Traffic and Project Management Exists to Help Your Ad Agency Profit

According to Tony Mikes of Second Wind, the typical small to medium sized agency is leaving 20% of potential billings on the table. This is time spent on projects that is left unbilled, and in many cases unaccounted for.

In an era of agency time being the “product” this is both a startling statistic and an incredible opportunity. The traditional agency model of giving away creative time and relying on media mark-ups is a thing of the past, and agencies need to re-invent themselves in order to remain profitable.

So, how do you maximize your billable hours while still keeping your clients satisfied and building a partnership relationship with them? To start, you need to estimate your work and track your agency time. This is true regardless of whether you charge flat rates for your services, bill hourly or work primarily with retainer clients. Giving your project or traffic managers the ability to properly task out work and demand that timesheets and expenses be entered will help both agency productivity as well as profitability.

Consider This Question:

“How come there’s never enough time to do the job … BUT always enough time to do it over?”

Here’s Why:

There is always enough time to do the job if it is planned properly, but it is essential to be up-front with clients and push back when needed. Dates and fees are always negotiable, and the more transparent you are with your clients on how much time a job will take, the better off you will be in the long term.

  • Be upfront with clients and push back when needed.
  • Always include revisions in an estimate and make it clear what will constitute a scope change.

Tools For Agency Tracking:

  • Keep a “contact diary” on a job/project that details communication with your client. This will make it easy to justify scope changes and show your client that you are both organized and fair.
    • The contact diary must be:
      • Robust
      • Smooth
      • Easy to track
  • Provide a schedule or timeline to your client at the onset of a project or job. This will ensure that they can see what both your main deliverables are and what items they need to provide to meet any deadlines that have been set.

Things to Remember:

  • WIP (Work in Progress) is an asset (not a receivable).
    • It is work that has not been billed
  • The traffic manager’s job at your advertising or creative agency is to make sure the job is ready to be billed, so there are items that the traffic manager will need to be able to demand: timesheets and expenses must be done every day – if not, means that your agency doesn’t know how you’re doing with WIP.

Traffic managers (or project managers, depending on your definition), if given the proper authority to drive employee behaviour, have the ability to ensure that your agency is run in a profitable way.

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