If something’s broken, we fix it or replace it. A household appliance, our car, our computer. So why, when it comes to our agency processes and systems, do we umm and ahh about making changes that can bring about huge benefits?
I was recently talking to an owner of a branding agency. Business was going well and they were growing. But, the agency had fairly typical challenges. Inefficiency, overservicing, late nights, lack of visibility, and not getting the information they wanted.
The owner had started looking at agency management systems. He knew that it would fix most, if not all, of their problems. And he knew it would be a smart return on investment.
But, in his words, they just weren’t ready.
And do you know what, I get that. Taking action is easier said than done. Especially making changes. We worry about cost, disruption, time, whether it will work, will it be worth the effort? And then we decide that no it won’t and things are fine as they are. So we procrastinate, drawing out our decision making. Or ignore it and hope it goes away.
Inaction is easy.
But you already know that things aren’t fine as they are. You know that if you want to grow, you need to evolve, shift and adapt. Here are some of the big reasons agencies pause, or completely halt, their decision making. Along with my tips on how to get over these stumbling blocks.
‘We don’t have the time to bring in a new system and processes’
Time is the golden word for agencies. Essentially, it’s the big commodity that you’re selling.
But if you don’t have an effective job management system and time-tracking process, how do you know where your team’s time is spent?
In all likelihood, they’re wasting time (chargeable time, at that) inputting data across multiple systems or spreadsheets, and manually creating reports.
How much time do you spend analysing data in spreadsheets? And how do you see this in the future, when you have twice as many people and projects?
Constant procrastination just leads to even more time wasted that could be charged out.
Essentially, you’re wasting time and losing time by having inefficient processes in place. Time spent installing a system or creating better processes will lead to better time-management in the future.
‘We’ve don’t have the budget, we’ll wait until the next financial year.’
This works in exactly the same way as the ‘no time’ angle. An agency management system will immediately show you where you’re undercharging. If over-servicing clients is something you do to the tune of 10% on each job, it’s like working for free from mid-November through year-end!
Real-time visibility of client, project and service profitability shows exactly where you’re making money and where you’re losing it, so you can quickly rectify the problem and make better business decisions.
In an agency of 20 people, based on an average of £90 an hour, you can increase profitability by £190K simply by recovering an extra 15 minutes per day per person.
Ask yourself: why are you waiting to make more money?
‘We’re happy using spreadsheets.’
Happy? Really happy or safe happy? Let’s give spreadsheets full credit, they’re pretty amazing things. But one incorrect formula or admin error and your whole reporting data is impacted.
Spreadsheet authors can also be fierce guardians of their products. If they aren’t there, can someone else create them in the same way?
This is where, if you have growth aspirations, implementing a system is nothing short of essential.
This can make sure data creation and entry responsibilities are shared, increasing reporting visibility for the wider team.
Surely dashboard reporting detail available at the click of a button is more effective than collating multiple spreadsheets which can often take days to produce?
‘We’re going to draw up a shortlist of possible options and then share with the wider team.’
While carrying out due diligence is important to avoid making a decision you might regret, you do need to set some parameters. If you’re serious about implementing a new system, keep it high on your agenda with realistic timescales.
Drifting from demo to demo can often lead to information overload and confuse your initial objectives. Don’t muddle things further by introducing end users during the demo process, either. Make a decision that aligns with your needs, then start engaging your teams.
My advice is to look at the five big things that will have the biggest impact and find a solution that will answer those problems. Don’t trip yourself up over every tiny detail.
As an agency leader, you’re constantly making business decisions about the best thing is for your business and teams and intelligently evaluating how you invest for the best return. Time and money is an investment which, ultimately, will save you far more time and money. Looking at it in these simple terms… it’s a fairly easy decision to make.