Every agency owner is liable to make mistakes from time to time. The operations within your agency will directly affect your ability to retain key talent, improve client satisfaction, and grow your business.
Effective management is, therefore, a critical component in streamlining agency operations. Ideally, you’ll want to focus more on tracking your employees and making sure that deliverables are returned on time. As your agency grows, management operations are likely to become more complex.
However, by identifying and stamping out mistakes early, not only will you learn from them, but you’ll also be able to prevent them from affecting your bottom line. In the following post, we’re going to thoroughly examine the most common agency management mistakes that owners make, and how to overcome them.
1. Offering Services Without a Proper Plan in Place
Establishing robust systems for service delivery is obviously very important. As your agency grows, you’ll want to start offering more services to your clients. That’s great, but it’s also important that you establish key agency processes to support service delivery in the first place.
One of the most common mistakes that agency owners make is that they start offering new services without setting a proper plan in place. A lack of key agency processes means that information is going to be siloed between a handful of team members, often at the top.
That’s not what you want. Establishing key processes is necessary for a number of reasons, including:
- It helps make service delivery more consistent as clients know what to expect when they order something.
- It lets high-level team members focus on more impactful activities that contribute to the agency’s growth.
Before you start offering a new service, it’s imperative that you create a proper plan. Decide who will be responsible for specific tasks before you launch a new service. For instance, if you’re introducing a new care plan, it’s important that you create proper SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and processes so that every member of the team knows their responsibilities.
2. Poorly Devised Pricing Plans
A key mistake that many agency owners make, especially when their agency is still young, is to charge very little for their services. Either that, or go sky-high, thinking they can deliver on the same level that the big guys in the industry can. They may be capable in terms of knowledge, but pricing comes along with branding. The proper management of pricing plans is crucial for the steady growth of the agency.
Charging very little might land you new customers, but it may affect workflows in the long run. Ideally, your primary focus should be to generate positive ROI for your customers and to maximize the value that you bring to the table for your clients.
In most cases, clients that primarily focus on low pricing are often not a good fit. Instead, your primary aim should be to find clients that match your ideal client persona.
More importantly, you don’t want to price your services too low, as that could affect your ability to maintain decent margins and attract top talent. It’ll also affect your agency’s bottom line while hurting your marketing budgets.
3. Not Establishing a Comprehensive Document Management System
Document management is a critical part of any organization, especially digital agencies. Given the fact that a vast majority of agencies nowadays work with remote employees, you need to make sure that everyone’s on the same page, both figuratively and literally.
A document management system makes it easy to implement standard protocols and procedures throughout your agency. This makes it easy to reduce the burden on you and allows you to delegate tasks without compromising on quality control.
You need to have proper documentation and SOPs for important things, such as:
- Client onboarding
- Client communication
- Tools that you use throughout the agency
- Training materials or onboarding tools for new employees
- Any specific office rules
- Templates for proposals
Using a document management system makes it easy for companies to manage everything from a centralized portal. They also offer clarity to the team so they know what to do in case of specific situations.
From guiding employees on how to use specific tools to optimizing service delivery and quality control, using a document management system is important. Simple tools like Google Docs, Notion, or Basecamp are great for maintaining key documentation and sharing it with employees.
You can also grant access to specific employees to make changes to certain documents after discussions.
4. Not Using a Proper Agency Management Tool
Agencies often operate in very dynamic environments. Using a dedicated agency management tool is one of the best things that you can do to make sure that all operations are handled through a centralized platform.
For instance, Atarim is a fantastic agency management tool that’s designed to help agency owners create stress-free workflows, and monitor performance across the board.
It comes with an array of features that help both clients and teams work together more efficiently and effectively.
For example, one of the core ways in which Atarim works is based on visual collaboration and feedback. This can be one of the most challenging elements of working with clients, with frequent back-and-forth messages that take a long time to gradually nudge towards a coherent mutual understanding.
With Atarim this entire process is transformed into a visual collaboration process that is quick, makes far more sense to everyone involved, and has proven again and again to significantly reduce project timeframes, often from many weeks to just a few days, or even less in some cases.
With the ability to capture screenshots of web pages or mockups, and have these easily annotated and immediately visible by both the agency and the client, the conversation moves easily and quickly.
More than this, Atarim has a deep understanding of agency best practices, and throughout the development of a project it will very cleverly predict those best practices and help to automate the project flow to ensure that the focus is in the right place, nothing gets overlooked, and everything comes together easily and seamlessly, and usually well ahead of expected schedules.
