How To Keep Your Finger On The Pulse Of Your Creative Agency
Over the past few weeks, we have featured an expert series highlighting six best practices to help creative agencies of all sizes "keep a finger on the pulse" of their business. Managing the complexities of an agency from avoiding the agony of daily administrative tasks, resource allocation and utilisation, to driving overall profitability were the key focus areas. Below are some key points from each one:
There are many steps to avoid administrative agony. Here are 3 to help keep you and your teams focused on what you do best – create.
- Stop using spreadsheets, Google calendars, or similar solutions to manage your resources, even if you have only a handful of staff. Use a creative agency management system that will put all of your projects in one place and streamline your resource management.
- Combine resource planning & time entry…To make it simple, use a creative agency management system so that your teams can complete timesheets with the click of a button.
- Streamline reporting and data - Stop wasting time stitching together multiple spreadsheets and reports to get the information you need to run your business. A creative agency management system will enable you to run your business more efficiently by providing a one-stop-shop for information about your projects, your people, your clients and your finances.
Addressing the Timesheet Cliché’ in Marketing Agencies
There are reasons why timesheet recording is important for you and your agency.
- Your time is valuable - Timesheets are not a tool to “micro-manage” you and your time, but are used to understand every aspect of the projects you are working on and to ensure that you are not being overworked, which could lead to potential burnout, affecting your performance and overall profitability.
- You are a part of your Agency’s success - By entering timesheets that have the right amount of hours, you can help your organisation understand where there is potential over-servicing and enable management to see what tasks may take longer than originally projected. This helps everyone on your team and in your organisation by improving future quotes and minimising the potential impact on each project’s profitability.
- Forecasting with more accuracy - Being able to forecast more accurately ensures that your Agency will be able to better service your clients and lessens the chances of any additional costs that may create tension between your client and your agency.
5 Best Practices to prevent Time & Money from Slipping Through your Fingers
- Visibility of resources & utilisation will help you better understand peaks and troughs in your teams’ availability empowering you to be more pro-active with resourcing and planning decisions.
- Effective job planning & management is the foundation of any successful and profitable project. Ensuring timelines are met, making sure resources are delivering work on time and within budget, minimising over-servicing, managing scope creep and understanding where every part of the project is at any given time is a necessity. It’s a lot to do isn’t it?
- Team Collaboration will ensure success on every project. From the resource manager planning the bookings, the resources delivering the end product and the finance team invoicing promptly - being flexible and pulling together as a team are all important in making the business as profitable as possible.
- Accurate time data on your jobs by ensuring that the timesheets on time are completed on time and accurately is without doubt one of the easiest ways to ensure money doesn’t slip through your fingers.
- Billing on time is imperative. Billing runs can be missed for a number of reasons, but one of the most frequent is because you don’t have the info to back up queries when invoicing projects.
Time is Money – 5 Ways to Get Paid Faster!
There are five easy tips to help you manage expenses and receipts more effectively; giving you better control over billing and a more efficient revenue flow.
- Track all time and make time entry easy for your staff and they will do it (and maybe even thank you for it). Even when you keep it simple, timesheets must be precise in project details. It may take a cultural shift, but it’s worth it to ensure you have reliable time records that you can bill and get paid on.
- Timely expense reports require a solid process (and by process I do NOT mean a spreadsheet) for staff to create and manage expense reports.
- Reconcile expenses before billing to ensure you have accurate records of who incurred them and how they were paid.
- Bill Actuals, Not Estimates …and Quickly. Quicker billing usually translates into getting paid faster and a healthier cash flow. Ensure expenses reconcile against jobs and are billed automatically - with the applicable markup.
- For goodness sake, use a tool to work smarter by automating processes using an agency management tool. This will allow you to track time accurately, capture and reconcile expenses and invoice clients more quickly –enabling you to get paid faster.
5 Quick Tips To Improve Client Management In Your Creative Agency
To stand out with clients, consider these 5 tips to ensure success and build stronger relationships that will drive profitability in your creative agency.
- Understand your customer’s needs and remember that depending on who your relationship is with, needs will differ and sometimes the client themselves can be unsure and/or confused about what those needs might be.
- Build a personable relationship by including a personal touch with every conversation has helped the relationships that I have with my clients and is something that every client facing representative should try to incorporate into their strategy.
- Communicate frequently and effectively to ensure that you retain your clientele, because it is very likely that your competition will also be touching base with your clients quite regularly.
- Exceed speed & timeline expectations by the use of a powerful scheduling and resourcing tool can help companies work against an internal deadline date while still keeping the clients expected deadline in mind.
- Show your client’s results with reports that are both easy to understand and visually telling a story can also be very powerful. Clients want to be kept in the loop as to how they are spending their money and most importantly, the return that they are receiving from their investment.
The Secrets to Managing Resources & Utilisation at the Snap of a Finger
Resource Management in its simplest definition is the acquisition and deployment of the resources required to deliver the project. There are 2 very important points to remember about managing resources and utilisation to drive profitability.
- Accurate and effective resource management with the ability to forecast ebbs and flows seeing months in advance what special skillsets are needed, and identifying gaps in the talent pool - will all allow you to increase your pool of resources while keeping your costs down and increase margins.
- Resource management is a largely undervalued role in the creative world although it is so closely tied to client satisfaction, job costs, and staff motivation. Doing it well will ultimately lead to real tangible difference in the bottom line of the creative agency, and in a world of shrinking fees and expensive resources, this could make the dramatic difference to the overall profitability of your business.
We hope these best practices will help you and your teams keep the finger on the pulse of your creative agency, stay connective, productive and profitable.