You’ve achieved almost everything you dreamed of…
Things have really taken off in your business. You land new clients regularly, referrals are coming in, and your revenue is increasing. You’re able to hire and you lead a small team of talent to help manage your growing client base. Everything should be great!
But reality sets in.
Despite the increase in clients, your profit margins aren’t matching. You can’t afford to bring on more talent to help with the extra workload, but you can’t put it all on the team you have. So you work longer and longer days; twelve hours at the office have become your norm, six, even seven days a week. With each new client, that workload increases, and finally you realize you’re not moving forward. You’re just furiously beating your oars – not going anywhere on a ship that keeps getting pushed back by the tide!
An owner of a mid-sized marketing agency found himself in this exact position. He knew that he was putting in far too much effort for far too little profit. They were simply trying to stay afloat but it never made sense. His client roster was strong! They should be making profits!
He knew there must be a better way to manage all this work and sought help from Brad Farris and his team at Anchor Advisors, Ltd..
The marketing agency had grown over the years and things should have been going well by all accounts. They knew how to land clients. New business was regular and the agency had grown to 14 employees. It was the dream.
Yet, despite the increase of clients and talent, the scope of the engagements were all over the place and profit margins were not increasing. Capacity problems were at an all time high. Everyone from executive leadership to employees were getting burned out, juggling too many things, and working long days. Key leaders were looking to leave the agency just to find some sanity. Furthermore, the owner had not been able to step away from the business for even a few hours in years.
Clearly what had worked to get the agency to the level it was at was not supporting size it had become. There was chaos everywhere. The idea of taking on a new client brought feelings of fear and dread, instead of the exhilaration and excitement that had been there before. The team was not performing as it should have been and the agency simply had no ability to grow beyond their current threshold.
Everything felt out of control – like an untamed beast that keeps getting more unruly. Something had to change or it would bring them underwater!
The agency owner realized that he did not know how to regain control of his business at its new level on his own. He sought out Brad and Anchor Advisors to help.
The owner and Brad settled on a full people, process, performance and methodology review to start tackling the issues. Several areas within the agency were contributing to the problem and that meant the solutions needed to touch all aspects of the business.
Anchor Advisors helped the agency owner have a holistic view of financials and operations that he had never seen before. Brad’s analysis uncovered many opportunities and issues that could be used to better manage workflow and tame the tide. A few examples of things they were able to decipher were:
- Identify the clients that provided the largest opportunity for growth and profits.
- Uncover bad-fit clients that were costing the agency more than they were bringing in
- Internal team roles that were underutilized or had potential for expansion
- Internal team roles that were redundant
- Which processes were missing to fully meet organizational needs
One key aspect of the work involved creating a way to forecast utilization and get a handle on who was busy, and how busy were they! These tools helped us to see where resources and processes were holding back progress, and other areas where the organization was performing well.
The agency owner started to realize that not all revenue is good revenue. And with Brad’s help, they uncovered the areas that were causing losses for the company.
Together, over a period of about 1-2 years, productive ways of working started to replace ineffective ones. A solid foundation was laid with each new process implementation and the “beast” was slowly tamed.
The ship is now sailing smoothly and the agency is booming! What was a 14 person agency that was unprofitable, and suffering under chaos is now a thriving 40 person agency that knows how to scale.
Costly clients were let go. More profitable clients were added to the books. Processes and procedures were implemented to manage work. Staffing decisions were made to improve service. Delegation is healthily practiced. Team members have ownership and empowerment in their roles.
Best of all, using the systems that Brad and Anchor Advisors put in place, the agency owner now has total control of his business, has been able to eliminate long hours and has a healthy, balanced life.
With Brad’s guidance the agency owner now has the tools and confidence to properly scale the business, no matter what. He has total control. The agency owner said that “Brad gave us a smooth running organization that is profitable and healthy. In our industry things are unpredictable and with Brad’s help, I know we can withstand anything.”
Photo Credit: James Loesch