The truth is, it takes more than creativity and innovation to run a successful agency. No matter how good your ideas are, they won’t mean much if you don’t have any clients to pitch them to or time to invoice. If you feel like you just can’t catch up then it’s crucial you avoid these common agency mistakes listed below.
Giving It Away
Have you ever explained to your team how the agency makes money? Most agency leaders don’t, which means your employees are often over-servicing clients. And when we get to the root cause of over-servicing a client it comes down to the fact that your employees forget your agency is in the business of making money and keeping clients happy, one should not be (and does not have be) sacrificed over the other.
It’s important to explain how the agency makes money so your employees know that every action they take or don’t take, could be making or costing the agency money. When employees start to understand how their actions affect the bottom line they won’t be so quick to give things to the client. They will take time to refer back to the project scope, negotiate with vendors harder, and ensure that contracts are not too broad so there are boundaries between the businesses.
If your team continues to feel flustered because clients keep asking them for more and more then stop letting clients ask! Your team will often think it’s a lot easier to make the suggested change then go through the official paperwork which includes asking the client for more money (especially if they are on the 15th revision). To avoid this from happening include fees for changes (beyond X number of changes) in the contact from the beginning. This process will not only eliminate the extra paperwork but also ensure you are getting paid for the time your team is putting in.
Remember, your team’s time is precious, and while you shouldn’t nickel and dime your client, you do have contracts in place for a reason, and you shouldn’t let the scope of a project get larger without the price rising too!
Make A Plan
What vision do you have for your agency?
What do you want to (need to) accomplish in order grow by x amount?
Did you laugh when thinking about those questions because you can’t remember the last time you had TIME to think about that stuff? That’s a problem! And it’s a problem because you are spending your time putting out small fires instead of taking the time to focus on the future.
You hired a team of people for a reason. They are fully capable of managing these fires and if they are not then you can find people who are. You shouldn’t be so involved in the day-to-day that it leaves you too exhausted to focus on tomorrow. If you aren’t spending time creating a business plan that focuses on new business, then you may have no future.
Why yes, you want to keep current customers happy you also need a consistent business plan to keep the sales funnel full. Your team should be the ones managing relationships with current clients while you are flexing your new business muscle.
Be A Partner
When you were pitching your suggested creative and team to the last client, what one word did you continue to use to describe the potential relationship?
A partnership is people joined together. So why do we let our partners down, our clients? We promise them a build of their new website, and then you end up four weeks behind. You are given a large budget for a month of digital ad spend, forget to pay attention, and spend it all in five days. You continue to mistreat your partner and then wonder why they end up leaving you after the project.
These are not partnerships anyone would want to be a part of in the business world. So let’s review some qualities a partner would want you to have…
1. Expectation Setting: Don’t win over clients by making promises you can’t keep. Nothing is worse than not meeting expectations, missing a deadline and having that negatively affect their business. Let them know what can and can’t happen from the beginning. There is a difference in working harder to meet a deadline than having everyone drop everything for an all hands on deck deadline situation. Make sure you aren’t just saying things to win the client over but that you are setting expectations that you can follow through on.
2. Honesty: Worse than something going wrong is when agencies try to cover up their mistakes. It might be hard to put your ego aside and fess up, but it’s so important to let your client know if you see a problem arising or something going wrong right away. Your honesty will mean a lot more to them that the mistake made and that is what they will remember in the end.
3. Excellent Communication: Your clients should not have to check in on you! If you take too long to respond, stop emailing your weekly or monthly reports, miss a deadline, forget to call, whatever-then you can’t question why your client has lost faith in you. If a client asks why it’s taking so long to hear back from you or hints at the lack of communication, then it’s time to pick someone else to manage the account, someone who actually wants to talk to the client.
Wrap It Up
Have you made any of these mistakes in the past? Don’t worry you aren’t alone! Running an agency is hard work, but if you are taking on too much, you will only end up disappointing everyone. Utilize that fantastic team you have spent time building to help manage the day to day so you can spend time planning the future and all the great things to come!