Invest in Your Agency: A New Year Planning Checklist

This is the time of year when things start to settle down (at least compared to the usual frenzy of agency life). That’s why it’s the perfect time to take a look back at the year that’s gone by, identify what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what you can do to continue growing your business.

There are three major areas of focus when you’re taking stock of your successes and struggles:

Use your December planning time to the fullest by digging into the day-to-day details that demand most of your time as an agency. Answer these questions regarding your client management, site management, and team management. Consider your current processes, and if you notice any problem areas, don’t sweat it—Flywheel Growth Suite can help!

Client Management

How many times are you contacting clients in a year?

When you’re in close contact with your clients, they’ll see you as more open and transparent. That’s crucial if you’re building a long-term relationship, because trust is built on transparency.

While ad hoc communications will still happen, having a plan for when and how you’re keeping in touch with your clients ensures even the most low-maintenance customers know you’re taking care of them.

What is the content of those communications?

Are you making phone calls, writing emails, or compiling client reports? What’s being discussed at each of these touch points? You want to make sure your clients are clearly understanding where their budget is going—and you need to be able to make the case that it’s being used wisely.

After you’ve reported back to a client, how is that information being archived and organized in case you need it again? Are you using the time you’ve already spent compiling this information to its fullest by tracking insights over time?

Do those communications look/feel uniform?

There will be times when you’ll randomly pick up the phone to call a client, and times when they’ll do the same. But regularly scheduled emails, a monthly or quarterly client report, or another written, pre-planned notification about the services you provide is crucial.

Bonus points if you take the time to put together well-branded, aesthetically pleasing written communications. These both look professional and serve as a written backlog of the work you’ve completed.

Flywheel Growth Suite’s client management software keeps everything you need in one place. Any reports you’ve sent, invoices you’ve sent or received, and client notes you’ve taken are accessible through the Client Portal with just a few clicks. 

Are you taking the time to press your clients for wants, needs, and concerns?

Hopefully, you’re ticking off all the boxes and doing everything your clients have asked of you. Taking the extra time to notice and suggest solutions for potential holes in their strategy is what will elevate you from your client’s task-doer to their project partner.

As your workload increases, however, it becomes much more difficult to take time out for these conversations. Nailing down processes that save your team time can help free up the extra hours you need to brainstorm new ideas for your clients and press them for feedback.

Is client invoicing being done in a timely manner?

Often, invoicing is a hassle. So much so, that you may not notice if a check is just a day or two behind or if you’ve accidentally sent an invoice for the wrong amount. These small things add up to minutes or even days wasted tracking down documentation, calling clients, and realigning the books.

Flywheel Growth Suite makes sending and receiving invoices easy. You’ll get notifications about upcoming and overdue invoices, and you can set up one-time and recurring subscriptions to bill your clients. Tiered services allow you to offer different pricing packages of your services to clients with different budgets and send a bill with just a few clicks. Then, your clients simply pay through their Client Portal.

Site Management

How many times per week are you backing up client sites?

One of the main reasons your clients hired you was to ensure their sites are kept safe.. Noticing how often backups take place and including that information in reports to clients is a great way to showcase your value as a long-term partner. 

Because Flywheel Growth Suite’s Bulk Site Management dashboard keeps track of every client site you’re hosting, you don’t have to log into and back out of multiple sites per day. See every plugin that needs to be updated and run all your site’s backups with just a couple of clicks.

How many plugins are being added, removed, and updated?

Old plugins are a threat to site security, and excessive amounts of plugins will bog a site down. Showing your clients how you’ve protected their data and improved their site speed by simply making plugin updates is another great way to show them your worth.

Flywheel Growth Suite allows you to sort your sites to see which plugins are being used on which sites, whether or not they’re active, and whether or not they’re up to date using the Bulk Site Management feature.

How often are you completing other site maintenance, including content management, search engine optimization?

Clients often ask for small changes to their homepage layout, their site content, their SEO strategy, and more. Once those changes are made, it’s up to your team to track performance and make sure they’re improving the overall performance and visibility of your client’s site.

