Many design agencies and creatives use a business model where getting paid is one of the last steps in the job cycle.
While we’re fans of both the ‘price upfront’ and ‘get paid upfront’ pricing models, without efficient workflows and turnaround times you’ll either have poor cash flow or unhappy clients. Or both.
1. Implement a job monitoring system
A job monitoring system gives you a number of benefits, the key one being able to track the work coming through the door. And once that’s happening, you can start reporting on job turnaround (“Work In Progress Days”). By having access to the jobs on hand, your team will be on the same page. And you’ll be able to manage your agency’s capacity more effectively. Your system can be:
Part of our “Optimise” strategy is to make sure you use your time efficiently. It’s the reason we implemented an electronic job monitoring system. While you can find plenty of workflow management tools online, we’re a big fan of WorkflowMAX. (It’s what we use for our business.)
It’s tailor-made for design agencies, and integrates with Xero so we can optimise our administration process even more. The easy and efficient flow-through from quoting, to invoicing, to data in the accounting system saves a lot of administration time and ensures your business and accounting data is up-to-date and accurate.
While using only one method to track your workflow saves time, having a whiteboard system as well gives you team buy-in and a subconscious motivation to turn around jobs quickly. Let’s say you have a service standard of ten days from job in to job out. On your whiteboard, draw up 11 columns and a row for each team member.
For each team member write their assigned job name in column one, and the date it starts in column two. The idea is to write a date in the next column each day (say, during your workflow meetings) until the job is finished and out the door. It acts as a visual progress bar and motivates everyone to get the job done before day ten. (But no more than two or three jobs per team member, okay?)
2. Get the information you need before you start
Every time you put down a job and pick it up again, you lose efficiency. And that’s not good for you or your client. So don’t start the job until you’ve got everything you need.
Make sure you have a process in place (such as a questionnaire for the client to fill out) so you have all the information and files you need before you begin the work.
And make sure they’re available in case you need more information or feedback down the track. They’ll appreciate it when your turnaround time is half that of your competitors.
3. Set some efficiency standards
How about setting some standards for turnaround times? You could even set a “Ten day turnaround” brand promise so clients know when their job will be finished.
It’s a great way to keep the cash flowing. Just make sure you’ve got the processes in place, because chances are your prospects and clients will put it to the test.
Think of it as self-imposed accountability. When you accept a job, let the client know when it will be ready. It not only adds to their expectation, but also gives you and your team an extra incentive to meet the deadline. It also readies the client for any further information you’d need.
We do this ourselves, and it works. We even set a delivery meeting when we receive the project.
We use these tips in our own firm, and they work a treat. So why not try them yourself and see how you go? And feel free to let us know how it goes. If you need any help, or have further questions, give us a call. Oh, and if you have any questions about WorkflowMAX we’d be happy to help you out. Your cashflow stems in large part from your workflow, so it pays to get it right. Literally.