Does Your Agency Qualify for a $150K R&D Tax Credit? - Smart Agency Masterclass: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies

Does Your Agency Qualify for a $150K R&D Tax Credit?

By Jason Swenk on January 23, 2019

Do you struggle to find the right employees? Would you like to retain the amazing employees you have? What about the R&D tax credit that got one agency $150K? Employee retention and acquisition doesn’t have to be a headache. And, agency expansion concerns don’t need to keep you awake at night. With the right culture and the proper hiring methods, you can find those hassle-free employees and keep them around. Plus, when you train and develop their skills, you could be eligible for a major tax credit.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • The 3 biggest employee onboarding red flags.
  • #1 most important employee retention tool.
  • Does your agency qualify for a big R&D tax credit?

Today, I talked with Dobbin Buck, who’s living the dream as Co-Owner of GetUWired. Not only is Dobbin a super passionate agency owner, but he also gets to spend his days working from a cabin-turned-agency nestled at the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountain in Georgia, USA. Dobbin has over 40 team members now, and he shares his experiences with hiring and retaining those employees — as well as how his agency landed a whopping $150,000+ tax credit.

3 Biggest Employee Onboarding Red Flags

Finding, hiring and onboarding employees is tough! I’ve talked to tons of agency owners who don’t want to grow due to concerns of hiring and managing a large team. Increasing your headcount doesn’t have to be super stressful if you pay attention to the warning signs and you can filter out those potential trouble employees.

Here are 3 signs that someone may not belong at your agency:

1. They don’t jive with your culture: This is huge! Your agency’s culture defines the business. If you have a cultural misfit, it may be time to have a talk. Things like this are fairly obvious right away, and it might be an easy fix either with a conversation or by cutting someone loose. It’s way easier to change someone’s skill-set than it is to change their personality or comfort level

2. They chase the carrot too hard: Having an employee that goes the extra mile is great! Who doesn’t want that? But, if you’re interviewing someone who seems to only care about the hustle, you might want to reconsider. They’re going to get burnt out faster, and they may be too focused on work to really get to know your business and your culture. Remember, employees need some time off work to build critical relationships.

3. They don’t think outside-the-box: Dobbin said he includes a problem in his hiring process that isn’t solvable without outside research. If the employee comes back and complains that they didn’t receive enough material, it’s an immediate red flag. Make sure you’re hiring people who can take the reigns when they need to.

GetUWired’s 10 Step Hiring Process

As mentioned in the interview, here’s Dobbin’s agency’s ten-step hiring process that had led them to some amazing hires and a loyal, motivated team.

  1. Put position ad out on GUW Career site, Craigslist, Indeed and local university job boards.
  2. Thoroughly vet resumes.
  3. Basic application (if not completed in step 1).
  4. Initial phone/virtual interview with the front office.
  5. Testing for the position (ex: mock-up for designers, Infusionsoft test for PCs).
  6. Face-to-face interview with department head (complete candidate assessment form).
  7. DISC Assessment personality tests, like this one.
  8. Final interview with Operations Coordinator (Complete candidate assessment form).
  9. Lunch with the team or spousal dinner with the department head or Ops Coordinator and offer letter.
  10. Background check through Checkr .

#1 Most Important Employee Retention Tool

Company culture is everything.

Your culture is the gas in the tank. When you offer an amazing agency culture, your employees will stick with you. In addition to culture, avoid those red flags above and a build a team who shares your vision, which will help keep them around. In today’s climate, team members have so many options. There are thousands of agencies hunting for great talent, so it’s key to use your culture as a #1 driving motivator. Your company is the one major differentiator you have against other their other options.

Pay is great, but when team members know they are part of a bigger plan and they work with people who share that vision, they’re going to stick around.

Does Your Agency Qualify for a Big R&D Tax Credit?

Dobbin talked about how he got a tax credit recently for a whopping $157,619! Now that’s a tax credit! The R&D tax credit — officially “the Credit for Increasing Research Activities” — is for experimenting with technology with a qualified purpose. Most agencies qualify, so if you’re not trying to capture that R&D tax credit, you’re missing out! Dobbin said he hesitated for a long time before finally making the jump and working with a tax firm to apply for it… It looks like it paid off! If you want to know more about the tax credit, I did a podcast with a tax specialist – check it out here.

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