Chris Bantock is the founder of Agency Local. He has 20+ years in business and running agencies. Chris talks about the value of having a community of people around you and how marketing agencies can grow. You can get in touch with Chris at https://agencylocal.co.uk
Hello, and welcome to the business octopus, where we talk about all things sales, marketing and technology. I’m Avon, Collis CRM and marketing automation specialist at relevant and all around good guy. Today I am joined with the wonderful Chris babytalk. From agency local, here to talk about professional and personal development for the marketing community. Welcome, Chris. How are you today?
I’m good. Thanks, Steven, nice to Nice to be here. Thank you for the invite.
No worries at all. So we were talking a little bit offline before and we were talking around some of the problems that new people come to when they’re joining the marketing community. So maybe they’ve, you know, they’ve found a passion, they’re learning about it, or maybe they’ve sort of been forced into, you know, finding a new career path. You tell us a bit more about your thoughts around that.
Yes, I mean, that’s my experience, a lot of people that that are running marketing agencies today often start out because they’ve got a passion about something or a training about something, an element. So, you know, I’m passionate and had been fully trained in design. I’ve been trained in web development, I’ve been trained in photography, whatever it is video, copywriting, branding, and, like, they get successful, they get some clients, and the business starts to grow. And, and that’s great, fantastic. But then there comes this tipping point where they go, Oh, oh, I’m running a business now. And actually, I’ve never been trained in running a business. And it’s is that point where you know, is that transition, if you like, from, you know, following your passion, and doing what you’re trained in, to then actually transitioning to being a business owner, and running and growing a business.
So did I have to have done like, a course, like, I know that YouTube’s really, really popular and sometimes, you know, you look at all these Richard Branson things? And they say, say yes, and figure out how to do it later. So how many times have you seen people do that and then go all down. Now, now I’ve got like, commitments and contracts and stuff.
All the time, all the time. You know, you have a lot of people this sort of learn on the job, how to run a business and make mistakes and learn that way. And, you know, that’s a fantastic way of learning. However, if you if there are ways that you can avoid making those mistakes, and the impact of those mistakes, learning from other people or or just expanding your knowledge, or applying new thoughts and ideas, your business, then, you know, that that makes that whole whole journey so much easier. I mean, you know, I’ve did a Business Studies degree, I’ve done a an MBA management of Business Administration. I’ve run a business for Well, I’ve run a business for over 1515 years. Do I know everything? Absolutely not. I’m constantly learning. Yeah, however, you know, I, I’ve learned a lot through both academic and also experience to be able to help other people sort of avoid some of those mistakes and see it when it when it’s happening.
So what what are the sort of phases that someone goes through? Like, if we really sort of break it down into the details? Like, where does someone start and where do they where should they or do they end up?
Um, that’s, that’s a really, really good question. So, there are lots of different phases. So, you know, the sort of the startup phase, I liken the different phases to the journey of a child from so the, the toddler sort of phase is is often you know, acting as a freelancer. So, that is, you know, running yourself your own business with your passion working either directly with client or with other agencies, but the business is, is you the, the next phase when you’re sort of getting into, into teenager type territory is where your business expands, you take on employees, you often become a more formal, you know, structure governance in terms of, you know, a limited company. As opposed to a self employed, and that, that opens up a whole can of worms in terms of growth of the business, because once you’ve got employees on, you’re responsible for paying their wages, you’re responsible for where they work often, you know, it’s just a whole new area to think about. And then once you’re into the sort of the adolescence phase, that’s where you’re really beginning to, to grow the business and scale the business. So this is where you’re looking to get up to half a million, a million pound turnover businesses. And, and then, you know, then you’re sort of into into the proper game, and, and really looking to scale that up, if the next stage is, is, is taking that into sort of maturity, where, you know, you’re developing in 2 million, 5 million, 10 million, but not everybody wants to get to that stage, quite often, they’re quite happy, you know, being sort of, you know, be the, the adolescent or the teenager or whatever, but but running running their business, but each one of those stages, has has different challenges.
I know that there’s different sort of, like inflection points, you know, you’ve got a, the lifestyle business people, like you mentioned, people quite happy in the teenager, just just turning up at any enough just to, you know, go to the park, and, you know, play with the dog or the weekend or, you know, go for a little holiday every now and then. And that’s, that’s just enough, you know, it’s a lifestyle business, they don’t need to do much more. And I think that, you know, there is a trade off in terms of the amount of stress someone might go through, or the, you know, amount of accountability and responsibilities that they want to go through as well. So there is definitely a choice there. And I think, you know, when you’re talking about inflection points, that you could get up to that position. And ideally, you know, if you’ve got everything sorted, you can have that lifestyle business, where you’ve got some systems and processes, you’ve got some, like, you know, maybe some automation going on in the background that makes you seem bigger than just a one person, one man band, and you can, you can still, you know, have those relaxing times, and whereas other people would be in the exact same position and will be absolutely floundering, because, you know, they don’t have that those knowledge that experience those decision rules to reduce the amount. So you can either have a really good version of what you want, when at whatever scale or a really bad one, depending on what you know. Yes, absolutely.
