When it comes to growing a business, size isn’t always the biggest indicator of success. In fact, some of the biggest companies experience loss year after year, while other more successful agencies find smart way to grow profits, and scale up from there.
If you’re in the boat where you’re looking to dramatically increase profits, then you need to make every hour and every dollar count. Here are 12 ways your agency can work to actually grow profits, rather than just the size of your company.
1. Optimize your utilization rate
By and large, the biggest investment you’ll make at your agency is your employees. Hiring, onboarding, salaries, retaining employees, benefits, and turnover are all expensive. While you may not have much control over the actual salary you agree to pay your employees, you do have the ability to make sure you are optimizing your utilization rate, or the percentage of time spent on billable work. This is especially true if you hire hourly employees, remote employees, or pay per project.
To optimize your utilization rate, invest in a time tracking software. A time tracking software will tell you exactly how and where your employees are spending their time. That way, you aren’t paying them to sit around and rack up hours; you’ll be paying them only for time they spend working on your assigned projects.
A time tracking software is a small expense compared to the amount you’ll save making sure you’re only paying for time employees are working. Additionally, there is an added benefit that you can invoice and pay employees from within most time tracking programs.
2. Ensure your potential leads convert
Pouring money into marketing does little good if you can’t capture leads. There are several ways to combat this issue, but one of the primary ways is to create a lead magnet for your agency.
A lead magnet is a piece of helpful information like an ebook, a video training, or any other type of helpful downloadable that you give to interested parties in exchange for contact information.
This is a great way to build trust, collect contact information, and then follow-up with them via email marketing or with a call from your sales team.
While it’s true that some customers will find your product and order immediately (yay!), there are also several people who are interested, but not quite ready to commit. For these potential customers, there are lead magnets.
3. Reduce your lead response time
Along the same lines, another quick fix you can make that will affect the profitability of your agency is to reduce your lead response time.
A recent study by HBR showed that online leads have a short life, many companies let them go cold, and some companies (23% of those surveyed to be exact) didn’t respond to the lead at all. Gasp.
When customers come looking for a product or service like yours chances are they aren’t just looking at one company. The more you can do to get back to customers within 0-5 minutes, the more likely you will be to land the sale.
If getting back to a customer requires you to hire more salespeople, invest in a dialer, or update your CRM, then do it. It will be worth it in the long run.
4. Stop overservicing
According to the State of Agency Workflow Management report, 49% of agencies reported a profit loss of 11% due to overservicing. In other words, 49% of agencies are doing work that they aren’t getting paid for. There are several reasons for this including not budgeting the right amount of time for a project, poorly managing projects, and/or not automating manual tasks, to name a few.
The best way to stop overservicing is to get insight into how much a project will cost, how much time it will take to complete, who is working on the project, and more. A project management tool as well as a time tracking tool with strong reporting tools will give you real-time insight into how a project is progressing.
Furthermore, you can use the data from past projects to make projections about future projects. Not to mention, you can schedule your employees appropriately, set up workflows, and set up alerts to help keep you on track.
Sometimes the best way to become more profitable is to work smarter, not harder.
5. Start guest blogging
The word “blog” may conjure up thoughts of mommy bloggers offering funny personal stories about parenting. But, there is a lot more to blogging than just the occasional funny toddler story. In fact, content fuels the internet and the more fresh content you write, the more opportunities you have to get in front of potential customers. As such, every company, no matter their industry, should be blogging more.
Of course, you want to keep the blog on your own website fresh for several reasons. It makes Google happy and they will reward you in the SERP. It establishes you as an industry expert. And, it gives customers what they want…more of you and more of your brand.
However, don’t overlook the power of guest blogging. It’s also smart to leverage the credibility, followers, and domain authorities of other popular blogs to drive power and traffic back to your site.
If you’re not a great writer, then hire a freelance writer to pump out great content for you. You’ll be glad you did.
6. Learn about your customers
Brick-and-mortar stores have the luxury of talking with their clients face-to-face every day. However, just because you are an agency, and may not interact directly with your clients, doesn’t mean that you can’t interact with them and get feedback from them.
A great way to become more profitable is to elicit feedback from your loyal followers and then make smart business improvements based on the information your customers offer you.
Two of the most popular and telling customer surveys are the CSAT (customer satisfaction survey) and the NPS (net promoter score).
