Episode 140:

I have the good fortune of hanging out with agency owners and their teams every day of the year. We work with over 250 agencies that range from a handful of employees to several hundred team members. While every agency is absolutely unique – there are some common themes and trends that bubble up as we work alongside our agency clients.

Every year I pull together the trends I see time and time so the agencies we serve aren’t surprised by any of them. I’ve categorized them into some big buckets: money, employees, agency structure, clients, tactics, and revenue opportunities.

There were too many trends to pack into one solocast, so I’ll cover half this time and the other half in July.

Here’s the good news – it’s a great time to be in the business. As always, both challenges and opportunity abound. My goal is to help you spot the opportunities so you can maximize them while sidestep the trouble spots.



What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How agencies fared financially in 2017
  • Why 2017 was a great year for agencies to make money – and where that profit got re-allocated
  • The factors complicating employee hiring and retention
  • Agency structure changes in terms of both department structure and employee life/work models

Drew McLellan is the CEO at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency since 1995 and is still actively running the agency today. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an agency owner and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies throughout the year gives him a unique perspective on running an agency today.

AMI works with agency owners by:

  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for 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 those 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 two books 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.”

The Golden Nuggets:

“As I look at the trends facing agencies today one that stands out is digital is not a department. Digital is a blanket that lays over the entire agency and everything we do.” - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “Many agencies had their best year in 2017. If you were specializing and have a niche, you probably did very well. If you have more of a generalist agency, the trend shows that you may not have done as well.” - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “One of the big trends I’m seeing is everyone is poaching agency employees. Agencies have become the training ground for other agencies or client-side businesses. It might even be your clients hiring away your top talent.” - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “In today’s environment, you certainly want to have a competitive benefit set so that when people are comparing offers, you come out on the winning side.” - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “If you have owned an agency for 20 plus years and are adamant that you want all of your employees to be in-house under the same roof, I am here to tell you that model is going to get harder and harder to sell.” - @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet


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