Yeah. Absolutely. And I think even if you’ve managed to get to that lifestyle business that you’re happy with, then you’re you still have to, there’s still things that you can do to improve your business. To make a good business. Yeah. A lot of it comes down to what what, what the owners end goal for the businesses? Yeah, and you think about it, there are only really three outcomes for a business. One, one is you. You shut it down. Yeah. Two is you give it away?
All third one is you sell it? Yeah. And a lot of people want aspiration of actually selling their business.
For as it gets pulled out from under you.
Well, that’s right. So but for two and three, if you want to give it away or sell it, then, you know, you want to give away or sell a good business, people are only going to buy a good business. Yeah, yeah, they’re not gonna buy something that hasn’t got processes hasn’t got an automation, you know, part of what they do, hasn’t got a good customer base with strong relationships. buy that. So even to the lifestyle business, you know, having that, you know, it’s almost the journey of continuous learning. Yeah, that I think we’re all and there are always ways of improving the business, whether you’re a lifestyle, or scale or maturity.
I think there’s, you know, I’ve been chatting with some Business Brokers, and there are plenty of businesses where this person has been, you know, very successful in their near lifestyle business over, you know, 20 years building it up, and then they go and they want to, they want to retire and they’re like, oh, sell my business. And then I’ve got, but it’s not worth anything other than the stock and you know, if you’re in the marketing business, you don’t really have a lot of stock. You know, what this particular example is a motorbike shop. So I’m sure the parts would be worth something but maybe if they could kept like a customer list or something that that might be transferable then to the next person. So, you know, little little little details certainly do add up.
Well, the other the other challenge, like that is yes, it’s about that that worth of the business now. If that owner is still the person involved in the delivery and the business runs around that person, then that business is not as attractive to one that that operates without that owner in in place. So, you know, I often say to business owners, you know, you’ve got one job, you got one task to achieve, do yourself out of a job. Yeah. Because, you know, there’s two ways of looking at it. One, it means that you can get the lifestyle business that you want, or you the business is running by itself. Yeah. But you know, you’re taking what you want out of the business. Yeah. Secondly, it makes it so much more attractive to a potential to a potential buyer.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So what’s, what’s next one, once it’s up and running after, like, obviously, there’s, you know, succession planning involved, there’s, you know, for finding and training all of those new but that’s a lot of stuff to build up. Is that something that someone could just do overnight?
I don’t believe so. I think it’s something that takes time. You know, building a culture takes time building teams takes time, getting that team to work effectively takes time. Yeah. So yeah, but I mean, having a journey of continual growth, if you’re on a growth path, then then that’s great. You know, even if that’s sort of 10% year on year, or, you know, if you get a really fly join 20% year on year, you know, but you got to keep coming to these different challenges, the challenges will change on that journey.
Yeah, absolutely. So, obviously, you know, with a small business and trying to break through those certain, like, you know, gateways of moving to the next level, how does, obviously, the small scale, you know, you spend all this time trying to you find your first client, then you go, and you do all the jobs, and you do all the work? And then, and then then it’s done. And then you’re sitting there going, damn, where’s my next client? So then you got to go back out, you got to go find the client again, and then do the work. It seems a bit of a vicious cycle, isn’t it?
Yes, it is a it’s a, you know, it’s that constant cycle wave of business. Which, which often really impacts a business owner, because you got feast and famine, and the amount of stress that puts on somebody, but it’s so many I see it time and time again, where businesses, they you know, they get two or three clients, they then focus on delivery. Yeah, but they have to deliver to that client. Yeah. Then then that project is complete. They’ve done the job. Brilliant. Oh, we didn’t do any business development while we were doing the delivery. So we’ve got no leads, oh, we better get ready to get on the sales side now. Yeah. And of course, there is a delay. Yeah. So there’s a gap there. And yeah, where whereas you know, persuading, you know, business agency owners to, they should always be selling, they should always allocate some time to going out and building those relationships, building the funnel. And, you know, this is where, you know, automation and new technology and CRM and things like that really help. Because, you know, if you’ve got those systems and processes set up that are automated, then then that becomes so much easier. And, you know, hopefully, yeah, the idea is to get out of that feast and famine cycle, and have a continuous curve of activity.
