More agencies than ever are automating so that they can scale, or at least get back some of their time. If you haven’t automated operations within your agency yet, it’s high time you consider starting, because it’s never been easier to build out the proper systems. Automation has a massive ROI that can change your business forever.
Many get stuck on the details of just how to get started, and we can break down the automation necessities by looking at the four systems that every agency has. Ideally, all four of these systems should be automated. If you want to truly free up the time necessary to expand creatively, double down on management, or handle the responsibilities of scaling.
James Dhillon, the CEO of Automers, shared these four systems with me as a way of looking organizationally at what an agency does. He helps agencies learn how to automate each of these systems so that scaling is easier. He also ardently believes in the importance of automation. Whatever your goals are with automating, each of these systems in your own agency must be understood, mastered, and automated.
- Prospecting Systems. Prospecting entails finding prospects to sell to, which can be a full-time job. Customer acquisition is usually where agencies get stuck right out of the gate. However, through social media campaigns and direct messages on social media platforms, a third party can manage the prospecting for your agency and for the businesses your agency serves. They can also be in charge of creating and running ads. Dhillon says that a successful agency is one that always has a full pipeline — and a robust prospecting system is central to this.
- Enrollment Systems. Enrollment refers to moving a potential client into a paying client. This is the sales of the operation. Sure, you may have that full pipeline of prospects, but if they aren’t enrolling and paying for your services, you won’t be successful. A third party sales agent can be hired to manage sales calls, and you can pay just out of commission – which is a budget-friendly option for an agency just beginning to automate and a great way to incentivize the new sales agent. This is a non-negotiable for agencies that are continuing to grow, as the owner of an agency should ideally be spending their time on strategy and management instead, even if they have handled all the sales calls to date.
- Fulfillment Systems. Once you have paying customers, it’s essential to give them what they’re paying for! Fulfillment refers to ‘fulfilling’ their requests and what they hired you to do. As an agency, you should make sure that each of your clients is landing all the booked appointments that they hired you to book for them. This part can be outsourced, too. Dhillon recommends working with a white label agency that specializes in the niche your clients are in. This also makes it easier for you to expand to other slots, if you find a reliable white label agency that can keep up with the demand you generate.
- Post-Fulfillment Systems. Finally, post-fulfillment refers to all the other aspects of keeping your client happy. Who is there to respond to their late-night messages when they need help? Who is responsible for making sure everyone is happy? Dhillon recommended hiring virtual assistants for post-fulfillment because they can handle some of the smaller necessities and messages. All of these automation systems can be built out with transparency so that you always know how each operation is going, even though it’s now ‘out of your immediate control.’
By breaking down each of these four systems, you can begin to outsource and automate slowly, if you prefer. Start with one, then continue from there. But, note that all four of these systems are central to running a successful agency. You can’t have one without the other — they work together and lean on each other, so automation across all four should be seamless.
Some agency owners are concerned about how much automation will cost them, which keeps them stuck in an overburdened and busy schedule for too long. They simply prefer to do the work themselves rather than hiring someone else. However, it’s the norm and expected to hire people on a pay-for-performance basis. You can do this with third party sales agents or even on a trial basis with another agency, so you can prove to yourself that it’s worth the ROI.
Be motivated by the extra time you’ll have when all of these systems are out of your hands to make more happen in your business. Of course, you’ll still be in a management position to oversee all of the operations. But, you’ll have more bandwidth to think beyond the current agency – either to scale it or venture into another agency space.