Running a creative agency means that you’ll probably have many different plates spinning at once. Trying to keep on top of everything can be tough for even the most experienced agency owners or employees. However, there are probably areas within your agency that aren’t yet as efficient as they can be. There are plenty of benefits to making your processes more efficient, not least because it can free up time and headspace to focus on what’s really important to you, such as delivering outstanding work, maintaining good client relations, and ensuring that your services are innovative and valuable. This is easier said than done, however, when you’re in the midst of running a busy creative agency. It can be hard to see the wood for the trees when your working day is consumed with the everyday running of your operation. So, in this blog post, I’ll take you through a few of the simple ways creative agencies can become more efficient, to give you some inspiration that you could apply to your own agency. Most agencies find that by improving efficiency, they also improve some other key elements of their business- the biggest one being profitability and creative output. So, if you want to streamline your processes and become a bigger and better agency as a result, you need to be on the lookout for what you can do to improve efficiency. And, that is what this blog post is designed to help you with.
Managing your team and their workloads is the key to greater efficiency
What is the most important and valuable asset that your agency has? Your answer should definitely be your team! They are, of course, the backbone of your agency. They keep everything ticking over and produce the exceptional work that you are best known for. But how well do you really know your team’s priorities and workload? It makes sense that if your team are the most important and valuable element of your company, they are also where efficiency can be improved the most. Take a deep dive into your team and their daily tasks. What are they doing well, and where could they improve efficiency? It could be that your team is not being utilised to the best of their individual abilities, and your agency may benefit from shifting some tasks around to those who can perform them the best.
Do you and your team feel as though you constantly have too many projects to cope with? Taking a closer look at your team’s capacity will give you a clearer answer on how many projects you can take on at once without becoming overwhelmed. From this, you may need to make some adjustments such as taking on extra freelancers to cover busy periods, or reviewing what you charge so that it better reflects your team’s skills and experience. It is important to ensure that your team has enough time to complete projects to the best possible standard. While it may seem inefficient to actually give a team more time to complete a project, doing so will ensure that it is completely to the best of their ability, first time around. This will then prevent more time and resources being used down the line for corrections and revisions. Encouraging group working, collaboration, and the sharing of ideas is also another way to improve efficiency and utilise the whole team on a project to get the best results.
Furthermore, even if you already look after your team well, it’s a good idea to learn more about your team and how satisfied they are with their work. Are they happy in their jobs? What can be done to improve their happiness at work? Even if they are satisfied, can you spend more quality time with them to understand how they are doing and how their projects are going? A team that is content in their role is more likely to be efficient and productive, so it pays to take care of them and listen to their concerns. Overall, the message here is, don’t ignore your team! They will give you valuable insight into capacity and job satisfaction, which can be used as the baseline for the simple ways creative agencies can become more efficient across the board.
How do you track time efficiently?
As I’ve already mentioned, your team is undoubtedly the most important asset for any company. But what is it about them that is so valuable? Of course, it is the unique skills that they can offer. However, it is also the time that they provide your agency, where they utilise these skills and turn them into the end result of finished products for your clients. Because of this, it is very important to track time as efficiently as possible. But, completing timesheets is the bane of many agencies. Plenty of teams simply hate doing them, and see them as a bit of a waste of time. How do you track your employees time at the moment? Do you even do it at all? This is one area in which it is easy to make some changes that lead to greater efficiency. It’s important for every team member to know the importance of why their time is tracked. Of course, it’s to benefit the agency and its efficiency. But, it can also hugely help the team members themselves. They’ll be able to see where their time is going, and the steps that they can take to spend less time on the things that don’t matter, freeing up time to spend on the things that matter the most.
It’s a good idea to implement systems in which employees chart their time as they go along, and not all in one go at the end of the working week or each project. This will give you the most accurate insight into how their time is being utilised. Of course, it is not about tracking their time so that you can scrutinise their every move. It’s all about getting an accurate picture of how time is being spent. You can then use this data to see where efficiency can be improved. Perhaps too much time is being spent on project administration tasks, and these processes need to be simplified. Or, maybe internal communication is scattered and difficult to find all in one place- I’ll come on to this shortly! Whatever unique challenges your creative agency faces, knowing what takes up too much time, at the detriment of other tasks and projects as a whole, is a good step to rectifying the problem and helping the agency as a whole to become more efficient!