I think sometimes it’s important just to sort of have your finger on the pulse of, of, of analytics and data and what’s going on, I think that, you know, sometimes you get people look at their their account balance, and or their profit and loss, which is generally, you know, if they haven’t updated it, it’s probably like, a month or two behind. And you know, that that’s not very future focus. So, you know, yeah, from my perspective is very important to have a few metrics that are future based in terms of Alright, well, we’ve got one big client, five middle clients and 20 small clients in the pipeline. As soon as you burn one, either by, you know, making them a customer or they just say, No, I’m not interested, then you got to replace that one with a new one. So, you know, I know there’s all sorts of like, mindsets and metrics around that. And a lot of times businesses will get like a whale a whale of a client where You know, when you’ve got those three clients, and you’ve got one that, you know, is big, and then they fall off the wagon, and then those other two, really don’t cut it to pay your rent. So obviously, that’s sort of understanding and those sorts of experiences, sort of take a bit of a, take a village for you to really understand. So how do you solve that problem.
Um, the, one of the key things is looking and it’s almost sort of a Nemesis is, is to try and get an element of your revenue as recurring income. Yes, because that will even out the curve. So if you know, you’ve got, you know, X amount of revenue coming in month after month, that is, is, is there it’s visible, it’s tangible, it’s you know, is going to happen, then, then the cycles go on top of that, so you get projects on top of those. But, you know, in marketing world, it used to be sort of retainers, and they are so much harder to persuade customers to buy into that. So. But, you know, you see quite a lot of innovative ways of doing it. There’s one, one Web Development Agency, I know near me, they focus on the small business market who quite often cannot afford, you know, the one off cost of building a new website. So they’ve put in place a payment plan that customers buy into for you. And they spread those payments over two to three years. And therefore, they are a customer for up to three years. They got predictable income for two or three years, and they probably got
back to them again, for your future work. When it grows, it gets better.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, finding those creative ways of generating, you know, recoverable income is actually is actually quite key.
I think that, you know, every business is different, obviously, that’s the website example. But then, you know, like, how do you do that for Facebook marketing? Or how do you do that for, you know, network marketing copywriting? So I think that, you know, you mentioned about having that marketing community and that, you know, it takes a village in that ad takes more than a few conversations to really sort of knock out different things. And I guess, you know, in terms of having that marketing community, I think that’s, that’s a really a wise thing. And as far as being able to involve people, if anyone wanted to get involved in your community, how would they go about that?
And what agency local, I mean, just before I sort of answer that, and how people can get involved, I think the, the essence of a community is, is essential, especially at the moment in the times that we’re in. And, you know, I ran an agency for 12 years, and I operated in in a silo. Yeah. There were other agencies about ramly did we ever meet up? No. But, you know, if you sort of agency local is now a community for like minded agency owners. Yeah. And, you know, a community is there, you know, because it gives you belonging, yeah, it helps meet other like minded businesses, and you get support in terms of a forum to actually air some of the challenges that you’re having as a business. And other people can help chip in support and help and develop, it’s also another element for going back to the continuous learning. We put on events. That is peer to peer support groups and one to one mentoring and coaching so that that ongoing development and learning of not only yourself, but also your business is key to that, that that element. So agency local, is you can find this agency local.co.uk we are primarily UK focused, although that, you know, I’ve just put up a blog on LinkedIn today, entitled, The world has just gone on on a 90 degree wash and is shrinking. Because you know, I was gonna be
you’re gonna have to change the name to agency global now because I’m in Brisbane, and here we are doing our podcast. And we were just on another call with about 80 other people from all over the world. So.
Exactly. Yeah, exactly. And, you know, from the coaching and mentoring side of things for agencies at See owners. You know, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter where you are, because I’ve not found a single location globally, where agency owners are not really facing, you know, very, very similar problems.
I think the problems as long as they’re human are the same as long as the taxes are localized. And perhaps maybe in terms of marketing attributes may be localized as well, obviously, you get things like the IKEA catalog, they, because of Islamic culture, they block out the the women on the on in the kitchen photos or something like that. So, you know, there’s there’s various methods there. But maybe that’s something that could be you know, if you’re if you’re trying to do some marketing in a new country, I’m sure there’s someone there that can give you the cultural background and how to be aware of this. So here’s a website. He’s a YouTube channel. That sounds like a fantastic resource.
Yes, yeah. Exactly. agency global. Thank you.
It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on and I really appreciate your time today. If you want to learn more about agency local, and you want to have a chat with Chris, you can go to agency local co.uk. As he mentioned, if you want to check him out earnings on LinkedIn, both the website and the LinkedIn URL will be in the comments of this episode. Otherwise, thank you for listening to the podcast and if you have any questions or you’d like to be on the show, you can check out more at https://relevate.com.au and fill out the contact form otherwise, thank you for listening and take care