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The Consultant Business Manager



Since our inception, Tonic has been working with small and mid-sized agencies to grow their top and bottom lines by supplying sales and marketing support combined with operations and finance support. During this time, one thing has become crystal clear: the biggest difference between the large event marketing agencies and the smaller agencies is the lack of dedicated, strategic, business-focused resources. These are people whose sole job is to analyze the business operations and finances to ensure the agency is running efficiently, maximizing client satisfaction and delivering strong profits. In big agencies, they generally have titles like CFO and COO. They’re rarely client facing (except perhaps at an executive level or with client procurement); they’re not assigned client deliverables; they don’t generate revenue per se; in other words, they’re pure overhead (yikes!). And yet, somewhat anti-intuitively, they often deliver a higher ROI for an agency than many client service resources. This is because these business resources are focused on running the business – supplying tools and insights that enable making money on the top and bottom line – but not on delivering goods and services.

When was the last time you, as a leader of your agency, were able to spend time thinking about how to improve the efficiency and acumen of running your business? These people do it all the time. When was the last time you were able review accurate and timely data regarding your projects and agency finances? These folks are committed to it. When did you last hire someone knowing that your projected fiscal year budget could afford it? These people spend the time necessary to make clear financial dashboards and reports and ensure they’re updated regularly, and then analyze these tools to develop insights to create strategic business recommendations based on facts, not gut instinct. It certainly takes a lot of worry out of the equation for important business decisions – and who couldn’t do with a little less worry.

Of course, that’s not to say smaller agencies don’t have finance-focused resources – every business has them. But very, very few have a senior level person whose sole job is to evaluate how the business is being run on a regular basis. And why not? Well, clearly these folks generally have high price tags and most small and mid-sized agencies can’t afford them. But it’s our experience that even though all can use them, most don’t need them on a day to day basis.

So, here’s an idea: The Consultant Business Manager.

The Consultant Business Manager isn’t a full-time employee, but rather a part-time advisor to agency leadership. Their main task is to ensure the business is being run efficiently and strategically – all resources are highly utilized, projects are being delivered profitably and there’s an operating budget that’s updated quarterly based on an up-to-date and accurate monthly P&L and other financial reports. The Consultant Business Manager not only helps the agency run better, but helps leadership do their jobs better by being a valuable partner by supplying outside knowledge, experience and perspective to any business decision. Plus, since they’re part-time, they’re relatively affordable.

Of course, the right consultant is needed. One who has deep and broad first-hand experience in running the operations and finances of an agency, so that they can apply this experience to your business as a partner or board member would. The right consultant needs to be able to organize the agency’s finances, develop operating budgets, identify investment opportunities, understand pricing strategies, and help implement efficient delivery processes and procedures. And finally, the right consultant is someone who'll listen carefully, advise clearly and be highly responsive.

Hmm, sounds like someone we know….

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