The Agency Works

Managing the holiday season when running an agency

We’re more than halfway through 2016 and the holiday season is upon us. Sun, sea and sand beckon but for many agency heads the reality of taking time off away from the business is simply not an option. Not even time for a staycation!

Working with hundreds of design, digital and marketing agency heads throughout the year, leading finance and operations consultants to the creative industry The Agency Works see first hand, the challenges many agency heads face during holiday season.

And, whilst holiday periods are regular calendar events, agencies can often be ill prepared in their planning and staff resourcing when holiday season calls.

Steve Vincent, Director, The Agency Works, says: “We have spoken to lots of agency heads over the years and what’s clear from their feedback in the run up to the summer holidays is that many just don’t take one. Around eight in 10 agency heads admit to working when they’re on holiday, not really taking a break, so this means they don’t take time to recharge their creative batteries.”

And it’s not just the effect that poor holiday planning has on agency MDs and directors, that takes its toll. In an already pressurised environment, the holiday season can be anything but relaxing for the team if there’s limited planning in place.

Here’s what The Agency Works team have to say about managing the holiday season if you’re running an agency:

  • Get the business ready
 – Plan in advance. If you’ve put in place effective systems to manage resource, workflows, new business pipelines and cash flows, then plan for time out of the business. Holidays are inevitable and predictable, but by monitoring seasonal fluctuations you can better plan the resource in your business to avoid major issues.
  • Work with the team – Set up a simple system that helps keep the team updated on how much time they have to take. Even consider adopting a holiday year for each member of staff. This means that not everyone is stacking up time during busy periods and it avoids the end of year ‘rush’ and staff with children can better plan around school holidays.
  • Don’t go into panic mode – We often see agencies booking up freelancers and ploughing unnecessary resource into the agency during holidays without properly reviewing the workflow, speaking to their clients about their holiday plans or planning with the team. Communication is a simple solution, but it can work.
  • A break WILL do you (and your business) the world of good  – So you may not be able to take a three-week holiday abroad, but you should plan to take time out. Not only does this help set a positive culture for the agency, as the person leading the team when you return to work feeling re-energised and refreshed, you’ll feel 100% better equipped for the job.
  • Valuable thinking time – Taking time out of the business, even for a few days, can be fruitful. The day-to-day challenges of running a busy agency are a priority, so time for thinking about strategic issues and opportunities go to the bottom of the pile. Time away can really help give a different perspective and often help generate new creative ideas for the agency.
  • Stay away from the mobile – OK, that’s easier said than done and a mobile amnesty may not be the best way to relax if you end up stressing about not checking your emails. One solution may be to allocate a small amount of time each day to check and reply to messages, and then you can manage your own concerns and still make time for a decent break.
  • Encourage your team to take a break too – Tight delivery deadlines, high levels of client service and potential for a shortage of staff affects the whole team. But, it’s also important for everyone in the business to take time out to relax.