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Ensuring your agency grows safely and sustainably

29th June 2022

Your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds are all bursting with agency growth stories. And why not, despite the world’s current troubles, 2022 is predicted to be a year for growth for marketing agencies.

The global advertising agencies market is expected to grow to $383.67 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.8%.

But as you know, or may have learned from past experience, growth needs to be safe and sustainable. So, what does safe growth look like for your agency, and are you ready? In this article, we offer advice on how you can plan to grow your agency the right way, and the data you need to make this happen. 

Where are you making and losing money? 

This is the first question you need to ask yourself, and you need to be confident that your answer is accurate. Because growth doesn’t come naturally with more work, we’re assuming you want to grow your profits as well as your resource costs. So don’t look at which clients give you the most work, but delve into which client and project types give you the most profit.

If you just get more work blindly, and this work turns out to be less profitable, then you could find you grow your turnover but not your profit. And you’ll create a bigger agency with more resource costs, more resources to manage, more projects to juggle, and more risk but no more profits.

Set a financial plan

Look at what ‘growth’ means to your agency? What do you want to turnover, how much of this should be profit, and what resources do you need to get you there?

You know what type of clients and projects you’re after, and the profit these have generated in the past (because you looked into which were most profitable!). So you should be able to set some realistic financial targets. Along with some accurate expectations on the volume of work you’ll need to deliver, and the resources you’ll require.

It’s not about hiring the best people. It’s about hiring the best people IF they have the skills you need. Resource mix is everything. Using data to drive these decisions is the only way you’ll grow in a sustainable way. Otherwise, you could get into a cycle of hiring and firing, or chasing work that isn’t your most profitable, just to keep people busy.

Use factual data to drive your growth

We’ve touched on some pretty big questions above, what clients are profitable, what are realistic growth targets, what are you turning over vs profit, what roles drive the most revenue and what your resource mix should be for maximum profitability. You can’t answer these questions without data.

Data needs to help you prepare for growth. Continual, solid growth takes more than some big client wins. Data will help steer the bigger questions, like what type of agency you are. Data is the backbone of your roadmap for growth, and your way to continually evaluate your success.

Don’t put off getting the right agency management system

You need to start collecting data, now. Agencies often put this off until they’ve already grown, but if you wait, how did you plan your growth? Real-time intelligence from an integrated system can have a transformative impact on your agency.

If your current system can’t scale, or you don’t have one, it’s time to invest. You’ll gain facts on what’s working and what’s not and you’ll get visibility on crucial metrics in core areas including:

  • Pipeline and billing
  • Resource management
  • Utilisation
  • Project health
  • Estimating
  • Forecasted profit and loss

Getting this data, so you can manage your agency as efficiently and profitably as possible is the key to growth.

Get visibility on project progress

As we’ve mentioned, growing your agency is not just about getting more work. You can’t bring in a new chunk and just hope it’s profitable. If it’s not, and there is a lot of it, your profits will head steeply in the wrong direction!

Make sure you can see, preferably in real-time, whether projects are on track budget and timescales-wise. Without this visibility overserving can spiral out of control and hiccups evolve into big issues. You can also lose your grip on calendar bookings as work runs over, causing delays on other tasks and stopping you from effectively managing resource capacity.

Get on top of your pipeline and resource

You need a stuffed pipeline and crystal clarity on when work is landing so you can plan your resource accordingly. Being able to look ahead clearly and plan your resource means your teams are kept on chargeable work, and you don’t have use expensive freelancers when you have the skills in-house.

The skill of managing resources effectively intensifies the more projects you run and the busier your calendar bookings become. Plan ahead and keep the relevant people informed about what’s coming up.

Effectively managing your pipeline also helps you manage client expectations. If you know what work is coming up, and how likely it is to land, even better if you can tentatively schedule it, then when the clients give a project the green light, they won’t be waiting so long for delivery.

In summary

We hope this piece has given you some valuable advice on how you can start planning your agency’s lasting growth. If you would like to know more about how Synergist agency management system can give you the data and visibility you need, why not check out our website.

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About Synergist

Synergist agency management software helps agencies to grow safely and smoothly by reducing the ‘busy chaos’ and enabling teams to work more efficiently and profitably. By streamlining project workflows, with features such as Kanban Boards, Ga...

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