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According to the prophetical Jessie J, “It’s not about the money, money, money” nor the “cha-ching, cha-ching” or even the “b-bling, b-bling”.
And while your agency may not be entirely focused on making the world dance, it’s good to remember that there are plenty of other ways to measure agency success beyond your bottom line.
Of course, profit is important, and utilization metrics are a KPI for your agency, but there are many other ways to see if your agency is on track that can be used instead of (or, better yet, in conjunction with) your revenue. Here are some alternative ways to answer the question, “Is my agency successful?”
What are you, a snake oil salesman? If yes, ignore this point – you’re a one-and-done kind of business. However, if you think you actually provide a valuable service, then you should never just be looking to make a quick buck. Long-term clients are consistently better and more reliable that short sales, and high customer-retention rates are a surefire way to make an agency successful. They’re a sign that you are providing a solution to your customers’ problems and they are satisfied with your services. Above all else, it means they are choosing you over everyone else time and time again – that deserves some recognition.
It’s not just about the length of the relationship, however, but also the quality of it. You may have a client going back years, but if your entire team hates working with that account because it’s always a drag, not only does it make for the opposite of a happy working environment, but there may also be a deeper problem at play. Both you and your clients should be excited to set out on every new project you undertake together – and if they aren’t, it’s a good sign that you need to reassess how your agency is running.
Your agency should also have healthy relationships with other businesses, since being able to establish and maintain solid partnerships is a sign that things are on track.
Word of Mouth
A great way to know if your clients are happy (and thus if your agency is on track) is whether they’re singing your praises to all of their friends. Are you getting referrals and recommendations from existing clients? If yes, well done! That’s a very good sign. If no, why? Dig a little deeper and consider talking to clients about how you could improve. Of course, you can’t base company growth purely on referrals, but it sure is a good way to know if people are saying nice things about you. (Similar findings may be sought by scouring social media and online message boards to see if someone mentioned you in a post – just don’t be creepy about it.)
Countries are ranked by happiness; why isn’t your agency? Whether your team is energized, motivated, and overall happy at work is a fantastic way to measure the success of your agency. In fact, it’s not only a great way to measure success, but also integral to success, since an unhappy team means an unhappy agency. If you find that things are a little askew, there are many ways to boost motivation and enthusiasm, such as implementing software like Productive to streamline some of the less creative tasks such as time-tracking – reduced boredom means a more productive, happy working environment.
Beyond simply asking, a good way to measure employee satisfaction (and agency success as a whole) is the turnover rate of employees. If you’re consistently churning through new people, then something’s not right. If people are sticking with you, then there’s clearly something worth staying for – good work!
Another way to measure employee satisfaction is by measuring complaints to HR. These, of course, should be immediately dealt with, but taking a longer-term look at complaints (and praise) can help you understand how your agency is doing. One issue with this is that you must make sure your employees feel comfortable reporting issues to HR. Otherwise, you’ll get a very lopsided view of how they feel and in fact have much deeper problems. (P.S. In case you were wondering, according to the 2019 Happiness Report, Finland is the happiest country in the world.)
Yep, that’s right: it’s time for some self-reflection. It may seem obvious, but if you’re running an agency and are hideously unsatisfied every day, that might be a good way to know that your agency isn’t successful (or at least not successful for you). All our great leader Jessie needs is “keys and guitars” (for some reason), and you should figure out what you need as well. And then hold this up against what your agency actually delivers to see if you’re on track.
There are oh so many cases when a company, especially a small startup, isn’t showing great figures, but you walk down the street and everyone knows who they are. If you’re being talked about, especially as a thought leader, then you’re doing something right and this should definitely go in the “reasons my agency is awesome” column of that spreadsheet you’re building.
You might be rolling in revenue, but if your team is overworked with accounts scattered through weekends and holidays, it’s probably not a sign of long-term success. Efficiency in the work your company does is a good way to measure how things are going, and another area where software solutions can really help to tidy things up.
So: how to measure an agency’s success? Overall, your agency should be using as many different ways to measure success as possible, since this is what will give you the clearest picture of how you are doing. Whether that means customer surveys, staff surveys, periods of meditative self-reflection, or staring at numbers on a spreadsheet, reminding yourself about all the b-bling, b-bling you could have had.