Want to Grow Your Agency and Increase YOY Growth Rate? Here Are Some Options for Agency Owners.
Growing an agency is a universal problem every agency owner faces at some point. So, how to grow your agency and navigate the challenges that come in your way?
Staying boutique-sized comes with its own charm, no doubt. But if you aren’t growing – either vertically or horizontally, your competitors are. And sooner or later, they’ll poach your clients.
With that said, growing an agency is a real problem that keeps most agency owners up at night.
Grow Your Agency – The Frustrating Plateau Agency Owners Face
In the beginning, things seem to go well. You hire a handful of people, land a few big clients, and you make money.
But then, how do you make more money next year than you did this year?
Finding clients isn’t a problem for you – delivering and committing to them is. Your handful of people can only do so much. The catch is: if you don’t take on new clients, you hit a growth plateau.
So, how do you scale and grow your agency to break through that plateau?
You’ve Two Options to Grow Your Agency
Once you hit that plateau, it’s time to step up your game and try different strategies and tactics than what you were doing before.
Now, you’ve two main options when it comes to growing your revenues:
Hire more people and say ‘Yes’ to more clients
Increase your prices and make more with your existing clients
Here, we’ll look at both the options and we’ll talk about the challenges agency owners face, the places where they go wrong, and what’s the best strategy to grow your business.
How Prepared Are you to Capture the Opportunities that Arise?
If your agency takes off well, two things happen
- Your existing clients refer you and you get a lot of business through referrals
- Your existing clients want you to serve all of their digital needs, meaning they demand more services from you than what you offer currently
Both cases have the same implication: there is a clear opportunity for growth. But are you prepared to tap into that opportunity? Or do you find yourself saying NO all the time to clients?
Do You Have Less Than 10 Active Clients?
Having less than 10 active clients is a symptom of a problem called Client Concentration Problem. It means you’re making more than 20% of your revenue from a single client. If you lose that gorilla client, you’ll need to lay off your people and cut your paycheck to stay in business.
If this is true, you need to say YES to more clients to diversify your portfolio and minimize the impact of losing those gorilla clients. If a gorilla client fires you, you’ll have other active accounts to cushion the impact.
Should You Expand Your Employee Base To Grow Your Agency?
Two-thirds of agencies in the U.S. employ fewer than five people. (US Census Bureau)
But to grow and scale, you need more people. Here are some challenges that stop agency owners from expanding their employee base.
Every person in your team comes with a weight that sinks your boat
Think of your team as a boat. Every person you hire comes with a weight (salary, benefits, time-off, vacations) that can sink your boat.
More pressure when there’s a dip in business
Dips and hikes in business are common in an agency. But when you add more people to your team, the pressure of meeting payroll can keep you up at night.
Less time for marketing and branding
As you add more people to your team, the increasing administrative needs of your business will eat up your resources, which means you’ll have less time to focus on branding and business development.
Your agency’s success depends on the talent pool you acquire. And yet, any agency owner would resonate with the pains of retaining those talented employees you fought so hard (with your time and money) to acquire.
You need more non-billable people
Every time you add an 8th or 9th person to your team, you need another non-billable person to keep those billable people in their positions. This means now you’re not just trying to cover the salaries of your billable people but also your non-billable people as well.
You definitely need more people to grow and scale. But there’s a risk of sinking your boat. How do you navigate this challenge?
Should You Increase Your Prices to Grow Your Agency?
Let’s talk about the second option for scaling up: Increasing your prices. Will it solve the Agency Growth dilemma?
Here’s how our prices are hurting us:
We Overservice Clients
All of us overservice our clients and disregard estimates. The problem is at the root – our process of taking estimates is wrong. When we go around the office, asking everyone to estimate the time it’d take to complete a task, we’re usually looking at ‘perfect day scenarios’. If someone says it’d take 3 hours, it means it would take them 3 hours on a perfect day. Those perfect days are hard to come by. And so, there’s no doubt that you’re overservicing your clients and hurting your bottom line.
The problem can be fixed by raising your prices. But it isn’t as simple as it sounds. If you’re still in your infancy, you risk losing clients that would eagerly go off to your competitors that are offering better prices.
Will Niching Down and Adding a Premium Solve My Problem?
Let’s talk about another common way most agencies choose to scale these days – by niching down and adding a premium for their service. If you choose to serve only the B2B industry, a price premium is well deserved. By niching down, you’ll understand the nuances of that industry, hire people with specific experience, and just be in a better position to ask more.
But will that solve the agency growth dilemma?
Niching down will definitely move you up the plateau for a bit but then you’ll find yourself face-to-face with that same frustrating growth plateau again.
If your current prices are hurting your bottom line, you should definitely fix them. If you think niching down can help you grow, narrow down your focus.
While this may solve your problem in the short term, sooner to later you’re bound to go looking for more effective solutions to grow your agency.
How Your Competitors Grow Their Agencies
Partnerships are the way to go. You can navigate the challenges effectively by partnering up with a White Label Agency.
With a White Label partnership, you can grow your agency and scale without adding more people to your team. You can say ‘Yes’ more often – even to those small one-off clients that can add so much to your top-line revenues.
What Does a White Label Partnership Mean?
The White Label Agency you team up with signs an NDA with you, meaning they do all the work of service fulfillment but remain hidden behind the scenes. They’ll even talk to your clients on call but never disclose that they aren’t part of your company.
With a White Label Partner backing you up, you can effectively grow your agency, do more business with more clients, without increasing your overhead expenses.
This means huge profits for your agency.