan:

… and I can trust the fact that they’re not going to poach their client. But your point is a good one, that it is really hard for a small agency to do all the things that agencies need to do. And by the way, when we’ve seen this in the agency at research over and over and over again, when an agency says that they are an integrated full service marketing agency and they have everything in house, and there are 12 people, the clients say that’s impossible. Marketing today is too sophisticated. There’s no way only 12 people or five people or 20 people can do it all so I’m going to call that means that something you do you’re not great at. Clients see it. We don’t see it all the time, because we hate to leave money on the table, but we have to be clear about who we are, who we serve, and what we do really, really well and the rest of it we need to find a different way to get done for a client. I’m not saying don’t take responsibility for it, I’m just saying you’ve got to find a different way to get it done.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah. Saying no to opportunity is hard. Specifically I know a lot of agencies are going through a difficult time where cash flow is super important. So they want to say yes to every opportunity, right?

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Manish Dudharejia:

But those are the times you have to make the right decision. You have to think long term. You have to develop second order thinking where I can say yes to this opportunity, but then what next?

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Manish Dudharejia:

Do I have a reliable partner? If not, I would rather say that’s out of my wheelhouse rather than taking it on board and then ruining the client and ruining the brand.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, it’s taking it for the short term but risking the long term. Yeah.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah.

Drew McClellan:

That is such a good point and I think in general, that’s probably a great overstatement for this entire conversation is, the smart agency owners, the successful agency owners, the agency owners that are available to scale are agency owners that think long term and they’re willing to do something hard or uncomfortable in the short term to get to a long term result. That sums up your advice beautifully. Yeah.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, even scaling is not a bad thing, butut you do it in a systematic way. Let’s say if you are just offering websites design and development, if you want to get into offering us your services, then try a reliable partner with small project where you know even if you lose this client, it will not hurt your reputation. And then if you become successful, start incorporating into your services on a gradual basis, rather than … specifically based on my experience, I’m telling you that whenever you are getting a client who is super, super particular and cautious about everything, you don’t want to try something new with them.

Drew McClellan:

Well, and in fact, many times the best Guinea pig for something new is your own agency, right?

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, exactly.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, this has been a great conversation. It’s really interesting to hear, I mean, you have a very unique vantage point in that you are an agency but you serve agencies and so you can see the mistakes they made and you can see the mistakes that you’ve made along the way. This has been awesome. Thank you for sharing your insights and thanks for being on the show.

Manish Dudharejia:

No absolutely, likewise. I mean, it’s been fun to talk with agency owners. I think one thing also I would advise to agency owners is making sure that be obsessed about freeing up your time because that is the one thing … I think one of the most important frameworks, which I follow and which I have read and something I follow as well is, people always think if I get free, what am I going to do? So people think if I get free I’ll get bored, but I would say it’s okay to be bored because boredom will lead to the creativity. It’s kind of like boredom-

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, you have to give your brain room to think.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, exactly. Once you get free, freedom will lead to the boredom. Boredom will lead to the creativity. And again, creativity will lead to productivity.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, and innovations.

Manish Dudharejia:

It’s a cycle.

Drew McClellan:

Yep.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah.

Drew McClellan:

Right, yeah.

Manish Dudharejia:

We want to keep rolling into the cycle to keep doing new things and specifically we are at the time of the end of the year. Usually you really want to retrospect and see how you want to position your agency in the next year. What are the areas where you can free up your time? You can start outsourcing those things, start delegating those things. Even though as an agency owner you have to do so many things, but focus on one thing, which is something you really want to spend most of your time next year.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great point. It’s a good time a year to ask themselves that question.

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, exactly.

Drew McClellan:

Absolutely. So all right, if people want to learn more about you, if they want to track you down, if they want to chat with you about how you serve agencies, what’s the best way for them to reach you?

Manish Dudharejia:

Yeah, so our website is the best way to reach out to me as well. It’s www.E2Msolutions.com. That’s where people can find more information about our services. And my email, I’m super active on emails, so my email address is also mentioned on our website. It’s [email protected] So yeah, I’m obsessed about this agency ecosystem. Have been helping agency scale and grow their business, so I’m up for any kind of conversation chat. Hit me up on my email, I would allow to have a conversation.

Drew McClellan:

Awesome, Thank you very much. We’ll include all of that information also in the show notes so you guys can grab it there as well. Thank you very much, Manish. I really appreciate you being on the show.

Manish Dudharejia:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Drew McClellan:

You bet.

All right guys, this wraps up another episode of the podcast and I’ll tell you there’s some takeaways here. Number one, be thinking about where do you want to spend the most of your time, and can you free up enough time to have that thinking time. Number two, that whole idea of focusing the agency in terms of the offerings that you make, in terms of who you serve, having a process, and really making everyone follow the process. Above all things, and we’ve talked about this a lot of times, A lot of times you are the bottleneck, you are the challenge, and it is because you have your fingers in everything as opposed to really doing your job. So, great takeaways, even just grab one of these and think about how to apply it. Most of you are in the planning mode for ’23, so this is a perfect time for you to be thinking about how you want to show up differently to do your job differently in 2023.

Don’t just listen to this, take some action and put it into play, okay. Big shout out to our friends at White Label IQ. As you know, they are the presenting sponsor of the podcast, so they do white label design dev and PPC. You can check them out at whitelabeliq.com/ami. And that’s it, I will be back next week with another guest and we will get you thinking a little differently about your business. In the meantime, take good care of yourself, take good care of your people, and I will talk to you next week. Thanks for spending some time with us. Visit our website to learn about our workshops, owner peer groups, and download our salary and benefit survey. Be sure you also sign up for our free podcast giveaways at agencymanagementinstitute.com/podcastgiveaway.