Why Hiring a President Might Be Just What Your Agency Needs to Grow Faster

By Jason Swenk on September 4, 2022

Is it time to replace yourself within your agency? Could you grow faster with by bringing on someone in a president role? What do you expect from someone in this seat? Today’s guest was brought into a digital agency to help run the business as the owner stepped back. He now recalls his journey adjusting to the role of president and gives tips on what you should expect when you start looking for someone to replace you.

Chintan Shah is the President of KNB Communications, a full-service marketing and PR firm dedicated to healthcare, especially in the area of health technology. He started his career in marketing, product development, and product management, and eventually found himself leading a sales and marketing division for a medical device company.

After overseeing an agency’s integration into this company, the agency owner actually reached out to him to let him know she was looking to step back from daily operations. She needed someone to help her run the agency. Fortunately, Chintan was looking for a new adventure in his career, so it was perfect timing on both sides. He has now been leading the agency for six years.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • Where to start the search for new agency leadership.
  • Leveraging experience in sales as the president of an agency.
  • 4 KPI’s that define and measure the success of new agency leadership.

Sponsors and Resources

Wix: Today’s episode is sponsored by the Wix Partner Program. Being a Wix Partner is ideal for freelancers and digital agencies that design and develop websites for their clients. Check out Wix.com/Partners to learn more and become a member of the community for free.

Related article:  https://jasonswenk.com/digital-agency-ceo/


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Filling a Key Agency Role Starts With Your Personal Network

The way this agency owner reached out to Chintah is a perfect example of how you should start with your personal network. They had worked together for three years previously, so it was natural to share the need to hire and ask for candidate referrals.

When you’re looking for someone to replace you, you may not want to start by openly broadcasting your intentions. For instance, you can start by reaching out to former clients and contacts within your network to let them know that you’re looking for someone.

It’s important to understand the criteria of what you’re looking for. What do you want that person to do? Make a list to identify some of the top criteria, which will depend on your priorities. You may be looking for experience or someone who brings something new to take your agency to the next level.

Do More Sales Equal Faster Agency Growth?

Chintan believes there are a lot of similarities between the sales side and the marketing side of a business. Sales is part of the few key components that will help grow your agency. Do more sales fix a growth problem? As a former salesperson, Chintan believes this is not the case at all. Of course, it is part of overall agency success, but you have to have scalable processes and tools, and technology to help you grow.

As he started this new phase of his career, he leveraged his experience as he learned other parts of the business.

  1. Learning about the agency’s growth.
  2. Bringing in new business.
  3. Defining core capabilities.
  4. Looking for new growth areas.

He also immersed himself in the PR aspect of the agency, an area where he really leaned on his team’s expertise and willingness to teach him. At one point, he thought he needed to have a key role in all aspects of the business. However, he learned that having confidence combined with the right processes is the key to letting go and trusting the team.

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Hiring an Outsider to Run Your Digital Agency

Chintan’s advantage when it came to fitting in with his team was that many of them already knew him. Furthermore, at the time he joined the agency, the team had shifted after a few key players left. The timing was ideal for an outsider to come in and run the agency without causing unnecessary friction.

Some things changed in the hierarchy as their relationship changed from working as a client to working in the company. It was Chintah to establish a new type of relationship with the team.

Looking back on the process, he admits he could have been more aggressive in getting new clients. When he came in and started assessing the state of the agency, he took a look at their clients. He worked on really defining the agency’s capabilities and growth potential. However, a lot of their digital marketing services needed improvement. In hindsight, he should have leaned into that faster to secure new agency business and grow a little bit faster.

4 KPI’s that Will Help You Define Success Running an Agency

Most agency owners should not be in a position of managing the full team. As you grow your agency, you’ll need to delegate several things while you focus on strategy. One of those delegations is management (and there are only 5 roles of an agency CEO.)

As you probably do with clients, it’s good to sit down and define aspects of what success looks like. A good place to start is with realistic growth expectations and additional investments. In short, it’s about having a business plan that says “this is what I expect.” Following this, make sure to assess on a quarterly and monthly basis to really see how they are doing.

There are 4 KPI’s to assess when defining success:

  1. Top line revenue and net income.
  2. The number of clients in the portfolio.
  3. Ability to upsell or cross-sell existing clients.
  4. Size of the team.

Looking at all those things and finding where you may be over-leveraged and where you may not have enough resources. It is a balance that takes learning and that can vary for different types of agencies.

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