When you start an agency, all of your efforts go into client acquisition and generating results for your early clients.
Once you’ve closed those early deals and started working with three to five clients, you’ll quickly be at the limits of your agency’s current capacity. The next question is how to grow your agency past your current limits.
The only way to grow is to take a step back and identify areas to improve that set your business up to scale.
In this guide, we’re going to show you actionable steps you can take to grow your agency and hit the goals you’re aiming to achieve.
Let’s jump right in.
7 Powerful Tips to Scale and Grow Your Agency
1. Create a Process and SOP for Every Repetitive Task
Your agency can only scale if your tasks and processes can scale with you.
To ensure they do, you’ll need to create standard operating procedures (SOPs). SOPs are process documents that act as the source of truth for tasks in your agency.
Creating these has several main benefits:
You and your team will always know the best way to complete a task
You can send your SOPs to new hires or freelancers for training purposes
Even if someone isn’t at work, someone else can easily step in and complete a task
As you grow your agency, these SOPs mean you don’t need to waste time repeating or figuring out ways to do tasks that you’ve done in the past. You can look at your SOPs and always know the next steps involved in a task or project.
When you bring in new team members, you can show them the SOP for a task and they’ll know how to complete it without hand-holding or needing extra help.
We’d recommend creating SOPs for any repetitive task. Some examples include:
How to set up new client ad accounts
How to source prospects for client lead generation campaigns
How to format your client reports
Source: Process Street SOP template
We’d recommend keeping your SOPs organized with software like:
The most important thing is that you can easily give your team access and that your team uses your SOPs to ensure their work is always completed in a consistent manner.
These will help you scale your agency as it removes the need for any particular team member to be involved in a task, outsources expertise from you to your SOPs, and makes the knowledge accessible to everyone on your team.
2. Delegate and Hire New Team Members
A significant barrier to growth that most agencies hit is that the founder or core team doesn’t have the bandwidth to manage every part of the business.
The best way to solve this is to hire new team members and delegate work to them. You can hire on a permanent basis, or work with freelancers specialized in one particular area.
Because you’ve already created SOPs for your core business tasks, you can use these to identify the duties and responsibilities your new team member will have.
For example, if your agency regularly uses prospecting tools to generate lists of leads for your clients, or runs standardized keyword research processes before starting a Google Ad campaign, your SOP can be used to train a freelancer to run that process for you.
Even if the task only takes one hour per client per week, that’s going to free up more of your time to focus on revenue-generating tasks, talking to clients, and improving how your agency runs.
Typically, starting with freelancers offers you a reasonable degree of flexibility because both parties are aware that it’s not a full-time commitment. However, you will end up paying more per hour than the equivalent person in a full-time role with company benefits.
You can use sites like Upwork to find qualified freelancers with experience in your niche. For example, if you need a VA for an agency, you can run a search and there are hundreds of results for applicable freelancers with varying rates and qualifications.
Because Upwork profiles come with reviews and rate transparency, you can ensure the freelancers you hire are a fit from a skill and financial standpoint for your agency’s needs.
3. Increase Your Agency’s Prices
There are two main ways to grow an agency’s revenue:
Acquire more customers, or
Charge your existing clients more for your services
Increasing your agency’s rates is a powerful lever if you want to set your business up to scale. There are a few reasons charging more is effective for scaling an agency.
Firstly, you’ll have more cash that you can deploy into either new tools and software or, towards hiring new team members.
As well as that, you’ll be able to grow your business with fewer clients. Every new client you sign on with will add more value to your agency than they would at lower prices.
However, before you raise your prices, it’s worth doing market research. Learn what other agencies in your area or niche are charging for similar services.
For example, if you run a PPC agency that charges 5% of ad spend on top of a retainer, you might consider increasing your % of ad spend to 8%. It’ll boost your revenue without causing a significant shift in your positioning.
If the services you offer are of higher quality and demand a premium compared to other agencies, you can price yourself at the higher end of that spectrum.
