The 6 Foundations You Need to Set to Scale Your Agency
Without a strong foundation, your agency may crumble under your scaling efforts.
You’ve got your agency off the ground. And you may think the hardest part is over.
But your work has only just begun.
I’m not talking about getting clients. That’s a different beast in itself.
However, if you want your agency to grow you need to make sure you lay the proper foundation.
What’s one of the biggest mistakes many agencies make?
Hyper-focusing on getting clients without the proper business processes in place.
Here’s the deal. If you get a lot of clients onto your agency platform, but your foundation is flimsy, it all comes crumbling down.
Putting business processes into place should be a priority before you try to scale your agency.
That’s right! Before you worry about growing your agency and scoringthose clients, make sure you’re ready for scaling up.
If you’re at a loss for where to begin, you can start with this list of tips for building a good foundation.
Even if you’ve already started laying the foundation for your agency, check out these tips. Use them as a checklist to make sure you’re on the right track.
Each agency is slightly different. However, there are a few general tips that work across the board. Here are 6 tips to keep in mind when scaling your agency.
Tip #1 – Get Your Numbers in Early
First, make sure you get your numbers in early. This works in your favour because otherwise, you can’t plan for the month.
Aim to have your numbers by the 10th of the month. Have a sit-down conversation with your CPA if you have to. But make sure that those numbers are in as close to the beginning of the month as possible.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to have this conversation with your CPA. This is something that needs to happen if you want to scale your agency.
You may have to do some negotiating about the exact delivery date of your numbers. But try to keep it within the first week and a half if possible.
Tip #2 – Get Paid in Advance
If you want to accelerate the cash you have in the bank, why not convince clients to pay in advance?
This way you see a little more in the bank. And big AR payments aren’t offsetting your monthly numbers.
Furthermore, they don’t have to pay the entire fee up front – unless they want to. Instead, convince them to pay for the quarter in advance.
Tip #3 – Find People to Close the Leads You Open
Are you closing your own leads? That may have worked well when you first started your agency but scaling up means a lot of changes. And one of them should be to find people to close the leads that you have opened.
Some qualities to look for when looking for closers may include:
- Relationship builders
- Strong understanding of a client’s needs
- Speak from a mindset of value for the client
- Ask a lot of questions to ensure they understand the client
- Like to stay on top of industry knowledge
- Can create a closing process to draw from
- Time management skills
As you scale your agency, you may find yourself with less time. So it’s a good idea to find great people to take this duty off your hands and close leads for you.
Tip #4 – Build Good Job Descriptions to Get the Right People
Sometimes what your agency needs is not more people, but the right people. Building a good job description can do that. A proper job description can also help weed out people who won’t fit your criteria.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in a consulting or agency business is to hire someone with a customer service mindset who believes the customer is always right, no matter what.
This type of thinking works when you’re in a commoditized market, but not when you’re selling expertise.
They want their clients to like them.
So what ends up happening is that a client asks for more and the person gives it. This can lead to over-servicing, and eventually, your profitability per client goes down.
Examples of the types of people you want to attract:
- Balanced consultant or small business owner
A balanced consultant or someone who’s owned their own small business will understand the client’s needs.
- Farmer salespeople
Additionally, you could also tailor your descriptions to entice farmer salespeople or those who know how to create a relationship with a client. They’re naturally predisposed to ask for more work, so they’re not afraid to do it.
Some additional tips to keep in mind when creating job postings are:
- Keep it clear and concise
- Talk up your impressive team
- Let them know about your cool work culture
- Use balanced wording that is fun but effective
- Try not to use clichés
- Define your audience
- Use visuals like infographics or videos
Lastly, don’t forget to keep those job postings open.
You never know when you may need to replace key personnel. So, it’s a good idea to have a deep pool of qualified candidates to pull from.
Keeping the posting open gives you an opportunity to hear from new candidates on an on-going basis.
Tip #5 – Use the Show Me Tell Me Model to Train Your People
The Show Me, Tell Me model is exactly what it sounds like.
First, show them what you’re doing. Showing allows your people to emulate, or copy, what you’re teaching.
After you show them what you want them to learn, it’s time to tell them. The “telling” portion of training gives your people the opportunity to memorize by recitation.
So, tell them what you are doing and give them a chance to memorize the process.
Next, tell them why you’re doing it. This is important so they understand why the process exists.
The final step involves asking them questions about what they got out of it.
Then it’s time for a role reversal where they show you and tell you what they have learned.
Use hypothetical scenarios and situations to help integrate the lesson into practice.
In addition, your people should also ask you what you got out of it to make sure they explained the process thoroughly.
This model is a highly effective teaching method that activates different parts of the brain.
Why? New knowledge stores in two different types of memory banks:
- Declarative memory – for storing facts and figures
- Procedural memory – for storing the set of facts and formulas to achieve cohesion
So ultimately, they should be able to teach others what they learned to demonstrate that they learned it correctly.
Tip #6 – Ensure Your Team Documents Their Processes
Another important tip when you are thinking about scaling your agency is documentation. This goes beyond writing what you do from day to day.
People don’t actually use stuff that they didn’t build themselves. So teach your team to document their processes and not leave it up to one or two persons.
Some ideas for documentation can include:
- Replace written documentation with flowcharts to illustrate processes
- Use short checklists to support the process
- Make it easier to follow by using icons and graphics
- Keep all writing short
- Layer processes into sub-steps if necessary
Furthermore, using playbooks adopted from other agencies may work. However, keep in mind that your people may be less likely to follow it because it wasn’t written by them.
In addition, let your people know that it’s their job and responsibility to be proactive. They should update the processes as needed.
Making the decision that it’s time for your agency to scale up is momentous. But without the proper foundations, your scaling efforts may crumble.
Don’t get left in the dust.
Instead, make it a point to build a solid foundation for your agency before you scale it.
Many of you may have these foundations in place to varying degrees. But first, it’s important to make sure they are solid.
So make sure you get your numbers in early in the month and get people to close your leads. Both of these tips can be time-savers for you. And help you plan out the rest of the month.
In addition, get the right people into place. Use good job descriptions and keep those postings open because you never know when you’ll need a replacement.
Furthermore, after you have a solid team built, don’t forget the Show Me, Tell Me model when showing them something new. It’s an invaluable teaching method that works well in the classroom and the workplace.
Lastly, don’t forget to have your people document their processes.
Using someone else’s playbook may be easier. But you want your people invested in following them. So have them create and update them as needed.
Fine-tuning these foundations early on will help you scale your agency without a hitch. And with a solid foundation under you, the only direction to go is up.
Dev “Scaling Boss” Basu