Service creation allows you to bill for other work that’s not related to regular plugin updates and backups. Whether your team is designing monthly social media content or creating a one-time campaign, you can invoice it with Flywheel Growth Suite. In minutes, you can set up one-time services or recurring subscriptions for any service you offer, create tiered services, and schedule invoices to send automatically.

How much time is being spent on those additional tasks? 

As the saying goes: Time is money. All of these site management tasks are taking time away from someone on your team who could be spending it more effectively elsewhere. 

Instead of spending hours per week on backups and plugin updates, let Flywheel Growth Suite aggregate that information so you can update it quickly. Take more time on the projects that will bring in revenue and less on tedious project management.

team members collaborate on a project at a large table

Team Management

How much of your time/your employees’ time is being used to compile and send client communications?

Track the time your account managers (or you) are spending to communicate with your clients—but not to see if your employees are working fast enough. If you find these tasks are taking more time than you expected, it’s probably because your team is making the best out of a muddled process, not because they’re slacking.

Ask yourself what processes can be implemented to gain better control over your communication channels and keep your information organized. Then, see if your new process actually decreases the amount of time needed to compile reports or touch-base emails.

Flywheel Growth Suite accomplishes this for you by making it easy to automate client reports, bill for services, and collect revenue from a single platform. Your client gets an inbox full of thoughtful insights, and everything from the automated reports you send to the domain they’ll use for the Client Portal is white-labeled for your convenience.

How much of your team’s time is spent updating plugins and backing up sites?

This means clocking the average amount of time it takes you or a member of your team to log into a client site, update or delete outdated plugins, create a backup, and move on to another task. You may find that it’s more time-consuming than you’d initially imagined.

Through the Bulk Site Management dashboard, Flywheel Growth Suite drastically reduces the amount of time your team has to spend bouncing between back ends to make these minor updates.

How much of your team’s time is spent completing other site maintenance tasks and requests?

Track the time your team is copywriting, managing content on-site, swapping out images, creating pop-ups, and completing other tasks for client sites. Then, take that information into account when you’re deciding how much you charge for these services. 

Say you’re charging a flat $100 per month retainer for content management, but you have a client who’s consistently using 10 or more hours per month on those updates. Creating a higher service tier and charging more if they exceed the 10 hours of content management per month can help offset the costs of your team’s extra time.

Do your employees spend a disproportionate amount of time on these types of tasks? 

Your designers want to be designing. Your web developers want to be building new, interesting, and effective sites. Your writers want to be writing. Make sure your employees are spending the majority of their time doing the job they signed up for, not on sweating the small stuff.

Staffing is projected to be a growing issue for agencies. That means it’s more important than ever to make sure your employees’ time is being used wisely. Using Flywheel Growth Suite to automate as many tasks as you can will help ensure your creative team isn’t being bogged down with administrative work and is instead spending their time using their talents to the fullest.

Are you billing accurately for the level of service you’re offering/the amount of time your team is spending on projects?

When you divide the total monthly charge to clients by the number of hours your team is spending on their administrative, site management, and creative work, how much is the agency actually earning for your time?

In some cases, you may find you’re over charging your clients. If so, adjusting either your prices or the expectations you set for your team can improve your clients’ perceptions of you. In many cases, however, you’ll find that the time your team is spending on this work is worth much more than you’re charging for it. Don’t be afraid to raise your retainers in the new year—so long as you have the data to show your customers that you’re worth it.

The Growth Dashboard in Flywheel Growth Suite will aggregate important insights for you, so you can track your progress at a glance every single day. Is your MRR growing? How many clients and sites are you managing? Do you consistently see revenue dip during the same season every year? Get the answers to these questions quickly so you can keep your revenue trajectory moving up and to the right.

Use Flywheel Growth Suite for data-informed progress

Taking stock of what you’re doing now—and finding strategies that save you time in the future—is the best way to streamline processes so you can take on and complete more projects in the new year. Earn more and do more without stressing more when you bake Flywheel Growth Suite into your internal process.

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