Transform – The agency change conference
➡ What got you here won’t get you there. ➡ Find the inspiration to change your agency, with real stories from agency leaders making impressive transformations
➡ Friday 24th January 2020 / 1.30pm to 5pm / Shoreditch
How do you change your business while you’re still running it? Come and meet leaders sharing their journeys when it comes to growth, change and transformation.
Here’s some of the people you will hear from. Line-up subject to change.
how to transform your agency in 12 steps
“I feel for the first time in 13 years of running this business I feel like I’ve got a solid plan.”
Simon Barbarto took a hard look at his agency Mr B & Friends, and realised that what got them here won’t get them there.
Simon plans to take his agency from 40 people and £3m revenue to 65 people and £6m revenue. But to make that happen, things would need to change.
What “things” would need to change, you ask? 12 things, as it happens.
Simon used a Rockerfeller Institute system to identify 12 “rocks” – a series of strategic priorities to tackle over three years.
They had to tackle client churn
They needed stronger project governance (especially to combat scope creep)
They needed to put a “sales culture” into the business
They’d tackle them one at a time, spending 3 months on each one – adding up to a 3 year change programme.
At Transform, Simon will explain what 12 things he’s changing about his agency. We’ll also ask him how you sustain a change programme across several years.
2. How to Scale Your Agency
Growth changes your agency. That’s the whole point! But how do you scale without also breaking everything?
There are few people better than Sarat Pediredla to explain this. He has taken Hedgehog Lab from a tiny project-hopping creative agency to one of the UK's fastest growing agencies.
In 2011, Hedgehog was 4 people – but today it has 120 people and it’s growing by 50 percent each year.
We’ll be asking Sarat about how to scale an agency – and when to add “grown up” stuff like a board, general council and non-executive directors.
3. when should you Hire a Professional Management Team?
“My job has changed – now I just have to manage all these professional people”.
When – and how – do you go from everything being run by you, to a “professional management team” taking over?
Ben Reason knows a thing or two about this. He’s run service design agency Livework for over 18 years. But over the last two to three years he’s brought in “grown-up business functions” to make the agency work better – and less dependent on him.
Now, he’s working on the final piece of the puzzle – finding an MD to replace himself.
“My job has changed – now I just have to manage all these professional people” says Ben.
Ben will talk about transitioning an established agency from a founder to a professional management team – with proper finance, operations, people and commercial teams.
“We made a lot of mistakes along the way. Basically, growth requires bringing in different blood types. You don’t always know how your team will react when you recruit a badass ops director.”
Ben will share the nuance behind managing this transition – and what to watch out for if you want to “professionalise” your agency.
4. how to get it right the second time
Alex ran an agency that was “all things to all people”.
We had no solid proposition. We were a mix of B2B and B2C, and we’d do anything from 50 leaflets for the local dentist upwards. We took on a big, impressive office space on a long-term contract – with no long-term sales pipeline to back it all up.
Alex’s second agency is learning from those mistakes.
This time round I've honed in on just a few core sectors i.e. manufacturing and science and being excellent within that space rather than average in a bigger playing field and then run with a crystal clear proposition (our strapline is "we speak B2B" and we maintain that we do that where others stutter).
Substance over style - with the previous agency we tried to run before we could walk, growing the team up to 15 people, taking on large/impressive office space on a long-term contract etc etc without the solid proposition and long term sales pipeline to back all of that up. This time round I've used sub-contractors on certain skillsets for temporary/short period to flex and support the in-house team - ensuring we can cope with the growth in the short term without compromising the future of the business. I've also taken zero external investment and built around advance billing for cashflow with an average payment time of just 13 days from invoicing.
Authenticity in terms of both sales and management style and culture within the business - we don't blind people with marketing jargon. We just get under the skin of the client's business with the strategy (I had 9 years running blue chip manufacturing marketing departments before starting agencies), then deliver and distribute outstanding content and track the results to inform tactical changes. It's actually a relatively simple process.
Flexibility - this comes back to the rapid growth internationally in Europe and North America as well as the second office in Cambridge - the first agency was just too reactive and not nimble enough to be opportunistic and recognise and seize opportunities quickly when they materialised.
where is it happening?
This event takes place in the Loading Bay at Techspace Shoreditch. This is a new venue for us. It’s comfy, central – and there’s space for small breakouts.