You should also base your prices on the ROI you’re generating for your clients. As long as you can show clients that you’re generating an ROI for them on the price they’re paying you, they won’t mind the price increase.
4. Leverage Automation Tools to Improve Repetitive Tasks
Using software is one of the best ways to set your agency up for scaling without needing to spend a huge amount of capital.
When you’re considering buying a new tool, consider what it can help with. Ideally, the tool you’re buying needs to either save you time or save you money. It’s tempting to sign up for ten tools at once and see if they fit, but following that strategy is only going to leave you paying for tools your agency doesn’t need.
There is a wide variety of powerful SaaS tools that you can integrate into your agency.
Here is a selection of our favorite tools for agencies:
Zapier: connect your existing tools together and automate manual workflows. For example, automatically connect your landing page forms to a CRM to ensure all conversions from your ad campaigns are saved.
QuickMail: send personalized cold email campaigns at scale. It’s designed for agencies that want to acquire new customers or run campaigns for their own clients.
Lyne.ai: automate the personalization process in your cold email writing. Lyne is an AI copywriting assistant that cross-references prospect information with public social media and company information and uses AI to write personalized opening lines.
UpLead: Quickly source prospects for both your agency, as well as to use in your clients’ campaigns. You can source companies based on almost any metric, such as revenue, size, technology used, location, and more.
Once you start using these tools, you can build powerful workflows that automate repetitive tasks in your agency.
We’d recommend against adding software if you don’t have a specific problem to solve as it can lead to over-complicating things. But, using software to streamline repetitive tasks and automate parts of your regular business processes is an excellent way to scale without adding new team members.
5. Offer New Service Add-Ons
Staying focused on your agency’s areas of competency is essential if you want to deliver good results for your clients. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t expand the services you offer.
Adding new service offerings can be a way to generate additional revenue from existing clients, and it gives you a new service to market to new potential clients.
When considering services to add you need to make sure it’s complimentary.
For example, if you already run lead generation campaigns for your clients using cold email outreach, you could consider adding a LinkedIn lead generation offering.
Or, if you run a Facebook Ad agency, consider running Google Ads on top of that to help your clients expand their reach.
The best offers will be easy to upsell to your existing clients. They’ll be easy to understand, and the benefits will be clear.
As well as bringing in new revenue, these extra offerings can de-risk your agency, too. If you’re only running LinkedIn lead generation for clients and then LinkedIn changes its policy to block external tools, your agency would need to pivot. However, if you’re also offering cold email outreach, you can continue to generate leads for your clients even if you need to temporarily pause campaigns on LinkedIn and work on a fix.
Regardless of the type of agency you run, there will always be complimentary services you can add to your service list that your existing clients will be interested in.
If you do not have the team members in-house to deliver on new service add-ons, you can work with a white label marketing agency to resell their deliverables to your existing client base.
6. Only Work with Clients that are a Perfect Fit
Scaling an agency is difficult if your focus is spread across verticals and industries. To keep your team focused, you need to only work with clients who are a perfect fit for your business.
Keeping your client list highly focused will have several benefits:
You can streamline your sales process to close a specific type of client account
Your processes are more applicable across different client accounts
You know how the industry operates
You become known as an expert in your field
It’s a common misconception that focusing on a single niche will reduce the number of clients available to your agency.
In fact, having a clear focus is also going to help with the positioning of your agency. Whenever you talk to a prospective client, you and they will quickly know whether there’s a good fit or not.
For example, if you run a web design agency that specializes in eCommerce sites, you know not to spend your time contacting clients in the software industry.
When clients are qualified, you can quickly move them through your sales pipeline and turn your hot leads into paying clients for your agency.
7. Focus on Client Retention
Your agency needs new clients to grow. But, you also need to retain your existing clients.
If your retention strategy isn’t working, you’ll be adding new clients while losing existing ones and in the long run, it’s going to stunt your agency’s growth.
