Agency work can be unpredictable, especially if you’re just starting out. How many people should you have on staff? How many projects can you take on? How much money will your agency make?
Answering these questions is no easy feat, and resource planning is essential because it helps you find workable solutions. When you get resource planning right, it will lead to better productivity and project outcomes, which equals more money in the bank.
Ready to get started with resource planning for your digital marketing agency but not sure where to start? We’ve outlined three easy steps you can take today to plan and allocate your resources correctly and scale your agency to seven figures and beyond.
Resource Planning Defined
Resource planning is all about how you manage your most valuable agency resource – people. It’s a never-ending process that requires you to think about who to hire and when, and how to deploy your talented team to boost productivity, job satisfaction, and profits.
When an agency does resource planning right, there will be adequate staff to handle the work that comes your way. It’s a delicate balance, though, because you want to ensure that you can scale without bleeding money during slower months.
Due to the nature of agency work, there will always be phases of insanely busy moments followed by brief lulls. The key to resource planning is to minimize the unpredictability of workflow without compromising staffing.
Calculate Your Utilization Rate
Resource planning first starts with understanding how many hours you can bill for each task compared to how much you’re paying your staff.
There are two important considerations here:
- What percentage of your employees’ time is billable? This will vary for each person and each position. Some people on your team may do no billable work, and you’ll have to build that into your costs when you determine what your hourly or project rate will be.
- Even billable employees will not bill 100% of their hours. Consider coffee breaks, water cooler chats, internal meetings, education, and other lost minutes of the day. On average, a billable team member is “productive” about 62.5% of the time. You can use this figure as a benchmark to plan accordingly.
Balance Staffing Options
For a digital marketing agency, your employees are likely your largest expense. One of our top tips for digital marketing agencies is to have flexible staffing options to account for varying workflows without compromising your ability to take on more work.
For many agencies, this looks like having a blend of full-time staffers and freelancers. Having a stable team allows you to deliver consistent, high-quality work. However, if your staff is too large, you might find that things get unstable. By adding a few on-call freelancers to your team, you’ll have the ability to respond to new client requests without necessarily having to make a full-time hire.
Get Comfortable with Forecasting
While resource planning sometimes requires taking a leap of faith, you’ll be able to make better decisions if you’re armed with measurement tools that allow you to look back into the past to help plan your future.
There’s no shortage of measurement tools for digital marketing agencies, including the tracking tools for digital marketing agencies listed here.
3 Signs You Need to Improve Resource Planning
If you’re struggling in this area, you’re not alone. According to a HubStaff survey, only 43% of agencies classify their teams as productive. Further, a mere 9% are confident that they’re maximizing profits.
It can be difficult to recognize resource planning issues, so we’ve included 3 symptoms:
- You have too many (or not enough) people on your team. If you’re struggling to get projects done on time because you’re short-staffed, or you’re consistently over budget because you’ve got benchwarmers on your team, your resources need to be better balanced.
- You have unhappy clients. From missed deadlines to poor work quality, not having the right people on your team can hurt your agency.
- Your profits are lower than they should be. Finding the sweet spot of resource planning means maximizing profits because you have exactly the right quality and quantity of people on your team. A well-oiled machine will make you money while you sleep.
Scale Your Agency to Seven Figures with Proper Resource Planning
If you’re looking to grow your digital marketing agency, it starts with resource planning. Before you hop on another discovery call or write an email campaign, get comfortable with this part of your business. It will pay massive dividends.
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