Why Processes are Important: Your Agency (Not Your Clients) Should Come First

Anyone who’s ever worked in an agency knows how demanding clients can be. If you keep your clients happy, you’ll keep your agency happy, right? Wrong. As an agency owner, it’s all too easy to get sucked into the day-to-day tasks of client service. It actually much better for your agency when you do exactly the opposite. It may be hard to see why processes are important, but they play a key roll in any agency. Spend the bulk of your time developing your agency’s processes, people, and future, rather than talking with clients. You'll see these benefits for your agency when you step out of the weeds and into big-picture planning. Maintain forward momentum. Employees throughout the agency see you as the visionary who sets the course. If you’re not tracking trends, keeping tabs on industry shifts, and anticipating new business needs and opportunities, no one else will. It’s your job to push the agency to evolve and to take your clients with you. Attract -- and retain -- great talent. Employees want to work somewhere with a purpose. As the owner, it’s important to identify and retain people seeking more than paychecks. The more you’re able to get out of the weeds, the more opportunities you provide for your best people to grow. Set the right precedents. Clients need to trust everyone on your team. If you’re too deep in day-to-day tasks, you’re communicating to clients that you don’t trust your people enough to let them handle things. Plus, it makes it hard for you to escape the office. Owners who operate at too granular a level can’t take real vacations, turn off their phones, or disconnect from work. It’s not healthy. Your [...]

Embrace the 50-20-30 Rule

What would happen to your agency if you were abducted by aliens? It seems like a silly question, but bear with me. If you were captive on another planet with no way to reach your team, would your company survive? If the answer is no, then I've got bad news for you. You built a company so you could give yourself a job. When you're caught up in the day-to-day operations of running an agency, it's hard to step back and imagine that the company could ever run without you. But if your absence would cause the agency's AGI to drop massively, you're doing something wrong. Agency owners who stay involved in client work long after they have a strong staff to manage those relationships end up working in their businesses indefinitely. Instead of lifting their heads up to focus on long-term strategies and expansion, they fill their days with client calls and customer service. Maybe you think working on client accounts demonstrates how committed you are to their needs. But what kind of example does this set for employees? You can't grow your company when you're micromanaging client accounts. You're just signaling that you don't trust your team. The more involved you are in client work, the less likely you are to build an agency that someone will want to buy. As the organization stagnates, staff members will leave for agencies where they see growth potential. As an agency owner, you must focus on cultivating big-picture opportunities. You do that by organizing your time around the business's top priorities. The 50-20-30 rule Agency owners should apply the 50-20-30 rule to how they spend their time. Start by allotting 50 percent of your time to [...]

Scope Creep Is Killing Your Bottom Line: Here’s How to Prevent It

Picture this all-too-common scenario: You're 12 revisions into a client project, when you promised only four. You've now spent almost triple the time you intended on the project, which gives you less time (and energy) to devote to other clients. It's a frustrating situation, for sure, but the damage goes beyond that -- it's also hurting your bottom line. Scope creep is the ever-lurking monster under the bed for marketing agencies. A recent Deltek study on agency workflows, for instance, found that nearly 40 percent of agencies exceed their budgets because of scope creep. It whittles away at your profitability, and when you're constantly handing out a dozen or more revisions, it also sets unrealistic expectations for your clients. If left unchecked, it can mean less time for your agency to grow its business. Of course, there's a fine line between providing good service to your clients -- which sometimes does require going above and beyond -- and flat-out giving away your services for free. I'm not suggesting you nickel-and-dime clients to death, but it is essential to set strict limitations on what you will (and won't) do and stick to them. Otherwise, your profits will continue to seep out of the hole you've failed to block up at the bottom of your boat. Scope Creep Starts with Vague Proposal Documents It's easy to blame clients for scope creep, but truthfully the blame sits right at your feet. At the end of the day, it's your responsibility to serve as the gatekeeper of your agency's services. Scope creep is entirely yours -- not your client's -- to control. Vague proposal documents are the number one culprit when it comes to this problem.They lead to over-servicing your [...]

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