Use the information you’ve gained to create more accurate proposals
Once you know your team and their capacity, as well as what is taking up their time, what can you do now? One of the most simple ways creative agencies can become more efficient is by using the data they have gained from taking a deep look into their business and using it to craft accurate proposals. These proposals use data from previous projects, such as how long each aspect of the project takes, and what resources were used to see it through to completion. By effectively tracking projects, seeing where they are perhaps inefficient, rectifying this, and implementing accurate quotes, you should see your agency productivity go up as a whole.
These quotes are useful for everyone involved in a project, including your team and the client. It gives everyone a clear set of expectations to follow and helps ensure that time and resources are no longer wasted where perhaps they once were. It also means that you can allocate the right amount of time for your team members to get their jobs done to the best of their ability. And, you can take a look at who the best people are to carry out each particular job. Perhaps, if they are not currently available, you could even delay the start time of the project to accommodate them. While this may seem like a less efficient way of doing things, it can actually ensure that things run smoothly, are completed more quickly, and are overall better for everyone involved. Not only will giving accurate quotes using data from previous projects improve efficiency, but it should also raise client satisfaction. This is because they will feel as though they are being communicated to clearly and fairly, and will know the direction for their project, together with a clear set of deliverables.
How can you encourage effective and efficient team collaboration?
Ensuring that your team can work together effectively is one of the best ways to improve efficiency across every project they carry out. But how can you ensure that this happens? Well, by putting in place easy standards of communication for everyone to follow. This is especially prevalent as we move into 2021, as more and more people are continuing to work from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated government restrictions. If solid communication processes are not put in place, time and resources can be wasted and things can get missed as people don’t know how and who to communicate with at the right time. I would suggest that all creative agencies have a centralised hub of communication to aid this process and improve efficiency as a result. Whether this is a bespoke piece of online software, or simply a list of protocols to follow and where to communicate, making sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to communication is vital for encouraging efficient project management.
Furthermore, when you’re using virtual online software such as Microsoft Teams or Slack to communicate, it’s important to ensure that it is used effectively. Does every team member know how to use it properly? Are you making the most of all of the features available to aid your ease of communication? Simply checking in with everyone about this, and helping everyone to make the most of these platforms, can do wonders for efficient communication when people are working virtually.
One of the simple ways creative agencies can become more efficient is by just sticking to what they know
There is the argument that any kind of project that you can take on is good, as it means revenue coming in and your portfolio being built up. While I would definitely say this is true for brand new creative agencies or those still trying to find their feet, it is definitely not true of everyone. If you’re a more established creative agency that’s built up your own niche or specific skill set, you can improve the efficiency of your agency by only chasing the leads that fit into this. Ultimately, it’s about knowing what you do particularly well and working to continuously improve your delivery process. If you only take on projects that you know you can deliver with maximum efficiency, you will be able to take on more of them and also build up your reputation in that specific niche. If you’re not yet sure exactly which sorts of leads you should be chasing, you can take a look at the data surrounding previous projects. Which ones were the most profitable for you? Which were the most efficient or needed minimal intervention to improve their efficiency? These are the sorts of things you should be looking to work on in the future, if possible!
But, if you do want to move into new areas and start diversifying the sort of projects that you work on, be prepared to invest a significant amount of time to making sure that you and your team are ready to take them on before you do so. Sticking to your existing niche is the most efficient way to get quality projects completed, so ensure that you’re not moving into new areas at the detriment of your team, their time, and their existing skills and knowledge.
Simple ways creative agencies can become more efficient: conclusion
No creative agency will ever work with 100% efficiency. This is impossible for any business in any industry! There are always going to be days or projects where efficiency just isn’t working as well for you as it usually is. Having said that, there are things you can do, such as what’s outlined above, to encourage a culture of efficiency, and maximise your profitability as a result. It all comes down to monitoring your timings, team, resources, and so on, measuring this data, and using it to inform future projects and decisions in your business. By doing this, you will quickly pick up on where efficiency can be maximised, helping to improve your processes going forward, as well as your team’s wellbeing.
If you would like to find out more about the simple ways creative agencies can become more efficient, and how I can help your creative agency improve its efficiency and profitability, please visit my website or get in touch to discuss your individual needs!