5 and ½ Mistakes Your Agency is Probably Making
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As your agency continues to grow, you may begin to notice an increase in slip-ups and blunders you never dealt with in the past. What’s up with that?
Let’s rewind to the beginning when you first launched your agency. As the owner, you probably handled all the tasks on your own, including sales, client management, operations and everything in between. Now, as your business is growing, you’re still trying to handle all of those duties, perhaps with the help of a small team (if you’re lucky). With so much work to do and few people to handle it, you’re forced to work extra hours. When you work tons of overtime, mistakes are bound to happen, like it or not.
So, what are the most common agency mistakes and how can you steer clear of them? Keep reading to find out.
Mistake #1: You wait too long to delegate tasks.
As an agency owner, you are probably juggling a lot of different duties. In the beginning, you will probably handle all the work—from accounting and customer support to business development and sales. But as time passes and you win more clients, you will eventually have to hire staff members to help you.
However, most agency owners wait too long to hire employees. This is the number one most common mistake in the agency world. How do you avoid it? Hire employees to help you as soon as you have enough resources.
Let’s say you have hired a team, but you still feel overwhelmed with tasks. You’re handling business strategy, employee relationships and problems that come up with clients. (And there will be plenty of those, trust me).
If this is the case, it’s quite possible that you’re not delegating enough duties. Why are you afraid to let someone else handle these tasks? Probably because you’re worried you won’t be satisfied with how they do it. You figure if you want it done right, you should do it yourself. Or even worse, you may ask someone else to do the work, but you end up checking every little detail and micromanaging your employees, which can be fatal for your business.
If you hire people to work for you and with you, you have to trust them. Hand over tasks and let each employee handle it in their own unique way. And who knows? They may have an even more efficient way of doing it. This is one of the secrets to a successful agency.
Mistake #2: You don’t follow streamlined processes.
If you don’t have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution or a defined follow-up strategy, prospects are probably slipping through your fingers.
Take it from us: Successful agencies who have been in the business for a long time follow a streamlined process. They use prepared sales scripts, follow-up with every prospect, and have all the necessary documents to make sales faster and easier. In other words, they have a streamlined process.
If you track time and progress on every deal from beginning to end, you can easily forecast the new business. So, how can you set up a winning, streamlined process? First and foremost, avoid using multiple tools. If you have one tool for time tracking, another one for sales and still another for contact info, you’ll end up wasting tons of time and energy.
That’s because you’ll spend too much time jumping from one tool to another, searching for the information you need. After all, your goal is to spend time planning impactful campaigns and producing great content—not managing spreadsheets. This is why you need a one-stop shop solution.
With a tool like Productive, which integrates sales, project management, time tracking, and scheduling, your agency will be more productive. (Do you like what I did there?) Plus, by using a single tool to manage everything, you’ll save loads of dough. You have just started the agency, right? Watch where your hard-earned money goes.
Mistake #3: You’re not managing your clients’ expectations.
If you don’t properly manage each client’s expectations, your agency will quickly crash and burn. For instance, are you clearly communicating your price to clients? Are you charging by the hour or do you offer fixed prices? What happens when you go over the budget? You need to clearly communicate these details to the client.
If you don’t follow this advice, two very bad things could happen:
1. You’ll ruin your relationship with the client.
2. You’ll lower your profitability.
What’s the best way to avoid these uncomfortable situations? Make your prices very black and white, including what is covered and what is not. That way, there will be no surprises and awkward conversations down the line. You may also consider using tool, like Productive, that allows you to show each client your ongoing progress with their project. The client will see how many hours you have spent as well as the current cost. No confusion, no surprises, totally transparent.
Mistake #4: You neglect resource planning.
Obviously, before you can start resource planning, you have to have resources. By “resources,” I mean staff, responsibilities and equipment. (Although you should never call your people “resources” when talking about them.)
However, when we think of others as resources, it can be dehumanizing. Ian Zabel
Resource planning is the key to success for any business—and agencies are not exempt. Why? Because resource planning helps agency owners make the most of their available resources.
Once you have defined your resources, you can start planning for the future.
Not sure where to begin? Resource planning is much easier when you have a scheduling tool. We know what you’re thinking: “Why do I need to invest in a scheduling tool when the Excel is free?” Because Excel doesn’t cover all the bases. A scheduling tool helps you know if your agency has enough running projects and enough planned projects. It also helps you determine if you have enough people to handle your projects.
Without critical information a scheduling tool provides, you may overload employees, making them stressed and less productive. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough projects (and have no way of tracking it), it will eventually lead to bankruptcy.
Mistake #5: You’re working in your business, not on your business.
Clients are the bread and butter of your business, so it makes sense to give them lots of attention. However, many agency owners make the fatal mistake of focusing exclusively on clients, leaving no time to grow and organize their business. In other words, it’s important to take time to work “on your business” (making your business better) instead of just working “in your business” (working on the client and revenue-generating projects).
However, you have to budget both time and money for working on your business. A typical term to describe this budget is “agency overhead.”
If you want to succeed, plan time for working on your business, and even hire people to help you. It’s an essential part of running an agency business.
Mistake #5 ½: You never accept advice.
If you refuse to follow external advice from a non-exec, especially around board meetings, you will continue to make mistakes in your agency. Listen to your non-executives—they surely have more to say. Following advice from knowledgeable and creative people will drive your agency to the next level.
If you want to avoid these common mistakes, you need a plan—a well-defined strategy for every aspect of the business. If you are cashing growth without a plan for the future, at some point you are going to hit a wall.