If you haven’t invested in an agency management tool, you’re needlessly creating more issues for yourself. It’s imperative for agency owners to try to cut down the time it takes for performing low-impact activities so they can focus more on high-level tasks.
5. Improper Time Tracking
Time tracking has become extremely important, especially for agencies that use a remote-first model. Agency owners must make sure that they use appropriate time tracking tools so that they have a better idea about how much time is spent on different tasks.
Time tracking is also important as it gives you a better understanding of how much time team members spend on specific clients. You can then determine if you’re charging a fair fee, or if you need to renegotiate contracts.
Agency management tools like Atarim have time tracking functions built-in for all team members. Alternatively, you can use third-party time tracking tools such as Toggl or Clockify.
This is a great idea for agency owners as it allows them to identify key blockers and figure out tasks that are consuming more time than originally planned.
6. Taking on More Work Than Resources Allow
This is a serious problem for growing agencies, and it starts right at the top. As your agency grows and you get a better understanding of the market, including your customers, you might be inclined to onboard as many clients as you can.
That’s not always the best approach, and it’s especially not a wise idea if you don’t have the resources to meet all of your clients’ demands.
Taking on more work than resources allow is a terrible idea, and could result in a cascading effect that eventually leads to disgruntled employees, missed deadlines, and angry clients.
More importantly, excessive work not only affects productivity, but also impacts the quality of work produced by your employees. That’s the last thing you want at a time when you’re pursuing growth.
The best way to ensure that you don’t bite off more than you can chew is to evaluate your maximum production capacity. If you have a team of professionals working in the agency, discuss their daily output so you know just how much work you can take on without putting your team through a crunch period.
7. Not Documenting Key Processes and Strategies
Documenting key processes and strategies is critical if you want to develop a scalable system that can eventually help you bring on new clients. If you have a strategy that works, or a process that you’ve just fine-tuned to perfection, make sure you document it.
Most agency clients may ask for the same services, and if you have a documented formula that really clicks for you, make sure you document it. This will also help you cut down onboarding times, and make it easy for you to train new employees.
8. Poor Communication Between Team Members
The success of your agency depends on several factors, but the most important is simply communication. If team members do not approach tasks with a more holistic and broader perspective, it might be difficult to make things click.
Poor communication between team members can again result in several negative issues, including bad planning, duplicate task assignments, and deadlines being missed.
Since most agencies now follow a remote-first approach, it’s important that you at least have an idea of when team members log on, the work that they do, and the time they spend on different tasks.
It’s important for you to meet up with all team members at least once a day, or maybe once every two or three days. This way you know everybody’s on the same page, and you’re more easily able to get updates from them.
Simply discussing tasks, and the approaches toward specific tasks, can go a long way in streamlining workflows. It’ll allow team members to pitch in and find the most efficient way to complete projects.
9. Not Establishing a Proper System for Client Handoffs
In a recent survey of 400 staff from agencies across the U.S. and Canada, 68.8% said that the cause of projects missing deadlines was poor communication with clients, with 32.2% of those saying that it was clients changing their minds or uncertain about aspects of the work towards the end of a project.
A seamless handoff is critically important for the success of your agency. It can save you from those annoying phone calls from clients or follow-up emails from developers on the client’s side that can’t understand certain things.
Almost every client you come across will have a question or two about their WordPress websites. It’s generally important that you have all of the information available and give it to them so that you can end the project without having to worry about needless friction getting in the way.
Establishing a proper system may depend on your agency management practices, but some key things to include are as follows:
- Always add a project summary
- Highlight and explain what the design aims to achieve
- Add a couple of services that you can upsell to your client
- Share any relevant and important information
- Always select reliable, trustworthy hosting
10. Not Nurturing and Fostering a Company Culture
Last but definitely not least, it’s important that you focus on cultivating and fostering a company culture in your organization. This is the glue that’s going to bind your company together and make the place more attractive to work for talented individuals.
Make sure you have clearly defined goals, values, and beliefs, and craft a story about your business that really highlights what it stands for, or what you bring to the table.
Most fledgling agencies tend to ignore the importance of fostering a company culture and end up missing out on top talent.
Management mistakes are inevitable as your agency grows. While some may only moderately impact day-to-day operations, others can significantly affect your bottom line. Over the past couple of years, management styles have evolved dramatically, especially as the world moved towards a remote-first approach to work.
Avoiding these common pitfalls can set you up for success as an agency owner, and make your company a better place to work. You’ll be able to attract top talent and keep satisfaction levels high, which ultimately translates to better performance at work!