BenchPress 2020 Agency Benchmarks and the Impact of COVID-19

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In January and February of this year, The Wow Company captured the UK’s agency landscape through BenchPress.

BenchPress is an annual agency benchmarking survey launched in 2012. As the UK’s largest report in which independent agency owners share business insights, the yearly results help agencies benchmark themselves against their peers.

As a follow-up to their annual survey in the midst of the crisis, recently, The Wow Company launched another short survey. Its purpose was to analyze the impact that the novel coronavirus has made on agencies thus far.

Due to the large number of agencies that took part in BenchPress this year, the results were split into three reports:

Benchmarks for £1m+ agencies

Benchmarks for agencies under £1m

Impact of COVID-19 on agencies

Peter Czapp, Director of The Wow Company, shared the survey results during a live webinar on May 7th. We bring you the key findings of the webinar below. For more details, watch the recording of the presentation.

Key Findings of the COVID-19 Impact on UK Agencies Survey

General expectations regarding the year ahead:

When agencies were asked how they currently feel regarding the year ahead, it’s visible that:

In March 2020, agencies were expecting 2021 will be worse than 2019

In April 2020, agencies were already more neutral in their expectations

What happened in agencies since the lockdown in the UK:

Mainly, 89% noted that existing projects or retainers were put on hold, while an interesting 68% also experienced winning new work from existing clients.

On how fee income in March and April of 2020 compared to what agencies were expecting it to be:

Most of the responses indicate that fee income declined 11-30% in comparison to what they were expecting it to be. The second most response (23% of the total responses) noted that their income was the same as they expected.

On staying in business without receiving funding:

The majority of the agencies that responded (43%) are confident that they can survive for over a year without receiving funding. Only a total of 6% responded they think they’ll stay in business for up to 2 months.

Actions that have been already taken since the start of the crisis:

Over half of the respondents (54%) stated that they have already furloughed staff, while 48% reduced freelancer spend.

On agencies reducing working hours:

It’s clear that the COVID-19 crisis inspired almost half of the respondents (49%) to adopt 4-day work weeks, while even a whopping third of the respondents (32%) decided on 3-day work weeks.

On cutting salaries where they’ve kept working hours the same:

Over half of the agencies who have not changed working hours have cut salaries by 20%. Only 10% of the respondents have cut paychecks by 50% or more.

Looking ahead to the next six months, what fee income will look like compared to the six months before the COVID-19 outbreak:

The highest amount of responses (39%) believe their income will go down 11-30%, while a quarter thinks they’ll see up to a 50% decrease in their agency income.

Plans and service or product focus for the next six months:

To adapt to “The New Normal”, most agencies will tweak their offering.

On agency teamwork in the near future:

Most agencies in the UK will do more remote work, while only 6% think their entire teams will work remotely.

Productive Helps Agencies Forecast the Future of Their Business

As an end-to-end agency management tool, Productive serves professional service businesses around the globe to streamline all their operations in real time. Reach out to our Sales team with any questions. We’d be happy to assist you.

Marija Kata Vlašić

Content Marketing Specialist

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