The CSAT is a survey you send to your clients after a specific interaction asking them how satisfied they were with their encounter. This tells you how well you are performing, how happy (or unhappy) your customers are, and will help you identify potential changes you may need to make to your products, services, staff, or brand.
The NPS is a survey that asks, usually on a scale from 1-10, how likely your customers are to refer you to friends and family. Anyone who rates you highly is considered a brand advocate, and you can usually count on these people to help spread the good work.
Customers make the world go round, and they certainly contribute to the profits of your agency. Do your best to stay in touch with them.
7. Work on growing existing accounts
It’s no secret that it cost much less to keep a customer than it does to get a new customer which is why managing customer churn is important for the growth of your business. Of course, you don’t want to stop generating new leads, but it’s also important to invest in growing your existing accounts.
When you hire an account manager, train them to actually nurture current customer accounts, not just to land new sales day-in and day-out. This includes implementing services to foster customer loyalty, offering new sales and products to existing customers, sending information about new trends and products, and finding ways to optimize the accounts of current customers in any way possible. The more attention you pay to current customers the more likely they are to stay with your brand.
8. Prioritize communication
Imagine how easy it is to lose a client when they can’t easily get a hold of you. Similarly, current customers will find it easy to forget about your brand and shop somewhere else if they never get alerts and/or promotions from you.
Nurture your current client relationships by improving your intake strategies as well as fine-tuning your email marketing tactics.
To make sure your clients can get ahold of you, find a software that allows your clients to easily get ahold of you. Also, help train your staff so that when the phone rings, they either answer straight away or they get back to the client within minutes.
Remember answering a phone call is only half of the communication battle. Communication is a two-way street, which means you should also keep customers in the loop about happenings at your firm. You can do this by investing in a smart email marketing provider. With an email provider, you can collect subscribers, personalize your content, and automate your messages, making sure all your clients stay updated.
9. Systematize proposals & contracts
You may have a proposal writer and even a proposal template at your agency, but how long does it take to customize the process, and how much are you paying a single person to try and keep up? Furthermore, how long does it take to actually collect a signature and finalize a contract?
Systematizing proposals and contracts is a must of every agency that is looking to save money and boost revenues. A proposal and contract software helps you speed up turnaround times with easy to customize templates, collaboration tools, and notifications.
Take the headache out of proposal writing and contracts by automating the process.
10. Schedule appointments automatically
How annoying is the back and forth process of trying to get ahold of your client and then actually finding a time where both of you can meet? That is, it’s annoying if you don’t have a software to help you. Instead of trying to get them on the phone, use a scheduling software where you both can enter your availability and easily agree on a time to meet that works with both of your schedules.
Once you have an appointment scheduled, you’ll both get notifications reminding you of the appointment.
Some appointment apps integrate with top marketing software (like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, Slack, Google, etc.) so you can keep track of your meetings in multiple places.
When you save precious time by automating tasks you were doing manually before, you save money for your firm.
Hiring remote workers is becoming more and more of a trend, and it’s with good reason. When you hire a remote worker, you save money. Typically, you don’t have to pay a salary. You don’t have to pay benefits. You don’t have expensive leases in big buildings or associated furniture costs. When it comes right down to it, you are only paying for the work your contract workers promised to complete, and you’re only paying them for the hours that they work. Nothing less, nothing more. Plus, you can use a time tracker to ensure accuracy.
While this saves you money, studies also show that remote workers are happier than those that come into the office.
12. Ask for referrals
Take some of the pressure off yourself and let your good reputation do some of the work for you. You can save money by training your sales and customer service representatives to ask for referrals. Consider rewarding your employees for every referral they acquire. And why not offer a referral incentive to your clients as well. You can make this easier with the use of a referral software. Cell phone providers are famous for this strategy, but there is no reason why it can’t work for your agency as well.
Remember that referrals don’t always come by word-of-mouth. They can also come in the form of a good online review. This is especially important considering 92% of all customers read online reviews, and that number is only growing. You can either ask your customers to leave an online review for you, or invest in an online review software.
As an agency-owner, it’s vital to focus on how you can increase profits. Increasing profits can come from powering up your marketing and sales tactics, and it can also come from improving your business practices with time saving software.
Regardless of your methods, hopefully this is a thriving and profitable year for you and your agency.
Greg Digneo writes for TimeDoctor.com, a time monitoring and productivity monitoring software designed for tracking hours and productivity of remote teams. If you would like to see where you and your team are spending your time during work, try Time Doctor free for 14 days.