The first main way to improve your agency’s retention is to deliver results. If you’re consistently generating high-quality results – whether it’s in the form of sales leads, conversions, or results in ad campaigns – at a price point that your clients can afford, they won’t have a reason to leave.
Next, you need to double down on your communication. If your clients are left waiting for weeks for deliverables, they’ll be wondering what you’re doing in the background.
During the course of your client work, remember to check in with clients and give them updates.
It can be as simple as saying “Hey, our campaigns are working well, we’re currently refining our audience targeting, and we’ll send you the full report of this month’s results on Friday”.
Your clients will appreciate the updates and can focus on their own work without worrying that the agency they’re working with isn’t going to deliver the ROI they hoped for.
The longer you can keep your clients, the more impact that adding new clients will have on your agency’s bottom line.
Using QuickMail and Cold EMail to Close New Agency Clients
Choosing the right cold email software is critical to ensuring you can hit your agency’s goals.
The right tool gives you the ability to not only send personalized cold emails at scale but will make it easy for your team to run the campaigns and track performance.
QuickMail was designed to help agency owners get results and close clients.
Here are a few of the key reasons to use it.
1. Always Land in the Inbox
Deliverability can be a problem when sending outreach campaigns at scale to potential clients. Ensuring your emails land in your prospects’ inboxes is critical to the success of your campaigns. If you can consistently land in the primary inbox, you’ll have a better chance at closing new deals.
To improve your email deliverability, QuickMail offers a native integration for its users with MailFlow, which is a free to use email warm-up tool.
You can add any email addresses you’ll be using for your outreach to MailFlow, and emails will be automatically sent and replied to from your inbox. If your emails land in spam, they’ll be removed, and replied to, showing Gmail and Outlook that you can be trusted.
You can track the deliverability performance of your inboxes at any time, and you can leave your inboxes in the MailFlow Auto-Warmer even as you’re running your outreach campaigns for clients.
2. Bring Your Whole Team Onto QuickMail
As your agency grows, you’ll need your team to help you create campaigns, manage your email inboxes, and track results.
QuickMail is made for teams, and you can add as many users to your account as you need at no extra cost.
You can even scale campaigns by adding multiple inboxes to them. Rather than sending all emails from one account, QuickMail will use Inbox Rotation to spread the sending volume between inboxes, reducing the chance that any single inbox gets flagged for exceeding sending limits.
Any chances you make to a campaign will be automatically applied to all inboxes involved in a campaign, so you won’t need to tediously go through five different campaigns to make sure they match.
3. Manage All Client Campaigns in One Place
If you run a cold email or lead generation agency, you can use QuickMail to manage all of your client campaigns under the same organization.
You and your team can quickly jump between client accounts to make sure your campaigns are running smoothly.
If you need to share results with a client, you can get a snapshot of current performance at a glance, too.
Most cold email platforms are designed to run campaigns for one account at a time, but QuickMail is made with agencies in mind.
4. Send Personalized Campaigns and Share Winning Formulas
You can use QuickMail to send completely personalized email campaigns at scale.
Your campaigns can include multiple email follow-ups, and even multi-channel steps, like integrating cold calls using Aircall and SMS messages to leads.
When your campaigns are ready, you can hit ‘Go Live’ and your agency’s outreach campaigns will automatically send on the schedule you’ve set.
Replies will land in the inbox that the emails were sent from, as well as being accessible from your QuickMail account.
Anyone from your team can jump in and take the next required steps, or hand over the lead to your client.
You can get started with a free trial of QuickMail and see if it’s a good fit for your agency.
Wrapping Up: How to Scale an Agency
Growing an agency is a different challenge from starting one. However, if you want to grow past the limits of a small company, creating systems and steps that enable your agency to scale is crucial.
Depending on your agency’s growth rate, you might implement these steps at different times, and prioritize different ones. For example, it’s easier to add software than to hire a team.
Over time, all of these steps will be essential to consider and will play a key role in your ability to scale and grow your agency and hit your growth targets every quarter.