How to Set Up Systems to Reclaim Your Time to Work On Your Agency

By Jason Swenk on October 30, 2022

Do you spend too much time in endless meetings? Do you have the right systems in order to be efficient with your time? Are you ready to reclaim your time and focus on working on the business? Today’s guest helps his clients use technology to implement automations and SOPs to build an ideal future for them. In this interview, he shares his personal experience learning to reclaim his time to strategize, plus ways he makes more time to work on the business and how you can do it too.

Marquis Murray is the CEO and founder of Ditto, a systems improvement consultancy helping customers get the most out of technology by improving how they work, aligning their teams, and helping them understand the current state of their business. They help clients work toward a future where they can set aside time to focus on their goals.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • First steps to implementing the systems to reclaim your time.
  • Benefits of communication with clients and employees.
  • Setting aside blocks of time to work on the business.


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How to Stop Wearing All the Hats as an Agency Owner

Marquis started his career as a digital marketing manager for another agency. He left this job because he wanted to start his own business, be the boss, and make his own hours. Unfortunately, as agency owners know, that’s not always how it plays out. However, he is thankful he had some of those lessons early on.

As he started gaining clients and growing his team, he quickly found he was no longer able to wear all the hats. He was spending a lot of time in HR and onboarding. He didn’t have any systems in place so his team kept coming to him with the same questions. Out of frustration, Marquis started building systems and visually documenting how he did things to send to his team when they had a question. In time, this evolved into the standard operating procedures and work templates his agency has today.

He sees this a lot with clients building a business and realizes there’s much more involved in actually scaling the business. One of the places where business owners are commonly not spending enough time is in internal team onboarding and communications.

Now, when someone joins Ditto’s team they receive what he feels is a well-thought-out overview of their responsibilities and available resources. Without those systems in place, he finds confusion and frustration. Setting up expectations from day one minimizes those feelings and everyone is more productive.

Start by Documenting Your Own Tasks

Normally, when we talk about SOPs, people can get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. A great place to begin is your own role. Whether you’re writing it down on paper or using a screen share tool like Loom, document what you do and get it out of your head. You can set apart a day or part of your day where you don’t use your phone or computer, just a pad and a pen, and write down everything.

Start by answering “What am I responsible for?” You may be responsible for sales, so document what that looks like. What does it look like when you close a sale? Record sales calls — good and bad — for training purposes. What do you do next? Where does the invoice get sent? How do you set up a project brief for a new client coming in? Whatever your current responsibilities, start there.

First, take a review of your days and identify what you are doing right now that you could delegate. Which meetings can you eliminate or delegate? That will free up some of your time so you can document tasks your team should be doing and get more efficient. Set reasonable expectations for yourself and know you won’t be able to do it all at once.  Start small so you don’t get overwhelmed and you’ll eventually find the freedom you deserve.

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4 Ways to Categorize Your Responsibilities 

Marquis suggests sorting your tasks and responsibilities into these categories:

  1. Do – urgent and can’t be done by anyone else
  2. Defer – can be completed later, when time allows
  3. Delegate – something that is able to be completed by others
  4. Delete – unimportant or won’t drive the business forward

There’s no silver bullet for everyone, the idea is to get started and implement what works for you.

Benefits of Constant Communication with Agency Team and Clients

The worst mistake you can make with your team or clients is to assume communication has happened. We tend to believe just because we communicated something once everyone has received the message and understands it. In reality, you can never communicate enough. If you’ve only shared it once, you should probably repeat it at least three more times.

When it comes to internal communications, you can try different communication methods like documenting something in video and writing it down different learning styles can retain that information.

Frequency is another big point in communication. Doing it once is not enough. For instance, as part of their sales process, Marquis’ agency details what a customer can expect signing on with them from onboarding to the first few weeks. This is reiterated in the proposal and also in the kickoff meeting. It is repeated over and over again. That information will always be available for them in their Slack channels and in an email sent by the agency.

This was all implemented because they got feedback that clients felt in the dark about many things. There’s so much you can improve if you for feedback and are willing to listen to your clients. As the leader, it is your responsibility to ensure it is taken seriously and implement steps to make sure that future clients don’t run into the same issues.

Set Non-Negotiable Blocks to Reclaim Your Time

Marquis is a big fan of time blocking and getting time in the business to focus on what you need to do and what the business needs you to do to continue to grow effectively. He has non-negotiable blocks in his calendar to work on sales calls and set expectations for the next day.

It is very important you respect the time you block off. You set that time apart to grow your business and work on things that you otherwise wouldn’t. As an agency owner, you can find sometimes you’ve scheduled back-to-back meetings all day. That is the time you’re giving away for free to everyone else. This is how you get burned out, overwhelmed, and frustrated. You wake up one day and find you hate the job you’ve created for yourself. This is why your priority should be setting up systems to work on yourself and your goals with the agency.

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