How to scale an agency while managing 2,000 client websites
From ensuring that you hire the right people and are retaining employees, to onboarding long-term clients that will allow your business to grow, there’s no doubt that scaling any agency comes with its challenges. Once you reach a certain level in your agency, serving and managing multiple clients and their websites, things can get even more demanding.
As a creative agency owner who has over 25 years of experience, I can sincerely say that scaling an agency while managing 2000 websites is no easy feat, but with the right know-how and tools, it is possible.
Simplify the most important processes
When you’re managing a myriad of different elements, simplifying all areas of how your agency operates is essential. To achieve this, agencies must first begin by assessing which critical tasks are taking up the most time or require the most input from the large majority of their teams. Essentially, business owners need to strategically lower the impact that the most burdensome and important work has on the operations team.
An agency specializing in designing websites, such as my own, will most likely realize that they need to understand their team's strengths and design logistics to optimize the business. In my own business, we came to understand that we needed a software solution that would simplify and facilitate our agency’s ability to easily produce professional websites at a faster rate for our clients. Our thinking at the time was that if we reduced the effort and time it took to fulfill our most critical task, we could free up time and resources to onboard new clients and ultimately grow our business.
Utilizing a low-code/no-code website building solution such as Duda helped us and will help growing agencies simplify the production and the workflow of their development, creative, and management teams. As a result, an agency’s core employees can rapidly create and finalize 10-page websites – which would normally take 20 hours to develop – within three to four hours. With up to 17 additional hours freed up, per website build, agencies that are just starting out can rapidly grow their business. More established agencies that manage many accounts will also benefit greatly from having additional hours to spare, as they can utilize these hours to manage even more clients and deliver even more products and services. For example, my agency only has one person in charge of maintaining 2,000 sites, because the website builder we use, Duda, allows us to easily take care of updates and ensure modern websites that are constantly upgraded to the latest best practices.
Deliver a product that’s easy to use and unmatched in quality
The quality of the final product delivered to a client will greatly affect whether an agency will receive repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals. While spending money on marketing to bring in new clients is a great strategy in the short term, giving existing customers an incredible user experience and product will ensure that clients become free brand ambassadors, referring people to your business and plugging your service on social media.
Agencies that are managing a significant number of clients and want to drive high volumes of growth must utilize the most effective product support solutions to give their customers the best treatment. Pivoting to superior software, sooner, will help agencies deliver high-quality products and services. With a plethora of software solutions on the market, agencies must set aside time to investigate and test new software. Finding a solution that enhances the quality of the final product and makes the product easy to use might take time, but agencies should see this time as a necessary investment that will have good returns.
Nurture revenue-building relationships with excellent support
Every relationship has the potential to be the key to an agency’s next big deal and growth. I’ll refer to my own agency as an example. In 2010, we started out with only eight clients. By keeping our clients happy, and with no sales or business development team, we grew to over 1,300 clients and counting. Clients who are well taken care of will reward you, and those who feel that your agency is not meeting their needs will warn their networks about your service.
A major factor in maintaining a good relationship is the quality of support and communication they receive. When there is a request for their website to be updated, how long will it take for your agency to respond? If an average of a hundred service requests are received each week, can all requests be answered within two to three hours? Does your agency have a post-launch communication plan? These are the questions that agency owners need to ask themselves in order to assess the quality of their support. Agencies should never underestimate the power of calling clients regularly, solving their problems expeditiously, and sharing helpful information and insights without being prompted.
Good service almost always leads to gaining a client's trust. Once an agency has earned the trust of its clients, it is in a better position to offer additional services and will likely see clients remaining customers for a long time. While some may argue that retaining customers for a long period of time is insignificant, the reality, according to a survey conducted by conversion rate optimization experts Invesp, is that acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than keeping an existing one. Mistreating or ignoring existing clients won’t get agencies any closer to actualizing their goal of scaling their business.
A very important caveat is that not all clients are worth keeping. Most agencies will at some point encounter a client who cannot be satisfied, no matter what you do. To illustrate how we deal with high-stress clients in my own business, I’ll refer to a quarterly Board of Directors meeting which took in 2018. At the meeting, one of the Board members asked what our client turnover rate was, and I proudly replied: “less than one percent.” To my surprise, the entire Board was adamant that the client churn rate should be higher, as keeping difficult clients was bound to hinder the agency’s continuous growth. Today, we are able to identify which clients are worth keeping and which aren't – a skill that all growing agencies should adopt. While we have only had to let go of about 10 to 15 clients, the shift in thinking resulted in increased productivity and, more importantly, a much better atmosphere in the workplace. No client is worth keeping if they bring unhappiness and unnecessary stress to an agency’s employees.
Quality begets quantity
Growing an agency while managing thousands of clients, while extremely challenging, is possible. Agencies that want to grow must simplify processes, deliver a high-quality service, and excel at customer support to effectively and seamlessly scale. When an agency specializes in a specific product offering, it’s critical to streamline the process of how the product is built. Quality will result in quantity: the higher the quality of the final product, the more revenue an agency will see. Furthermore, and most importantly, offering memorable and outstanding customer service will guarantee that clients spread the word and drive significant business growth.
Photo by Canva Studio