Seven Key Findings from our 2023 Agency Survey
Agency owners and operators spend a lot of time chasing new business in their eternal search for sustained profitability, and who can blame them?
It is quite human and normal to look for solutions where it’s convenient – not where it’s expedient. But the results of our 2023 Agency Operations Survey point to another key area to focus on in the pursuit of agency excellence – process improvement.
In collaboration with Agency Hackers, we spoke to over 100 agencies to produce this in-depth and insightful survey, asking questions about agency structure, client management, and internal processes. We then analyzed the responses to gain valuable insights on how agencies are trying to work better for their clients and how they operate.
Of course, to get the full benefit of the results, we advise you to download the whole report and really get to grips with the agency landscape. That way, you’ll get the quotes from the agencies themselves as well as the data and responses that inform the list below.
But if you’re in a hurry, here’s the TL;DR version of our seven key findings. These are the areas agencies highlighted as offering the biggest wins when driving efficiency and profitability.
1. Focus on culture
To improve your agency’s productivity, focus on changing its culture as much as implementing new technology. Don’t just enforce new processes without communicating the reason behind them and getting your team on board. You need their buy-in for any cultural shift to be permanent. If you’re thinking about changing the process, communicate the “why” and the “what”.
2. Stop starting from scratch
How often are you reinventing the wheel?
Stop wasting time and money by constantly starting projects from scratch. Encourage a culture of knowledge management and reusing previous work rather than redoing what’s already been done. As a leader, you have the opportunity to set a “build once, use many times” example.
3. Get people to speak to each other
It’s surprising how many problems in an agency come down to poor internal communication. People in the survey shared how transformational “unblurring the lines” was to their agency.
Ensure that roles and responsibilities are clearly communicated, and that regular updates are shared among the team.
4. Make operations everybody’s responsibility
Don’t rely on one person to manage all processes in your agency. Spread out responsibility for process management throughout the team to create a more cohesive culture. It’s a good reminder that the process doesn’t just need one person who is the “keeper of the secret flame”; – it’s a whole-team responsibility.
5. Focus on profitability
Don’t take your eye off the profitability ball! Always prioritize profitability, even focusing on acquiring new customers and increasing revenue. Use workflow management software to track time and manage project margins to avoid overspending.
6. Stop over-servicing
We found clear frustration amongst agencies when it comes to over-servicing. The first step to solving a problem is admitting that it’s happening, and this is where getting good, accurate data comes in. Combat this issue by implementing clear processes and communication channels to ensure that client needs are met efficiently.
7. Get serious about knowledge management
Astonishingly, we found that nearly 20% of agencies don’t document their processes! Documenting processes through knowledge management can lead to increased productivity, better customer service, and improved decision-making. Encourage a culture of documentation and standardization throughout your agency.
We believe this survey will serve as a benchmark for those starting their own agency or clients seeking to understand the inner workings of an agency. Most importantly, this report is an invaluable resource to stay informed and competitive in the ever-evolving agency landscape.