The importance of time

For those unfamiliar with our industry, agencies are low margin businesses and the only thing we have to sell is our time.

Because of this, there is always a balancing act between making sure our work is chargeable without having an ‘on-the-clock’ mentality. No one really wants to be that way (we certainly don’t!) because we would rather put the focus on using our skills and experience to find creative solutions for our clients’ problems.

But the good news is that it is wholly possible for an agency to do meaningful work that both makes a huge difference to clients as well as making profit for the agency. The answer in most cases is by engaging the agency in an efficient manner, guided by their processes. After all, we are always honest and exist to make our clients happy!

The New Business Manager.

As far as I’m concerned, time is where an opportunity lives or dies.

Never have I understood the importance of a prompt reply than in my years working in new business. I am continuously amazed by the lack of enthusiasm that so many of my peers give to grabbing an opportunity when it comes knocking.

We have a little internal joke here at Salad but I may as well have a countdown clock on my desk. If an in-bound enquiry comes to us by email, 95% of them will receive a response from me in the following ten minutes. Occasionally, I’ve either popped into a meeting or out for lunch which delays me somewhat.

And the result? A quite surprised and impressed potential customer. The note “Thank you for coming back to me so quickly!” is no small measure of success in my books.

Everyone claims to be busy but as far as our future partners are concerned, clients are my absolute priority from the moment they make contact. I want them to feel they can trust us and rely on us to be prompt, efficient and deliver beautifully effective work on-time and on-budget.

That first impression often starts with me and time is one of the best weapons I have to show what we’re all about.

The Account Manager.

The role of an AM is complex. We are chameleons – quickly becoming external experts of each brand in a variety of subject matters to better serve the needs of our accounts.

But there are a few rules that help me run my diary and keep the plates spinning…

At the start of a project with a new client, we always invest time to establish how best to work. It takes time to build trust in order to become an extension of any team but the goal is to get familiar enough that we can maximise the efficiency of our process.

I also feel very strongly about being prompt – whether it’s for a call, a meeting or delivering on my promise of some on-going communication. Being late makes us all feel as though our time doesn’t matter. While unexpected occurrences can cause slight delays, having the good manners to keep everyone in the loop prevents complications.

It’s really important for our clients to provide a clear indication of their deadlines and when they expect to see something. In return, we’ll always detail how quickly and when we need client input in order to maintain a consistent flow. When it comes to receiving feedback, we’re strategic in limiting this time in order to meet our deadlines and use all of the time that’s allocated in the studio.

When it comes to communication, I reply to requests as quickly as possible. When I don’t have the answer, I work closely with our team to ensure I’m providing the right information at the right time – preventing as much ‘back and forth’ as I can.

Finally, it’s important that every client knows they are being given the right amount of time to do a brilliant job. When our clients succeed, we can build long-term partnerships and that’s best for everyone.

The Studio Manager.

My responsibility as studio manager is to crack the whip. We have promises to keep and work to deliver and we never have a member of the team sat twiddling their thumbs. A robust schedule rules our roost.

From my perspective, time is money. But it’s not our money I’m managing, it’s our clients’ – which makes me accountable.

Part of the communications I manage are about helping clients to understand that creativity is not an exact science. Although our designers are highly experienced, they are tasked with creating something Beautifully Effective™ for every project. The planning and development it takes to reach that point is vital.

When it comes to digital development, I try to give the developers big blocks of time in order to make significant progress without interruptions. Coding is complicated stuff and requires immense focus.

From the client’s perspective, there are two things that can make an vast difference to the time we need to do a job. Firstly, a detailed brief with clear objectives will help inform our recommended approach. Secondly, practical feedback help amends to take a fraction of the time compared with directionless feedback.

And finally, I think it’s important to say that the whole team here are willing to bend over backwards to meet a deadline. My biggest challenge is giving every job equal love and attention whilst being able to identify the business-critical priorities of each client. It’s a balancing act.

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