Three years ago, I joined BEcause to manage agency recruitment, develop our talent network, promote our grad scheme and seek out skilled freelancers for our Creative studio.
Coming from a recruitment agency background, I was determined to utilise my experience to make great savings across the business by saving us time and money. For my own peace of mind, I wanted to prove the value of this new role by tracking these results so I could share them with our CEO at the end of the year.
It was this goal of measuring every penny we spent as an agency that put my savvy saving skills on the radar. I was soon given the opportunity to take on a comprehensive buying project for the agency. This would include everything from rent, rates and insurances through to storage, phones, subscriptions and fuel.
If we were invoiced for it, I would be looking into it.
So I started cost-cutting wherever I could and ended up saving the agency thousands of pounds over the last year. I learned a lot about how to save money across the business - without sacrificing the quality of our service - and I want to share my ‘secrets’ with you.
Secret 1: Don’t do it alone - get your team involved
As a business, it’s easy to sign up to services, agree to contracts, set up direct debits and standing orders without checking the finer details. When time is short and people are under pressure, things can quickly be approved without thinking of the longer term financial implications.
With the help of the department heads, we dug deep into each and every on-going purchase we were paying and soon uncovered unnecessary subscriptions to services we didn’t use, membership fees that had crept up year on year without question and renewals for services that had never been challenged.
So do your agency a favour and conduct an audit of all the ongoing payments you’re making, figure out if you’re getting value from them (what is the ROI on each and every purchase) and ask your team to help justify the costs from their department. Keep a spreadsheet with all relevant details and add a reminder to your calendar when all contract expiry dates are up (so you can renegotiate better deals instead of having your contracts auto-renew).
By tackling each area and asking: Why do we need this? What value does this add? Is there a better more cost effective solution?, we were able to make some incredible savings throughout the year.
Secret 2: if you don’t ask, you don’t get
One thing I realised very early on is that it’s hard to get what you don’t ask for. While I thought suppliers would be resistant, I was pleasantly surprised to find they actually didn’t mind exploring discount possibilities for volume business or % reductions for faster payment terms.
We also looked at making small changes that would help save a lot of money over time. Small tweaks to how our suppliers invoice us, improved storage solutions and better use of online tools all affect our bottom line.
Secret 3: Reward your staff for saving you money
As an agency, we encourage smart spending with a buying better philosophy and regularly reward our team for their money saving skills and negotiation achievements.
At our monthly company meetings, we hand out cold hard cash to staff that have saved money for the agency (and ask them to tell the team how they did it, so others can follow suit).
While we spend money on rewarding staff, it's usually a fraction of the costs saved, so it amounts to overall savings for the company. It also gets all employees to think about cost savings as part of their job and offers just rewards for their hard work.
It's not just good for the agency
While it's important that we save money as an agency, ultimately, we pass the savings we make onto our clients, which is a bonus for everyone.
Cost-consciousness is a sign of a well-run agency. If you want to learn more about what to look for in an experiential agency, download our guide: 7 essentials for choosing the right experiential agency.