Max out the productivity of the staff you have if you can’t find all the talent you need.
The creative marketing agency sector is more competitive than ever. New agencies are opening up every day, especially in the virtual space. Add to this the fact that many agencies are understaffed at a time when work is picking up. It’s left agency managers looking for ways to make their operations more efficient.
Here are 12 proven strategies we learned about from our agency partners.
1. Work with only the best clients and charge sensible hourly rates.
Are you feeling overrun with work? It’s an issue many agencies are dealing with right now because business activity is rapidly picking up across the U.S. If this is the case for you, it may be time to be more selective about the clients you work with and charge them higher hourly rates. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Flush times provide an opportunity to eliminate unprofitable clients or ones that are too demanding of your time and agency resources. It will make your operation more efficient and allow you to serve your best clients even better.
2. Make it all about process, process, process.
Did we say process? The number one way to make your agency more efficient is to set up and enforce standardized processes and procedures. This should apply to all aspects of your operation, including things like developing creative briefs, setting up and storing files, timekeeping, billing, communicating with clients and reviewing work. It will help prevent duplicative efforts, lost files and missed messages. It also makes it easier for people to step in when someone calls in sick, goes on vacation or leaves the agency.
3. Automate your processes.
Once you’ve set up defined processes and procedures, use an agency management system like the one offered by agencyMAX to keep things organized and running smoothly. It could be the only solution you need to keep track of everything. Plus, it can be completely customized to align with how your agency works.
4. Review workflows regularly.
Setting up processes and procedures isn’t once and done. They typically become muddied up over time. Duplicative work or reviews that are added because of extraordinary circumstances or for novel projects live on. These redundancies can eat up a lot of time. Check in every now and then to find out if everything your team is doing is absolutely necessary.
5. Centralize agency and client communications.
Don’t make the common error of using different communication systems within your agency or inside your operation and with clients. Everyone should be using the same communication system and methods. It prevents disconnects, missed messages and miscommunications. It also fosters a level of transparency that will build trust across your team and with clients.
6. Encourage collaboration.
Develop a collaborative culture at your agency. This type of environment makes it more likely your staff will go above and beyond to help each other out. It’s a proven way to increase productivity, improve work quality, prevent errors and create an agency people love working at.
7. Celebrate doing things right.
Your creative talent will work faster, better and more efficiently if you recognize them for doing it. Reinforcing positive behaviors is far more powerful than criticizing negative ones. It supports a collaborative and competitive culture and creates a better agency environment.
8. Keep in touch with quality freelancers and agencies.
In most cases, it doesn’t make sense for agencies to hire permanent employees to handle crunch time work. It’s much smarter to leverage freelancers or partner with other creative agencies to pick up the slack. The time to seek out these resources isn’t when you need them. Plan ahead by interviewing freelancers and researching agencies, reviewing their portfolios and checking references. Then add the best ones to your contact list and get them set up in your systems.
9. Cross train the talent on your team.
Are the people on your team consistently busy? Probably not. That’s why it’s a good idea to cross train them to handle a range of tasks during their down time. Present the cross training as a growth and development opportunity. It will make it seem less like you’re creating work just to keep talent busy.
10. Play to people’s strengths.
Does your agency just toss work at whoever is available? It could be costing you a lot in productivity, not to mention quality. Take time to figure out what each person on your creative team is best at and loves doing. Even if you have to wait a bit to launch a project with them, assigning the work to the best person to take it on will save you time in the long run and allow you to deliver a better creative product to your clients.
11. Limit your areas of specialization.
One of the key reasons agencies become inefficient is because they’re trying to do too much and it’s stressing their resources. Are there a few things your agency does particularly well? Maybe it’s known for its branding or digital design capabilities. Perhaps you’re great at working with companies in certain verticals. Figure out whether it would make sense to specialize in them and cut back on — or eliminate — your other work. It might allow you to take on more projects with fewer resources, which is the ultimate formula for increasing productivity and profitability.
12. Monitor time records.
It isn’t enough to just track time for billing purposes. It’s also necessary to monitor what everyone is doing with their time. Does it make sense? Is it worthwhile? Could less time be spent on certain tasks? Performing a little timesheet accounting every now and then could help you find the same kind of savings you do when you review your agency finances.
In the end…
Sure, it’s a stressful time for agencies right now. But you can use that stress to make your organization stronger and more resilient. Take advantage of the tips from our experts to better position it for future growth.