3 Steps to Building a Successful Agency of 100 Employees

By Jason Swenk on December 16, 2020

Do you ever wonder what the big guys with over 100 agency employees are doing to be successful? Wonder what it takes to truly be a full-service agency? In order to have a successful agency, do you have to live in a large city like New York or LA? Careful planning and an understanding of your clients’ needs is vital to building an agency and a large team able to provide a variety of different services.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Having a long-term plan for your agency.
  • Building a Successful Team of 100 Agency Employees
  • Mentoring your agency team.
  • Why technology is more important than physical location.

I talked to Reid Carr, the CEO of Red Door Interactive, a full-service agency headquartered in San Diego that works with a number of well-known clients. Eighteen years ago, Reid decided he hadn’t found a place where he wanted to be, so he created one. Since then, he learned a thing or two about growing a successful business of 100 agency employees. Here are some steps he learned from the experience of providing full-service in an age of rapidly evolving technology.

Building a Successful Team of 100 Agency Employees

Step One: Have a Long-Term Plan

According to Reid, the most important thing he did for Red Door happened before the business even began. He took a business plan writing class and developed a business plan workbook. And the plan wasn’t just what he was going to do immediately after starting the business. It was a 10-year plan, and while it did address revenue and how many team members he planned to have, it focused on other aspects of the business:

  • Proper training and SOP’s:  ensuring all new team members are properly trained and given the freedom to excel in the area where they were hired. Also, ensure resiliency in each service team by cross-training.  This makes recovering from a team member leaving easier for those who remain.
  • Specialization: Create value for clients by integrating services and hiring experts in each service area. This broadens the overall strategy for each unique client with communication between the service teams.
  • Share stories:  Develop a portfolio of work or success stories to share with prospects. Reid said this can be difficult for an agency just starting out because they have don’t have a ton of work to showcase. In the early years, Red Door did a lot of pro-bono work for non-profit organizations as a way to develop a portfolio of work.

Step Two: Mentor Your Team

“I love having a bigger team,” says Reid. “Foundationally, with a bigger team, there are a lot of people helping each other out, as long as that is the culture you have developed.”

Reid says developing a culture of teamwork and success is a matter of hiring smart people and giving them reasons to want to stay, as well as helping them to progress to each new structural level. A lot of individuals who work in the marketing agency industry tend to be young and often show great leadership skills but little managerial experience. “So you’re working with managers,” he says. “And you’re managing managers and you’re managing managers who are managing people.”

So what is the secret? “The relationship you have with your managers is the relationship you have with your company,” says Reid.

Step Three: Technology Matters More Than Location

There’s an old adage in the real estate industry: Location, location, location. That adage is often heard in the marketing agency industry, as well. Reid believes many clients are hesitant to work with agencies located in other markets. Small town agencies are particularly at a disadvantage. Likewise, there are many agency owners who believe they can’t offer all services or attract large clients because they’re not in a big market.

“Location doesn’t make you more valuable,” Reid says. “It doesn’t offer any value other than exposure and access to certain things. Specializing and being the best is what makes you valuable.” There is also a lot of value in people living and working where they feel most comfortable. The technological evolution provides the opportunity to offer more services, as well as the opportunity to be successful from anywhere. This means you can hire amazing remote talent to work from anywhere and service clients from all around the world.

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What’s Next For Your Agency

When you have your 100 agency employees, you need to ensure all your processes in place are strong and effective in order to provide the results you want. If you don’t think you do — this is where I can step in.

I have advice for agency obstacles such as recognising common agency mistakes, how to keep great agency employees in your team as well as fostering the connections made with clients. If it’s challenging growing your business, I have agency growth hacks, the best ways to improve management of your business as well as why building a remote team can be beneficial in the long run.

Learn more about my career as well as tips, tricks, and insights by checking out my blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.

You can learn more from my experience from my Ask Swenk series and my videos on my Youtube channel. Check out advice and learn even more from other successful agency experts featured on Smart Agency podcast twice every week.

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